About Me

Van Walton

Fun Facts about Van Walton

My favorite smell: The way the earth smells after it rains.

My favorite sound: The first notes of a grand symphony.

My favorite way to relax: Sitting anywhere outside - on my front porch, on my deck, or by the lake, early in the morning with my first cup of coffee.

My favorite birthday dessert: a Peach cobbler baked by my husband. He’s my fave chef!

I will not eat: Avocado. They turn my stomach into a volcano that never erupts.

Technology I couldn't live without and why: My laptop - it takes me anywhere I want to go.

One thing that makes me smile: My sons' faces!

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My Resources



My book, From the Pound to the Palace, is available for $10
from Proverbs 31 Ministries.


Pound to Palace


My book, Little Halos, is available for $5.99 from Proverbs
31 Ministries.


Little Halos


Proverbs 31 Ministries












Links




Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FAMILY FUN

Last night all five of us – husband, sons, daughter-in-law and I had a night out together. We had pizza at a sheik pizza place in uptown Charlotte and then went to see Defending the Caveman, a one man comedy about the differences in the sexes.

The play was funny. We all enjoyed laughing at ourselves and each other. I felt sorry for my younger son. I think he was the only one in the theater without a significant other, but I do believe he learned a lot about the opposite sex. I told him what a good sport he is for having joined us.

This is what we learned:

Men are hunters. They get together, make a plan, focus on the hunt, slay the animal, and bring it home. Everything is pretty direct. This is why men like the TV. They watch it and with the remote control slay channels as they surf!

They enjoy sports together also. There is a goal: victory over the opponent.

They rarely focus on each other except to negotiate.

Women are gatherers. They get together, focus on each other, share their findings, discuss where to find the best, compliment each other. This is why women like to shop!
It is really gathering!

While men are negotiating, women are cooperating.

Have you noticed that women like to work in groups. While they do so they talk, laugh, help each other.

Men get to the point: choose the prey, stalk it, kill it. Simple!

Women – not so. They wander around. Decide if it is ripe, selecting the correct color in the proper season. Women take time choosing, discussing how to prepare it, or how wear it. Encourage each other. Compliment one another. Share!

We were given an illustration:

Do you hear a man telling another man that he looks good when he comes over to have dinner? NOPE that would be weird.

Do you EVER overhear men discussing what they are going to wear? No!

But women – I asked Kara – so did you wear black stockings or nude colored when you went on your interview.

The men burst out laughing!

“What does it matter?”

So this morning my younger son, daughter-in-law and I went shopping.

Benjamin went to one store – on the hunt for a sweater and some shirts. He stalked the jungle and soon showed up with his finds. I saw him across the store. There he stood victorious, his finds up in the air. Shirts held in one fist. Sweater held in the other. He had accomplished his goal within 30 minutes.

Kara went on a fact finding mission. An hour and a half later she had come to a conclusion! She decided to go on line to gather more information before making her final choice.

We laughed – my unmarried son, daughter-in-law and I.

Women and men ARE different.

Last night I was reminded. God made us different to compliment each other, to help one another. Where one is weak the other is strong. This is a good thing. Let’s use it to our benefit.

Next year I am going to work harder at enjoying the differences in the sexes in our household!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TRYING TO MOVE FORWARD

Christmas is over… really?

I rather believe that Christmas has only just begun!


Go back. Reread the Christmas story, today, now -- after Christmas.

Christ came to dwell with us.


Not to visit.

Not a simple drive by and say "hi!"

Not a sit-down-at-your-table-eat-and-run guest,
but
a permanent presence

He’s an "I-am-with-you-always" presence.

Even better than a friend or child or spouse or parent because

He is divine – a permanent presence.

The greatest of presents!

Christmas isn’t over.

Christmas has only just begun
.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HIS NAME

Glories streaming from heaven above... God highly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him
the name which is above every name:
so that at the name of
EVERY KNEE WILL BOW

of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth
and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NASB)

May we be found bowing before Him!
Friday, December 19, 2008

CREATIVE MUSINGS OR CURSED MANIA

I can’t help myself. Once I get started it is hard to stop. There is nothing I would rather be doing... …decorating that is!
I have just enough creative juices to be dangerous. I have to curb my appetite or I could waste away hours running around my house like a crazed woman touching up this and then that!

This is one of my favorite fascinations. It is an antique dry sink. It graces the entry way in my house. It's a fascination because I constantly tend to it. I keep it filled with cuttings from my yard. Each season it looks different.

I share it with you because it is such an easy project and so satisfying.

You don’t have to have an antique dry sink. You can fill a bucket, a basket, or a pot with greens, pine cones, candles, and glories.

Glories? I will show them to you at the end of the project.

First, choose a container. Next find a plastic insert into which you will press some oasis. This is a green substance that you can buy in the craft section of the store or in a craft store in the floral section. Soak it in water. Place one or as many as you need depending on the size of your project.

Gather your greens and start poking them into the oasis. Watch my project grow.
Outside I gather nandina and evergreen (make sure to clip branches with little pine cones), holly berries and varigated juniper:












Finally I put glories in to add sparkle. These are long, thin, twisted, sparkly sticks. The first time I saw them I danced for joy. You see as a child I always wondered what it meant in carols when “glories” were mentioned. You know as in "glories stream from heaven above." Now I know! Oh and I add a candle. Be sure to put it in a glass container. Don't want to start a fire! Come back in a day or two and I will show you my Christmas pride and joy – my nativity scene complete with glories!
Thursday, December 18, 2008

WELCOME

Christmas has arrived in my home!
Step on up to my porch to see what I've done~















I found this little goat cart at a local flea market. My husband fixed it up and now it sits happily on my front porch. And can you believe I can sit in my chair waving to my neighbors It is a balmy 60 degrees
here.

Can you tell I like greenery? Lots of it! I have a treat for you, speaking of greenery. In a couple of days I will post a fun project I created with another unique piece of furniture and more greens. Come back, OK?
Meanwhile - enjoy the peace and beauty of this season. Take time to listen to the sounds, ponder the Truth, hear God's Word, sing His praises, celebrate Jesus, and announce the Good News to someone each day!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING DURING CHRISTMAS ANYWAY?

I have a confession to make. I am not ready for Christmas!

Not in the way the world would approve, anyway.
Yet I don't feel any less Christmassy.

I haven’t even considered putting up my Christmas tree.

My house is a mess.

I have thought about generating some Christmas cards to send to those who don’t know about my blog because I haven’t communicated with them for years!

I have only gone Christmas shopping twice.

“OOOOOOOOOOOh,” the world would say. Better get busy!

This is what I have done:

I spent quality time with loved ones:

Right after Thanksgiving when I usually begin “getting ready for Christmas” I returned my energetic 85 year old mother to her house on the lake in Missouri. She and I cleaned up her house, packed up her pick up and headed west across Oklahoma toward New Mexico. We had the most wonderful hours -long conversations about our ancestors who had driven in covered wagons across Oklahoma centuries ago and settled these plains. How had they prepared for Christmas? One thing we know: they celebrated Christ. We know that because they passed their faith on to us!

When we arrived in Santa Fe I moved my mother into a lovely adobe condo across the street from her sister and brother in law. She settled in for the winter.
I spent two wonderful weeks with my mother during Thanksgiving and the fist week of December. I also spent quality time with my aunt and uncle and their friends.

