Monday, September 28, 2009

"To Do" Lists

A difficult day for writing to say the least. You know those days when you have enough things on your 'To Do' list to last all week...and you, oh so uncleverly, think that you can get them all done in one day? Well, today was one of those days for me. Why do I do this to myself? The morning got off to a bad start when my daughter, Riley, came into my room to let me know that she still wasn't feeling well. Her flu virus had migrated from respiratory system to stomach. Ugh! Another day home from school.

I had planned on posting a blog to my site this morning, and finishing my homework for my writing class, before heading to the doctor's office to have some stitches removed. Oh, and did I mention the gourmet dinner I had planned to whip up when I got home? That's right. A five-star recipe printed off from RecipeZaar ( Chicken-Avocado Sandwich Wraps; complete with Caesar salad and mandarin orange jello. Laundry and a quick trip to both the grocery store and the library wouldn't be too difficult to fit in would they? Surely I could pack a few things in my suitcase, before Riley and I leave for College Days on Wednesday. Hopefully the stomach bug will be a thing of the distant past by then, because our plane tickets, rental car and hotel are already booked and paid for. Then the phone calls began.

Serving as meal coordinator of the south east region for our church, there was a need for a meal to be taken to a family later in the week. Uh-oh, I was going to be out of town when the meal was needed. Fortunately, there is a co-captain in my group! A couple phone calls later, and I realized I was neither going to finish my blog post nor my on-line class homework.

Later, as I rushed down the stairs to head out the door to my doctor's appointment, Riley asked me what time I had scheduled our chiropractic appointment for that afternoon. What chiropractic appointment? I made a quick phone call, scheduling our appointment for 5:15 that afternoon. So much for my gourmet meal...Maybe a frozen pizza would appease everyone. Not exactly what I had planned, but it would have to work in a pinch.

I let my mind drift back to my morning quiet time. Somewhere between my morning cup of coffee and the dinner pizza, I had lost my focus and was operating on autopilot. I re-opened my journal and read the verse I had copied this morning: "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song I will praise him." (Psalms 28:7; KJV) I was trying to accomplish my 'list' in my strength, not the Lord's. I was tense and ruffled, definitely not in a rejoicing mood. I couldn't honestly say that my song at the moment would be one of praise. Time to repent and get back on track.

It is so good to be reminded that our God is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy (Psalms 103:8). He is faithful to forgive us when we humble ourselves and confess our sin (1 John 1:9). A quick glance through the Psalms, and I was able to get a grip on where I should be focused. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, King David penned the following, "Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning, for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee." (Psalms 143:8; KJV) Acknowledging Him in all my ways guarantees that He will direct my paths. My prayer today is to submit to His authority and allow Him to re-write my "To Do" list with His pen. How about you? Does anything on your list need to be re-written by your Heavenly Father?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Time Well Spent

Relationships are rewarding. Maintaining a good relationship with someone requires a whole host of ingredients that can be boiled down to one word: time. I wouldn't feel a close tie to someone with whom I never spent any time. Nor would I feel comfortable sharing my innermost thoughts with someone I didn't know and trust. I think about those who are important to me, my family and friends. I relish the moments I've been able to spend with them, sharing in conversation, or merely being there during a time of need. Relationships are never one-sided. Sometimes I am on the giving end and other times I am the one in need. It's accurate to say that it takes time to develop a close relationship.

I was reminded today of Joshua, defined in the book of Exodus as Moses' minister (24:13; KJV). No doubt, Joshua and Moses shared a special relationship. Imagine all Moses had to relay to Joshua to train him for the monumental task of leading the children of Israel into the promised land. Deuteronomy 34:9 gives us a glimpse of this incredible man, Joshua, "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses." (KJV)

Was Joshua 'full of the spirit of wisdom' because of his relationship with Moses? Rewind to Exodus 33, where we're given a clue, "7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp...11 And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto a friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle." (7, 11; KJV, emphasis mine) Moses was a great man of God, but Joshua understood that he wasn't meant to experiece God through Moses, he had to have his own personal, relationship with God.

