Wanted: Nobodies and Nevergonnabe’s

Truth: God delights in using the weak, insignificant, least of these people to fulfill His kingdom’s purpose.

This is so revolutionary. While the world looks for the strongest and the bravest and the biggest and the best and the most accomplished; our God, seeks the weak, and the weary, and the poor, and the “insignificant,”and the lowly, and the unseen and the least of these. He empowers them to accomplish things beyond human comprehension.

King David started out as a lowly shepherd boy, the least in size of all his brothers. So insignificant that his own father didn’t even beacon him from tending sheep in order to be considered as the chosen King to replace Saul.

But, God saw him. God knew he existed. They shared long hours in the fields while David tended his father’s sheep. God heard David’s prayers and songs of praise. God empowered David to conquer large, fierce animals who threatened to kill him and the sheep. God and David had a strong relationship long before David became King. God purposed big things for David to accomplish through His power at every stage of David’s life.

When you feel small and insignificant, delight in knowing that this feeling does not define who you are. It does not reflect what God thinks of you.

He sees you–the real you.

He purposed specific things especially for you to do.

He knows your heart and hears your thoughts.

He loves you with an everlasting love that defies time and obliterates the chains of sin.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

If you do not measure up to the world’s standard, feel blessed. God sees you and values you. Submit to Him and expect Him to do great things through you.

And the Winner is…

Thank you to all who read and commented on the Guest Blog and Giveaway from Thursday which featured Susan DeGarmo’s new book, “Many Paws: The Year of Change.”

The winner of this giveaway is Beth Calvert of Huntington, WV. Thank you for participating, Beth!

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Clever Lies and Broccoli

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Romans 1:18-20

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”

As a parent, I have been guilty of “suppressing.” I’ve suppressed something “good” inside something “not as good” for the sake of the partaker.  Like masking vegetable inside a more “desirable” food sources to get my children to partake of something green that isn’t stamped with an M or S (M&M’s or Skittles). I have wrapped a pill in cheese or poured cough syrup in Kool-aid. I buy gummy versions of whatever I can to make vitamins and medicines more palatable. Whatever it takes to get some “good” inside my children’s bodies.

I thought about this as I read these words in Romans.

The wrath of God is revealed for those who suppress TRUTH in UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.

Like broccoli in a hamburger, Satan suppresses truth in a lie. He suppresses ungodliness inside “innocent fun.” He masks God’s Best behind “good enough” or labels it “never gonna happen.” Satan will even whisper to us that truth is bondage when the REALITY is

TRUTH IS FREEDOM

Jesus said, “…You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Jesus paid the price for ALL SIN

to expose its lies through His Truth

and set us free from its bondage FOREVER through His blood! 

Satan wants us to believe that truth will bind us and suffocate us. That freedom comes from living through the world and what the world has to offer. He feeds us lies like, “I don’t have a choice” or, even better, “God created me this way so He must be ok with it.” This is one of the greatest and most clever deceits in our world today.

Living out of our sin nature and claiming identity in that state gives a distorted view of what God really designed for us. It is true that we are all born into sin; but the lie is that we are made to stay that way. People are bent toward different sins and just because some seem worse than others or some more socially acceptable than others doesn’t mean any of them were meant to be where we find our significance. Violence, sexual perversions, addictions, defiance, murder, greed, lying, pride…these are bondage.

Satan calls them fun, innocent, right of passage, necessary, survival.

God calls them sin…and paid for through Jesus Christ.

Stop believing the lies! Claim your true identity through Christ Jesus:

  • We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
  • Our true identity is not found in our sin nature (Ephesians 2:10)
  • We cannot know our true identity until we die to our flesh and claim the Spiritual rebirth God provided for us through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3)
  • Our true identity is in Christ Jesus-we are hidden in Him-safe and secure

Colossians 3:3

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Where is your identity hidden. Is it masked in your sin nature or protected and hidden in Jesus Christ?

A Sneak Peak + A Giveaway= A Great Post

I have never in my life heard of altered books; but, after seeing Susan DeGarmo’s new book, “Many Paws: The Years of Change,” I am obsessed! Susan used altered books to shed light on an otherwise taboo subject. It is not only cute and clever with pop-ups and customizable pages to make it more personal to you or your loved one, it is hilarious and real.

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As someone who is not yet in this stage of life but can feel it hot on her heels, I can already appreciate the candor and the humorous way it is presented. With play on words, hidden gems and a detachable fan, it is a great little book to perk up anyone coming into the age of change. And, as the book is quick to point out, when you are in this category, you can certainly use a perk or two :D

Here is what author, Susan DeGarmo has to say:

When I was about 47 years old, I put some eggs on the stove to boil. I went downstairs to my office to grade papers and before I knew it, I heard explosions coming from my kitchen! I ran up and saw exploded boiled eggs sitting in a pan with no water. Exploding because I left them in there and totally forgot to take them out.

