February 28th, 2013
It’s hard to move on to the next day when the last day was a hard one.
It’s hard to take the next step when the last few have been painful.
Like a child trying to make it across a hot, sandy beach barefoot and exposed,
we must walk gently into the next few days.
Light steps keep the feet from burning as we try to make it to the cool waters nearby.
So, today, allow God to carry you over the scorching surfaces of this life, the places too painful to handle alone.
Rest in His arms and know that He is leading you still.
He is going to work in your life today.
Rest in Him.
He is there.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
February 27th, 2013
Johnny’s mom exemplifies a parent whose priorities in life leave her with no regrets in her grief.
Her words to me last night in the visitation line were precious,
“He was a gift. I have no regrets.”
What mom doesn’t want to have those words on her lips in such a painful moment?
Praying we all reevaluate and get it right so that more children feel the love that so clearly
surrounds Johnny even in his passing on to the next life.
I’m so thankful for the witness of this precious mom this morning.
She comforted thousands last night with a smile and words of hope for all.
That’s what God does for a mom whose life is centered on Him.
As we pray for the Fankell family and all of Johnny’s classmates today,
let’s take time to pray for a world full of hurt and pain.
What have you been called to do today?
What you do for Him is what matters most………..
February 26th, 2013
I’ve stumbled over words and thoughts this morning as I’ve moved through my daily routine.
Reading in the Old Testament about God’s love for the Israelites and His desire for them to constantly draw near to Him,
Then moving on to the book of James and reading about how our faith in God’s love should compel us to love others which in turn causes God’s love to be perfected in us…….
The Bible, from beginning to end, is wrapped in one overriding theme –
Olivia has witnessed this Bible-based emotion over and over again in the past couple of days between her friends, classmates, and teachers.
Hugs, loving words, heartfelt notes, tears……
This world began because God loved us
at the end of everything,
the one thing we will always have is LOVE.
If we listen closely, we can hear love whisper in unexpected moments………
I dropped my coffee cup Saturday morning as I was getting it out of the cupboard.
Being a broken person, I always wonder what God is trying to say through broken things.
Broken things often speak to my broken heart, and I never want to miss their message……..even though sometimes I’m not sure what the message is until much later.
This morning, I know there’s one thing this photograph is saying to me, and I hope you hear it too.
We are broken people living in a broken world.
Truly, everything man has created within this world is broken too.
It’s hard to hold brokenness together.
This thought alone can seem overwhelmingly frightening, depressing, and hopeless…….
but here’s where God comes in to the picture.
He is the cup.
He is the holder of life.
Not just this broken life,
but the next perfect, eternal life.
Our brokenness must be placed in the shadow of Him and His love.
We just can’t hold on to something that is broken.
So, in our brokenness today (and everyday we have left in this world) we have to continue to draw near to the cup that is overflowing with Him……
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
This morning, let’s draw near to the cup and listen……
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
February 25th, 2013
Everyone in our community can probably remember exactly where they were when they heard the news about the car accident this weekend.
I was in my living room talking to one of Olivia’s friends, waiting for her to come downstairs to leave for a friend’s birthday party.
I heard Olivia’s voice on the stairs, and I could tell she was on her phone.
This alone seemed odd in our text-driven world,
but when I heard the tone of her voice, I knew something was terribly wrong.
Then she appeared on the stairs, telling us, “Johnny Fankell just died in a car wreck.”
Time stops every time these words are heard……
because we all know that with those words families have been shattered permanently.
And when you know the family,
the stopping of time is coupled with an ache that runs so deep that everything you had on your to-do list suddenly becomes meaningless.
Facebook and Twitter became an outpouring of heartache and prayers from teenagers and parents across our county.
In the blink of an eye, the significance of everyone’s status centered around this moment.
And somehow coming to grips with a nightmare became everyone’s goal.
Sunday, several of Johnny’s baseball teammates were in our church service, sitting together on the front left pew….
arms around each other, hearts broken, searching for answers to a question none of us can answer,
“Why did this happen?”
At 2 p.m. yesterday, a memorial service was held at our high school baseball field where hundreds gathered to hug, to cry, and
to somehow hold each other up at a time when the ground beneath everyone’s feet felt incredibly incapable of doing its job.
There are no words at a time like this that make anyone feel better.
Especially for Johnny’s parents who face not only a very painful week but also a lifetime filled with the void of Johnny’s physical presence.
They don’t need cliches right now.
They don’t need reasons.
They just need love.
So, how does love show up when lives have been shattered?
I think love shows up through hugs, cards, hearts on baseball fields, writing out memories of Johnny to share later, thinking of ways to keep Johnny’s memory alive, and most of all……
prayers for strength, peace, hope, and comfort.
Even if you don’t know Tom and Rachel Fankell and all of Johnny’s other relatives and close friends, God does.
He knows just what they need to make it through today.
And strength for today is what they need.
