Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do you see what I see?

There it was. The night sky I so love to gaze up into. And as I stood there on this cold December night, I realized that the sky I peered up at was the very same sky that once led shepherds and wisemen to the savior Jesus. The very same sky! There is no longer a brilliant star pointing the way. Nor is there a choir of angels that fill the sky, at least not that I see tonight. Yet, we are still drawn to Him. Because we still need a savior.

During these busiest of days, I pray that I will take time to remember that. That this babe, whose birthday we celebrate, is the Savior of the world. My world. My Savior.

Praise Him!

John 4:42

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Little lesson

He entered the room with the quiet assuredness of a man in charge. Walked right past me, in his flashy shoes, towards the bookshelf and pulled from it two of his favorite readings. Making himself comfortable on the couch in the corner of the room he sat and flipped through the pages as only one familiar with the content would do. His blue eyes occasionally peering upwards to see the next person coming through the doorway. He involved himself in the setting throughout the hour but always returned back to that reading area. And then she entered. Long blonde hair and a brilliant smile. She herself appeared to walk with confidence. She headed toward the computer.

She sat down in the plastic chair and began working on that computer. Suddenly it was as if all the air, along with her confidence, was let out of this gal. She sat in frustration and cried out, "I can't do it." Her frustration with the computer screen and mouse obvious to all in the room. Then the quiet young man in the corner of the room left behind his books and walked over to the computer desk. He pulled up a chair next to her and sat down as she continued busily trying to figure out the computer program. She voiced again, with more volume, "I CAN'T DO IT!" He gently looked at her and said, "You can do it; I will help you."

Sound like the beginnings of a love story? Of sorts, it was. For this was the love of Jesus that this little boy reads and hears about. Our hero's name? Will. Will is a three year old in my Sunday school class. This young "reader" and student had taken to heart the Good Samaritan story that he had just heard during the first hour of Sunday school. The group of young learners had all shared different ways, in their all so entertaining style, that they too could be kind to others. But Will? Will had taken this story one step further. He sat down next to a tired, frustrated preschool girl and offered kindness. Encouragement. Help.

It was the most beautiful picture of LOVE in action. As I watched this precious young one offer assistance, and later remembered this act, I could almost hear the Savior say to me in my own moments of frustration, "You can do it, I will help you." Little do we know who or what God will use to teach us a lesson. Sunday it was Will.

Galatians 6:10: " Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

Praise Him!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cops and Robbers

It was a muggy Monday afternoon as Molly and I headed back into the parking garage at the hospital. We had just spent a short but enjoyable thirty minutes visiting one of our loved ones. We were walking side by side, arms linked, giggling and chatting our way back to the car. I unlocked the car as I came around the tail end of it and noticed my window. Instantly I realized that something was wrong. I knew I hadn't left my window down. Then I noticed the thousands of shards of safety glass at the foot of the door and knew what had happened. We had been robbed. Yup. Robbed.

I peeked inside where we had hidden both our purses and they,along with two phones, were gone. My seat was covered in the same glass I first noticed outside my driver side door. We glibbly marched our way together back into the hospital to find a security guard. No more giggling.

I have to admit, my first reaction was shock. The second was anger, followed by fear. It was then that Molly and I decided we must forgive. We spoke to each other about what it must take to steal. Hunger. Sick children. Any number of reasons. We hoped out loud that the money would be used for good. Somehow we thought that would make us feel better about the episode. Somehow it didn't.

After what seemed like hours(it wasn't)the police arrived. I was expecting to watch him dust for prints or search the stairways. To my disappointment all he did was take down the information and fill out a report. He then told me "You should plan on leaving everything except your driver's license at home next time you come. Never leave your purse in the car. If you bring it with you, lock it in your trunk." The smarty pants in me thought "well, thank you but I already knew that!" But I thanked him and headed home, slivers of glass poking into my toes and elbows.

This morning as I sat and had my quiet time I was still venting to the Lord about this thing. And truthfully I thought again about what the policeman said to me. I did know I shouldn't leave my purse locked in the car, even if it was out of sight. But I did it anyway. Somewhere in my spirit I felt the Lord reminding me that I can say whatever I want. I can say "I trust You Lord." I can say "I believe You Lord." I can say "I have a heart for those who do not know the Lord." I can even say that "I know I shouldn't ever leave my purse in the car." But if I do not act on that belief, then it is really as if I didn't believe at all.

Praise Him!

P.S. In case you are wondering, our thieves first stop with our money....DVDExpress!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Praise HIM!