That year when I had my yearly check-up, I told my doctor I thought I was going crazy! I couldn’t remember the simplest things. I was starting to leak when I laughed, I sweated in bed, had hot flashes in the day, my eyesight was getting worse and my middle was spreading! She patted my hand and told me that I was going through the change. I couldn’t believe what she was saying! At 47 years old I started getting “old”. She handed me a paperback book that she said would help me understand what my body was doing.

That night I relaxed in the tub and picked up the book and began to read. The words were sweet and delicate. “You’re still a woman even though you can’t have babies anymore.”

I couldn’t take it! I tossed it in the trash.

My doctor wouldn’t give me anything to get rid of the symptoms. “It’s perfectly normal,” she said. So, every day became a new adventure with the symptoms of menopause. Thank God my family still loves me!

Since I couldn’t find a book that shared the in-your-face experiences of menopause and getting older with a bit of humor, I decided one day while teaching my altered book class at a local design college, I would make an altered book on the subject and it would be about my experience. Why did I come up with that idea? It was freezing cold outside, my head was beet red, sweat was dripping down my face and my students looked at me like I had a third eye! I just shrugged and pressed on.

I found an old book that had a by-line…the years of change. I took that book and altered it to create “ManyPaws, the Years of Change”. Each week I did a spread in the book.  Depending on what challenges I was going through, that is what I wrote about. We had a show-n-tell in the class every week to show off the work we did in our books. I showed mine to the students and there were lots of “yuck”, “my mom’s doing that”, and sometimes laughter. I wasn’t trying to appeal to them, just critiquing the pages.

At the end of the semester, we had an Altered Book Show. The students and myself would have our altered books on display for the faculty, staff , family and friends. Of course, my whole experience with menopause was there for the whole world to see. It wasn’t long before we heard laughter. Not only from the moms and older women of the college, but from their husbands! Oh no. I was totally embarrassed, but come to find out, they liked it! They started telling their stories and wanted a copy for themselves or to give to their girlfriends. So that’s how all of this started.

Wish you had a copy? I can help with that! Well, at least for one lucky person. Comment below with why you want to win or simply comment “I’m in” for a chance to win your own copy of this fantastic book.  Winner will be announced on Monday!

To learn more about Susan DeGarmo, visit her images-2

Bloghttp://www.manypawsforwomen.com or follow her on

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/manypawsforwomen?ref_type=bookmark

To purchase her book, go to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1qNIsVJ

[photo credit: www.discoveringfranklin.com]

Why Mary Pondered…

sad-womanSeveral times in Luke, scripture states that Mary pondered accounts of Jesus in her heart.

When the Shepherds came to the stable to find Jesus and proclaimed to everyone all that was told to them concerning Jesus (Luke 2:18-19)

She marveled at the things which were spoken by Simeon, whom God promised would see the Messiah and was led into the temple by God’s Spirit. (Luke 2:33)

At the temple, young Jesus left teachers astounded at His wisdom and understanding. Although worried at His whereabouts, Mary got a glimpse of Jesus’ ministry in action. (Luke 2:51)

As a mother, I have committed many things to memory that my children have done or said or participated in; but, I think this “pondering” goes beyond motherly affection.

I believe each of these instances were used at the cross to give Mary strength and comfort to allow God’s plan to unfold in the gruesome way it did.

Mary knew from the beginning how this calling on her life and the life of her Son would end. She, no doubt, either read the prophesies or heard them read. Can you imagine? Having heard the prophesies, she may have even thought how cool it would be to be the one chosen by God. To be found pure and upright in the sight of God Almighty! That desire to be worthy may have even motivated her to stay pure in the heat of temptation awaiting her wedding day.

Mary’s calling was one of honor and came with the highest accolades from God Himself. This honorable calling required someone of a pure heart, godly integrity, bold faith and strength of heart and mind to see this journey to its prophesied end.

That’s why I believe Mary’s pondering wasn’t the typical motherly storing of memories. Mary pondered to gain the strength needed to watch her Son fulfill His life’s purpose. It’s what planted her at the foot of the cross to see this journey out to the very end.

I can’t even imagine the grief that struck her heart as she not only watched Him suffer and die for the sin of the world; but, witness people cast lots for His clothes, mock and disrespect Him. It is a true testament to the power of God that He kept Mary’s “mother bear” instinct in check. And, praise God, His plan didn’t just end there!!

I am so thankful that Mary pondered.

Thank you, God, for the example of Mary. Thank you for fulfilling call and purpose in and through Your Son, Jesus.

