Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Timely Lesson

I had waited for months. My article had been accepted. It was to be published in January or February. January came and went. February is rapidly coming to a close. Two days ago I decided to call the magazine publisher. The young lady on the other end of the line was extremely courteous and eager to help. She remembered reading my article, yet was unable to find it as she searched through recent editions of the magazine. I gave her my number and she assured me she would give me a status update as soon as she located my article.

The call came yesterday. The managing editor was so grateful for my call of the previous day. She let me know I had cleared up a growing mystery. I was stunned to find out why. My article had indeed been published in their January issue. The only problem was, the by-line had been credited to another author! Major oops! Puzzled, the other author had called them to let them know that she had not written the article. Now this was a problem!

The editor apologized profusely and assured me that a note of correction would be printed in the magazine's April edition. Great! I was trying to imagine readers eagerly scanning the magazine's April correction column and thinking, "Oh, that fantastic article I read in the January edition was really by Maria Morgan and not Ms. So-And-So! She's a good writer, I'll have to check out her blog and other articles she's written!" Not likely...

Then it hit me. All I could do was laugh. The Lord knew I needed a lesson in humility. I'd been more interested in adding that piece to my 'published articles' list, than just allowing God to use it in whatever way He saw fit. Now He had my attention, and humble pie was on the menu!

It's so easy to drift. Unless I consciously submit my writing to the Lord on a daily basis and allow Him to use it, I begin to compare myself with other writers and feel myself slipping into 'competition' mode. It IS important to do my best. Not for the wrong reason - my glory. But always for the right reason - for the honor and glory of God.

The book of Proverbs contains a wealth of wisdom. As the wisest man on earth, King Solomon put things in the proper perspective, "The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility" (Proverbs 15:33; KJV). Eyes must be focused on Him and not self. Things done for the advancement of His kingdom, not my own advancement. I'm reminded of the words of John the Baptist, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Something that doesn't come naturally. I must consciously decide to submit to His will. "...Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34b).

When I choose to clothe myself with humility, take a look at the great gift I receive, "...for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5c). His gift of grace. What my dictionary defines as, "the state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God." Wow! I'll take God's grace over credit for an article any day!

In addition to learning a valuable lesson, there is a silver lining to my experience. The managing editor said they loved my writing and encouraged me to continue sending them articles that will be published with my by-line! Isn't God good?! What lesson is God teaching you, today?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Ultimate Vacation

Anticipation. We've all experienced it. Whether it's looking forward to graduation or counting down the days until we get to see that special someone, our lives are filled with anticipation. My American Heritage Dictionary defines the root word 'anticipate,' as follows, "to look forward to, especially with pleasure; expect." I think I embodied this definition when my husband let me know that we would have the opportunity to head to the beautiful island of Maui.

Friends had vacationed on this lovely island and had shared pictures of its fantastic beauty. Because of the distance to travel and the high cost of airfare, we had never seriously considered Hawaii as a vacation destination. All of that changed, when Steve's company offered a trip to Maui for those employees who reached a certain percentage over their quota. Not only did the trip cover expenses for the employee, but also the employee's spouse! With God miraculously working out every detail, we began anticipating a big Hawaiian adventure.

We purchased a couple of highly recommended guide books and began researching the island and potential activities. What temperatures could we expect? What clothes should we take? Should we purchase our own snorkel gear? Was bug spray a necessity? We made mental notes of all the 'must do' activities that our friends recommended. We began getting everything in order for our trip and started counting down the days.

Steve downloaded several gorgeous pictures of Maui and we even found some Hawaiian music on-line that served to heighten our anticipation of this once-in-a-lifetime dream vacation. After several weeks of planning, we had a fairly good idea of what the island would be like and what to expect. The departure date finally arrived and we boarded our plane.

In spite of our research and preparation, all I can say is that experiencing the reality of Maui with my family far exceeded anything I anticipated! Our view from the ninth floor of the Grand Wailea was absolutely breath-taking. Facing the ocean, our room boasted a clear view of Molokini Crater and the island of Lana'i. With whale season in its prime, it wasn't uncommon to see majestic displays of breaching and tail slapping. Sunny skies and beautiful landscaping completed the glorious picture.