I arrived home on Saturday from a wonderful vacation to the gulf side of Florida. Clearwater Beach to be exact. It was a refreshing time for me. Extended time with family. Catching up time with best friends. And time to reflect over the past winter. It was good.

Like me, you may have noticed how gloriously long the daylight is this time of year. I love it. It seemed to me that as we sat at the beach, the days were even longer. We watched the sun dip below the horizon almost every night. It appeared to melt into the water, the horizon line became the place where water met heat. It almost looked as if lava poured out over the seas. Blazing, beautiful, bold. I can hardly find the right words to describe this sight. But what came over the next 45 minutes was also truly beautiful.

Nightfall. It began behind our backs as we viewed the Gulf. It seemed as if the gray shadows began to creep up quietly. Inching ever closer until finally the darkness itself dropped completely into the sea. And then it happened. Little bits of twinkling lights appeared. First one. Then another. Until finally, when darkness settled in, the sky lit up. Every inch of the night sky was completely covered by both large and small lights. Stars existing so far in distance that this feeble mind of mine can't even fathom. The funny thing is the stars were there all day long. Only in the brilliant Florida sunshine I never saw them. It was not until the deep blackness of night settled in did they appear.

It occured to me as I sat viewing this amazing site, that God too reveals some attributes of Himself only when we are in the dark places. His character never changes but parts of Himself are disclosed only during the night-time periods of our lives. It makes me thankful, in a different way, for those difficult seasons. The seasons that make us wonder why we are asked to praise "at all times." I've been there. You probably have too. Let's be encouraged by what David wrote during one of his very difficult times in
Psalms 34:1-6"I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles."

What a reason to praise! That when this "poor" girl "called," " the LORD heard" her!
Praise HIM...at all times!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I made chicken parmesan, First Place style, last night. When I came to add the provolone or the mozzarella at the end of the recipe I realized I had bought the wrong cheese. So my tip is, if you need some mozzarella...try string cheese. I used the low fat version and only used two cheese sticks for the entire recipe. It was perfect to fit on the chicken tenderloins I used!

Here is the entire recipe:
Chicken tenderloins
Olive oil-2 tsp
2 cans of tomatoes
Italian seasoning
garlic powder
parmesan cheese (I used low fat, can style)
mozzarella or provolone (here is where I used string cheese)

Heat skillet and add 2 tsp. of olive oil. Brown chicken tenderloins on both sides(approximately 2 minutes per side). While they are browning, blend with your hand blender the tomatoes right in the can. Add the seasoning to taste. Pour entire two cans, blended, of tomatoes right over chicken. Cover and cook on low for about 25 minutes. Add parmesan cheese and string cheese to melt at end. Serve over whole wheat pasta! Delicious...and it smells wonderful! An added benefit! Enjoy .

Praise Him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yummy Vegetable

Want an EASY way to add some vegetables into your life? Try this quick prep recipe!
  • Slice zucchini or yellow squash into discs
  • Spray with some olive oil or spray butter
  • Sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese (the finely grated from the can is the easiest with this recipe)
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes on 400. Delicious!

Do you have any quick and easy ways to add healthy food into your busy day? Share them with me!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rain on Me

Each day I travel the same route on the way to work. The final jaunt on the journey takes me around quite a curve. I love that curve in the road. It makes me slow down(the speed limit is 25mph) and I get to just take those few seconds to enjoy the calm before the hurriedness of the day sweeps in. Just to the side of that bend in the road there is a small lake, probably more like a pond. The towering pines hover over the pond and there have been many mornings that we catch the sun heading up over that tree line. Ready to begin it's own busy work day. But over the last week there has been a change in scenery on my morning drive. The lake, once full with water and ducks doing their morning swim, is now down to just a muddy puddle. What was once hidden beneath the water is now visible. Stumps. Hundreds of them.

Drought does that. The sun busy at work warming and evaporating can drain a once full lake. It is what the sun does. During normal weather conditions the rain that comes balances out this work. But not now. Not when the rains are sparse. And so we are left without the shadows of trees on a glistening lake. We are left with the stubs of the past. Hints of what once was.

