Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #15 and June's Winner!

Before we get started, let me tell you the name of June's Memory Verse winner...

Melissa Tagg, it's all you:) Grab something from the gift bag at the right there and email me what your prize pick is.

For the rest of you, keep pinning and memorizing. I truly wish I could give out monthly awards to all of you--just like in Sunday School:) But know, I pray for each of you that God's Word would embed in your heart. Imperfect progress, that's what we're going for as we remember that His Word never returns void. So keep at it. He is faithful.

All right, verse 15. It's our second week on this one and here it is!

So this verse is to help us remember God's name of El Roi - The God Who Sees Me. I just love that, don't you? On so, so many levels. 

~We are not invisible to God. We matter to Him.
~We are never out of His sight. We are protected by Him.
~We are never lost. We are found in Him.
~We don't need to pretend. He knows every part of us.

And before that last one wigs you out--because if He sees it all...well, then, He sees it all--remember His living, breathing Word says that even though He knew we were sinners, He still died for us.

Crazy, right? But I like God's kind of crazy. He has this inexplicable, all-encompassing, blow-your-mind, kind of love aimed right at you and me. Pretty awesome. And it's because of that love that He constantly keeps us in His sight. His gaze roams the earth, seeking us, watching for what we need so He can strengthen us. There will never be a situation--never--in your life where you are unseen or alone.

Because El Roi - The God Who Sees Me - will always be there.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Making Plans? Check With Your Planner First.

This past week my youngest was playing with her friend next door. It was nearing bedtime, so I called her in, but she was in the middle of "delivering invitations" to her friend and asked for a few more minutes. I agreed and started watering my plants. A few minutes later she came home and excitedly shared that she and her friend had made invitations for a Build-A-Bear party they were going to have the next morning.

Problem was? We weren't going to be home the next morning.

Her little face fell as I told her this. "But I've got to be here, Mom. I already made the plans." Unfortunately, ours couldn't be changed and she hadn't checked with me first. She wasn't happy, but she asked if she could quickly go change the date. I told her what days we'd be home that week and she ran off.

I stood there thinking...huh...pretty sure I do that to you, God. I make plans and charge ahead with them, then I'm upset when they don't work. Only I never checked with you first.

God's Word says, "For I know the plans I have for you..." Jeremiah 29:11. It doesn't say, "For you know the plans I have for you," and that's because He's our planner. He created them. Penciled them into our life calendar. We just sometimes forget to check with Him and use our own calendar instead.

The story doesn't end there though. Like I said, before my girl ran off, I told her when we would be home and what date she could have the party on. I'd even help her with it. With a nod, she took off, scooped up all the invitations she'd delivered, and then sat to re-write them at the neighbor's. Ten minutes later she came home, and we headed inside. As we walked through the door she told me she'd changed the party to Friday afternoon. I looked at her, surprised, and reminded her we wouldn't be home on Friday and that I'd already told her that.

And while she'd heard, she still decided Friday was the perfect day to move it to--she simply figured I'd adjust and come along anyway.

She cried when I held my ground. She tried to get me to change our plans. But it wasn't happening, and she refused to change hers "again". I told her she'd miss the party. She didn't believe me and stubbornly refused to make another change.

Friday came and all day she reminded me of when her party was, and I reminded her we wouldn't be home. When 3:09 rolled around (the time on her invitations) and we weren't home, her tears started--she missed her party.

And again, I heard God speaking, because there are times when we check with Him about the plans for our life, only we don't like what He has to say. We stubbornly cling to what we want, praying He'll give us those desires...only to see that day, that opportunity, that position--whatever it may be--come and go. We cry or get upset, and all the while He's there reminding us...

I told you that wasn't for you, but I also told you that over here--this--this is for you. I'll meet you there. I'll help you there. You just have to change your plans to meet the ones I already have for you.

Why do we stubbornly cling to imperfection (because anything less than what He has for us is imperfect) when what He has is perfect?