We didn’t bake, put up a tree, or shop... much – I stepped into one Christmas store to buy an ornament for my son and his wife, a typical clay depiction of Jesus in the manger.

We sat around, discussing the world’s affairs while we listened to music by the warm fire of a kiva. We shared our favorite memories from the past and agreed we were at peace with the world because we believe the message of the prophets, angles, kings, and shepherds.
Oh – and we decorated!
My uncle is a weaver. To celebrate Christmas around his house, weavings go up on the wall and like stars and snowflakes his handiwork celebrates God's gift to us - the talents our Father gives us so we can enjoy life and share with others.

My aunt is a pianist so we decorated the piano with a pot full of greenery and added her keepsakes from travels in Europe where she studied in Austria one year. Christmas cards - old and new and of course an antique copy of Handel's Messiah had to be added to the decor.
And we added this finishing touch using some of my aunts favorite vases:
To the clear one - we added red, green, and white marbles and filled it with water. The water magnified the marbles. We oohed and ahhed like children when we realized the effect. In the little clear, cut -glass vase my aunt crumbled up tissue paper and topped it with red and green jingle bells.
Christmas! Meant to be simple, joyful, and beautiful.

I gotta' run - my children are coming home for Christmas and I think they will want to see Christmas in their home. Come back in a few days and I will show you, not a New Mexico Christmas but maybe a bit of a Southern Christmas- whatever that may be!
Monday, December 15, 2008

SEARCHING?

Seek first His kingdom


Yesterday the sermon in my church was not based on the nativity! When the pastor stood to preach, he referenced Matthew 6.

“Wait a minute,” I wanted to scream! “That chapter is way past our Savior’s birth. Shouldn’t you back up and preach about Jesus in the manger?”

I was wrong. The pastor was right.

He did preach about the nativity.

“Seek first the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:33)

Today I am asking myself, “Where is God's kingdom?"

This I know—

The kingdom of God is not found at a royally set table fit for nobility.
The kingdom of God is found in a trough.

As you seek Him this season where are you searching?

A table ~~












or a trough ~~




Friday, December 12, 2008

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


… Three full days of driving from Charlotte to Santa Fe and a five hour return flight. I am so thankful for airplanes and it is good to be home.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:1

God accomplished His mission by sending Light into the darkness. He sent His Son, Jesus into our dark world so we would have light in the midst of our darkest days and nights. When I ponder this I realize there is no greater gift.

Activity: Turn off all the lights in your house tonight. Give each family member a candle. Light one and then another to experience how little lights shining together accomplish the mission of bringing light into a room.

Thoughts to ponder: Does God have you on a mission? Ask Him to show you His plan for your life this holy season.
Monday, December 8, 2008

THE CHRISTMAS JOURNEY CONTINUES

Some of you may be keeping up with my very own Christmas story - a journey of sorts. My mother and I arrived in Santa Fe safe and sound after an intriguing drive across northern Oklahoma, into New Mexico. Our conversation often returned to our forefathers who risked their lives to move into the plains, forge paths into the west, settle and lay a foundation for a fantastic history. We often envisioned cowboys, pioneers, stage coaches, wagon trains, and lone families eeking a living from the land. Talk about unique journeys! After one particularly long drive through miles and miles of plains I spoke up, "I'm glad I am flying home!"

Christmas blessings to you, fellow sojourner.


December 8 Shepherds Searching for Signs

Luke 2:8-12,15, “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

The shepherds were not in church. They were not sitting in a quiet living room sipping hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music. They were in the midst of their regular routine. When our hearts are opened to God’s Word, we can hear Him wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

Activity: This would be a good time to “camp out” by the Christmas tree. Turn down the lights and ask a ‘wonder question’, “I wonder what the shepherds were talking about while they watched their sheep. I wonder what they said to one another before they decided to go see Jesus.”

Thoughts to ponder: Is my heart open to hearing God’s message for me today? Will I go where He tells me to go?


December 9 Angels’ Announcements

Luke 2: 13-14, “…the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When I consider the angels’ announcements I react automatically by looking up. How would I respond to a similar message? I wonder if there haven’t been spiritual news broadcasts all around me that I have chosen to ignore.

Activity: Introduce your family to angels. This would be a great time to teach your children about the reality, ministry, and truth of God’s messengers. Make a search in your Bible, looking up all references to angels.

Thoughts to ponder: Do I believe in angels?


December 10 Am I a Wise Person?

Matthew 2:1-9 (portions) “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’ The star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Who were these ‘wise men’? We are told they came from eastern lands. How did they know about the King of the Jews? Could these men have been descendants of the Hebrews who had moved to Babylon during the Judean exile hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth? Or had they been ‘discipled’ long before Jesus called his disciples to follow Him? Had the Jewish exiles shared their hope with the world before they returned home? For sure they were believers because they knew who they were seeking and when they found him they recognized him and worshipped him.

Activity: Allow your children to dress up like the wise men. Give each a ‘treasure’. Then hide baby Jesus somewhere in your house. Lower the lights. Turn on the music and send the children on a ‘treasure hunt’ looking for Jesus.

Thoughts to ponder: “Wise men still seek Him.” I want to begin each day looking for Jesus. I want this Christmas to be remembered as the one where I looked for Jesus, found Him, bowed down, and worshiped him.

Thoughts to ponder: What treasure can I open and give to Jesus?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY


This year I am experiencing a new kind of Christmas journey. Whereas in the past I have dedicated myself to preparing for Christmas in a very traditional manner, each day accomplishing a bit of Christmas, this year I am truly on a journey.

The first 12 days of Christmas I move my mother from her home on Table Rock Lake, Missouri miles from her nearest neighbor, to a condo in Santa Fe, New Mexico three doors away from her sister.

Lots of new adventures for everyone.

Part of me longs to be home to bring out the nativity set, to light the traditional candles, to share time with my husband, to volunteer in my community, to celebrate Christmas cheer with friends and neighbors…

Yet, I know God is calling me to step out on a different kind of journey, so here I go.

Before leaving on my cross country adventure I want to intentionally prepare for each day by planting a seed of thought purposefully directing me to contemplate a Christmas character whose life was directly impacted by the first Christmas.

Each one, like me, had a daily routine that was interrupted the moment Jesus began His journey to earth.

Join me by returning daily to be challenged by those who dropped their habitual schedules so they could get a glimpse of the Savior.

December 1 A Prophet Preaches Light

Isaiah 9:1-2, “That time of darkness and despair will not go on forever… The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.”

Times haven’t changed much. Here we are centuries later – we still need a prophet to remind us of the Light that shines. Whenever I am overwhelmed by my environment, I remember the Light, Jesus who shows up -a lamp for my feet so temptations that would bring my life to a stop would be thwarted by by His brilliance.

Activity. Open the family Bible to this passage in Isaiah. Light the Christmas candle and watch it shine in the darkness. Light it every evening this month.

Thought to ponder: Do I allow the Light to shine in my life, even when I find myself surrounded by the reality of life’s shadows?


December 2 A Promise for the People

Isaiah 9:6: “A child is born to us: And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Long before Jesus arrived on earth rumors roamed throughout the land peeking the curiosity of those who had heard the prophecies. Life would not always be difficult. Oppressive rulers would not always be in control. God had promised a King, one who would save the people.

Activity. Listen to The Messiah. Sing along and teach your children some of the main choruses.

Thought to ponder: Can I, and will I, praise God in the midst of difficult and trying times?


