Monday, April 30, 2012


Our lil'est
The dance crew:)
So this weekend was full of amazing things. First we took our girls to Canton, Michigan for their Kids’ Fine Arts Festival. What an awesome event! Children (ages 6-12) from all the Assemblies of God churches in Michigan came together to sing, dance, worship, give sermons, display art, play instruments…you name it, they did it. Can I just say, children using their talent to worship God, well, there’s nothing like it! God gets a hold of a heart, and it doesn’t matter the age. We were truly blessed to watch these kids as they ministered to us. It was a crazy, long day, but no place I’d rather be. And…proud mama here…our girls took first place with their dance:) I only wish my camera had been playing nicely so I could show you more of all the kids.

Then we came home and celebrated our son’s twelfth birthday. Okay. People tell you it will go fast, but really? I know in a few more years I’ll look back and wish for twelve, but right now, that seems so old. I guess it’s the reality that time doesn’t have a pause button. The days are long, but the years are short—it’s a saying I completely agree with.
1 day old :)
12 years old!


I’ll be back with my regular devotions next week, but I’d love to hear how your weekends were. And see if you agree with that saying above!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Battle Praise

****This is a repost this morning, so a little different for my Wednesdays lately, but different is good, or so I'm told :) Have a blessed day everyone!****

I’ve been slowly reading through the Bible, a feat I’ve never really accomplished in my life. Sure, I’ve read it all in bits and pieces, I’m familiar with the stories, have memorized scripture, but I’ve never really sat down and read it cover-to-cover. It has drawn me in. I’m on no timeline to finish, but there is something amazing that happens as I open God’s Word in the morning and just read it. Some days it’s simply one chapter, other days I’m pulled into a story and blow through five or six. If you haven’t ever accomplished reading His story, I challenge you to try it. Don’t pressure yourself with a plan, just crack it open and see where He leads you.
Okay, well, I digress…but it was a good rabbit holeJ I wanted to talk about a passage that stopped me this week. It’s out of 2 Chronicles 20 and stars Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. He was facing a battle with some big people, a “vast army” to be exact. I can relate? You? Well Jehoshaphat sought the Lord and I love what happens here.
First, the people of Judah fasted and called out to God. Then He answered. And just look at His answer (I’m taking this from verses 15-17) “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged…face them and the Lord will be with you.”
Before I move onto what Jehoshaphat and Judah did, I want to point out something—the battle was never theirs. Did you see that? God tells them it’s His battle, they didn’t need to fight it. Sometimes we get locked into fighting a battle that was never ours to take up. We can’t understand why we feel defeated, yet we aren’t even supposed to be in the fight. So what should we be doing, if not fighting?
Praising.

Let’s keep reading snippets from the rest of the passage. "Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. Then some Levites…praised the Lord with very loud voices…Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army…and as they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir…and they were defeated.”
Do you see? See the power of our praise? So often we try and take the battle from God and all He wants is our praise. As we praise, He moves. There is such power in the simple act of worship.
Are you fighting a battle today? Seek God…is He trying to tell you that the battle is His? Step back from the fight and start praising—let Him defeat your enemy. The battle belongs to the Lord.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Prepared

So I was reading Exodus the other morning, and I got stopped in Chapter 23, right where God is talking to Moses telling him how He will prepare the way for the Israelites. Currently being in a state of preparation myself (can anyone relate??), the passage seemed to leap off the page at me. Right there at verse 20 I started to get fired up! He was talking to the Israelites, but He might as well have been talking to me. God’s asking them to follow Him (check), not rebel (check), worship Him (check, check), and with their obedience God promises He’ll go ahead of them, guard them, become an enemy of their enemies…“wipe them out” (check it out, He actually says that! v. 23). He outlines His plan to send their enemies into confusion, to make them turn tail and run.  And with each word, I got more and more excited.

I mean, do ya’ll realize that’s the God we have on our side? That He’s created us with a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) and with a land He wants us to inherit? And as we follow Him, He's going to blaze the trail for us. It may be a ministry, your family, your business…but there’s a land He wants to bring you to. And as I read I could almost taste the fruit of my land, feel the breeze blow through my hair, touch the soft hammock I’d relax in after the long battle to get there.

