Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Beginnings

Are you telling everyone that your jeans shrunk two sizes in the dryer last night?
Are you wearing anything with elastic around the waist?
Are you tucking more than just your shirt into your pants?
Is Santa not the only one in the neighborhood with a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then welcome to the day after Christmas in America. Where the average person puts on a whopping five to eleven pounds over the holidays. FIVE to ELEVEN pounds? This is one time I don't want to be above average! How about you?

In all seriousness, we as believers, must pick ourselves up and live as the citizens of Heaven that we are. So get ready for transformation!

Philipians 3:18-21 "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

Don't you just love it! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, intends on transforming "our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body". I don't know about you, but this one "lowly" body is ready. I pray that you will consider joining me. Let's surrender to HIM. Let's stand up and be proud citizens of HEAVEN. Citizens who are recognized quickly by just one glance. No sense in putting it off. Let's get started.
New beginnings! That is why He came!
Praise HIM!

P.S. If you are looking for a way to get rid of excess weight, live well, and grow in your walk with the Lord, look for a First Place meeting in your area. Live in Columbia, South Carolina? New First Place sessions will begin in January and February at Spring Valley Baptist Church.

Monday, December 24, 2007


May the love, hope, joy,
and peace that is
Christ Jesus be yours!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Making Time

I once heard Governor Huckabee interviewed about his weight loss. The interviewer asked " Governor, with your busy schedule, how did you ever find time to exercise?" The Governor responded and I paraphrase, " I don't find time. I make time. If I waited until I found the time to exercise I would never get it done". How true is that! If we wait until we find the time to do anything with our busy schedules, especially during this harried week, we would never get it done.

I am reminded of that when I lay down my Bible until later. Or when I pass by my running shoes on the way to put another load of laundry in. Or when I grab the snacks that are easily available instead of sitting down to a healthy meal.

This time of year is busy. Making our lists and checking them twice. Digging out from under heaps of wrapping paper. Scurrying to deliver the last gift. Places to go. People to see. But we (I) must make the time for those things that honor our Lord. I think He would prefer His temple in good repair. Don't you?
So, pardon me while I head out for my run! See you later!

1st Corinthians 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

Praise HIM!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Going "through it"

"Five year old boy shoots and kills a bear twelve times his size! Story after the break" announced the anchor on Fox News Sunday morning. I did not hear the story but it flooded me with memories of working with three and four year old children in the preschool where I helped teach. We used to play a game called "I'm going on a bear hunt!" Maybe you remember that game. The leader of the game would start the hunt by saying "I'm going on a bear hunt!" Echoes of children repeated "I'm going on a bear hunt". "I'm not afraid!" "I see a cave" the leader continues, followed by the quick repetition by the little ones. "I can't go over it, I can't go under it, I can't go around it, gotta go through it!" The eyes of these children would widen with excitement. They stomped their hands as they marched into the make-believe cave. "Gotta go through it!"

Being the third Sunday in Advent, we lit the joy candle yesterday. This season is full of joyous celebrations. Christmas music resounds in every car, home, or mall. Christmas parties each evening in someones home. Preparations for the annual family turkey dinner. Cards from distant family and friends with wishes of joy for the season.

But like me, you may have people in your life today who are not experiencing joy. Who, instead of hearing "Joy to the World" replaying in her mind, recalls a phone call notifying her of her young adult sons death in a motor accident. A young father who instead of rsvp'ing to a Christmas party, stands in a solemn office making his next chemo appointment. A middle-aged wife, who instead of planning her annual family Christmas dinner, soaks her pillow with tears because her husband of 20 years has left her alone. Christmas cards that won't be arriving. Music that won't be played. Loneliness. Hurt. Anger. Grief. An abundance of emotions, but for many, joy is not one of them.

I am reminded by these that sometimes we can't go "over it" or "under it" or "around it". Sometimes we just "gotta go through it". But I am comforted that I don't go through anything alone. Neither do any that know and trust HIM. Dear friend, maybe it is you that is hurting. Know that we have a God that if we "gotta go through it", He will go through it with us. Psalms 9:9-10 says "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." The Message says it this way: 9-10 God's a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you're never sorry you knocked.

Lord, help me be mindful of those whose sorrow is great. Whose pain is deep. Whose loss is unbearable. Let me shine your light into their world. You, who came into this world to bear all our sin. All our sorrow. All our pain and loss. Father let your love penetrate to the very core of those deep emotions. I pray that the hurting amongst us may fall into your hands. Hands that are big enough, gentle enough, compassionate enough, and faithful enough to carry them "through it". There is joy in that. In knowing you are our strength! The "joy of" you O Lord "is my strength" !(Neh. 8:10)
Praise HIM!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Joy: as defined by
1.the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated

Joy as defined by me:
A newborn babies first cry.
The doctor saying "it's a girl" or "it's a boy".
Hot chocolate on a cold day. (sugar free, of course!)
Cold lemonade on a hot day ...made even better while sitting on a front porch swing!
Camping trips complete with songs around the campfire.
The feel of warm sand between my toes while taking a walk on the beach in the early fall.
Hearing the rustling of the leaves on a quiet mountain.
Making it to the top of the mountain.
Making it back down again.
Watching a young child, a teenager, or an older adult step out from the pew and walk to the front of the church to confess their belief in Jesus and make a public profession of their faith.
Hearing "I love you".
Saying "I love you!"
Hearing a big ole "HEY MOM" on the phone!
Watching the night sky while lying on the dock at the lake.
Hearing my three children in another room giggling together.
The Christmas Eve Candlelight service.