What a joy to know that God doesn't intend for us to have a secondhand relationship with Him. His invitation for us to know and believe Him is clearly stated in Isaiah 43:10, "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me." (KJV) All it takes is time. Time to sit at His feet and hear from His Word. Time to praise Him for who He is. Time to make my requests known to Him. Time sharing my innermost thoughts with Him. Time spent in sweet fellowship.

Bobbi, a missionary to Central and Eastern Europe, shared her insight in her devotional titled, Surrendering Life Goals, "As I experience God at work around me, no longer do I want a life based on possibilities and visions of chance, a life spent trying to make dreams come true. I want a God-planned and purpose-filled life. And I want others to experience the same. I want others to know that our loving God has something more for us than our own personal wants. He offers the reality of a living relationship with Himself and an abundant life filled with possibilities that we cannot begin to imagine." (Voices of the Faithful, Beth Moore, p. 314)

It all begins with a decision. Do I want a close relationship with my Heavenly Father? If so, I must be willing to spend the time necessary to get to know Him. He is who He says He is. Do you desire a close relationship with Him, today? If so, I guarantee it will be time well spent!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Get Ready

The rain continues to fall from the slate gray sky. For the past five days, the weather forecast has been remarkably accurate in its daily prediction of rain. The north Georgia ground has soaked up as much of the wet stuff as it can handle, and still the rain falls. Lake Lanier is on the rise and the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers are swelling rapidly, their currents lapping the banks in seeming anticipation of a new adventure.

We stared in disbelief at on-line pictures of car dealerships underwater and motorists stranded on major highways due to the heavenly deluge. But this downpour was more than just pictures from a story. It was tangible. We watched with shock and dismay as our normally calm creek turned into a raging river of angry water, challenging everything in its path.

Our creek is supplied with water from an underground spring and typically flows peacefully year round. Because the storm drainage system for an adjacent neighborhood flows into our creek, when we get a significant rain it drastically affects the water flow. Over the past eight years, my husband and I have attempted to harness the creeks' flow when faced with similar storm systems. Before we had the sod laid in our outer yard, we could count on losing at least a truckload of soil with each heavy rain. Due to this erosion, we were losing trees; eighty to one hundred foot tall, hardwoods. Our lot looked more like a mini-war zone than a yard.

After years of patiently, and sometimes not so patiently tweaking this and adjusting that, having potentially problem-causing trees removed, adding soil to raise the ground level and putting sod down, we're hoping to finally beat the creek at its game. With an unenviable record to date, Creek 10 Morgans 3, we watched with bated breath as the water swelled to twice and then three times its normal depth. The churning brown water quickly found its way over the driveway, where it tumbled into the pond before swiftly exiting on the other side and transforming our outer yard into a river, nearly fifty feet wide. The sight was almost comical had we not put so much time and effort into beautifying our yard. When the rain slowed down, we breathed a sigh of relief. Despite the channel of water that had forced its way across our driveway and blasted a path across our lawn, there was minimal damage.

Storms not only occur in nature, they happen in our lives. Am I spending the time necessary to lay a solid, sure foundation? When the storms of life come, will I be able to stand or will I crumble? The book of Matthew challenges us with Christ's words, "24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." (Matthew 7:24-25; KJV)Just like my husband and I knew we needed to prepare our yard to survive the effects of the storm, we need to be wise and prepare ourselves for life's storms. Anchor yourself to the Rock, Jesus Christ. The storms are coming. Be prepared.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Remember the days of cramming for that all-important exam and staying up all night in an attempt to complete that grade-defining term paper? Distant memories for most of us. I recall graduating from college with a resolution to never return. Tired of being the student, I was ready to tackle whatever the work world could throw at me. So how is it that I once again find myself answering discussion questions and tackling weekly homework assignments? You guessed it. I'm back in class. Not as a requirement, but because I'd like to improve my writing skills.

Uncanny, when I look back and realize, that each time I've drawn my imaginary line in the sand, the Lord has come along with His heavenly pencil and redrawn it. I remember when I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband and I were discussing her future education. My husband asked what I thought of homeschooling, to which I adamantly replied, "I would never do that!" Four years later, I found myself unpacking A Beka boxes that held our daughter's K-4 curriculum. I'm learning to be very careful about stating anything too emphatically when it comes to what I will and will not do.