I continued to read with zeal until verse 29 where I screeched to a halt. There it was. One little word: but.

Wait a second. Hold up. We’re right in the middle of talking about how He’s smiting our enemies and now there’s a BUT? And not just any BUT, but a “but I will not drive them out in a single year”…

So what you’re saying is you’ll bring me to the land BUT that’s not where it ends? No hammock.

Huh.

Way to rain on my parade.

The thing with God is He always has a reason, and this time is no different. He didn’t put the BUT in there to discourage the Israelites or us. It wasn't there to pour a big old bucket of water on my Holy-Fired-Up Zeal. No. It was there to prepare: arriving at your destination does not mean the journey is over.

See, just because we finally set foot in the land does not mean our growth is complete. In fact, if we read the rest of that verse, we see why God wouldn’t drive their enemies out all in one breath when He so totally could have. He didn’t because they weren’t ready for it. Just look: “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

Sometimes the land He’s prepared for us is so large, we can’t take it all in until we’ve grown enough. If He merely delivered us there all at once, the land would overtake us. So He gives it to us in snippets. The victory is still ours. The land still belongs to us, we simply may not take possession in that moment because sometimes our very growth cannot be complete until we’ve lived in the land for a while.

What I love the most about this passage is how God bookends these few sentences. He starts off telling them about His power, how if they obey Him, He’ll bring them into the land. Then He lays that BUT in there—to prepare, not to discourage—but doesn’t leave them there. He finishes with the reminder that the land will be theirs. He ends firing them back up, encouraging them, reminding them of His strength.

Because He is a mighty God. And He loves you. A lot. And that land He's bringing you to? He's going to give it to you--when you've increased enough to take possession.

What land are you heading for today? Have you seen glimpses of it? Do you trust God to get you there? Or maybe you’ve taken your firsts steps into it only to realize you won’t be taking possession for a while. Wherever you are, I pray you are encouraged today and remember He’s going before you and behind you—the land is yours. Keep your eyes on Him.

Friday, April 20, 2012

CD Shelf Friday

I had a Book for the shelf this morning, but felt the nudge to pull that post down. So I decided to reach for some music instead.

My friend Michelle is always putting up music on Mondays over at her blog--check her out, she has a great blog--and she introduced me to this singer Dara Maclean. I've since fallen in love with Dara's music and now hear her all the time on the radio. This is my favorite of hers...it's slowed a bit for this version, but I liked this video better:)

Enjoy and have a great weekend!









Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey there everyone! It's Wednesday, time to raise some praise! What are you thankful for this week? Mine are pretty random this week:)

First, at our house, we've had a special guest. A robin has decided to make her nest in the tree right outside my daughter's room, providing us with a perfect view of her and her three blue eggs. My three little ones have taken to watching out for her...and even I don't mind listening to her in the mornings--which, if you know me, is HUGE! We're anxiously awaiting the hatching of Ms. Birdie's eggs and loving this small blessing.

A few other blessings this week:

~rain! We desperately needed it, and it even came with lightening and thunder. I love a good thunder storm.

~encouragement given, and at just the right time. It's amazing how a few simple words can spur us forward just when we need them. God's all about perfect timing, isn't He?

~my family all being healthy again...we all battled colds and gunk last week.

~my glasses. Seriously, if I lived in another era I would have been considered blind. I don't even see the "E" on my eye tests. (and while we're at it, I'm thankful that there's new technology to keep the lenses thin, and for the option to wear contacts)

~my height. I used to hate it but now love that I can always see where I'm going in a crowd, can reach whatever I want without having to jump for it, and can speed-walk a pretty mean pace.

What about you all? Share one of your random blessings this week:)


Monday, April 16, 2012

Peace Peace

Can anyone out there relate to the word “crazy”? And not just to describe yourself, but your life? Yeah. Me too. And where I get in trouble is allowing myself to believe that life will slow down; if I can just make it to next week, I’ll be okay, I’ll play catch-up, I’ll be able to take a breath.

Then next week comes.

And it’s even crazier

Problem is, I'm looking at all the wrong things. So here’s where God’s Word comes into play. In the midst of craziness, it speaks. Read this:

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast [on you], because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

On one of my particularly crazy days—one of those days where I got crazier than the day around me—God blew that verse right over me. Go on and read it again. I had to. In fact, I went and got my Bible out and looked it up.