Tomorrow we can pray for tomorrow.
Psalm 84:7 says,
“They go from strength to strength, till
each appears before God in Zion.”
I believe that’s the only way to make it in this world.
From strength to strength.
One day at a time.
And love is what carries us along toward Zion………
So, today, please pray for Johnny’s family.
And know I’m praying for all of you who come here for a minute of your day.
I love you all so much, and I know that only by your prayers and the grace of God am I able to continue…….
from strength to strength toward Zion.
One glorious day, this is where God’s Love will lead us all who claim Him as our Lord………
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
If you read this today and need to know more about God’s love,
please talk to someone who can help you or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will help you or find someone who can.
February 21st, 2013
When you have a son who has feared crossing bridges from the time he was a young boy,
you realize that the declaration of his summer plans has to be from God when he announces that he wants to work in Japan with tsunami relief for the summer.
Todd, a sophomore in college, seems to be headed toward a life of mission work, and this summer he is going to jump in head first in a part of the world that needs God’s love desperately.
Todd will be working in the town that was hardest hit by the tsunami of 2010,
helping with a ministry to widows and grieving moms who are being taught how to take the rubble from the destruction and create pottery and jewelry to sell in order to get their feet back on solid ground.
I especially love that they have the women name their creations after their loved ones whose lives were taken during the catastrophic event.
What a powerful way to teach the women to create legacies of love from the brokenness of this world in order to bring some sort of healing to their hearts.
I am writing today to ask you to pray for Todd and for all the people of Japan who are still climbing out emotionally and physically from this natural disaster.
I am also writing to thank everyone who has helped him so far with his fundraising efforts in order to cover his travel expenses and living expenses for two months in Japan.
He has reached the $3,000 mark of his $4,800 goal!!!!
If you watch this video and feel compelled to help Todd, please email me at email@example.com, and I will send you the address for making a donation to Team Expansion in Todd’s name.
Today, I am praying for all of you in a very specific way.
Praying that as your day unfolds you will be fully aware of God’s desire to be a part of every minute of your life.
I believe He is speaking all around us.
He speaks through children, nature, friends, events, and much more…….
He also speaks through His written Word.
How is speaking to you?
What is He asking of you?
What is wanting you to know with confidence?
From me, I think He is wanting to say this to you,
YOU ARE LOVED.
I’m especially praying today that you will feel His overwhelming love for you all day long.
Be thankful for it.
When we experience God’s love fully, we are able to share it freely.
I love you all much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you for praying for my son and for Japan.
February 20th, 2013
I’ve been reading about all of the feasts God set in place for the Israelites as reminders their rescue from slavery, their time of wilderness wandering, His never-ending love, His unlimited forgiveness, His constant presence, and His call to times of rest………..
God knew that in order to never forget the past, there was a great need to celebrate memories in the present and the future.
I’m planning to attend a training Saturday entitled “Celebrate Recovery.”
This Bible-based program helps people who are living with any sort of addiction.
This morning I’m thinking about things I need to celebrate more openly, and I’m wondering how I can become a person who is keenly aware and appreciative of all God has done for me throughout my lifetime.
Today, look back on your life and choose a few milestones that are significant and think of a way to celebrate what God has done for you through these milestones….some will be good memories, some will be difficult memories.
When I think back on Nick’s journey through cancer, I see God’s hand all along the way.
As I think of Nick’s death, my heart breaks over and over again.
Yet, I know that God continues to step with me in every mile of my grief.
We have a God who longs to walk beside us, even carry us, on our happy days and on our sad ones.
Knowing this is true is reason alone to celebrate!
My prayer for you today is that you will look deep inside your soul and ask God to reveal reasons for celebration!
I’d love to hear from you after you’ve given this some thought!
Either by email or a comment below!
Know this! YOU ARE LOVED!!
February 19th, 2013
God showed up in a burning bush one time, but He never beats around the bush about how He feels about His children worshiping other gods.
He makes it very clear that He is the One and Only Living God,
nothing in our lives should come before Him.
I’m still trying to figure out how to teach this truth to Olivia and to the young girls in my youth group and to the students at KCU where my husband teaches
without seeming like a “no-fun” kind-of person.
There are sooooooooooo many things distracting us today.
the list goes on and on and on…….
Maybe I struggle with helping them because I still struggle myself when it comes to figuring out how to live an undistracted life.
I want God to be number one.
I want pleasing Him to matter more than pleasing anyone on this planet……..
and I want that same desire to rise up in Olivia, in my youth group girls, in KCU students.
I’m thinking a lot about this lately as I read about the Israelites’ constant struggle to do just this in an era when it seems like God was so “present”.
I’m thinking about this a lot as I study the book of James and realize that God calls us to be WAY different than the culture around us.
I’m thinking about this a lot as I read Beth Moore’s book on insecurity and I realize more and more just how insecurely I have been living.