Pride isn't pretty. Every time I've attempted to tell God what I'm going to do, He is faithful to allow me to get a glimpse of my pride in the mirror of His Word. When I am able to identify a lie I've believed, the homework begins. It's time to replace that lie with the truth. King Solomon wisely penned, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18, KJV) Writing this biblical truth out on an index card, and repeating it aloud as I'm faced with prideful thinking helps me to be "renewed in the spirit" of my mind (Ephesians 4:23; KJV).

All of us struggle with pride. After all, pride was the reason Lucifer was expelled from heaven. It shouldn't surprise us when Satan and our sinful flesh try to lure us down the pathway paved with pride. The prophet Isaiah wrote about Satan's downfall: "12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." (Isaiah 14:12-14) It's worth noticing that five times in two verses, Satan arrogantly states what he will do.

We have a choice. See how far we can get down pride's pathway, or fall to our knees at humble hill. From a lifetime of experience, the Apostle Peter summed it up as follows, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:" (1 Peter 5:6; KJV) Similarly, the book of James states, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." (James 4:10; KJV) There is freedom in humbly submitting ourselves to a God worthy of all of our praise. Not to mention the incredible truth that He will exalt us in His timing. Will you choose to humbly submit to Him today?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

True Self-Worth

I knew this day was coming. Somehow, I didn't think it would arrive so soon. It seems like only yesterday, our daughter was learning her vowel sounds and taking her first piano lesson. Today, she's preparing to visit prospective colleges and skillfully playing the piano for her school choir. Where did the time go? How wise we are to pray along with Moses, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalms 90:12; KJV)

My husband, Steve, and I aren't the first ones to have to come to grips with the looming 'empty nest,' and I'm certain we won't be the last. For seventeen and a half years I've been Riley's Mom, both a privilege and a responsibility. In all honesty, I have to admit that throughout the years, on plenty of occasions, I've been the antithesis of the Proverbs 31 woman. My mouth has spewed out unkind words and my tongue certainly hasn't spoken the 'law of kindness.' (Proverbs 31:26; KJV) What a comfort to know that God is all-powerful and is able to work in spite of our frailties and shortcomings.

Realizing our responsibility as parents, Steve and I have prayed the words of Deuteronomy 6:5 over our daughter since she was an infant, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." (KJV) Our days of modeling this before Riley on a daily basis, are swiftly coming to an end. Because I've had the benefit of being a stay-at-home Mom, once our daughter spreads her wings to leave the so-called 'nest,' my role is going to change dramatically. What then? Will I still have value?

Instead of becoming overly nostalgic, the Lord has challenged me to see things from His perspective. My self-worth is not determined by what I do, but rather by who I am in Christ. How encouraging to see myself in light of Ephesians 1:3-7. The Apostle Paul highlights some glorious characteristics we possess as children of the most high God. We are blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed and forgiven.

Each season of life brings new opportunities. While some doors may be closing, other doors are swinging wide open. Through much prayer and careful discernment, I'm determined to step through the doors God is opening, so that I might fulfill the 'hope of his calling.' (Ephesians 1:18; KJV) I don't want to miss a single thing He has for me. What opportunities is God placing in your life? Will you answer His call today?

Monday, September 14, 2009


It didn't take him long to figure it out. After the thunderstorm on Wednesday, the invisible fence that provides safe boundaries for our dogs wasn't working. From what we could piece together, a lightning strike had fried the control box, rendering the entire system useless. Since we were working outside on Saturday, we let our Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Joe, out of his 'bark park' to enjoy frolicking in the rest of the yard, unconfined. The problems began when we tried to put him back in his fenced area.

He knew we were still outside. We could see him getting closer and closer to the white flags that usually activate his collar to warn him that he's in the 'danger' zone. When the system is working, this reminder is usually all it takes to convince Joe that he needs to step back. I can only recall a couple times that he's not heeded the warning. The resulting shock was accompanied by a yelp of pain. After that, it didn't take much to persuade him to stay within his boundaries.

Saturday was different. I was on the hillside and could see Joe creeping stealthily forward, extending his front paws gingerly to see if he was in the 'danger' zone yet. Inch by inch, he made his way through his 'bark park' until his auburn head popped up beside me and I turned to see our Chesepeake, tongue lolling out of his mouth, obviously very pleased with himself. He had beat the system. With no consequences for crossing the fence line, he no longer had to stay within its boundaries. No matter how many times my husband led him back into his area, speaking stern warnings every step of the way, within minutes Joe would reappear on the lawn beside us, what could only be described as a sheepish grin covering his face.