What an incredible reminder of the believer's ultimate destination - heaven! We hear about heaven and think about what it must be like. We anticipate being with our Savior, Jesus Christ, but our anticipation will pale in comparison to the reality of our Lord and the place He's prepared for us! The apostle John gives us some noteworthy glimpses of heaven, "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2, KJV). Can you imagine anything more beautiful than a wedding? And more specifically, a gorgeously arrayed bride prepared for her husband?

John goes on to tell us some incredible things about our God, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4). Wow! Can you imagine the reality of living with God! Here on earth His Holy Spirit dwells within us, but in heaven we'll be face to face with our Creator! I can only imagine...No tears, no death, no sorrow, no pain. The reality of heaven will far surpass all that we can anticipate.

The presence of God will be paramount. The beauty of heaven, unequaled. A city of pure gold, with streets of gold, the foundations of the wall of the city elaborately decorated with every kind of precious stone imaginable, twelve pearl gates (Revelation 21:18, 19, 21). Can you see it? The reality of it will be so much grander than anything we can imagine!

Anticipating our vacation was nothing in comparison to experiencing Maui. How awe-inspiring to realize that the beautiful pictures John paints for us in the book of Revelation are a mere shadow of what awaits us inside the portals of heaven. Begin anticipating your 'ultimate vacation' today, knowing that what God has planned for you in heaven will far-surpass all of your wildest dreams!

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Looking forward to getting back to my regular posting schedule this week! I decided to unplug while my family and I had the glorious opportunity to go to Maui, Hawaii...God certainly blessed us with beautiful weather, gorgeous places and fantastic memories. I'm eager to share them with you!

Can't wait to reconnect and hear from you!

Monday, February 8, 2010


It's gone! The nail polish stain has been removed! After reading through numerous carpet cleaning tricks, we chose a highly recommended on-line remedy to remove the mango madness. Shaving cream. As ridiculous as it sounds, Barbasol shaving cream actually did the trick. After much work, carefully massaging the shaving cream into the carpet, its original color has been restored.

I never would have dreamed that shaving cream could remove brightly colored nail polish from anything, let alone carpet. Sometimes God uses the ordinary, and yes, even the ridiculous things to teach me valuable lessons. Reminds me of a story I read...

His name was Naaman. He was an important man, captain of the host of the king of Syria, to be exact. He had a problem. Not just any problem, a major problem. He had a highly contagious disease -leprosy.

An Isrealite maid just happened to be his wife's servant. She had been captured from Israel and brought to Naaman's household as a slave. In spite of her circumstances, this "little maid" had a heart full of compassion, and spoke to her mistress, "Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy" (2 Kings 5:2,3; KJV).

Naaman decided to meet with the prophet, Elisha, after all, he had nothing to lose..."So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean" (2 Kings 5:9-10).

Wait just a minute! Naaman had traveled a long way to see this prophet. Who did Elisha think he was to send a mere servant to the door, when Naaman was a well-established captain?! The least the prophet could do was to come to the door and speak to Naaman himself. And what was this deal about washing in the Jordan River? Wasn't Elisha aware of the pollution and filth in that river? Wouldn't the rivers in Damascus, either the Abana or Pharpar rivers be much more sanitary? Naaman was ready to stalk away in a rage.

In wisdom, his servants consoled him, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean" (2 Kings 5:13). Although it seemed ridiculous by his standards, and quite unsanitary, Naaman listened to the advice of his servants and went down to the Jordan River. Imagine the thoughts that must have run through his mind as he waded into the dirty water. As he began to dip himself, once, twice, three times into its murky depths. When he came up out of the water that seventh time, he knew that doing the absurd had been entirely worth it! He was healed! "...and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:14b).

From a little maid to a dirty river, God used some pretty ordinary, and even ridiculous things to draw this Syrian captain to Himself. Don't miss Naaman's response, "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel...for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the Lord" (2 Kings 5:15b, 17b).

Sometimes the absurd and ridiculous things have a way of drawing us to God like nothing else can. Doesn't it seem too simple for salvation to be a gift? We can't do anything to earn it, we can only accept it by faith. Paul confirms this truth in the book of Ephesians, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (2:8-9).