But neither nor I can adequately describe the joy that appeared one night over 2000 years ago. Just a babe? No. Just a man. Hardly! God in the flesh. God here on earth. A joy so great that only a heavenly host would do it justice.

Luke 2: 10-13:"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Lord Jesus, I thank you for your arrival here on earth. I thank you that with it you brought hope, peace, joy, and love. I thank you that these gifts of Christmas are still available to those who seek you. Father, help me to remember that these gifts are also mine to share. Help me to deliver them..your hope, your peace, your joy, your love.Praise HIM!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Not on my own

I spent an entire day this past weekend with 60 students at a rally with over 25,000 people, collecting canned goods to give to our local emergency food bank. This was a student-led project, but they needed their sponsor there as well. Don't get me wrong, although it was hectic, and at times a bit chaotic, it was a joy to work alongside them. These high school kids eagerly gathered well over 4000 cans in eight hours of labor-intensive work to help feed the hungry. (Kids are really so much more caring than we often give them credit for.) But I must tell you, this middle-aged body came home exhausted. Bone-tired. Worn out enough to weep. And weep I did when I walked through my doorway.

I left my kitchen before 7am that morning, and I left in a hurry. Walking out on counters cluttered with dirty dishes, dirty laundry, and emptied boxes that needed to head back to the attic. It was all I could do to pack up the items I needed for that day. I expected to return to the same dirty dishes and cluttered counters that I left before sunlight. But joy of joys, I walked into a spotless kitchen. Laundry...cleaned, dried, and folded. The empty boxes from the Christmas ornaments... packed away. The things I KNOW that I could not have done on my own were done for me. Sweet husband!

We have a God like that too. One who reminds me often that I don't have to do it all on my own. One who has done the hardest work for me. I don't have to face a "cluttered with sin" past. It is as "far as the east is from the west" from me. (Ps.103:12) Could not have done that on my own. I don't have to face my own "dirty laundry". He has washed me "whiter than snow". (Ps. 51:7) Again, done by Him. And He continues to "pack away" the pride, selfishness, and other assorted character issues. All the things I KNOW that I could not have done on my own. Done for me. Sweet Heavenly Father!

Father thank you for your work on the cross, for your work in me. I thank you for reminding me that YOU alone have saved me. I praise You for the peace You offer as you guard our hearts and minds in You. For doing all that none of us could ever do on our own. Praise YOU!

Praise HIM!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Nativity

Like many of you, we have slowly been getting our house and yard decorated for Christmas. Many years ago my husband's grandfather, who we called Papa K, built a beautiful and very simple nativity scene for our yard. Papa K's hands were worn and strong and talented. He, a carpenter by avocation, carefully crafted many gifts for us over the years. There is no question that these three, Mary, Joseph, and the Jesus manger, are probably the most dear to us. We spotlight them out front this time each year.

Here in South Carolina, we tend to have fairly mild weather. The last few days have been the exceptions. Wind gusts strong enough to take two wreaths right off my windows. Blasts of cold have strewn anything not bolted down all over the yard. So, Tuesday at work, I had a call from my neighbor and she asked, "did you know your Joseph has tumbled over?" "No" I replied, "I didn't", but I wasn't surprised after the winds we had experienced that morning. That afternoon when my son arrived home from school, he ran inside. He voiced what my neighbor had called about earlier, "Joseph is on the ground". Again. But then he added, "Mom,it looks like he is worshiping the Lord." I went outside to look for myself and found that Chad was right. The wooden Joseph's face and body fell prostrate at the foot of the manger.

Sometimes there are no words that can adequately express our adoration and worship. Sometimes we just need to fall prostrate at the feet of our Lord.
Praise Him this Christmas season! Praise His Name forever!

Matthew 2:11 "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. ..."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Partner

This past weekend I did something I didn't think I could do again. My dear friend and fellow FPer, Pam, and I ran a 5K together. I won't tell you we won. We didn't. I won't even tell you we ran a great time. We didn't. But we did run the race that both of us were, or at least I was, more than a little apprehensive about completing.

The weather could not have been more delightful. It was cool, but not too cold. The warm sun elevated the temperature enough to thaw our toes and nose. It was an absolutely marvelous December morning! The sidelines were full of cheering crowds. Clapping. Arms waving. Cheers of "Go, Go, Go". (It is possible that the crowds were just in a hurry for us to pass so the Annual Christmas Parade could begin, but the encouragement was welcome just the same.) But the very best part of the race was having a running partner!

Pam's continual encouragement is what made the race doable for me. We talked a bit. We laughed a bit. We slowed down for each other...OK, she slowed down for me. We kept each other going.

Down the first hill. Confidence. Back up another. Urging. Marking our distance. Reassurance. Simultaneously grabbing our cups at the water station. Refreshment. And finishing. What a great feeling to finish something you aren't even sure you can begin! All along being lifted up and encouraged by a fellow runner, a fellow sojourner. All the way to the finish line.