Today I'm challenging you, and myself, to check out the plans we're making and lay them at His feet. Ask Him if they are truly where and what He's calling you to, and if He says anything other than "YES", be willing to throw your planner out for His.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #15

It's time for a new verse! Just a refresher--because, yeah, I need them too--the second half of this year we're picking verses that help us learn the many names of God. So far we've learned:

El Shaddai - The All Sufficient One (Isaiah 46:4)
Jehovah Nissi - The Lord My Banner (Proverbs 21:31)
Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace (Psalm 34:14)

The name we'll concentrate on for the next two weeks is El Roi - The Lord Who Sees Me. LOVE LOVE LOVE that name! There's just something about being seen, truly seen, by One who loves you.

So here's the verse. Pin it, post it, stick it where you'll see it, and start learning. We'll talk about it next week! Oh, and I'll be pulling the name for June's winner too. If you've been following and learning, keep commenting, messaging me on Facebook, emailing me, or now...Tweet it. Yes. I took the plunge:)

Have a blessed Wednesday, Friends!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I don't want no stinkin' hat!

It all started the Christmas my older brother was 4...or maybe 5...I can't remember his exact age, but I remember the story because I heard it for years. My brother loved trucks. All shapes. All sizes. All colors. And it was all he wanted for Christmas.

Only Grans got him a hat.

A very nice hat. But a hat nonetheless.

She also got him a truck, but he happened to open the hat first. Which he promptly tossed across the room with "I don't want no stinkin' hat."

Now rest assured my brother learned never to do that again. However that story gave us lots of laughter for years. Until about six years ago when my oldest was seven. I'd shopped and shopped for Christmas. I handpicked each item for them, excitedly wrapped them, counted down the days with them. And then came Christmas morning. I always wonder who's more excited, the kids or me. (Pretty sure it's me.)

I could tell after the first gift was opened, this might not go too well. I started having visions of my brother and his hat--which suddenly didn't seem so funny after all. As my son progressed through his gift-opening turns, that memory grew less and less funny. No ooh's or aah's were heard from my son. No smiles. Just, well, boredom. Until he opened the last gift: a large bouncing ball for jumping around our basement. I'd picked each child out one personalized just for them. I knew the girls would like them, and I hoped he would too. Instead he tossed it aside. "I don't even want this." husband will always remember that Christmas as the one where I tossed our breakfast onto the table and walked away in tears vowing to never purchase gifts again. And I certainly no longer saw humor in what my brother had done years before.

And yet, we do the same thing to God, don't we?

He hands us these amazing gifts in life and sometimes we are less than impressed. Other times we complain we didn't get what we wanted. And then sometimes we simply toss it aside because that gift, that one He picked especially for us, we don't want at all!

Thing is, a gift, a blessing, is chosen by the one giving it--not the receiver. We don't get to pick what it is or special order it. All we get to chose is how we receive it. Even if it's not what we wanted at that time. Because the giver knows it's what we need.

For my brother--he needed a hat, even if he didn't want one.
For my son--he'd be able to join in when his sisters were laughing and bouncing around the basement.
For us--we may need growth, or something is coming that we don't see, or maybe...just maybe...He chose to bless us in a way other than our preconceived notions thought He should.

Like the Israelites. Already complaining about the gift of their freedom--which didn't look like they thought it would--they complained over their lack of food. So God blesses them with manna and quail--not exactly what they wanted. It didn't last long before they complained over that too.

And while manna and quail dropping out of Heaven is a pretty big thing to miss, sometimes the gifts are so small we overlook them. But gifts come in all shapes and sizes because God delights in our bigs and our smalls. He's a God of details, overlooking nothing.

And neither should we.

Train your eyes to see the gifts around you today, and then take a moment to say thank you, Lord. Because He lovingly picked each and every one out just for you.

For every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. James 1:17

What gifts do you see around you today?