December 3 Preaching Truth

Malachi 4:2, 5-6, “For you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah… His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.”

This is the last word written in the Old Testament. After these hopeful verses God sent no more messages to the people. They lived by faith, believing His promises, teaching the truth, watching for Him to show up like He said He would.

Activity: Get out the Nativity Set. While you carefully place it in a prominent place, teach your children the truth about Christmas.

Thoughts to ponder: Is my life teaching the truth about Christmas or are my activities confusing to others?


December 4 Jesus’ Genealogy

Matthew 1:1, This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:”

Too often, when we look at a little crèche depicting that holy night when Jesus was born, we think small. We remember a poor baby, forgotten, rejected, cold, and removed from the socially accepted culture of the day. We fail to remember that Jesus is nobility! His lineage descended through a long line of kings. Why is it that Israel no longer boasts a royal rulers like England, Spain, and Denmark? After Israel and Judah were conquered and taken into exile, even when the remnant returned to their land, there has never been a king to rule the land. Why? Jesus is the next King in line for the throne!

Activity: Make crowns with your children. Place the crowns around the house, at the dinner table, or by their bedsides to remind them that Christmas is a royal holiday (Holy Day).

Thoughts to ponder: Do I realize that Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible for me to be included in His royal household?


December 5 Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, Mary

Matthew 1:2,5,6,16 Judah was the father of Perez (whose mother was Tamar); Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab); Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth); David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba; Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary…(who) gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.”

What do these women – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary have in common? They are also mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy. These ladies, though, are not blue bloods – far from it. I like reading about the women in Jesus’ life. I believe their names were included in His story to remind me that nothing I have ever done can keep me from the love of the Father.

Activity: Read about these women. Tamar was a deceiver and a seductress. Rahab, a prostitute committed treason. Ruth began her young life in a pagan culture, worshipping evil idols. Bathsheba committed adultery. Each one of these women has a book written in a series by Francine Rivers. I highly recommend these reads!

Thoughts to ponder: What is keeping me from accepting Jesus’ invitation to live as a dignified woman in his spiritual palace?


December 6 Mary, Who was the Mother of Jesus

Matthew 1:18, “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married…”

Engaged to be married. Isn’t this every girl’s dream? According to Hebrew tradition, Mary would have been spending her time waiting. Wedding plans in ancient Israel hardly resembles today’s traditions. The bride didn’t know when the wedding would occur. That was the groom’s choice. Her role was to be ready when he decided to show up and carry her away. How exciting. You know, anticipation is actually more fun and exciting than the actual event…

Activity: Make this season a special one of anticipation for your children. Rather than focusing on a heap of presents and sweets for just one brief morning, create activities to be enjoyed each day. Make each a surprise, something they learn to anticipate. Here are some examples:

-Play night games in the dark with flashlights.
-Play hide and go seek. Herod seeking the wise men or the wise men seeking baby Jesus.
-Make “tents” by throwing blankets over chairs or coffee tables. Pretend to be Mary and Joseph camping out. Let your children take their naps in their “tents.”
-Drive around looking at Christmas lights.
-Eat a picnic supper under the Christmas tree.
-Act out the Christmas story

Thoughts to ponder: Would Christmas be just as meaningful to me if it were simply about watching and waiting instead of all about shopping and doing?

December 7 My Plans, God’s Plans

Matthew 1:19-24, “ Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.”

Major road work is going on outside my neighborhood. I do not like the fact that I can no longer travel the road that regularly took me to my destinations. Now I have to go around or, if I choose to take my regular route, I have to be prepared to stop, wind around road blocks, or drive through detours. Recently I dared to return to my old route. What a wonderful sight. The road is wider! The curves and bumps are gone! The traffic flows smoothly! I learned a lesson – “When my life’s plans are rerouted, trust God. He has a far better road plan than I can design. When He is finished with the road work, my life will run smoothly, no more bumps or sharp curves, no dangerous narrow paths. God will make a way – a wide way for me to travel.”

Thoughts to ponder: When God interrupts my plans, do I graciously accept the roadblock or detour trusting Him to design a better way?
May your Christmas journey be filled with joy!
Monday, November 17, 2008

TWO WOMEN MOVING

The young woman clung to her mother-in-law. “Don’t leave without me! Take me with you.”

What a testimony. Can you imagine, a young woman begging to be included in the journey her mother-in-law is about to take?

We all know the story of Ruth and Naomi – how Naomi’s husband had moved her to a foreign land in the midst of a famine. He moved his family because he wanted to provide for them. Maybe you have had to move in order to find better provisions, a more stable life, a secure future.

Once Namoi, her husband, and their sons settled in Moab the sons married local girls. Tragedy hit and all three men died. Life has always been difficult, hasn’t it? It is not just during our trying times today that life has presented challenges.

Namoi decided to move – again, alone. She wanted to return to the land of her people, her culture, her God.

Ruth, one of her daughters in law, wanted to go with her. She wanted what Naomi had. She couldn’t imagine life without Naomi as her mentor.

God has been moving this “older woman” – me! It has been nearly a decade since I last made a corporate move. That does not mean, though, that God has stopped moving me.

Recently a call went out from our church’s youth department. The youth minister has a team of older youth- young adults who walk alongside the teenagers in our congregation. Many of the young adults are single, far from home, engaged in the church, but still lonely, working all day, facing trials alone… Our brilliant and compassionate youth pastor contacted people in the church asking them to come along side his team of young adults.

Last week I met M---a after having e-mailed with her for over two months (only because I was out of town traveling). She is beautiful. So gracious and intelligent. Independent too. Oh, and she loves the Lord. She shared her dreams of becoming a missionary, told me a little bit about her family, gave me insight into her passions and announced her upcoming business trip to Puerto Rico.

I fell in love with her. Tomorrow night she is coming over for dinner.

M--a is such a godly young lady, I am not sure I have a whole lot to offer, but I can open my heart and my home to a young person whose family lives far away. I can listen to her thoughts and pray for her. And I can allow her insight into the youthful culture of today to move me to be more engaging of the young people with whom I come in contact. After all – both of my sons also live in that culture. Maybe next time I sit down with one of my children, they will take notice: their growing older mom understands them, is in touch with the new millennium, relates to the issues they face, is moving with today’s generation rather than retreating into her own comfort zone.

When I discuss mentoring with others I always say – “It’s a two way relationship: the wisdom of the older woman only goes so far because the youth and energy of the younger woman is a necessary part of understanding, openness, and a growing relationship."

Let me ask you a question? Are you the wisdom or the energy in your relationships? Is God moving you to be a Ruth or a Naomi to others?

I would like to encourage you to invest in the life of a young adult. We are entering shaky times and I know parents who live far away from their children wonder if they are secure. I am one of those parents My son and his wife live very far from me. I have one comfort, though. My son is surrounded by godly mentors. I can do no less. I can move into the life of one young person and offer to move with her as she navigates the waters of adulthood.
Friday, November 14, 2008

I AM SO EXCITED I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT

I am celebrating tonight. This week I finally accomplished something truly BIG – for me that is. I managed to create a video and upload it onto a special blog.

Here is the skinny~

For some time now I have harbored a dream. My dream has been to take my dog . THIS IS AIR

on the road to tell his miraculous story, which is really every child’s, who chooses to follow Jesus, story.