So it should be no surprise that this encouraging business is of HIS design! And it is not just for running a 5K race. It is for losing the weight. It is for being disciplined to study the Word. It is for tackling the job hunt. It is for facing a dire illness. It is for waiting for the right time or the right thing or the right person. Encouragement. It is for living the life.
Give it. Receive it. All the way to the finish line.

Romans 1:11-12 "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."

1 Thessalonians 5:11"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

Praise Him!

P.S. By the way, Pam and I did outrun one of the younger ladies.(so Pam, do I tell them she was six?)

Friday, November 30, 2007


You may remember that my darling daughters were home last weekend for Thanksgiving. Because of a late class on Monday, Molly was able to spend an extra night with us. So late Sunday afternoon my sweet angel headed into my closet to search for a sweater to wear to a party the following week. (I admit, I may have "puffed up" with a bit of motherly pride that she would actually want to borrow something of mine.) She proceeded to pull out three adorable Christmas sweaters. Examining each closely, she chose one and then turned and asked me "do you think this would be the best for my TACKY CHRISTMAS SWEATER PARTY?". Tacky?Tacky?? Does she really think this seven (OK, maybe 10)year old red sweater with large knitted snowmen is tacky? Did she not take notice of the adorable puffy "snow balls" attached to the zippers end? I was flabbergasted. Does she not recognize the value of this fashion treasure? The worth of that button nose or two eyes made out of knitted coal? Since I own this sweater I had attributed value that the eyes of my daughter did not see.

Value and worth. Those words come up a lot lately. They are often associated with what we do, what we wear, how we look. What one person may think is valuable or lovely or beautiful, another may not. A few are so confused about their own value that they may even want to give up. Maybe their past haunts them. Or their future terrifies them. The truth is, I often must remind myself of the good news that my value is not based on what I think. Or on what anyone else thinks. My value was established many years ago. When God chose to send His Son. His one and only Son. Because I am worth it. And you are worth it. Not because we are good, or righteous, or beautiful but because He is!

So this Christmas season I will thank Him once again for assuring me of my value. Our value. As seen through the eyes of our "Owner"!

Romans 5:6-8 says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Praise HIM!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Praise Him!

I just came back in from Bible Study with the most amazing group of people. It is a group of mostly women and one very wise man who are working to give Christ First Place in their lives! I am continually amazed by the conversations and insights that the Lord directs. This is one precious group of Christ followers! Why am I still surprised at how much strength is derived from being in fellowship with other believers? Why am I ever surprised at all by this God of ours!

This ever faithful God, the one who parted the seas, who helped a small boy slay a giant, who defeated armies? Our Savior who walked on water, who raised the dead, who forgave sins?

Our Lord,the designer of the ultimate relationship, also designed us to be in fellowship with others! I am so thankful for His way. I am so thankful for His design. And I am so thankful for the fellowship with others who are totally in LOVE with Him! That is you sweet friend! My wonderful husband, family, neighbor, fellow First Place member, or you precious new blog friend. Thank you for allowing the strength of the Holy Spirit to spill out all over me! I praise Him for YOU!

Lord, thank you that you made a way for me to follow You! Thank you for allowing me the great gift of getting to follow you alongside others whose walk inspires and challenges me. Lord, thank you for your great outpouring of love! Thank you for the overflowing strength! Let me continue to be surprised and awed by YOU.

Colossians 1: 3-6
3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.

Praise Him!

The strangest meetings

Isn't it funny how we meet people or run into people in places we least expect to? I am meeting Christian brothers and sisters from all over, some close in proximity to my own home, and some from very far away. I will write more later but I wanted you, my friends and fellow bloggers, to be sure to meet someone I have come to know on the blogosphere. Her name is Angie and she shares such encouragement and just real-life, where the WORD meets life, in her blog. I know you will be encouraged to read her blog. Check the site out at Sonflower

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Unexpected

What a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! Each year, as our children grow older, the time we spend together becomes more and more precious! My husband and I absolutely delight in their company!

I don't know how you spent your time but we spent a busy fun-filled few days in our home. We had one yummy Thursday of eating turkey, one frazzled Friday of after-Thanksgiving shopping, and one chilly Saturday ready for our annual tromp to purchase the Christmas tree. It is a tradition that my children have come to expect. And we are all too happy to oblige!

As much as we love cutting down our own tree, time is short this year so we decided to forgo that tradition. Off to the lot around the corner with the freshest trees in town. It took us all of about 15 minutes to find the tree perfectly grown(and cut) for us! We loaded it in the trunk and made the two mile trip back to our home. The frasier fir we chose was positioned in its new stand and we added the twinkling white lights. Sunday, after church, the five of us gathered around the lit tree and began doing what many of you do. We turned on the Christmas music, made hot chocolate, and began unloading the boxes of old ornaments. I love to hear my children recall memories of their favorite bauble. I love to hold some of the handmade trimmings, garnished with love by a godmother gone to be with the Lord, or by my once small child now entering teen years or adulthood. The last items added are always the shiny red bead garlands and the plaid bows, both now over 15 years old. Standing back, it appears just the way we have come to expect our tree to look. Sweet, sweet memories.

You can imagine my surprise when I stepped into the sunroom at 6:30am today, ready to add water to the stand, and found the tree...fallen. Flat. As in flat on the floor. It is not what I expected this morning. Not what I expected at all.