What an amazingly accurate picture of our behavior. God has given us His Word to establish safe boudaries in our lives. Knowing where the lines are drawn, we often gravitate as close to the line as possible. We see others outside of the boundaries that appear to be having fun, supposedly living without consequences for their behavior. We step a little closer. Paul is very clear in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God will provide a way for us to escape from whatever is tempting us, but we must be actively looking for the escape route He's providing.

Where are you? Living contentedly within God's boundaries? Or toeing the line, making your plans to join those on the other side who seem to be having so much fun? Don't let the devil trick you into questioning God's good intentions. Eve listened to the serpent's words, "Yea, hath God said..." and was quickly deceived (Genesis 3:1; KJV). Heed God's warnings. Remember the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Know that His boundaries are for your ultimate good and submit to His plans today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Seasons of Life

The request was non-threatening. Would I be willing to share something encouraging with the senior citizens of our church at an up-coming, brunch? Several of them would be sharing their talent in music and song, and my friend was wondering if I might say a few words in between song sets. How could I refuse? Only after agreeing, did I realize that there is a big difference between writing words of encouragement in the form of a blog, from the comfort of my home, and speaking words of encouragement up in front of an audience.

Public speaking sends a chill down my spine and an embarrassing red flush up my neck. In my younger days, when I worked as the Director of Development for a Pregnancy Care Center, part of my job was to present our ministry at churches, both to increase awareness of our presence in the community and to gain financial support. With each presentation, my nerves would get less rattled, but I never became entirely comfortable with public speaking. After being out of the public speaking arena for several years, I'm willing to admit that 'nervous' would be a good word to describe me. But that's not the biggest of my concerns. What does a 40-something, year old woman, have to say to a group of senior saints who have life experiences that far outweigh those of my existence?

God's Word to the rescue. King Solomon gave a succinct, two verse, summary of life: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; KJV) I've read some excellent commentary that likens spring with the season of our lives when we're born and begin to learn. Summer ushers in a planting season, when we begin to sow those things we've learned. We begin harvesting the things we've sown in the autumn of our lives. Perhaps the winter season of our lives helps us to see things with the most clarity. Material things lose their allure. Eternity is now in full view. We anticipate the heavenly rewards we'll receive from a lifetime spent planting, watering and sowing.

Most secular messaging would have us believe that senior citizens are a burden on society. Our Savior has a very different view. The elderly are to be respected for their wisdom and are crucial to the upbringing of the future generation. Titus 2:3-4 says, "3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children," (KJV) Again, King Solomon, in his wisdom and under divine inspiration, penned, "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." (Proverbs 16:31; KJV)

We often associate the younger years with productivity and busyness. We define ourselves based on our career. As we grow older, our children leave home, and eventually we retire. How do we define ourselves now? If we use the world's standards of measurement to determine our self-worth, we will come up sadly lacking. I'm thankful that the truth can make us free (John 8:32). According to 1 Thessalonians 5:24, our God is faithful to call and equip us in every season of life, after all, "...we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10; KJV) Praise God there are no age requirements or limits associated with that statement. So no matter what your age, faith in God and obedience to Him are the keys to success in every season of life. What is God asking you to do today? Will you obey?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The job wasn't easy. Thankfully I had some help. A couple of students from our Sunday school class were helping me weed the large hillside in front of our house. I had let the dreaded task slide down my 'to do' list, until it hit bottom. Either I had to get the weeds under control, or they would definitely complete their stealthy hillside take-over. Some of the weeds looked like miniature umbrellas, with huge leaves that would keep the rain off of an entire family of rodents. Others favored the green, feathery portion of a carrot plant. Both varieties were roughly three feet tall and appeared to be growing by the minute. With garden gloves protecting our tender hands, we got down to the messy business of weeding.