As I passed by the curve on my way from work this week, I was taken by that picture. What I must look like when I refuse to be refreshed with HIS living water for a time. A spiritual drought, not brought on by the climate, but by the deliberate refusal to drink. This spiritual drought can bring back to my mind pictures of dead pieces of my old self. Stuff that I know has long been forgiven, but without being nourished by HIS truth, the enemy lets me think the remains are still present. But there is one more thing in the landscape that I noticed. It is a canoe. A red canoe lying on the banks of the lake. It appears to wait with expectation for the rains. A picture of perfect hope. And the good news is that the rains have come. Both here literally in Columbia, but spiritually too. I find that as I wade in the living water once again that He covers over old wounds and makes me whole again. Jesus, He is my own picture of perfect hope.

Colossians 3:7 "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. "

Praise HIM!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hurry, Hurry

On Sunday, we ate at a small chain restaurant here in town. We sat down and the waitress ran to us and chunked down the menus and promised to be right back. We watched her as she ran from table to table trying to keep a couple of dozen hungry patrons happy. She returned and I said "wow, you are busy!" I wanted to pray for her at our blessing time but didn't really even get the chance to ask her if there was anything specific to pray for. She had already dashed to the next family. When I left, I felt disappointed because although we did pray for her and the other three or four immensly busy workers, she was too busy to even tell her and bless her in some way. A tip on the bill hardly seemed enough. I really just felt sorry for her.

So today I worked out, took a shower, made coffee, made breakfast, ate breakfast, read my Bible study, loaded the dishwasher, swept the floor, made lunch, fed the dogs, carpooled three kids to school, went to walmart, back to work, met with a student, spoke to a class full of juniors, ate lunch with my wonderful guidance department, checked on ink I ordered, made copies, made nametags, answered students' college questions, returned phone calls, returned emails, confirmed our speakers for tomorrow's retreat one final time, checked the progress of an online survey that I sent out to parents yesterday, went to Staples, printed certificates, printed programs, reminded myself to slow down and.."breathe, breathe, breathe", labeled forty folders, checked on speakers, gathered items for tomorrow's career day retreat, headed out the door, dropped off kids from carpool, came home, sat on the couch (for 2 minutes), took Chad to the community center, went to the grocery store, left the grocery store, unpacked the groceries, folded a load of towels, put away dishes, and sat down to read home email and post here. When I write it all down it sounds just about as crazy as it feels. Busy. Busy. Busy.

So when I read back over the day, I see nothing major. Nothing back-breaking. Just a constant buzzing and flitting around. But I noticed the glaring similarities to the busy waitress' day on Sunday. Hurry, hurry. Busy, busy. Never slowing down enough to bless. Never slowing down enough to be blessed. I can't help but wonder, what am I doing this all for? And what does HE have for me that I may be missing? What person have I missed out on blessing, or being blessed by? All because I'm too busy. And I realized my own busy-ness, when looked through in a new light, was to be pitied as well. Too busy for quiet stillness with HIM is just too busy.

I confess Lord that in all the busy-ness I have failed to relish in the peace you have for me. I confess also that I have missed opportunities to speak your peace into others. I confess that I may have confused a busy day with a full day. Lord, let me be so full, that YOU and YOUR hope will spill over unto all that I come in contact with. Help make my feet fixed, if only for a few minutes, to dangle my toes in Your LIVING water. To be refreshed in and by YOU and Your presence. Thank YOU Lord!

Isaiah 58 (The Message)

Praise HIM!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Groundbreaker (Re-post)

I have heard it over the last several days. The reverberations of a chain saw wielded by the strong hands of workers in my next-door neighbors yard. They are busy slicing through hard and soft wood trees readying the land for their expanded garden. These are not new trees. Some must be years old and deeply rooted in the land. All being removed to break up ground that has long been covered with roots, rocks, and the shade of the woods. But boy, they have plans for some delicious sounding summer vegetables. I can't wait to see the bountiful by-product of all this work later this year.

It reminded me of a verse in God's word that teaches us to "Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you." Hosea 10:12.

I have chewed and chewed, as my dear friend Ann recommends, on this verse the past few days. What is the "unplowed ground" in my own life? As I have asked HIM the Lord has shown me much in my life that I need to "break up" in preparation for His harvest. The massive roots of unhealthy thinking and the deceit of the enemy which huddle just beneath the surface. The pebbles, rocks, and sometimes boulders of sin that crowd me and prevent HIS good fruit from growing to its fullness. And the shady areas of comfort and complacency that keep me from stepping into the fullness of His light.

So I begin to break up the ground. With His word. Replacing the enemy's lies with HIS truth. Removing the rocks of sin with THE ROCK of Ages. And stepping out of my settledness and into the adventure certain to be heated at times, but ready for an abundance of HIS fruit! I'm ready for a good tilling, planting, and a harvest with an abundance of His righteousness. Rain on me Lord!