I just could not get that word out of my head all day.
An angel speaking to Mary. A virgin with child.
The child "will be called the Son of God".
Wrapped in cloths. Placed in a manger.
A most unexpected arrival for the awaited Savior.
The God of the universe placed into the arms of a young Mary his Son, who in turn placed Him into a manger. The world placed Him on a cross heavy with all our sin and in turn He placed us back in the presence of God. Unexpected.

Lord, Most High, thank you for sending your Son. Thank you for making a way for us to be forever in your presence. Keep me in eager expectation of YOU! Expecting the unexpected! Thank you!
Praise Him!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My heart is full of thanksgiving! Today I have been busy mopping, dusting, laundering, mowing, and running errands all in excited anticipation of Thanksgiving day. I can't wait. I love this holiday, one that is specifically designed for us to stop, look around, and be thankful! Be thankful! Pretty simple.

So, I must tell you that I have spent the busy day reminding myself of this simple idea. Be thankful! Dirty feet that just finished an afternoon game of football just trampled all over your shiny floor. Be thankful! Two lovable doggies just scrurried back in the house, bringing with them all their dust-covered fur. Be thankful! Heaps of dirty clothes mysteriously appearing after the last load began. Be thankful! Beautiful yellow, red, and brown leaves covering the yard approximately 15 minutes after you finished mowing. Be thankful! And the last item from the grocery store that has been forgotten the last few trips! Be thankful!

I am thankful for the dirty feet for they were those of a delightful 13 year old son who fills our house with boisterous joy! I am thankful for the dust bearers, our doggies, devoted fans, who are eager to greet us every morning with jumps of joy and love- lapping kisses! The laundry courtesy of two beautiful daughters arriving home from college! Those leaves, well they are the very same ones that shaded our house throughout the sweltering heat of summer. And finally those items from the grocery store, well they will help feed the mouths of some of the people I love most in this world-my family!

Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Happy Thanksgiving! Praise HIM!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Escape Routes

Have you ever taken a cruise? We did and oh, what a vacation! We flew to Vancouver and set sail on a chilly Saturday afternoon. I can't adequately describe the scenery, to say the least it was all spectacular. We saw seals and salmon. We spotted grizzly bears and cubs. Hundreds of bald eagles, many clasping dinner in their talons, soared over our heads. We hiked up trails that were once the highways of gold miners. We rafted down beautiful mountain rivers once canoed by natives. We walked out on glaciers, watching the "white thunder" fall to the sea. The complete range of weather kept us guessing as to what to dress ourselves in each morning. But the absolute artistry by our God more than offset any fashion shortcomings. It was a marvelous week!
But do you know how every cruise begins? If you have been on one, you already know what I was soon to discover. The first hour that you are on the boat the near-deafening blaring of the ship's horn booms over the loudspeaker and the PA system announces that every passenger must proceed to your assigned area for a mandatory drill. No getting out of it. Each room is checked by the stewards as passengers are hurried to the largest dining hall. We hurried too. If you know me, you know I was paying attention! Ready to quiz my hubby and children afterwards.The captain and other staff have you practice putting on a life jacket. They explain how the life boats work and how cold the water is(in Alaska that equals VERY COLD). They finish by pointing out all the emergency escape routes. I'm happy to say that our biggest emergency on the entire trip was discovering our camera battery was not fully charged for another full day of picture snapping!

This memory of the drill does remind me of something God says in His word. He promises in 1st Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
Sometimes God makes the "way out" very obvious for us to see as my captain did on the ship. Sometimes we must search for the "way out" that He provides. Either way, we know that we can take comfort that He is "faithful". Not some of the time. Not most of the time. He is "faithful" all of the time. Always.
As we approach this holiday, and a grand feast at the dining room table, we need to remember that. We can push away from the table with our pants still buttoned. We can pass up a second or third helping of our favorite food. We can take an extra jog around the block. We don't have to be over-full. We can just be thankful!

Thank you Lord that you already see the temptations that await me this week. Thank you that they are not uncommon. Thank you for reminding me that they are not too much to bear. And thank you that when they are, when my power and might are too weak, that You by YOUR SPIRIT, will provide that emergency escape route so I can stand up under it!
Praise Him!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Mark 14:32-36They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba,
Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Overwhelmed with sorrow, our Lord was overwhelmed with sorrow. I sometimes forget how human our God became for us. How he experienced so many human emotions. Including the one described here. Overwhelmed with sorrow.

My husband's co-worker, our friend, lost her son this afternoon in a tragic motor accident. We are all overwhelmed with sorrow with her and her family. So we will do what Jesus did. We fall to the ground and we pray.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What do you see?

Several years back, a new restaurant opened near our home. One Sunday following worship, our family headed over to give it a try. The restaurant was bustling with other first-time customers who appeared to have also just come from their own church. The service was speedy, the food was scrumptious, and the tea was o so sweet. All signs of a winner!

After consuming our meal quickly, which you do when you have a five year old boy, we packed up and headed out the door. Busily relaying to one another what we each loved about our meal, I hear this small voice. The voice of my youngest, who at the time was a kindergartner just learning to read. My daughters had both declared their A+ rating of this place when Chad chimed in. He furled his brow in all seriousness and said "There is one thing I don't like about that place." "What?", we all answered in unison, surprised because we liked it so much. He answered, "they like people to smoke". "They like people to smoke?" we questioned in disbelief. "I didn't see anyone smoking in there" I said; "why do you say that?". He tugged at my hand and pointed slowly to the sign on the front door....THIS IS A SMOKE FREE RESTAURANT. I giggled. You gotta love a new reader! What was plain as day to the rest of us more seasoned readers, was totally missed by this new one. In his own mind, the restaurant wanted you to smoke so badly that they would let you do it for free.