My P.S to the story: My son is now a teenager and is thankful for everything he receives--big or small. My brother is now a parent, and I don't think I've ever seen his boys toss a gift aside. And I have since broken my vow to never purchase gifts again:)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bookshelf Friday - Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl

So my reading has taken a backseat this summer as I play with the kids, clean up my house that falls apart during the homeschooling year, try and finish my next work-in-progress (WIP), and actually attempt to figure out Twitter. It's that last one that's killing me.

I have a friend at church, though, who loves suspense as much as I do. We've been swapping books and authors over the past few months and she told me I had to read this series. I've looked at it several times and simply hadn't picked it up. I did this week. LOVE!

I'm not finished yet. In fact, I'm closer to the beginning than the end, but the writing is fast paced and fresh to me. I enjoy the friendships in this book and the mystery I plan on solving before I hit "the end"...because that's the best part about mysteries and suspense. I love it when they keep me guessing and I have to work to solve it.

Have you read this series yet? If so, I'd love to hear your take on it. If not, then I'd recommend picking the first up to see if you like it. If you're a suspense/mystery fan, I have a feeling you will.

Now back to figuring out Twitter...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Learning the Word and Seeking Peace - Verse #14

In case you haven't pinned it yet, here's the current verse:

I came across this verse really because I was praying over my family.

Honestly, I was taking a walk and talking to God in a rather vocal way. I'm sure my neighbors know me as the crazy lady who strolls the neighborhood because my walks lately have turned into prayer and praise time. Sometimes I don't even notice how loud I'm getting, but I'm all about claiming God over areas of our lives.

And that's what I was doing last week.

I'd been praying over what name and verse to use for Week #14, but I couldn't hardly hear myself over the loud voices of my three little angles who were being less than angelic at the moment. Frustrated, I took to my walk. See. I know God gives us peace. He's promised it. But I don't simply want an internal peace, I want peace in my family, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

So as I walked I began to claim that peace, and His name Jehovah Shalom rushed to mind. He's not simply our peace, but the peace in families, in our work places, in our churches...Jehovah Shalom--The Lord IS Peace.

But we need to invite Him into those unsettled places. We need to do what that verse says. (See, it's talking to us, not pointing the finger to others). We turn from evil (reacting in anger, gossipping, not extending grace) and we do good (patience, kind words, forgiveness). We seek out peace (the Lord IS peace) and work to maintain it...keep ourself in His Word, stay close to Him, put on His character.

And we claim His name over it all. Remember:

No one is like you, Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6

We all have areas in our lives that need peace. I am determined that peace will reign in our home, and I've begun to claim that daily, speaking the name Jehovah Shalom over my doorways, my children, even my dog (he's crazy, he could use some peace). I've been using this verse as a training tool to remind me what I need to do. 

I pray this verse gets into you too. That it attaches to your mind and soul and the Holy Spirit recalls it when you need it most.

And I want to encourage you--keep learning! His Word never returns void. Blanket yourself with it:)

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hearing Problems Lead to Listening Problems

My 7-year-old is determined, self-motivated, and goal-orientated. She sees what she wants and no obstacles get in her way. I constantly remind myself how great these traits are—or will be, once they’re shaped through God’s hands.

Problem is, we’ve got a lot of years of shaping ahead of us yet. She’s seven. I’m thirty-nine, and I’m not even fully shaped yet. So around our house I find myself saying the following phrase constantly:

“Raleigh, are you listening AND obeying.”

See. Often times I’ll ask her to do something, and she’ll continue on in her own way and be in complete disobedience. She receives consequences, but the next time I’m saying the same thing to her all over again, and she’s disobeying all over again. Thing is, she’s a good kid. She has a great heart and oftentimes such great intentions. So why is she still landing in trouble?

Well God intervened one day—He’s pretty faithful about doing that when we ask for wisdom. And typically when I’m disciplining my kids He shows up in a big way to point out something in my own life. Like I said (pointing a finger at myself here)…still not shaped yet.