It didn't take long to figure out that these weeds were not going to let go of the soil they'd claimed, without a fight. Time to break out the serious tools. Gardening trowels were replaced with heavy-duty shovels. Take that, you nasty weeds! You could almost see them cowering in fear. With shovelhead poised above the ground where the first offending weed was growing, I imagined it frantically waving a tiny white flag in surrender. As my shovel made contact with the ground and sliced into the soil, I knew within a few moments I'd be the victor - one square inch of ground reclaimed. Long, tuberous roots that had once held the weed firmly in place, would no longer provide a base of support.

Slowly, but steadily, we began to see progress. Hillside that had been completely covered with weeds, now had areas that would welcome real plants. But there was still plenty of work to do. I wondered if it would be easier just to use the weed-eater to finish the job. My husband reminded me that we couldn't solve our problem that way. The weed-eater might be able to cut the weeds down in size, but the roots would remain, allowing the weeds to begin growing again. Although roots are underground and can't be seen, they serve a crucial purpose. My American Heritage Dictionary explains that a root not only supports a plant, but it also "draws food and water from the surrounding soil, and stores food." It goes on to say that the root enables a plant to become firmly established, settled, or entrenched.

What a good illustration from the Master Gardener Himself. When I don't tend to the 'soil' in my heart, the tiny sin-weeds begin to grow, gaining nourishment from their roots. As the sin-weeds get stronger and grow bigger, the roots burrow deeper into the soil, allowing the sins to become firmly established and settled. Just as my Sunday school girls and I realized that it was much easier to pull small weeds rather than big ones, the same truth applies to our spiritual soil. It's much easier to deal with sin in its infancy, than when it's full grown. David had the right idea when he invited his Savior's careful scrutiny, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23-24; KJV)

As I examine the soil of my heart, may I be quick to pluck the tiny sin-weeds before they have the opportunity to grow and develop deep roots. Our God is faithful to forgive us for our sins when we confess them (I John 1:9). He is able to create a clean heart in us and renew a right spirit within us (Psalms 51:10). Begin 'weeding' today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A'mazing' Discovery

September arrived with a definite chill in the air, bringing with it a sort of electrical excitement. Memories of roasting marshmallows in our outdoor fireplace, going horseback riding in the mountains and enjoying the beautiful palette of autumn colors, makes me look forward to the change of seasons. In October, my family and I relish the idea of heading up to Burt's Pumpkin Farm ( to take the traditional hay ride before selecting the pumpkins that will decorate our doorstep. Several local corn fields become mind-boggling mazes that test even the wittiest of customers. A couple years ago, when my Mom made her annual fall visit, we thought it would be fun to check out the corn-maze craze that's only recently made its debut in our neck of the woods.

The day was overcast and a bit blustery, the perfect weather for a stroll through a corn field. With our maps to guide us through the maze, my Mom, daughter, and I set off quite confidently. After all, if we just followed our map we should be done in record time. Or so we thought. If I remember correctly, there were ten stations set up throughout the field where we were to stop and punch our map as we navigated the maze. This would prove that we had followed the right path from entrance to exit.

The trouble began when we were unable to find the very first station. Confused, each of us studied the map and tried to account for each twist and turn that we had made up to that point. I remember backtracking to the beginning, only to miss a turn and find ourselves at station number two, rather than one. At some point, we got so frustrated that we decided to skip the map altogether and just follow people who appeared as if they had an innate sense of direction. This proved quite comical as we ended up shadowing some women from England. Here we were in our home state, hoping foreigners would be able to lead us through this corn maze. Maybe it was a result of their travels, but for whatever reason, they did prove themselves to be much more adept at maze navigation than we were. With lots of laughter and sincere 'thank yous' to our 'guides,' we exited the corn maze safely.

So often, life resembles that corn maze. There are several paths to choose from; only one will lead us safely through life. Our Creator has a map for us, His Word, that will guide us along the one path that He knows will be best for us. This 'map' contains clear directions for avoiding wrong turns and navigating life's storms, but we must be willing to study it. King Soloman, the wisest man who ever lived, was very direct in Proverbs 2:1-5, "1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God." (KJV)

I get myself into trouble when I stop studying the 'map' and decide to drift aimlessly, following after or seeking others who may be able to point me in the right direction. While navigating this thing called life, my earnest desire is echoed in Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." (KJV) Before you get frustrated with the twists and turns life throws at you, remember that your Creator is "a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Follow His 'map' for your life, today.