I love the beginning. It settles us immediately, doesn’t it? God will keep us in perfect peace. Ahhh...like a cool drink on a hot day...perfect peace...it sounds wonderful, right? Even better, the Hebrew word used here for “
keep” is “natsar”, which means to guard; to watch; to keep in a safe place. We all want to feel guarded and safe, so right off, our hearts connect with what this verse is saying.

But we need to look a bit closer. This verse makes no mention of our circumstances. Nope. Life breeds craziness...especially with children. (I love them, but these are not slow, easy-going years...) Thing is, our God knows this! And while the world is a crazy place, He doesn't want us to be. I mean, remember the parable of the two builders? One erects his house on the rock, one builds on sand (Matt. 7:24-29)...the storms come for both, but only the house on the rock remains. Well, the same is true here. This verse isn’t talking about making our circumstances peaceful, but making US peaceful.

And before we talk about how we get that peace, let's talk about what type of peace He's giving us. The Hebrew text says, “shalom shalom” or “peace peace”…(repeating a word for emphasis...that’s some really good peace!) Here, the NIV translated it to “perfect peace”. Merriam-Webster defines the word ‘perfect’ as "being entirely without fault or defect; faithfully reproducing the original". Huh. Well then. “Peace, peace” or peace that reproduces the Original? Either way you slice it, that is something I would take!

But there’s a catch; that whole how thing? Yep. He doesn't just keep anyone in PEACE PEACE...look at that verse again: “Those whose minds are steadfast [on you]…”

Well what exactly does that mean? Let's go back to Merriam-Webster and look at the word ‘steadfast’. It's defined as "firmly fixed in place; not subject to change; firm in belief, determination, or adherence". See, we cannot expect to receive this peace if we don’t have our minds (feelings, perceptions, will) set (firmly fixed) on Him. Just like Peter walked on the water until he took his eyes off of Jesus--then he sank like a rock (Matt. 14:28-30)--our perfect peace dissipates the moment we don’t keep our eyes adhered to Christ.

So what does this all boil down to? Read the very last portion; it's all about trust. Life is crazy—it is the world we live in. The storms will rage. The waves will roll. But where are our eyes? Do we begin to tremble by the sight of life around us? Or do we remain fixed in place, focused on Christ, trusting in Him to handle what we cannot? Because in that trust, we will find PEACE PEACE.

The kind of peace that is reproduced from its Original source.

The kind of peace that cannot be shaken.

No matter how crazy things around us get.

Perfect peace.

How about you? Do you have a favorite verse for when things get crazy? I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and a beautiful beginning to your week. There's got to be oh so many things to be thankful for today, and I hope you join me in just naming a few of them. From big to little, it doesn't matter. What does matter is focusing on our blessings. There's power in that:)

Today I am oh-so-thankful for:

1 - My cuddly dog who wraps his not-so-little body in my lap and snuggles with me. (though I'm not sure if he's cuddling with me or my blanket)

2 - My super-soft fleece blanket that my kids and hubby made for me. Each time I wrap up in it, I'm reminded of how much they love me.

3 - Nyquil and Dayquil...

4 - Puffs Plus

5 - A cup of hot tea and honey.

What about you all? Share:)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - The Chase

I was asked recently if I like every book I read. Nope. I don't. But that's not why I do Bookshelf Friday. My Fridays are for books I've liked and would pass on to friends. Some I may like more than others, but I don't post anything that wouldn't receive at least three stars. I follow the Goodreads Star system which is: 3-liked it, 4-really liked it, 5-it was amazing. You can check out my Goodreads shelf from my right side bar if you want to see those actual star ratings. Otherwise, my Fridays are simply chatting with friends about books I liked:)



Okay, now onto The Chase by DiAnn Mills. I purchased The Chase for my Kindle earlier this week--it's on sale for $2.99 and more than worth the price! I've read DiAnn before, and really like how she handles suspense. She writes strong characters with depth to them-we don't get to know them completely in the first chapter. Her stories slowly unfold while the action keeps moving. However, if you're looking for a strong romantic element then DiAnn might not be for you. While sparks of attraction--and sometimes a kiss or two--may make themselves into her book, the romance element is never the central theme. And that definitely holds true with The Chase.