What I Learned from a Frog

o-FROG-UMBRELLA-1-570“Dog days of summer” at our house means doing what we can to keep our four dogs, cool, happy and hydrated when they have to be outside. One of their new favorite things is to sit in a baby pool of water while they drink. Not very sanitary, but I’ve seen them do worse. Anyway, a few days ago we notice a frog hanging out on the side of the baby pool. I guess with the swamp-looking conditions the pool has recently taken, she felt like it was a good place to deposit her babies.

As the boys and I were watching the tadpoles awkwardly make their way around, they (the boys, not the tadpoles) were remarking how cool it was that frogs start out in water with a tail and gills and such and then end up on the surface with lungs and legs.

This got me thinking.

Tadpoles breathe water, eat fungi, and swim. After they transform, they live on land, breath air, hop and eat flies. Frogs are a completely new creation.

We, as believers in Christ Jesus, are a lot like frogs. When we join the membership of God’s family, we transform into a new creation. We become a child of God and a resident of Heaven. We can no longer dwell in our old environment continuing in our old habits and expecting to sustain our new life. We must learn new ways, form new habits and learn new techniques that will help us adapt to our new way of life. We are transformed into a new creation in Christ Jesus!!

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

I love these every day reminders of Who God is!! He has a plan and a purpose and He makes it known through His Word, His people, His Spirit; and, even His creation cries out in testimony!!

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Wait Well…

waitingWaiting is not my forte’. And, although I can appreciate the good waiting does toward developing godly character in my life, I fail miserably at waiting.

I feel like a child in “big church,” squirming in the pew, waiting for the service to end. I look for stuff to do to fill the void, occupy my mind and make time pass faster.

Is that really waiting?

Filling my time with distractions while waiting for the next mission is more like what happens in my house when we’re getting ready to leave. We tell our boys to get ready and what time we are leaving. When we do the call out for everyone to head to the car,  suddenly, boys are scrambling to get their shoes or finding pertinent items for where we are headed.

“Why aren’t you ready?” we ask, in a stern yet loving tone…sort of…well, the stern part is accurate.
“I am!” they reply. “I got dressed and then was just playing my game a few minutes while I waited for everyone else to get ready. It will only take a minute to grab my shoes.”

Mostly ready and ready are worlds apart, especially when we are now eating away at our drive time waiting for them to grab those last minute essentials they were supposed to grab during their allotted prep-time. Instead, they get to a comfortable level of preparedness; and, then give in to more exciting distractions while “waiting.”

Distractions waste our prep-time. Distractions, even godly ones, keep us from not only focusing on what God wants to prepare in us during our prep-time; but also, hinders us from resting in Him so we can be renewed and ready. Isaiah 40:31 …those who wait on The Lord will be renewed in strength.

I keep saying that I’m waiting on God; but, I believe God is waiting on me. Patiently watching me as I scramble about in business, all the while asking Him to reveal His next mission for me. Maybe He is telling me, but, I am so consumed with the noise around me, I can’t hear Him. I need to learn to wait well. But, what does that even look like? For me, I think it need to look like this…

Read the Bible without writing a lesson or blog about the content. Let it simply feed my mind and heart. Reflect on it throughout the day and ask God to help me apply it to my life.

Pray reverently. Submit fully to Jesus. His will, His timing, His method. Jesus prayed reverently. He used this time to focus on God the focus and submit His desire to the perfect will of the Father.

Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Sit and Listen to God without my own agenda, without looking for distractions. Focused on Him.

Are you waiting on God or is He waiting on you?
How do you wait well?

New School Year…New Challenges

images-1It’s back to school time, and, if you are like me, you feel both excitement and dread.

I’m excited to have made it through the summer with the children at home, bored, arguing, tracking in on my freshly mopped floor, eating a months worth of groceries in a week, and constantly, well, there and under foot.

However, I’m also feeling dread. The dread of early morning mayhem, homework, arguing, parent meetings, fundraiser, sporting events, new learned attitudes and habits to deprogram and just the lost feeling of security by having my little family constantly… there and under foot.

Amid the bipolar feelings of joy, sorrow, peace and angst, perhaps the most notable concern for me is the effect this year will have on the spiritual health of my children.

Here are a few things you can do to help prepare your child for school and nurture their spiritual health:

Pray. I know this seems obvious; but, prayer is truly the most valuable tool we have as parents. We can’t always be with our children whispering wisdom in their ear; but, God can. There is nowhere they can go to be out of His reach and that alone is invaluable. Pray with them before they head to school each morning and invite them to pray with you. Encourage them to voice their concerns to the Lord with a thankful heart. Intercede for them while they are at school and school functions. Pray over them at night while they are tucked in their beds.