I think I was asking her for about the zillionth time that day “But are you listening AND obeying?” and thinking with a big ol' sigh, why won’t this child obey??? And God leaned down and said…“Because she not hearing you.”

Um, pretty sure my voice was loud enough for her to hear it.

But then God opened up the obvious to me. Don’t you love it when He does that?

I was using that phrase “listening and obeying” really as “obeying and obeying”. I wasn’t actually asking her if she was hearing me. And Raleigh wasn’t disobeying out of sheer defiance. She was focused on a goal and nothing was going to stop her. Her entire being was determined to get to her target, and she heard nothing else. She wasn’t even tuned into my voice.

She had a hearing problem.

Do you?

I certainly know I can. See, you all know I love to say how God created us with a specific plan and purpose, and when we catch a glimpse of even a portion of that plan, we become like a runner at the start of a race--focused on the finish line. And it’s great to prepare ourselves and be filled with a passion for what He’s called us to, but not at the expense of turning off our ears. We still need to be listening for Him. We need to train ourselves to hear his voice and stop.

Then listen.

So we can obey.

Because He may call out for us to stop when we are running full speed ahead. When our eyes are focused on the end-goal, we may miss the Mack truck headed toward us from the side. When all we see is our target, we might slip passed the detour ramp we needed to take. But God sees it all, and we need to recognize His voice.

Elijah was great at this. He’d been rather goal-orientated, but he also remained fully in tune with God’s voice. 1 Kings 19:11-12 tells us how Elijah was on a mountain side. The wind, earthquake, and fire all blew past and “after the fire came a gentle whisper." It was with that whisper God spoke, and Elijah clearly heard Him. Oh!  To learn His voice so intimately that we can even hear it in a whisper.

I'm working on this with my daughter--getting her to recognize my voice above her own and to stop, physically stop, when she hears it, close her mouth, and listen. We need to do the same thing with our Daddy. To train our ear to hear Him (even in the whispers) because He's speaking, but are we tuned in so we can listen and obey?

Do you even get so focused on your end goal that you tune everything else out? What brings you back in focus?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Learn the Word - Verse #14

Hey all. It's time for a new verse! The next two weeks I want to focus on Jehovah Shalom - The Lord is Peace.

Here's our verse:

There are a lot of verses in the Bible about God's peace. In fact, earlier in the year we memorized Romans 15:13 on joy and peace together. I want to look a little deeper into peace this next week and take it from a different angle than just a feeling God gives us.

So pin it, put it into your Fighter Verse App, or write it on a sticky note--whatever method you're using--and start learning this verse. We'll chat about it next week! Have a happy Wednesday everyone:)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Training Time

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves among themselves, they are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

Comparison is a dangerous game. Even Paul knew that--he's the one who said those words above in Corinthians. For so many reasons--pride, guilt, shame--we are not meant to compare ourselves to others. If you want to compare to something, compare to yourself. Are you growing? Has your spiritual muscle gotten stronger this year? Are you less bitter and more joyful? Are you spending more time in the Word?

Ohh...and that last one is the one that gets us, right? It's the ultimate question in our game of Who Loves Jesus More? Who spends more time with Him...

Thing is, this whole "time" thing is like conditioning our bodies. I'm not in the best shape lately. My muscles are not quite what they used to be and my endurance is low. If you asked me to lift a fifty pound weight, I could do it, but I couldn't hold it long. And to run a race without stopping? Forget it. And if I were to compare myself to my Iron Man Hubby, I'd get defeated very, very quickly.

But Hubby didn't wake up one morning and swim 2 miles, bike 112, and then run a marathon to top it all off. No. He built up his endurance. He slowly changed his habits. He stuck with it and got a little farther every single day.

It's the same exact thing with our time with God. Getting into the habit of spending time with Him, well, it takes time. We cannot compare ourselves to others who have already conditioned that spiritual muscle. They've worked at it. They've established habits--and kept them. And when they stumbled in the process, they didn't give up.