First I wrote his story and published it. That was almost three years ago. The book I wrote is called FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE.
Last year I converted the book into a DVD with the help of Renee Swope and her two very talented sons.

It is the story of how the dog, my son and I chose at the animal shelter, came home to live in our house. His story is a simple parallel to the human story. We were all lost until The Master stepped into our lives and invited us to follow Him.

So, anyway you ask what is the big deal? Today after creating a special promo video, much aggravation because I am technically challenged, e-mailing back and forth with a tech savvy friend, and lots of perseverance I finally uploaded a video to my doggie’s blog.

I feel like I have just earned enough credits, I certainly put in the hours, to receive a graduate degree in doggie bloggie uploading!

Tonight I feel very satisfied.

Do you have an accomplishment you would like to share?


Monday, November 10, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Your God will be my God

Joshua took over the land God had ordained for the children of Israel. Slowly the pilgrims settled in the Promised Land and began to call it home.

Then a famine came, creating some challenges amongst the Hebrews living west of the Jordan River.

A certain man decided that a move across the river to a place called Moab would offer a means of survival for his family, so he packed up his wife and two sons.

He moved his family to a godless and pagan place.

Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a godless people – a place where pagans lived? “Not in America,” you say!

Oh yes, right here in suburbia or uptown. Everywhere - - people need the Lord. They are just waiting for someone to step in and introduce them to the Father.

Why would God allow you to be planted in such a place? What could possibly be the reason?

Maybe He has called you to be light in the darkness. Maybe He expects you to reach out to your neighbors and show the love of Christ. Maybe He is calling you to start a Bible study.

What does it look like to bring light to darkness, to open eyes, to press into hearts, to bring Jesus to those who don’t’ know Him?

I have decided to ask a question this year, during this holiday season that is upon us. I am praying for courage and wisdom to ask a certain question encouraging others to consider Jesus and His life on earth.

This is my question: What does Thanksgiving/Christmas mean to you? I plan on asking family members, friends, neighbors, clerks in stores, kids behind counters… anyone with whom I might strike up a happy-holidays conversation.

I pray for that one person who doesn’t know God. I pray that time will pause for just a few minutes in time so I can explain the true meaning of Christmas.

I know that the man who took his family into a pagan and godless country affected at least one person. Her name was Ruth. Because a family traveled to Moab, one young woman became acquainted with God. Because she stepped into a relationship with the King of the universe God ordained that she become the great great grandmother of the King of Israel and the KING OF KINGS!

Dear move-her. Do you find yourself in a godless place? If so, don’t fret. God can use you to bring Light to those around you.

What question will you ask to start a spiritual conversation?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008

GOD ALWAYS WINS

My Precepts Bible study fascilitator went straight to the Word of Truth last night. These are God's words of encouragement to us. We have our work cut out for us!

1 Peter 2:11-17 (from the Message)

Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

God is never finished even when we feel at a loss.
Sunday, November 2, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Does God abandon his children in the midst of their life’s journey?

I am afraid the answer is, “Yes.” Read on!
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused... so God abandoned them to their own desires. (from Paul's letter to the Romans)

What does this have to do with Tuesday's election?

Have you been caught up in the epic wave that is moving our country toward a new era?

Yes, I know, this is Sunday, not the regular day to post thoughts in my MOVIN’ ON AFTER MOVIN’ IN MONDAY blog.

Today as an act of worship I want to call everyone who would read this blog to seriously look up to our Creator God, the Father of us all who set aside this wonderful nation of ours, our Redeemer who provided a beautiful land where freedom reigns, allowing souls to be set free to worship the one true God.

I am posting today because tomorrow morning I wake up before the sun, stumble to my car, and drive away from the beautiful lake I call home in the fall. Tomorrow I return home to North Carolina. Throughout the day my DH and I will drive along the colorful highways through several states where citizens will be casting their votes. I pray each one of us diligently, prayerfully, and responsibly cast a vote that will glorify God.

In just a few hours our God-given freedom to choose a leader will put us on a new course. I pray to God that the new course will include Him - Almighty God whose statutes were placed in our paths for our own good and for our protection.

As we move into a new era with a new president, new leaders, new ideas, let us pray that we be wise in our voting. So many say the vote is about the economy. I say the vote is about our spiritual state of affairs.

Am I voting in order to have my selfish desires met or am I voting for a freer country, a stronger nation built on godly principles?

As I consider the future of the United States and the issues I see the media telling me are important, I can’t rid my mind of a series of verses in the first chapter of Romans. Here is an excerpt:

God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.


Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.



So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.


That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.


Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.



Let us pray for boldness to honor and glorify the one true God, not a god our hearts and hands have foolishly and selfishly created.



Monday, October 27, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Coexisting with the enemy is not an option

For those of you who follow my moving blog –

I hope it moves you spiritually, inspires you, encouraging you to stay on a straight path…

Recently I have been sharing some traveling stories, sorta' went off on a few bunny trails. For now, I am back on track...

For those of you who follow my moving blog, you know I began this blog in the garden of Eden and moved with women of the Bible from Genesis through Joshua. We have witnessed the moves of Eve, Mrs. Noah Arkbuilder, Sarah, Miriam, Ziphora, (Moses’ sister and wife), and most recently, Rahab’s spiritual move to reach out with hospitality toward Joshua as he and the pilgrims, who had been on the move for over 40 years, moved into the Promised Land, beginning with her home town.

So the children of Israel moved into Canaan and began to settle down.

When was the last time you read the book of Joshua? From chapter 6, with the fall of Jericho, through chapter 13, verse 7, Joshua oversees as his men destroy and conquer the enemy, taking the territory God set before them.

Before we can settle down it’s important to conquer and destroy “the enemy.” We cannot move forward, succeeding tomorrow in our new territory, unless we annihilate our foes.

As I look back on my past moves I can see how some moves were more successful than others. Reading the account of Joshua helps me to understand that a victorious journey into my future includes removing my adversary. The two of us, my opponent and I can not coexist. One has to go!

So who, what has to go? A careful study of my personal enemies includes:
Insecurities, lies, past defeats, worry, doubt, fear…

WOW – I have lots of enemies with whom I have no business sharing my tent!

Clearly God called Joshua to wipe the enemy out. God has His reasons.

I repeat – My rival and I cannot coexist!

Dear move-hers. It’s time we removed the enemy that keeps us from taking the territory God has given us.

Is God calling you to enter a new territory?

Wether A physical location or a spiritual place?

What’s the name of your enemy? What is your removal plan?
Sunday, October 19, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAY

To the beautiful city of God ~ ~ ~



Are you moving? I certainly hope so! Oh - you may not be leaving home with your belongings headed across the country... whether or not you are on the move physically or spiritually I invite you to experience a moving journey with me.

If you follow my MOVING BLOG, you know I use the great moves from the Bible as an outline to follow, but, from time to time, I get off track when my own life takes a detour.

You know – like over the past two weeks, I have been traveling so I posted about a lesson I learned while on the road (two weeks ago) and Columbus’ epic move (Columbus Day = last week.)

On Thursday and Friday (last week) my DH and I visited Zion National Park in southern Utah.

From the moment we began our ascent into the valley I totally understood why this piece earned the name – Zion.


Zion is first mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:7,


“…David captured the fortress of Zion.”

Fortress – a place of protection. Isn’t God our protector? I certainly felt protected here!