Just like Naaman, we each have a choice to make. Will we argue with God? Insisting that there must be SOMETHING we can DO to earn our way to heaven? Or will we simply believe and receive His free gift? Naaman was rewarded for his belief with physical healing. If you choose to accept God's free gift of salvation, you'll be rewarded with spiritual healing. Isaiah paints a beautiful picture, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

When the right 'cleaner' was applied to my carpet, the nail polish stain was removed. The blood of Jesus Christ has already been shed to pay your sin debt. When you allow Him to apply that blood to your account, your sin stain will be removed. Respond to His message today, and you too can be 'clean'!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Gap

There's a gap. So often I don't live out the things I say I believe. I know that trials of different sizes come into my life to help me grow, but many times I live as if I expect God to ‘fix’ all of my problems. Sometimes I pout. Can anyone relate?

After a challenging evening in our church youth program last night, I returned home to find that my once light-beige living room carpet was now decorated with mod splashes of mango nail polish. It was an accident. My daughter, Riley, hadn’t realized that the cap to the nail polish was loose. When she reached for the bottle, the applicator remained in her hand, while the bottle slipped to the floor leaving a tell-tale trail of orange nail polish. At first, I was too shocked to speak.

We tried our cure-all for carpet stains, Nature’s Miracle. Coming highly recommended from our pet store, it has removed just about any kind of stain imaginable, from those little ‘surprises’ our cat leaves behind, to ink from a dry-erase marker. The stuff is truly incredible. Surely it would do its thing and return my carpet to normal! But it didn’t…not this time.

Anger began to set in as I realized the nail polish on my carpet was here to stay. I couldn’t believe how careless Riley had been. I let her know I was none too pleased. I told her how expensive it would be to replace the carpet. New carpet was definitely not in the budget.

As my blood pressure began to return to normal, I realized that I had a choice. Learn from this little trial or remain angry. It truly was an accident, preventable, but an accident none the less. The relationship I have with my daughter is far more important than the attachment I have to my carpet. Family trumps ‘things’ every time!

Although the stain is a permanent reminder of this trial, we both came away with lessons learned. Riley, determined to be more careful. Me, determined to keep my mouth shut until I can speak the truth in love and not anger (Ephesians 4:15). In both of our cases, God’s truth was evident. He is much more concerned about bringing glory to Himself and changing us, than solving all of our problems.

When I look back on the trials I’ve experienced in life, I can identify them as the times that I’ve grown the most. Not that I’m asking for trials, but the faithfulness of God is clearly seen during seasons when I’m focused solely on Him. He is always faithful, I’m just not always mindful of His faithfulness. If I never experienced a trial, I’m afraid I wouldn’t realize my desperate need for His guidance and direction. Words from the book of first Chronicles put everything into proper perspective, “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11; KJV).

How wise I am when I choose to live with the knowledge that there are things in my life that need to be changed. I haven’t arrived yet. I’m a work in progress. Therefore, God is not going to ‘fix’ all of my problems. Each problem is necessary to spur on the transformation process that draws me one step closer to being conformed to the image of Christ.

Can you think of a trial that drew you closer to Christ? I’d love to hear about it, after all, we’re on this journey together!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dinner's Ready!

They returned today. Birds of all varieties filled the trees, each waiting for its turn at the feeder. Beautiful birds. Colorful birds. Downy woodpeckers, cardinals and chickadees. Our feeder has remained empty for quite some time. Once filled, it took our bird-friends a few days to realize they could feast in our neck of the woods once again. The promise of nourishing see awaits each bird that chooses to eat.

Our feeder, chock-full of tasty seed, reminds me of God’s Word, ready to provide sustenance to all who will come and partake. Jesus invites us, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35; KJV). His ‘feast’ will truly bring nourishment and satisfaction to our souls.

Even as our feathered friends have access to our feeder day and night, we also have access to our Heavenly Father anytime. We have a standing invitation from our Savior to come boldly to His throne of grace, “…that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Unlike businesses that maintain set hours, the Bible shares numerous accounts of those who cried out to God before and 'after hours.’ “Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord:” (Lamentations 2:19). The prophet, Isaiah, sought God at both ends of the spectrum. “With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early:” (Isaiah 26:9).

What do you stand in need of today? Hope, encouragement, direction? Do you hear Him calling your name? Pull up a chair at God’s ‘table’ and let His Word rejuvenate your soul! You won’t go hungry!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).