Too often we look at someone who spends two hours with God every morning and think:

A) I could never do that--and we give up before trying.
B) I am an awful, awful Christian because I don't do that--and we let guilt stop us from trying.
C) I CAN do that all at once--then we stop because we're overwhelmed by how much we bit off.

Stop comparing yourself to another Christian (who knows what God's called them to train for!) and start seeking what He wants YOU to train for. Ask Him to put together your training plan, and then follow it. I'm not called to run an Iron Man like Hubby (uh no, no-way, no-how), but I do want to get in shape. So my plan isn't going to look like his as he prepares for another race this fall. But if I never get out there and follow my plan, I'll never change. It takes initiative on my part. It takes starting small and building my muscle, building my endurance, and then adding on a little each day, each week. For you and time with God, maybe that means getting up ten minutes earlier this week and reading a verse. Maybe it means not watching that half-hour show in the evenings and instead reading a chapter. Whatever it is, make one small change and let that grow into bigger changes.

And slowly, before you know it, you're there.

Have you ever participated in a race of any kind? I signed up for one once, but it got rained out. So, my first official race is next month! Our whole family is doing it, my goal is to keep up with our 7-year-old. I'll let you know how I do :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learn the Verse #13

I'm piggy-backing on Monday's post here. The word VICTORY has stuck in my soul lately--I kinda think that's a great place for it to be! And as we learn our verses this second half of the year, we're doing so with the names of Jesus front and foremost, because there's victory in His name.

I chose this verse to remind of us Jehovah Nissi, or The Lord My Banner.

Jehovah Nissi is only seen one time in the Bible and it's in Exodus 17:15 when Moses builds an altar in remembrance of the Israelites defeating the Amalekites and he named the altar The Lord is my Banner.  If you've never read that story, please do, it's an amazing show of God's power and victory for His people.

But today I just want to talk about banners. Back in Biblical times, armies would raise up banners as they marched into war and even as they fought. It not only showed who they were, but gave their soldiers a focal point during battle.

Are you headed into battle? If so, remember, God is your banner. He unfurls over you, telling anyone who fights you Whose you are. He becomes your focal point, because we can accomplish much with our focus resting on Him and not the chaos around us--He keeps us grounded. And while preparation is great for battle, we must remember that victory belongs to Him. We cannot win any battles on our own. We must take our banner with us. Let Him fly over us. And let Him take the victory.

So as you step on the battlefield, let Jehovah Nissi fly over you, look the enemy straight in the eye and say "Victory belongs to the Lord...and I am His."

Have a great 4th of July friends. Enjoy a long weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday!

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Than a Conqueror

I woke up this morning and before I even lifted my head from my pillow I felt defeated. What a way to begin a day.

My head felt heavier. My shoulders slumped already, my thoughts seemed bleak...and my feet weren't even on the floor. And I know I'm not the only one. I cannot tell you how many of my friends lately have sent out calls for prayers because they are overwhelmed by life right now.

And laying there with a blanket of oppression on me, I got a little bit fighting-mad. Not even just a little, but a whole lot. Because as Christians we are not meant to live a defeated life. So today this is going to be a short-n-sweet post. It's not the post I'd planned on, but it's the one I'm writing.

If you too are dealing with that sense of defeat, speak the Word of God over your life today.

What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him who loved us. Romans 8:31,37

And then believe it! Christ created you with a purpose and a plan (yes, I say this a lot, but we need to hear it a lot!) and He died to save you from defeat, from brokenness, from sin...He died for you to have abundant life! He died for you to live in victory.

So open your mouth and speak it over your life IN HIS NAME. Because the devil and anyone working for him cannot stand in the presence of even the name of God--so if you can't remember your Scripture? Just start calling on Jesus name.

...that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of those in Heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth...Phillipians 2:10

Someone needs to hear that today. Someone needs to live it. Besides just me:)

I'd love to hear any verses you claim that remind you in Him, you are a conqueror.