I often remember those words spoken by my young reader. It makes me wonder what I miss seeing that is plain as day to my Heavenly Father?

Clara Scott penned these words in her famous hymn:
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Lord, thank you for all that you have already shown me! Keep my eyes open and seeking you. I so look forward to the day that I see you "face to face"!

Praise Him!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Finish Line

I read the following quote tonight at the Boston Marathon Website :"This is one of the major differences between elite runners' marathon training and others training for the event. Most runners or joggers are simply trying to finish the event in halfway decent condition. Elite runners are essentially "racing" the event."

I have this nagging thought that I can not let go of tonight. I must begin training like an elite athlete for this journey the Lord has me on. I think much like those casual(if there is such a person who runs ANY marathon) runners, I have often run my own race as one who just wants to "finish the event in halfway decent condition." This week's Bible study has been a great awakening for me.
How many times have I read 1st Corinthians and yet never realized that God wants me to run like I want to WIN this race!

1st Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."

WIN? Middle of the heap is always where I've been quite content thank you. You know, not first place, not last, but somewhere in between was more than fine with me. But that is not apparently what my Lord wants for me. He wants me to win this race. Not someone else's race mind you, but the race He has set out for me.

Hebrews 12: 1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

Because I enjoy running, actually it is more like a slow jog, I really love the analogy that God uses in His Word on how we are to prepare. He tells us not to run "aimlessly".
1st Corinthians 9: 26"Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."

So what is aimless? I am a terrible map reader. If you put me in charge of the map and told me where to go, it would take a VERY long time to get there. But there is this new device, the GPS and I'm telling you, for those of us that are map-challenged, it is a real life changer. It tells you where to turn, how far you are from your destination, and even includes markings of where the next restrooms are(now that's an answer to prayer). But you know what you have to do first? You have to tell the system exactly where you are going.

In the same way, we must know where we are headed. For both the physical race to health and the long term race to standing before my Lord,I must know that I will approach those finish lines a winner! And you dear friend, you too will have your own "crowning"moment. He did that for us! And at the end, I can just hear Him saying "I knew you could do it child! I told you so! "

I hear Him cheering me on now!

Praise Him!

Give Away Winner!

Donna Johnson, you are the winner of a new copy of Living Well by Carole Lewis. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Swirly impressions

We were driving down the road one afternoon this past summer when one of my daughters propped her feet up on the dash. I quickly reminded her to take them down, safety nut that I am, but not quickly enough to avoid her leaving her toe prints on the windshield. I must admit, it was a few months before the inside of my car was washed. Recently I headed out in my car and spotted them. The remainders of her swirly toe prints left from that summer stretch. She had left her mark!

Don't you know we are covered with the fingerprints of our HOLY DESIGNER? Before He began shaping us He decided just how He would make us. A sprinkle of this and a dash of that until finally we were just right for the purpose He planned for us. He formed us...think of that picture. With God's hands, the very hands that created the universe, was formed a girl or a boy.... on purpose. And He continues molding us even now, through our experiences, either those He allows or those He purposes. I love remembering that God himself DECIDED and then CREATED....ME. I love that those swirly impressions are still being left on me. His mark. No windex needed...these are prints I want to keep!
Lord, I praise you for "I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps.139:14). I thank you that wherever I go, you are there, that you "have laid your hand upon me"(Ps. 139:5) and continue to leave your mark. And Lord let me never forget the prints you left for my salvation come from nail-scarred hands.
Praise Him!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Promised Give-Away!

Ok friends, as promised a give-away to one of you who leaves a comment anywhere on the blog this week. The give-away is a copy of a great devotional that I was blessed to receive last spring(thank you M and P). Carole Lewis, the national director of First Place put this together and I tell you I LOVE IT! I know you will too. So go ahead, leave a comment and you will be entered in the drawing to be held next Tuesday. The winner will be posted right here on the blog Wednesday, November 14 .

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hitting the Brick Wall

I remember my initiation into the sport of down-hill skiing. I must have been about 12 years old. The mountains of North Carolina were close to home and seemed to challenge us to a run on their snowy slopes. You should know that at 12 years old I seemed to fear anything out of the ordinary.I feared airplanes, natural disasters, and most especially the disease of the month thoroughly described in my mother's ladies magazine. (I believe my mother actually discontinued the subscription after the umpteenth time that I finished an article and began exhibiting every sign and symptom of the latest disease.) Sadly, my fears also extended into recreational activities, in particular those activities involving speed and loss of control!

While my family and I climbed into our new ski apparel, I imagined poking my eye out with the ski pole, or going off the side of the mountain, or losing toes to frost-bite(another article I read). The ski instructors reassured all of us and even pointed out the hay stacks at the bottom of the slope "just in case" you can't stop. That seemed to assuage my fears long enough to get me out to the bunny slope. Snow-plow down, go back up, snow-plow down, go back up. You get the picture, definitely not Winter Olympic material. But my mom, she was brave. She promptly took off for the first hill. She made her way to the top and began zipping along right down the slope. I looked over and said to myself "I don't think she is going to stop! Good thing there is that hay down there!" She used the man-made wall to complete her run. And then she got up...bloody nose and all. That seemingly soft wall of hay was actually a solid block , no actually a solid wall of ice! It stopped her alright. But good humored mom that she was, she just wiped her nose and giggled her way to the lodge. At least it gave me a good excuse to get my, now sure to be semi-frozen, toes out of the boots and in front of the blazing fire. Mom was ok and I liked it much better inside.