Educate. Run through scenarios of possible temptations or problems and help them think through how to handle them in a godly way. The hardest part on this one is balancing the information with sensitivity to their psyche’. Sometimes running scenarios can create fear and anxiety. Provide Bible verses to back up doing the right thing and making wise choices. Two verses I use constantly with my children are

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Combine Forces. It is much easier to stand firm when you have at least one buddy. Connect with parents you know hold the same values you do and brainstorm proactive ways to prepare your children, together, to withstand problems. Make sure the children know they can depend on each other at school and have each others backs.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Communicate. Be in constant conversation with your child. I know this can be the most challenging part, especially if you don’t have a good relationship with your child. However, it is vital that your child knows that you care enough to ask every day and you will love them no matter how that conversation goes. Keep pointing them towards Jesus and help them make wise choices. If you aren’t sure how to get through to your child, pray! Ask Jesus to give you wisdom, understanding, and boldness to communicate truth to your child.

Also, communicate with their teacher, school staff and other parents. The more you are present in your child’s school environment, the more equipped you will be to respond to situations or even head them off.

Now, I’m not saying to be, “that parent;” but rather, be present by means of helpful and available. Your positive input into the school and classroom will help you gain credibility with the teachers and staff. When you voice a concern or have a suggestion, you are more likely to be heard instead of dismissed as yet another parent who is never there but always willing to tell the teacher how to do her job.

Bottom Line: No matter how much we prepare our children, teach them to do right, take them to church, abstain from certain shows, words and people, ultimately, it is still up to them to choose the right path and make this faith their own. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is the bad choices that nurture the strongest faith. Just keep giving them to the Lord, stand firm in your beliefs and values and love them through it.

I pray that as you continue to nurture your child’s heart for the Lord, He will bless you with a bountiful return for your labor. Have a great school year!

God Knows…God Loves…God Gave

imagesGenealogies are so daunting to read that often I just skip them. I have only read the “begats” of 1st Chronicles once, just to say I have. But, to really see the big picture of God’s grace and His loving kindness in action you have to consider the familial fabric weaved into Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew chapter 1.

First in the lineup who may give pause is Tamar. Tamar was widowed by one of the sons of Judah. And, due to unfulfilled promises of redemption through other sons, she played a harlot to entice her father-in-law, Judah, and became pregnant by him. Next is Rahab. Rahab was harlot by trade who lived in the walls of Jericho. She hid Joshua’s spies in exchange for refuge for herself and her family. Finally, Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite who adhered herself to Naomi after the death of her husband, Naomi’s son.

God honored each of these women by placing them in the bloodline of His perfect Son, Jesus. I love this fact because it echoes the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. This is His plan for all of us. To put us in a place of honor we did not and cannot earn. We so often get lost in the ugliness of our past that we let unworthy mask the fullness of what God offers us-FULL REDEMPTION. 

God knows…God loves…God gave.

That’s the bottom line.

“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

What is keeping you from embracing the fullness of God’s mercy and grace?

Let it go…today…right now! God gave you full unmerited redemption through Jesus Christ. Live in this fact today!

By His Wounds

From the archives…Easter 2012

People react differently to scars depending on their origins. If it’s from a sports wound, a c-section or even a gunshot wound obtained in the line of duty, the scar may be displayed proudly like a trophy serving as a positive reminder of one of the happiest or bravest moments of your life. Regrettably, some scars are not so glamorous. The ones from the wounds of physical abuse inflicted by another or self or even the emotional wounds that haunt the bearer bringing shame and regret.

In His 33 years on earth, Jesus was wounded. His friends betrayed Him repeatedly, authorities sought to discredit Him everywhere He went, He was falsely accused, beaten and brutally killed. His wounds were deep. His scars plentiful. The 39 lashes that crossed His back and ripped the skin with each recoil of the cat of nine tails. Nails pierced His hands and feet securing Him to the hard, splintery cross. The crown of thorns used to mock Him penetrated His skull as soldiers shoved it further into His head with each blow as they struck Him over and over again. Then finally, the wound from the sword that punctured His side to prove, “It was finished” as He proclaimed. The astounding part of this for me is that He could have stopped all this at any time yet He endured. Why? Because Isaiah prophesied that by His wounds we would be healed. (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus knew that all scripture must be fulfilled and He was the One-the Chosen Messiah. (Mark 14:49)

When Jesus was resurrected three days later, the scars from those wounds were the proof that He was (and is) the risen Savior whose blood cleansed and covered all our scars and skeletons. By His wounds you are healed.

What if Jesus had hidden His scars?

When you become a child of God, you are given the power to overcome-the power to endure. At that moment, you are truly forgiven for all sins and screw ups. Sometimes, though, those screw ups leave some pretty nasty and unsightly scars. Our natural human instinct is to cover or hide our scars from the world. But what if your wounds could help heal another? As we share our stories (our testimonies) we help people with the same struggles identify with us giving us the opportunity to point them to Jesus- the One who truly heals.