I’m thinking about this a lot lately as I continue to grieve and reach out to others who are grieving.
The devil robs us of so many blessings in this world,
and in the robbing he can easily convince us to look all kinds of wrong places for peace, security, hope, and purpose.
Today, I’m challenging myself and you to become painfully aware of every moment when our mind begins to fixate on anything other than pleasing Him who deserves our constant worship.
How do we keep God first in a world screaming with all sorts of distractions?
I’m still trying to figure this out.
Praying for you and hoping you’ll whisper a prayer for me.
I love you all so much,
February 18th, 2013
Saturday, I spent the entire day with the academic team I coach at our area high school.
Our Future Problem Solving team had made it to regionals, so it was an exciting day as we awaited the results of their hard work earlier in the week.
The first and second place teams at regionals get to advance to state competition, so all day long the kids said, “I hope we get first or second……or last place.”
They didn’t want to “almost” make it.
When they called the top four teams to the middle of the basketball court, there was no longer a last place option.
We had either “made it” or “almost made it.”
Fourth place was called.
One of the girls on our team said later that at that moment she thought, “Great, we got third and barely missed going to state.”
Then third place was called.
Not us again.
The kids on our team began to scream as they realized they were moving on to the next level of competition.
Then second place was called, and suddenly they went from being happy to ecstatic as they realized they had not only made it to the state level but had beat everyone in the region!!
Tears came to my eyes as I watched the kids celebrate!
I hadn’t been a part of all of their hard practices for this particular event, but I was fully aware of just how much time they had put in preparing for this moment.
They had earned this victory in every sense of the word.
On the way home on the bus, the sun was setting with a purple-orange glow.
One of the girls on the team looked out the window and said,
“The sky is beautiful tonight.”
Immediately, another girl on the team replied,
“Everything is beautiful tonight.”
I smiled as I thought to myself,
“Victory makes all things beautiful!”
Today, I’m hoping you see life as a race you long to finish victoriously.
Not only that, I hope you see every single day as an opportunity to walk in either victory or defeat.
I’ve had my fair share of defeated days.
I’ve chosen some.
I’ve been handed others.
But, I know that God longs to give me a life of victory.
I have to make the choice to look at life from His perspective.
He’s already won the race for me.
He’s conquered the greatest fear of mankind…….death.
He’s overcome the devil eternally.
He’s paved the way, promising to smooth rough roads ahead of me.
He’s done all of this for you too.
Look up this morning and ask God to help you feel the victory He longs to hand you.
Imagine the trophy being placed in your hand.
Imagine the cheers of the witnesses surrounding you.
Determine today that you want to live victoriously, not as someone who “almost” made it to the finish line.
You are a child of the King if you accept His Son as your Savior.
Nothing can separate you from His love.
Brothers and sisters,
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When you fully grasp the meaning of these verses,
I promise your view of life will change.
Somehow, everything becomes beautiful.
February 15th, 2013
Moses knew his days were nearing an end.
He knew the Israelites would soon be following another leader,
entering the Promised Land without him;
and he knew that along the way they would lose sight of God.
The worship of wood and stone would become a norm for the people who had been led through the wilderness by the One and Only Living God.
And he knew they needed to know what to do in the midst of dark days when God would scatter them among people who did not share their faith.
So he gave a sort-of State of the Union address before saying goodbye to the people he loved so dearly.
And in his speech he used a phrase that caught my eye this morning……
But if from there you seek the
Lord your God,
you will find him if you seek him
with all your heart and with all your
I’m just wondering this morning if you ever find yourself losing sight of God.
Do you ever get caught up in the worldly idol worship of materialism, sports, technology, friendships, and the list goes on and on??
I sure do.
I am so guilty of getting my
priorities all messed up,
and this morning God caught my
attention with four words…….
BUT IF FROM THERE.
I think that’s what God asks of me today.
I think that’s what He asks of you.
No matter what surrounds you today.
No matter how many things are competing for your attention.
SEEK THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART…….
BUT IF FROM THERE.
If you do, He makes an amazing promise!!!
YOU WILL FIND HIM!!
I’m seeking Him today………from there.
February 14th, 2013
Photo below is available when you CLICK HERE .
No matter how romantic or unromantic your day turns out to be,
I hope you’ll remember just how much God loves you.
He is the Valentine who never leaves you or forsakes you.
He is the Valentine to whom you can give your entire self without fear of rejection.
He is the Valentine who loves with an everlasting, unconditional love.
He is the Valentine who will not force Himself into your life but who patiently waits for you to find Him and know Him.
I am thankful today for a Heavenly Father who offers ALL YEAR LONG the love expressed by many on Valentine’s Day .
His gift to each of us surpasses flowers, chocolates, or jewelry.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Can you think of a gift better than this?
Because of Him we can all have an extremely
happy Valentine’s Day!
Praying your day is filled with a constant awareness of His love for you,