Eventually the word/place Zion came to be known in a more spiritual context as
The City of God

Little did Moses and the children of Israel know when they were moving toward The Promised Land that God had a specific location set apart for them. Eventually it came to be known as Zion.

Visiting Zion National Park I certainly felt as if I had arrived at a very special place.

Here I wondered, “Is there a resemblance here to God’s city, the city where we will live forever?”

As I traveled through the park, I experienced God’s character all around

me:

Almighty God
El Shaddai - God of the mountains
I understood one thing while wandering through these mountains:
Just as Romans 1 reads, We "know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to us (prounoun changed by me). For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."
These mountains declare the glory of God. He reigns. Dear friends, believe
and take comfort in His almighty power.
Monday, October 13, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Christopher Columbus = Christ Bearer

If you are a Christian you have something in common with the man whose accomplishements we celebrate today.

His name means Christ Bearer

Happy Columbus Day!

So often, when God says, “Move,” we ask, “Why?”

I cannot imagine being an explorer, going places where no one has ever gone, risking my life, leaving behind loved ones, having no idea what I might face, where my next meal would be found, how I would find a doctor if there were no Emergency Rooms… on and on I go. Oh, and by the way, these are very real thoughts I have each time I face a move.

Yet Christopher Columbus took the challenge and set sail leaving all comforts behind.

We learn from our earliest elementary school days about Christopher Columbus. We are told many stories surrounding his goals, purpose, preparations.

I wanted to hear from the horses mouth.

Why did he do it?

It didn’t take me long to find excerpts from his journal. You can read them for yourself. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/Columbus1.html

I cut through all the formal language and satisfied my curiosity. It appears Christopher went to Sunday School and learned the great commission. Well maybe not, but he certainly understood that God had a calling on his life. Read what he wrote:

IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
Whereas, Most Christian, High, Excellent, and Powerful Princes, King and Queen of Spain and of the Islands of the Sea, our Sovereigns, this present year 1492… I had given your Highnesses respecting the countries of India and of a Prince, called Great Can, which in our language signifies King of Kings, how, at many times he, and his predecessors had sent to Rome soliciting instructors who might teach him our holy faith, and the holy Father had never granted his request, whereby great numbers of people were lost, believing in idolatry and doctrines of perdition. Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith…, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone. So … your Highnesses, in the same month of January, ordered me to proceed…


WOW! He wanted to share the gospel!

Further research brought me to this site:
http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/columbus.html

Without a doubt, the Bible was a great source of inspiration to Columbus. He drew heavily from it and took his name, “Christ Bearer," seriously, believing, in fact, that he had a divine mission to accomplish.

http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/columbus.html

With so many distractions today, Monday, October 13, 2008 – political doubt, nations at war, chaotic economy, uncertain future, one thing hasn’t changed.

God has a message for every person in the world –
“whoever believes in GOD will have everlasting life!”


How will the whoevers hear unless believers are willing to move into their hearts and “determine the proper method for converting them to our holy faith”?

Right now, let’s determine to be inspired by today’s man of the hour.
Move beyond your world. Be a Christ Bearer to those across the across the hall, or across town…
Monday, October 6, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Standing with my feet in two places

My husband and I started out this morning on a road trip. We have had our trip planned for many months. We spent our day driving lazily across the Ozarks, crossing two of our nation’s biggest rivers, finally coming to a stop in southern Illinois at the historic Rose Hotel. We are spending the night on the Ohio- I mean several yards from the river front. Our room opens onto a wide veranda from where we have broad vistas of the river – East to West. I plan on getting up to see the sun rise!

I have one regret from the day. I could have planned a very special moment, but I waited until too late.

This is what I wish I had done and I did not.

I had the opportunity to stand with my feet in two rivers! That is right. When we left Missouri behind we climbed up and over the Mississippi traveling on a long expanse of bridge. When it touched ground we were in Illinois. From the road a smaller road traveled down to the river. I could see it, but I had not pre planned it.

In no time our car climbed up and over the Ohio River. Looking back over my shoulder, from my vantage point I saw three states: Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, divided by two rivers – the Ohio and the Mississippi!

I was impressed with myself. Never mind hundreds of other cars were traveling over the same expanse of civil engineering feats.

I was “standing with my feet in two places” In my mind that is!

I wanted to go back, DH said no. He was tired of driving, longing to arrive at our peaceful destination.

Standing with my feet in two places. Can you relate? I want to be here, but I need to go there. Looking back, needing to look forward. Holding on to the past, needing to grab hold of the future.

Today’s experience helped me realize that my moves, be they physical or spiritual cannot be successful if I don’t set my heart and face toward the goal. Too often I don’t want to leave the past behind. I want to stand with my feet in two places. I want it all – living in the yesterdays but anticipating the tomorrows.

So we didn’t stop to stand in two places, we moved on and what a delightful experience awaited us!

Sometimes we have to give up the past so we can fully enjoy the present and the future.

Had we stopped to stand in two places, we would have missed the peaceful end to our day – a most wonderful sunset over the Ohio River, right outside the door of our very own charming bedroom in this delightful Bed and Breakfast – the Rose Hotel.

Tempted to stand with your feet in two places? Let me encourage you – pick up the foot that is keeping you form moving forward and place it in front of your other foot, Keep going…be amazed by God’s plan for your life.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Waiting, sitting on the front step…

My husband and I walk together every day – most of the time!

Right now we are visiting his parents in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our MO is to announce one to the other – “I’ll be ready to walk in a few minutes. Let’s walk early. Let’s walk later.”

Today I announced – “Let’s walk early, I want to get home, wash my hair, and run some errands.”

“OK,” my husband replied. “Do you mind waiting a few minutes? First I am going up into the attic to check on the roof.”

My father-in-law has been waiting to make roof repairs. He won’t tell us what he is waiting for.

While my husband banged his way around in the attic I waited on the front stoop. I took my shoes out the front door and sat down on the step, put on my socks and shoes, and waited. The wait gave me an opportunity to stop.

I have been avoiding spending down time. When I slow down I am forced to think about my heavy waits, those waits that are a burden to me right now: circumstances that threaten to weigh me down, stresses that slither into my mind stealing my joy, reminders that life is hard and feels out of my control…

Mostly I want to keep busy so I don’t have to wander out of my comfy garden and into the wild and dangerous jungle.

But here I was, forced to be still while I waited.

While sitting on the stoop my eyes explored the front flower bed and the world beyond where I reviewed many spiritual lessons:

1- Looking at the weeds that wound their way through the flower bed I wondered, “What weeds have I allowed to choke out my relationship with Jesus, with others?”
2- Observing the hard bald spots in the grass I questioned, “Have I developed a hard heart, protecting myself from becoming too vulnerable, too close to those whose hearts I could touch if I simply slowed down enough to care?”
3- Seeing the many homes around me, I asked forgiveness for not getting to know the people around me, forgiveness for neglecting to pray for those whose lives brush mine on a regular basis.
4- Watching the squirrels dashing here and there with confident purpose as they gathered acorns and planted them, I could relate, “Am I confident in my calling or am I whining about the challenges God has allowed into my life?”
5- Looking up through the branches of the tall pines I wondered, “Am I standing tall and confident in what I believe about the Christian walk? Does my life glorify my Savior? Am I so strongly rooted in Christ that I trust Him no matter the storms that threaten to undo me? ”

“Are you ready?” I heard my husband’s voice.