Ever hit a brick wall? (or a frozen block of hay?) I seem to be running into that wall lately. If truth be told, it seems to be a wall I may have erected myself. Beginning my walk to good health was a breeze and I too was "zipping along" at full speed. Then after a good run, I hit the brick wall. I seem to have lost the same three pounds several times now.It isn't that I have given up, I just seem to have lost more steam than pounds. So how do you stay motivated to continue a life-time plan for living well?

Here are some of the things the Lord has shown me as I have been searching the Word on how to stay motivated:
-Quit relying on my own strength.
1 Chronicles 16:11 "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."

-Stop making this all about me.
Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

-Remain steadfast
Psalm 57:7:My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.

I looked up steadfast and here is what it says:
1.fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
2.firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
3.unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 06 Nov. 2007.>.

What power in the word steadfast! Fixed, firm, and unwavering! Sounds a lot like a Savior I know.

Lord, keep my eyes fixed on you, "the author and perfecter of my faith"(Hebrews 12:2). It is through your strength that I can break and even avoid brick walls. Remind me when I focus too much on my own body, that it is not my own, but was "bought at a price"(1 Cor.6:19-20). And Lord, help me follow your example, remaining steadfast! Thank you Lord!
Praise Him!

Tell me how you stay motivated!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thankful Thursday

Colossians 1:3-5 "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints__the faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel "

I am thankful for my God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the priviledge for praying for you.

I am thankful for your faith in Christ Jesus, it is a great joy to watch that faith and to learn from it.

I am thankful for the love you have for all of those you come in contact with.

I am thankful for the faith and love that springs from the hope that is stored up in heaven.

I am thankful for the word of TRUTH, the gospel.

I am thankful, truly thankful for YOU fellow sojourner of faith!

Praise HIM!

For more Thankful Thursday posts, visit Crystal at

Monday, October 29, 2007

The phone call

Saturday night SEC football in the Tennessee mountains! There was a tremendous crowd of devoted Gamecock and Volunteer fans. The excitement was palpable with both sides anticipating a win. This was going to be some night! Swarms of people from both sides were donned in their school's colors, myself included. The wind was crisp and it felt like fall had finally arrived. You could not have asked for a better evening! Great weather, great friends, great football!

My husband picked up his cell phone and started talking. I could only hear his side of the conversation. It went something like this "Yes, this is Chad's father. What happened?" An enormously long pause as he listened to the person on the other side of the phone line. "Yes, you have my permission to treat him." A second agonizing break while he listened. "Yes, you have my permission to stitch him up." All the while, my heart is racing and I am clamoring for the phone. I wanted to speak with someone and find out what had happened. My husband handed the phone to me as he tried to reassure me that it was OK. The phone lines faltered, the crowd was loud, and I heard only bits of the doctor's explanation. All I know is that Chad is going to be stitched up and I'm not there.

I wanted to hear Chad's voice.
I wanted him to hear mine.
I wanted to be with him. Instead I'm stuck five hours away in the middle of a crowd of 105,000 people who I no longer found interesting or fun. I just wanted to be with my boy. I wanted to hold his hand while he was getting stitches. I wanted to tell him he was going to be alright.
I wanted to comfort him, encourage him, give him my strength. But I couldn't even talk to him because we lost our cell phone connection.
I prayed.

A few hours later, a call came through from the doctor who stitched up Chad's arm . A backyard football injury, certainly not life threatening. He was ok. My boy was OK.

As we have been studying prayer this week, I couldn't help but be reminded of our Heavenly Father's desire to have an intimate relationship with us.
He wants to hear our voice.
He wants us to hear Him.
He wants to be with us.
He wants to comfort and encourage us and give us His strength.

Prayer so often is THE ANSWER, not just the way we seek or receive the answer. It is this gracious and amazing gift from a loving Father who wants to be in relationship with me, with you, with all of us.

Deuteronomy 4:7 "What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? "

Thank you my Father. O Lord, my God, thank you for drawing near to me. Thank you for wanting to.

Praise Him!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Demolition Crew

I love home improvement television. Weekend Warriors, Room by Room, Curb Appeal, you name it, I love it. There is one particular show on Sunday evenings that I especially enjoy. It introduces us, the viewers, to a deserving family chosen to receive a total extreme home makeover. The family is usually surprised to a loud "HELLO ......FAMILY" and then whisked off to a dream vacation while the construction of a new home takes place. There is always a point in their vacation that the family gathers around a small computer screen to watch as the host zooms his camera in on the demolition of their old home. The scene is characterized by the crushing swing of a wrecking ball, tumbling walls, dust clouds hovering in the air, and a host scurrying from the debris. The response of the family varies but often includes a gasp and even a little weeping as they watch their old home crumble to the ground. I sometimes think "seriously, you are about to get the home of your dreams and you are crying as you watch that dilapidated old thing fall?"