One of my struggles with this book was the fact that her main character, Kariss, was a writer. At times I felt it was more DiAnn speaking--trying to make a point about the writing world--rather than Kariss. And while I liked the points she made, it pulled me from the story. I did like that this book was the first of a series centered around Kariss and the male lead, Tigo (at least that's how it appears when I read the first chapter of the next book). I find I enjoy series where I slowly get to know the main character and her life. I tend to get attached and don't like to say good-bye at the end of one book, so I'm excited Kariss and Tigo will be back.

Okay, here's a blurb:

To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch's brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss's pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.

Like I said, you can buy The Chase for your Kindle here for $2.99 (at least as of today still). Or you can purchase a hard copy here.

Have a great weekend! I won't be here on Monday - I'm finishing my spring break with family and friends and celebrating Easter! Many blessings to you all and I'll see you on Wednesday:)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

It's Easter Week!!!

I admit, the Hallelujahs and Amens stream out of me a bit more this week. I mean, how can they not? Along with the tears. I simply weep at the thought of what Christ did for me, for you, for us all...no one has ever loved me that much. Faults and all...yet all He sees is my beauty.

HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LORD!

His love is all encompassing.

Uh-Maz-ing

So today I simply want to sing praises to Him. And while I so could have put together a beautiful vlog of me singing, I thought you'd enjoy this more:)




Okay - for all of you out there, what is your favorite praise song you'll be belting out this Easter? I love this song and this video, but I have to say for me it's a split between the old and the new...Casting Crowns Glorious Day and the hymn How Great Thou Art.

Whatever it is, add a few more 'Praise the Lord' into it - He is so worthy of our praise!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Tending Your Garden - Pull That!


So like I mentioned last week, I’ve spent some time in my garden lately. My very quiet, lonely garden. Hubby and the kids leave me alone out there our of fear I’ll ask them to join me in all my weed-pulling fun. God, on the other hand, loves to talk while I’ve got my hands in the dirt. You know, He’s so creative. Everything around us points back to Him if we only look. And He kept pointing things out to me as I pulled, and pulled, and pulled…

And then didn’t pull.

See, in the process of working on my front flower bed I ran across this plant about to flower. Oh yes! Another flower I hadn’t killed—yeah me! I couldn’t wait to see what color it would be. I pulled all the weeds around it and continued to the next section where I found another one of these plants. I didn’t remember planting them, but they’d grown so full they were way too big to be weeds. Besides, they didn’t look like your normal weed.

It wasn’t until I was on my third section when I saw several smaller versions of the same ‘plant’ that I recognized it for the weed it was. Mom had pointed them out to me in their small form, and I’d pull them as they came in. In that moment I remembered seeing those small weeds in the late fall but had told myself I’d get them come spring. Problem was, with the warm spring we’re having, they’d grown to a state I no longer recognized by the time I began my weeding.

I should have pulled them when I first saw them.

Sin is so like that. Too often we have a seedling of sin enter our lives, and the Holy Spirit points it out. But we don’t want to yank it right then. Either we’re enjoying it too much or we believe we can handle it—no way it will grow any bigger because we wouldn’t let it. Sin, however, can grow quickly in a season we weren’t prepared for and before we know it, we don’t even see it as sin anymore.

Don’t play around with sin. Don’t let it begin to root, grow, and change in your life. The second you see it, yank it out before it becomes something you don’t recognize any more. Because sin, when it flowers, isn’t all that pretty.

“Above all else, guard your hearts for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend and a beautiful beginning to your week. There's got to be oh so many things to be thankful for today, and I hope you join me in just naming a few of them. From big to little, it doesn't matter. What does matter is focusing on our blessings. There's power in that:)

Today I am oh-so-thankful for:

1 - My cuddly dog who wraps his not-so-little body in my lap and snuggles with me. (though I'm not sure if he's cuddling with me or my blanket)

2 - My super-soft fleece blanket that my kids and hubby made for me. Each time I wrap up in it, I'm reminded of how much they love me.

3 - Nyquil and Dayquil...

4 - Puffs Plus

5 - A cup of hot tea and honey.

What about you all? Share:)