Normally I don’t like having to wait. Today God gave me an energizing opportunity in the midst of a wait. I had not planned to spend a quiet moment reflecting, but my Father had other plans.

“Sorry I kept you waiting,” I heard my husband apologize.

“Waiting?” I replied. “No problem.”

For once waiting had been a welcome gift. I believe it transformed my day!

God showed up this morning. I remember having read STREAMS in the DESERT last night. Within the reading of September 30 I recalled:

When God places a burden upon you, He places His arms underneath you.

God uses time trials to remind me, He protects me in the midst of life’ difficulties. Winds of insecurity may be blowing, but His arms are strong. If I focus on His truths, He will take care of my uncertainties.

Monday, September 29, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Have you treated yourself to the movie, The End of the Spear?

Talk about a move! Five young men in 1956 risked their lives to introduce an unreached people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I copied and pasted this review in case you are not familiar with the story:

This amazing story of forgiveness is a deep in the heart of the jungles of Ecuador, along the Amazon River basin, the Waodani Indians are murdering each other to the point of near-extinction. Tribal conflicts (internal and external) have led to a staggering 60 percent mortality rate, and the average Waodani male lives to be just over 30 years old. In response, the Ecuadorian government plans to send in troops to stop the killings and "reclaim" the land, essentially wiping out the Waodani.
It's the early 1950s and Nate Saint, along with four other young American Christian missionaries, sense the urgency of this crisis and set out to befriend the Waodani people. Nate establishes contact with the remote tribe using a revolutionary aeronautical technique that he invents. Flying his small yellow craft in a tight circular pattern, he dangles a bucket on a rope (which centers itself due to centrifugal force), using it to lower gifts. Then, on Jan. 3, 1956, after weeks of what seems to be a progressing relationship (the Waodani have begun to place gifts of their own in the bucket), Nate and his friends, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and Ed McCully, land the plane on a sandbar and make face-to-face contact with the Waodani.


Five days later, their speared and hacked bodies lay in the Curaray River. must see for every Christian family.


A must-read is another story, the tale of a young native girl who grew up in the midst of the violent culture that dictated- kill or be killed. Know someone who died at the end of a spear? = Take revenge at all costs.

I bring this up because I am reading the story of this girl – Dayuma.

She fled the violence of the vicious Waodani when she realized her life would probably be terminated by the end of a spear if she didn’t leave the jungle where constant retributions took place.

Eventually she wound her way into a Spanish plantation where she found work. At the hacienda (farm) she met Rachel Saint, sister to one of the men who was killed by the spears of the Waodani warriors. A friendship began as Rachel painstakenly learned the language of the murderous tribe.
To stand back and observe the mighty hand of God move in order to get His story into the hearts of a remote tribe is an amazing experience!

The first Bible verse we all memorized, John 3:16 teaches us –
God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son so that anyone who would believe in Him would have everlasting life.

God means what He says – He loves everyone in the world – even the remote, non-seen tribesman and woman. He moved into the hearts of 5 missionaries and their families with a call to carry the gospel into the jungle.

We may not always understand God’s calling on our lives. It may seem dangerous or foolhardy to step into circumstances that don’t make sense. We may reason and justify our actions or lack thereof. One thing I do know – God loves us and His will for our salvation extends beyond anything we can ever imagine.

Are you available to God and His plan for some one else’s salvation?
Where is God moving you today to go with His message of love and forgiveness?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Down boy!

Thoughts on what to do as we wait in the midst of crisis:

Yesterday I heard one of our congressmen use the word “panic” as he discussed our nation’s, and the world’s, state of financial affairs.

I have to admit to feeling a bit of panic rise up within me when I listen to the television or when I allow myself to stop the radio dial on a financial report, when I pick up the newspaper or when a bill arrives in the mail!

I first get the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then it rises to my heart and, if I continue to dwell on the negative topic, the silent swish swish of the wonderful pump that keeps my body alive steps up to a roaring thump thump thump!

Next, an overwhelming feeling of sadness creeps up my throat and into my tear ducts. At some point I have to put a stop to the rising panic.

Quickly I must reason with myself.

“Today’s affairs are out of my control.”

Down panic!

“What I do have control over is my focus.”

Down panic!

“God is my refuge.”

Down panic!

Slowly the Holy Spirit takes over and reminds me to refocus as I wait for the circumstances in my environment to settle down.

So what becomes my focus? I can turn to areas of my life where my prayers, activities, and efforts make a difference.

I can reach out to my neighbor living out what I claim to believe: “the peace that passes all understanding.”

I can help my mother-in-law in the areas of her life where she is no longer capable.

I can encourage my friends.

I can pray for my family.

There is something else I can do. I can make a difference in a ministry where I find great satisfaction. That would be Proverbs 31 Ministries.

You can too!

Read today's devotion: Encouragement for Today

and consider becoming a partner with this incredible ministry

Support P31


Monday, September 22, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

A MOST DIFFICULT MOVE

When God directed Joshua to enter the Promised Land He gave directions that today seem very harsh. In fact most of us do not like to read in the Old Testament the events that took place as the children of Israel began to settle the land God had given them. Part of the settlement included purging the land of its citizens.

What kind of a God tells his children to “destroy with the sword every living thing?”

I cannot begin to visualize and understand the cleansing that occurred as Joshua and his armies marched into Canaan.

What I do know is that many of my moves required cleansing.

For reasons I don’t understand God’s plans for my life including a purging of my past and a clean new future.

When Joshua entered Jericho, “the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it…” (Joshua 6:20-210)

Moving includes putting the past behind, starting a new.

Not unlike Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13, “one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” ,

Those things which are ahead are called the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Jesus' way is perfect. God calls us to perfection.

He told Joshua and his army to wipe the land clean, to perfect it. His plan was to give His people a clean start- no other gods, no messed up past history, no cultural customs that would divert their eyes from the Almighty- just a pure, clean slate.

God loves me (and you) so much, He wants my full attention. He requires that I remove anything that might distract me from a full and intimate relationship with Him. Is that the plan He had when He invited His children to enter the land He had set aside for them? He wanted their full attention – no distractions?

I know God has moved me so He might cleanse me and give me a new start on life.

Is God laying out a clean slate before you? What is He asking you to clean up so your new life might glorify and honor Him?
Sunday, September 21, 2008

WHEN TO TEACH ABOUT SIN?

Last week I was asked the following question after Proverbs 31 Ministries published a devotion I wrote about sin.

This question came to me:

“When is it a good age to teach and warn children about sin?


When the pastor took my first born in his arms during the baby dedication service he said something like this, “We dedicate our children to the Lord promising to bring them up to follow Christ. We anticipate the day when they realize their sinful natures and ask God’s forgiveness. As parents and leaders in the church it is our responsibility to point the children in the right direction. It is not necessary to point them in the wrong direction. They go there automatically. We do not have to teach them to make the wrong choice. They do so naturally. It is our duty to teach them to make the right choice beginning with the decision to follow Jesus.” Then our pastor asked the congregation to join us in the spiritual guidance of our son.

So when do we begin to teach about sin?


James 4:17 reads, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

When we teach our children to do what is right and they deliberately disobey it is time to begin to steer them in the right direction. I am not sure of the age when these teachings begin, but I do believe a mother who is engaged with her child can tell when deliberate disobedience takes place.

Some time in my sons’ preschool years they asked “why?” That was the perfect opportunity to explain God’s law. I told my children, “Because God says so.”