But then I remember. I remember having similar responses to my own personal stronghold demolition. Not all strongholds but, though it may sound strange, some strongholds are often like an old rickety home for us. Why would we want to hold onto anything that keeps us from freedom, keeps us from the full life that God has planned for us? It may be a battered, broken-down, decaying half-life. Yet sometimes, it is all we know, and we grieve its loss. And so it goes, our own clinging to the stronghold allows it to stay another day. And again I think to myself "seriously? ".

But here is the good news, this very demolition, if we will allow it to take place, leads to the rebuilding of something so much better! And the weapons used to demolish the strongholds? They are no ordinary "weapons of the world". These weapons have "divine power"!

So when I am bemoaning the annihilation of some old familiar stronghold, I will remember. I will remember that Christ "loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). I will remember to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles," so that I can "run with perseverance the race marked out for"me (Hebrews 12:1). I will remember that"the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom 8:21). And I will remember that glorious freedom begins when I stop clinging. I will remember to let the demolition begin!
Praise Him!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The recipe

The first time I celebrated my dear husband's birthday as his wife, I wanted to make a cake for him. I knew that he had two favorite cakes, German chocolate and Carrot cake. I decided to attempt to bake the German chocolate. I went to the store, bought all the ingredients, went home, baked the cake successfully and served it lovingly(and somewhat proudly) to my hubby. He LOVED it! He gobbled down piece after piece until there was not one crumb on the plate nor one drop of milk left in the carton. Within a couple of days the entire cake was GONE. You can just imagine how great this newlywed wife felt.

That weekend we went to his parents hometown . This is the type of small, southern hometown that people dream of. You know, the town reminiscent of Andy Griffith's Mayberry complete with the front porch and creaky screened door. He was so excited to tell his grandmother, Mammie, about the birthday cake I baked him and how delicious it was. She was delighted to know that I actually cooked for him. Of course, the town's cake baker that she was, she asked me for my recipe. Recipe? I sought to remember. Did I hear her ask "what was in it" ? I struggled to visualize the ingredients on the side of the Duncan Hines box. Flour, yes that was in it...chocolate, butter..yes, those too. She was gracious enough not to prod further. I'm sure she recognized the ineptness of my answers. I was quickly deflated. I realized that though it may have looked good, a box cake was not really all that special in a home where HOURS were spent on perfecting each recipe. I felt I had made only a replica, a sort of cheap imitation of the real thing.

Lord, don't let my life ever be a cheap imitation. Let me be real. Let me be authentic. Your word says in 2 Corinthians 3: 18 "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." Lord, take whatever ingredients you deem necessary to transform this gal into one who reflects your glory! I thank you that you include in your recipe a big, heaping helping of grace and forgiveness.
Praise Him!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I've got a lot to learn!

So, I am about two weeks into this blogging thing, still begging my friends(yes, you) and family(and you too) to join in by posting comments. I have learned a lot...mostly that there is a lot to learn. I have learned that in creating a blog site, using a template is the simplest way to get things arranged. I have learned how to add pictures to the posting, but haven't quite figured out how to put them on the sidebar. I have learned how to add a poll to the blog, but not how to make it last longer than six days. I have learned to re-arrange my template, but not how to stretch the header(title) across the entire top of the site. I have even received a "warning triangle" when I try to add something that the program won't accept. Yup, I still have a lot to learn.

It reminds me of our walk to health with the Lord. So, this week maybe you learned how to write down all your food choices, but not how to count that pesky casserole. You have learned that exercise is important, but not quite how to add it into everyday life. You have learned that having a quiet time with the Lord each day is precious, but not quite how to get the "quiet" part in with little ones at your feet. Maybe you have even gotten your own little "warning triangle" in the form of a scripture to remind you not to add(eat)something that you don't need. Yup, we all have learned quite a bit in the last few weeks, and you know what? We still have a lot to learn.

I am so thankful for a Master, Teacher who allows us to continue learning each day. I am thankful for His patience and gentleness even as he may teach us time after time before we finally "get it". I thank Him for allowing us to sit at His feet, to relish in His Word, to allow us to go on... with a lot to learn. Praise Him!

2nd Timothy 14-17: 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Between

We have all seen them, the before and after pictures that accompany every ad trying to sell the newest weight loss program, or amazing cleaning product, or home makeover addition. I realized today that somewhere from the before to the after of our weight loss, or home makeover, or you fill in the blank, there is a great big "between".

This morning, as I decided to plant some beautiful fall mums and pansies, I discovered I would first have to do a lot of work raking, pulling, and digging. That is hard labor! "Why I'm not sure I'm up to that this morning", I thought to myself. I mean I want my yard to look like some in my favorite home know clean, tidy, well-manicured, and teeming with fall colors spilling onto the garden walk. But raking? Weeding? Surely there is another way. You see, the great "between" was scaring me off.

That seems to be a running theme with me: a deep desire for the after without much thought of the great "between". Like this desire to live a healthy life at a healthy weight, the "between" often looks daunting and too demanding. But there is no "between" that I can think of that must have been more difficult than the "between" my Christ suffered through.

Heaping piles of guilt, sin, and blame all put on one guiltless, sinless, blameless Jesus. My guilt and yours. My sin and yours. My blame and yours. What was that "between" like for Him? What was that separation of a perfect man/God from His heavenly Father like? How great was the agony for this sinless Jesus to carry sin? And yet he did. He bore my sin and suffered the "between". This "between" was the most significant of all betweens. It had an after like no other.
Next time the "between" looks tough, I will remember....