Praise HIM!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dwelling Place

I left my house and children one evening in the care of a dear family friend. I arrived home later to a greeting of "SURPRISE!!" Surprised? Stupefied, dumbfounded, and a wee bit angry would be more like it. That sweetie friend of mine had been watching way too much HGTVand had decided to re-arrange my den furniture! This was a great miscalculation on her part. She must not have known what all the wise know... you just don't mess with a southern gal's husband, children, or her decor (probably shouldn't mess with her hair or shoes either.) This was my house and my arrangement and I was quite pleased with the way it looked, thank you very much. Let's just say as soon as the door slam....closed, I put it back the way it was supposed to be. I giggle a little now, but honestly.

So, I think the Lord must be taken aback by the way HIS home is sometimes treated. Too much junk food, too little exercise, way too much self-criticism, and a great lack of sleep are just a smattering of the things we subject these bodies to. With thoughts like "I'll eat another heaping helping of the latest item from the how to have a heart attack menu" Or I'll catch up on my rest over the weekend." Yes, I act like I own this body.

Oh, but I am reminded that it is "not my own" and furthermore, "it was bought at a price". A great price! So next time I think, "I'll eat what I want" I will think again. I will remember the great care that the LORD gave to the building of the tabernacle. Exodus 25:8-9 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you."

With the same care and purpose, He created me. And you. I can no longer ignore the fact that as I misuse my body in any way, I am destroying the very place HE dwells. I don't want to do that. I won't.

1 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!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Good Gifts

We have a feather topper on our bed. It has really added a lot of comfort to that old queen sized mattress. Only the topper has seen better days. The feathers had gathered to a few corner quilted squares leaving the area that my husband and I tend to lay on FLAT. So I began talking to Chuck about a change a few days ago. (I tend to get something in my mind and proceed to talk a lot. )"We need to replace this topper."; " I think we should get a new mattress topper, don't you? ; " I really love this thing but it needs to be thrown out..it has been washed one too many times. " It was true though. There were more feathers stuck in my pjs than there were left in that topper. So tonight, I returned from Bible study and there my husband is with a giant box. Yup, a new memory foam topper. And what do I say? Thank you? NO. I said, with a quick and biting tone, " you know I don't like those memory foam things." I could tell that it was a verbal zinger that really stung. I felt horrible. I later headed up to our room, apologized and thanked him for his thoughtfulness. We put the mattress topper on and I tell you what, it is comfy! Much better than the old thing and so much better than I ever expected.

I imagine my husband is not the only one that has had a taste of my ungratefulness and sharp tone. The Lord himself has been on the receiving end of a not-so-good grumbling party in response to His good gifts. Sometimes we set our minds on how we want the Lord to respond to our requests and when He gives us better than we asked for, we turn to him and say "You know I don't want that." Maybe we do it when we are on the precipice of a bad decision and He provides a way out. (1 Cor. 10:13) Perhaps it occurs when we are busy sulking in our self loathing over our latest sin, even as He stretches out His arms and offers forgiveness. I know one thing, I don't want to put the look of pain and rejection that I saw in my husband's face tonight on anyone. Especially not on the ONE who always has my best in mind. And you know what, you can bet that ANYTHING He gives will be much better, so much better than we can ever imagine!

Matthew 7:11 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Praise HIM!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Moving Forward

Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that 2008 is behind us and we are now into our first week of 2009. I am always excited to start fresh! Aren't you!

I heard a comment today by a bible study leader at our church. He talked about Moses and his talk with God in the burning bush. (Exodus) He pointed out how many excuses Moses made in trying not to accept God's call to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He was, of course, enjoying a nice life helping his father in law. Nothing bad about the work he was doing. Good actually. But, and this is the thing that hit me, good can become "the enemy of God's BEST." (Bryan Beyer) Wow!

Now I don't know about you but I had a pretty "good" 2008. Not great, but pretty good. But has my "pretty good" kept me too complacent to step into "God's BEST"....the promised land that He has in store? It is all part of trusting HIM. Trusting Him with my health. Trusting Him with my pursuits. Trusting HIM because my good will never compare to HIS best.

Our First Place(www.firstplace4health.com ) session here in SC this winter is called Moving Forward. I love that God doesn't make us go back to where we were and I love that He doesn't leave us where we are. What a God we serve, one who invites us to move forward with HIM to the land of the very best.

Praise HIM!

"Weighting" on the Lord

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