It certainly took the burden from my shoulders to be able to say, “This isn’t my idea. God designed it this way. He said so.”

God’s Word says “obey your parents.”

God’s Word says we are to be kind to others.

God’s Word says we are to tell the truth.

And on and on…

Why?

Because treating others with respect and dignity is what Jesus came to earth to teach so that we would live in unity and please our Father God.

A wonderful way to teach sin and its consequences is to read to our children and discuss the plot and characters, their choices and consequences. Good stories have the capacity to help our children learn from others what happens when we sin and then begin to learn how to avoid it.

Got any ideas on this topic? I am sure we would all benefit by your thoughts and experiences.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TEACHING LIKE JESUS TAUGHT

Welcome to you who are visiting me after having read my devotional on today’s Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today.

I don’t know about you, but I found the responsibility of parenting my sons to be one of the most joyful, yet most overwhelming tasks I ever undertook!

Not being much of a homemaker, I worked for ten years after I married and before my first child was born.

Taking on the new career of parenting, I believed my new job description simply included feeding, cleaning, entertaining, you know, providing the basics. It didn’t take me very long to realize my role as a mother also included not only the physical, but the emotional and spiritual as well.

I realized it was up to me to model love, selflessness, and teach the most important lessons my sons would ever learn: lessons in spiritual devotion.

How’s a mother to make sure her children grasp an understanding of God and step into a relationship with Jesus Christ?

Guess what? My task was not as daunting as one might think it would be! With lots of prayer, a little knowledge of God’s Word, and a desire to listen to the Holy Spirit I began to feel my Father gently prod me to introduce my sons to Him.

My time spent with God each day lead me to teach my sons the way Jesus taught His disciples. Remember, when He walked along through the fields or into the forests, He pointed to the birds and the flowers teaching about God’s provision. He pointed to sheep, describing the perfect shepherd.

So, as my little boys and I experienced each day I learned to point to nature, showing them God’s handiwork and miracles. As they grew, discussions about God were as common as conversations about family, friends, and food.

Then one day our family made a choice many families make. We decided to add a dog to the family portrait. Taking a trip to the local animal shelter, we found a little dog and brought him home.

While bathing him and cleaning him I felt such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit, I stopped to understand the significance of the moment.

“Tell Benjamin this is what happens at baptism.”

Benjamin is my then-11-year-old, son.

The “this” was the fact that we had chosen a filthy-as-rags puppy to become part of our family and we were in the midst of washing away his past. We removed the dirt from his prior life as a stray, disobedient, wandering-around-lost creature.

So I looked at Benjamin, pointed to the dog, and began to teach, just like Jesus taught.

“Consider the dog,” I said. “He was once a lost puppy, dirty, disobedient, resulting in a life of captivity. He ended up in the pound. Death was his certain destiny. But you found him. You reached out to him. You touched him. You called to him asking him to follow you, and he obeyed. Now he is free. He has a new life and a future with a master who loves him.”

As I shared this happy story, my son completely understood what Jesus had done for him.

All we like sheep have gone astray, just like our new little dog had wandered away.

Jesus chose us, we didn’t choose Him.

Jesus reaches out to each one of us and invites us to follow Him.

He says, “Come.”

When we obediently follow we soon learn we each have a Master who loves us, protects us, and provides for us. Jesus is the Master who is preparing a perfect place so we can live with Him forever.

Since our little dog came to live with us, we have learned many lessons, lessons in spiritual devotion, lessons illustrating for us what it looks like depend on Jesus for our every need.

I began to write down all the similarities between the life of our new family pet and every child’s journey to the heart of God and discuss these similarities with my family. Soon it wasn’t long before I realized I had a story to tell. A story similar to the ones Jesus told.

Consider the dog…

I realized God wanted me to put the story into a book, and then a DVD for children. Today, my doggie and I travel to churches and preschools where we tell our story, perform tricks, and sign books. ( Yes! My little dog autographs his story.)

What a delight to see the faces of children when they realize obedience isn’t something adults force upon you for no good reason. Obedience is God calling you to step into a journey with Him and the Master. Obedience leads to joy, success, confidence, and purpose. Obedience leads to a relationship that changes our life forever.

In the case of our little dog, obedience took him
From a life of desperation to a life of liberty,
From a life of wandering around lost to a life of secure direction
from a life of rejection, abuse, and neglectto a life of aCceptance, protection, and care…
From the life of a caged animal in a Pound to the life of an adored puppy in the Palace (compared to an animal shelter, that is!)

FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE

And that is exactly the title of the DVD I created and produced for children – a story telling my furry friend’s tale, a story explaining to every child who will listen…

“Do you know you have a master too? His name is Jesus…”

Benjamin named his dog, Air because he could jump up in the air and catch balls. Air has his own blog. IF you would like to visit Air and let your children leave comments you can log onto www.fromthepoundtothepalace.blogspot.com
and “talk” with Air. He will be happy to respond to your comments. See you at Air Dog Blog!
Monday, September 15, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

“I will be with you” as you move

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land they did so following the Ark of the Covenant.

Joshua 3 gives the details of the crossing. One fact stands out in this chapter: The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned several times! When I read the chapter and underline either Ark of the Covenant, Ark, or “it” (referring to the Ark) I count more than 10 times that the Ark is mentioned in 17 verses.

The Ark of the Covenant is an important factor in this move – the crossing of the Jordan River.

What does God want us to learn from Joshua 9?

Verse 10 gives us the answer: “ By this you shall know that the living God is among you…” Seeing the Ark go before them, the pilgrims were reminded, God is among you.

Do you know that? God is in your midst as your move into the next promised land He has prepared for you?

Do you have an Ark?

Here is a trivia question: Do you know what three items could be found within the Ark? (Hebrews 9:4)

The tablets of the Ten Commandments
Aaron’s rod that bloomed
A jar of manna

What can you take with you as you move to remind you of God’s presence?

I like to be reminded, not only of God’s presence, but of the many ways He provided for me and protected me in the past.

Do you know that past behavior is a predictor of future conduct?

If in the past God has cared for me, doesn’t it stand to reason He will continue to do so for me far into my future?

So what does this have to do with the Ark of the Covenant? The items stored in the “treasure box” were of great significance. They reminded the Israelites that God had given them direction: The Law. He had provided for their most basic needs: daily manna. He had protected them – Aaron’s Rod.

If you were to choose three things from you past that illustrate God’s care for you, what would they be?

I would include a picture of my parents because they introduced me to the Word of God encouraging me to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. My parents gave me direction, provided the necessary ingredients in my life for my most basic need-salvation, and protected me.

I would include the first testimony I ever wrote because it reminds me that God loves me and I made a choice to follow Him.

I would also include a copy of 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. This is the verse I felt God lead me to read when He called me to ministry. Over thirty years ago, after my third move, God showed me these verses as I sank deep into a feeling of rejection and abandonment. What was my purpose in life? Would I always wander around moving, never settling, always a stranger, a foreigner without a purpose? Then God let me see that He had a plan for my life. My sufferings and afflictions would be turned around to be points of empathy that I would have for other women who would also find themselves moving. My feelings of loneliness, sadness, and worthlessness could be used for the good in the lives of others.

These three things from my past always remind me that God has a hand on my life. When I doubt myself or God’s purpose for my life, I look at my Christian parents, I read my testimony, or I remember 2 Corinthians and my heart feels convicted.