One God's before and between, for the after of us all. Talk about makeover possibilities!

Matthew 28:6:"He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. "
Praise HIM!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lost pup

As I drove home from Walmart tonight, I came to a four way stop sign and saw the red glint of an animal's eyes heading toward my car. As I stopped, an old wolf-looking dog ambled up to my car door. Nose up toward my window, I couldn't help but notice he looked scared and lost. I stopped the car, got out to pet him, and checked for identification. He had on only a red bark collar and another collar. His old gray face perked up a bit as I stood and petted him. I tried coaxing him into my car in the hopes of driving around to find his home... or something. I felt helpless. Nothing I tried persuaded him to get into my car. He finally walked away, leaving me crying in the dark and wondering if he would find his way home.
I drove quickly back to my house to get a few biscuits and my dog- loving 13 year old son. We drove back to where I had last seen my gentle friend... but he was gone. I guess sometimes you only get one chance with the lost.

I am so very humbled and so very thankful that we have a God who seeks the lost. If not, this is one gal who may still be wandering in the dark, looking for home.

Ezekiel 34:16 "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Keep on , keep on, keep on

Remember the Brady Bunch song? That song has been swirling through my head all day. It could be that it was a tougher weekend than normal as far as keeping my commitments, or maybe I'm still hoping to turn out looking like Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. OK, so I am a closet Nick at Night fan!

On days when every corner seems to offer me the chance to ditch any or all of the commitments, I need to remember 2 Corinthians 10:5: "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Have you heard some arguments against this journey toward health and total wellness? I have. I have argued with myself throughout the weekend . The mountain just looked too big. As I rode in the car to pick up my son from an afternoon movie with Sunday school friends, I just whispered to the Lord "I don't have the strength to fight the arguments today Lord". He reminded me that His word says that I can not only fight but I can "demolish" those arguments. We demolish them with His word..our sword. But today even that reminder fell short in strengthening me completely. The sword just looked too heavy to even lift, much less wield. It was as if my spirit heard Him say, "just ask, I'll lift it for you". You better believe I asked, and asked immediately! You know what? He did. He did lift the sword! I pray for all of us that when we are too tired to fight anymore, that we allow the strength and mighty power of our Father to fight for us! He is not only the giver of the sword, but often is the Knight who can strike with it. Praise HIM!

I am so encouraged to read your posts and email. They help me "keep on, keep on, keep on". How about you? What encourages you?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Weighty what?

Weighty thoughts, an odd name? The idea is to "weigh in" on how the Lord meets us in our weight loss adventure and our everyday life. I am excited to see how the Lord uses this time and this format to grow us closer to Him.

For all of my fellow FP'ers, welcome ! Thank you for any insights you have.

In each post I will spend a little time sharing about what the Lord is showing me in His word or in my life and I would love to hear your thoughts. I am no theologian, just someone who loves the Word and the Word Giver..Our Father and Lord!

We will stay away from complaining but we will look for answers on how to work through some of the things that may hold us back from the "abundant" life that He promises! That is why He came, to give us life and give it more abundantly!

Blogging novice that I am, forgive me for any mistakes or blog etiquette faux pas. So here goes:

Sometimes we may run into Jesus when we least expect to see him.
Today I had one of those "big smile" kind of moments, you know the ones that make you grin from ear to ear and from inside to out! For you to fully understand, let me begin with a minute from yesterday afternoon. I met a new friend Ella, the precious six year old daughter of a co-worker. We spent a short but wonderful time discussing how much we both enjoyed American Girl dolls and catalogs. She told me she had a doll of her very own that she "named on December 25th". She was so proud to tell me all about this doll and how she wanted 100 more dolls soon. Ella was bright,cheery, and vivaciously verbal. Fast forward to today. As I walked to meet a visiting college rep at the main office of the high school where I work, I spotted a group of young elementary school aged children in single file heading to an event at the auditorium on our campus. I looked over and there was Ella, pointing out to her friend the door to the main office. I could see her saying, as she read the sign on the door, "that is my mommy's work, see...M A I N(spelled it and said it to her friend), that's the MAIN office". You could see that she was excited to show her friend where her mommy works. Then she spotted me and her small hand went up in the air forming the beginnings of a great big wave! She was quickly swinging her arm wildly to say hello and there I was smiling and BIG waving back! Wow! That excitement made my day! See, she recognized me. I was someone she knew and I saw her quickly lean toward her friend and tell her that she knew me. I don't know what words she used but I did think to myself later that this adorable conversationalist would probably explain how we met, that I knew her mommy, where my office was, and that I had two daughters who still occasionally play with their own American dolls. You know... everything she knew about me! I am only guessing of course, just based on all I learned in ten minutes about her doll, her friends, and her school in our own visit yesterday.
Don't you know that that is what testimony is all about. Delighted excitement to share about our "Friend" and Savior. I pray that we will always be excited to share about our Jesus, who He is to us and how He is taking us on this life journey. And I hope the next time we see Him, whether through his word or through something that happens during the day, that we too will lift up our hand and give him a great big wave! Now that will be a big smile moment!

"Weighting" on the Lord

Let this be a place of encouragement for you in your own walk!