Just like the Israelites I remind myself that God is in my midst – always has been always will be.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Everyone is waiting!

Last week while mindlessly watching (or not actually watching - but hearing the drone of the television) the evening news, I heard the word “waiting” I can’t tell you how many times!

…waiting for the bus that often does not show up on time the first day of school
…waiting for the rain to stop and floods to recede (my home town was severely flooded last week)

…waiting to hear the Republicans announce the VP
…waiting to see where the hurricane was headed – Fay, Gustav, Hannah, (I have a son in college in the wake of Hannah), Ike! Yikes!

of course all those evacuated from New Orleans were now

…waiting to return home
…waiting for the economy to take a turn
…waiting for gas prices to drop

And of course
…waiting for the war to come to an end because we are so hopefully
…waiting for our sons and daughters to come home

When I think of waiting, one of the pictures I conjure up is that of an approaching storm. Haven’t we had our share of storms here in the US? A feeling of gloom creeps over the horizon. Emotional dark clouds gather as we wait for the details of our personal storm to be laid out, just like watching the evening news, waiting to hear: the location and severity of the strike.

How does one prepare for the ‘storm?’

My son and his roommates communicated with their parents who offered sanctuary from far inland. The storm would be a category 1 storm so the guys decided to ride it out.

In some cases we have no choice but to ride out our waits.

Right now, though, hurricane Ike is threatening the gulf coast and preparations are being made to evacuate.

All over the television I see pictures of windows being boarded up and sand bags being filled in order to create protective walls. Cots are being washed down in Dallas, preparing for evacuees. Church groups are in route preparing themselves to be available once help is needed. People everywhere are preparing.

How would you categorize your wait? What are you doing while you wait?

If you have followed along with me as I discuss waiting, you remember that King Hezekiah is my hero. His time trials taught me to wait. One of his exercises in God’s Wait Room was to fortify the city of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 32)

Hezekiah was not facing a hurricane. The Assyrians who devastated everything in their path might as well have been a hurricane! While in the midst of his time of waiting he surveyed his surroundings and realized the walls of his city needed to be strengthened
I learned by reading Hezekiah’s story that I can fortify myself spiritually while I wait.

The biggest mistake I make when I allow myself to panic as I watch the gathering storm- the biggest mistake I make is that I turn to the world where I think I can take refuge.

King David, Hezekiah’s great great great grandfather wrote:

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men.” (Psalm 118:8)
Here is another thought for us as Wait Trainers, while we wait:

“Without watchful expectation on our part, what is the sense in waiting on God for help? There will be no help without it. If we ever fail to receive strength and protection from Him, it is because we have not been looking for it. Heavenly help is often offered yet goes right past us. We miss it because we are not standing in the tower, carefully watching the horizon for evidence of its approach and then are unready to throw the gates of our heart open so it may enter. The person who has no expectations and therefore fails to be on the alert will receive little help. Watch for God in the events of your life.” Streams in the Desert

How will you fortify yourself as you wait? May God strengthen you and protect you in the fold of his wings.
Monday, September 8, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Hanging Around Helping Others

Have you considered that God might have called you to move, positioning you to be a welcomer and a helper to others?

I have to admit that the part of moving I find hard to face is the loneliness that consumes me once I arrive at my destination. I often move hoping that my new neighborhood will be a family friendly place, with sidewalks that connect people to each other, streets that meander around from hospitable houses to involved neighbors, and parks that unite friends. Sadly I have stumbled through most of my moves alone.

This has not been a bad thing, though. I simply came to the conclusion that I could make a difference in others’ lives. So I became diligent to observe newcomers and welcome them into my life.

Have you read the story of Rahab? She wisely welcomed a couple of wandering pilgrims into her home. She protected them and in so doing her life was spared when the conquerors arrived to take Jericho. Her amazing story of bravery and unparallel hospitality is filled with intrigue. Read about her in Joshua 2 and 6.

It has been a long while since I moved and it could certainly be easy to sit idly by allowing newcomers to find their own way.

God encourages us to welcome strangers into our circles. Who knows how we can help them and in turn what they can bring into our lives.

This is a new season. In your children’s schools or in your church, maybe down the street, or in the office next door there may be a newcomer looking for a place to hide from the world’s tough pursuit.

Why not reach out, make a new move and invite the newcomer to join you and your friends.

God will be sure to bless you!
Monday, September 1, 2008

A DESPERATE MOVE

Where has your life’s journey placed you right now?

This time yesterday I found myself in the water, under a raft, on a desperate journey seeking air!

Yesterday my husband and I and our two friends who came to visit us for the weekend decided to go white water rafting. Oh-we didn’t go to the mountains where wild and rough rivers meander around huge boulders and drop down steep shoots. Although I have taken some rough rides through deep canyons past incredible sights, yesterday was not that day.

Thirty minutes from my house a U.S. National Whitewater course opened up for the public to enjoy controlled rafting.

Looking for a little fun, the four of us decided to take advantage of what was left of the summer and participate in the local water sport.

We signed up, sat through the orientation, met our guide, and climbed into our raft. Immediately Carol, my friend, told Rafio our rafter – you let the raft flip, don’t expect a tip. In other words – “no tip if we flip.”

Guess what? That is when Rafio decided he would see to it that we flipped. He was a fun guide. Immediately we went out into the channel with a sea full of other rafts full of suckers just like us – families and friends looking for a cool adventure on the last day of summer.

We laughed, screamed, and paddled our way over rapids and around man made boulders. Rafio made sure we got wet. After taking us through the class 1 and 2 channel, he turned us toward the more advanced course. Of course it never was the advanced course because we paid for the intermediate trip.

He yelled two strokes, we all obeyed. We found ourselves turned around traveling down the river backward, he yelled one stroke backward and we all did as we were told. We made a good team.

Although we bumped, rolled, lost our balance, and became soaked in the course of our journey, by the last leg of our journey we felt invigorated. Our choice to go to the USNWC had been a good decision.

Yahooooooo we cheered as we shot through the rapids.

And then suddenly from out of nowhere our raft slowed down, pitched forward, and reared up. We hung above the waves for a split second and one by one tumbled out of the raft. I remember thinking, “I am not supposed to let go of my paddle. Don’t let go of the paddle, Don’t let go of the paddle.” I succeeded in that area.

Then with one hand I grabbed my sunglasses. For a moment I thought I had them. But I realized a more pressing problem presented itself.

I needed to take a breath! I mean- I really needed to take a breath! My lungs were screaming. Letting go of my glasses I reached for the bottom of the raft and began to feel my way to the edge…

“I need to breathe! Where is the air? I am not afraid of water. I am a confident swimmer. I just can’t seem to find any air!”

Reaching the point of desperation, I knew I had to make a MOVE…

I realized I was in the water, under the raft, swirling around in an eddy…

Of course this was not the time to contemplate life’s challenges-although the challenge facing me had me in a hard place.

Looking back, I realize that when we find ourselves in tough circumstances, facing testy trials, we may be forced to make a desperate move in order to survive.

I let go of my glasses, opened my eyes, even though it meant possibly losing my contact lenses, and I pushed off from the raft in the direction of the light.

My head bobbed up above the water an I took a breath. AHHH air, sweet life giving air.

I had made a desperate move and it paid off.

Let go the unimportant.

Open my eyes.

Seek the light.

Take a breath.

Is God calling you to make a desperate move? Go for it.