Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ode To Bat Wings, Chin Hairs, & Wrinkles

Hey Friend,

It's hard to believe that it's been a week already since I returned from the "She Speaks" conference sponsored by Proverbs 31 Ministries in Charlotte, NC.  It was truly a "mountaintop experience" and now I'm back, trying to live out what I learned in the valley.

I HIGHLY recommend this conference to anyone who loves to journal, write, speak, or has a book rumbling around in their cranium that wants to get out.  I have been blogging/writing for five years and I wish I had attended this conference years ago!  

There was so much to enjoy...the keynote speakers (who doesn't love Liz Curtis Higgs) were wonderful and the breakout sessions were so on target for the challenges and obstacles writers and speakers face.  There was also so much inspiration (breakout session by Jennifer Dukes Lee) on hope for the small time blogger in getting a book published...truly inspiring.

My favorite time of all had to be the Spirit moving as 800 women, who loved the Lord, and were sold out on spreading the Good News, joined their voices together in praise and worship.  I imagined that this was how heaven will sound with all the angels singing in harmony.

I do have to share one funny story....I apologize if this is too much information for some of you:

For this 56 year old gal, it's been two, almost three, years since I have had a period. I have officially declared myself through menopause (can I get an Amen?).  I've weathered the hot flashes, the mood swings, the going six months without a period and being on the verge of celebrating only for "my friend" to return :(.

Even my doctor confirmed that after 2-3 years it was safe to say I'd crossed the finish line.  That was until I went to She Speaks.  I don't know if it was the keynote sessions where all 800 women were joined together in one estrogen-infused room?  Or maybe it was the two pregnant women I sat between in a writers' break out session?  

No matter which way you slice it, the Monday morning after the conference "my friend" was back for what I hope will be one last hurrah!  You've got to be kidding I told myself.  I am guessing my body absorbed all those hormones through osmosis and had to say one last time, "I am woman, hear me roar!"

I think it's just a fluke and my body will get back in sync with the gray hairs, bat wings, chin hairs, and multiple wrinkles that tell my age.  

But you know what amazed me at the conference was just how beautiful all the women were!  And, it wasn't because they were young, slender, toned, and had flawless skin and uncolored hair.  

No, it was because they glowed with a beauty that could ONLY come from loving the Lord and being loved by Him. 

There were women there of all ages, shapes, colors, and sizes and they were ALL beautiful!!  I mean it...these women glowed!!  

I admit I used to be all hung up on outer beauty.  I even battled bulimia for awhile in my teens in order to be the mirror image of the models I saw in magazines.  As I've aged, however, I have come to a place of peace with my aging body and I am convinced that a woman who embraces 1 Peter 3: 3-4 is truly a woman of beauty in God's eyes....and after all, whose eyes are we after?

Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments[a] or fine clothes.Instead, it should consist of what is inside[b] the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. (1 Peter 3: 3-4)

I have been having to make peace with each new addition to my "maturing" body...thigh dimples, gray hair, bat wings, chin hairs, varicose veins, jowl formation, turkey neck, and my own personal "inner tube" around my abdomen....have I covered it all?

Each new addition reminds me that I am not the pretty young thing I used to be when I was twenty, but I firmly believe we develop an inner beauty as we age (if we allow God to work on our heart as much as we work on our abs).  

It's a beauty that replaces pride with humility, hurriedness with patience, brashness with gentleness and kindness - it's a beauty that can only be born out of care, compassion, and love for others over love of self.

My identity has shifted from what the world thinks of me to what God thinks.  I am better able and suited to live my life for an audience of One and how relieving that is. Do I still get caught up in the world's idea of beauty - you bet, but God has been continually renewing my mind.

"Search my heart, Lord", is a dangerous prayer to pray, but God is so gracious that in addition to showing me what needs changing on the inside, He encourages me about what is good in me - the good that has come from praying , "Make me more like Jesus, God."

So, as I pluck my chin hairs and see new gray hairs popping up daily, I try to look at them as badges of living.  My eye wrinkles tell tales of much laughter and many tears. They show that I have lived.  If this is how I look having been loved well by the Lord, then so be it.

So instead of singing my ode to bat wings, chin hairs, and wrinkles, let my song be one of praise for the inner beauty God brings out as I continue to grow in likeness to His Son.  

This beauty never fact it becomes more radiant the more we give our heart over to Jesus.  

What about you?  Would you say you are aglow with the inner beauty of knowing the love of the Lord for you?  What keeps you hung up on outward appearances?  Whose approval are you seeking?  The world's?  God's?  How might God be calling you to let go of old ways of thinking?

Dear Heavenly Father,  I praise you and thank you that, unlike the world that looks upon outward appearances, You look at the heart. Thank you for loving me with a love that surpasses all understanding. Enable me to be brave enough to pray, "Search my heart Oh Lord", and if there is anything that is not of you, remove it and give me a heart of flesh like Jesus.  Let my beauty be defined by how I love you and how I love and care for others.  Less of me, more of You....let that be my beauty secret. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...
ps.  This post also inspired by a recent post by Sarah Mae at (in)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What Does Casting All My Anxiety On Him Mean?

Hey Friend,

Most of us are familiar with 1 Peter 5:7:

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

As I was reading in 1 Peter, I was struck by what the precursor to this verse was...

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."  (1 Peter 5: 5b-7)

I was convicted that the first step before casting my anxiety on the Lord, was to humble myself before Him.  God doesn't necessarily give grace to everyone (ie: the proud), but he pours out grace on those who are willing to humble themselves.

For me, this means admitting that I can't carry the worry, fear, doubt, and anxiety that come from them by myself.  It means that I've gotten to the end of myself and I know I need a power larger than myself to step in.  It means saying, "I can't do this on my own."

I used to think, that as a Christian, I shouldn't be anxious - that God was somehow disappointed in me if I wasn't blissfully trusting in Him at all times. I've learned the errors of my thinking.  God does not say we won't be anxious. Even the most devout Christian will experience worry, fear, doubt, and anxiety. In fact we will all experience a lot of it in our lifetime.  That's a given. 

God knows this and He lovingly invites us to cast ALL those cares upon Jesus.

Mind you, though, laying your burdens at the foot of the cross or casting your anxiety upon Him is no easy task.

I am the queen of laying my burdens at the foot of the cross and then picking them back up to stew on them awhile longer.  I have trouble laying them down, letting go, and walking away.

Similarly, think about the fishermen when they cast their fishing nets.  The act of casting takes a lot of strength.  Those nets are darned heavy and to heave them out of the floor of the boat and cast them as far away from the boat as possible takes strength, determination, and power (sometimes a supernatural power is needed to lift our weakened arms and cast those nets of anxiety).

Sometimes it takes our very last ounce of strength to lay our burdens down or to cast our anxiety upon the Lord.  

Think then too about the word "cast".  When I think of casting my anxiety, I think of flinging, throwing far, hurling, casting those anxieties as far away from the boat (my heart) as possible. 

If I will but humble my heart before Him, Jesus lovingly bids me to lay my burdens at His feet and let Him pick them up and carry them for me.

He tells me to cast the anxiety (that I will no doubt feel from time to time) upon Him. Fling it as far away from myself as possible so that I will not even be able to pick it back up again.  

Cast my cares and anxiety upon Him....Why?  Because He cares for me!

Jesus cares so deeply about me and about you.  He knows how oppressive our worries and anxieties can be.  The world is filled with them.  But, Jesus doesn't leave us to fend for ourselves.  He wants to take our burdens upon Himself and carry them for us, just like He took our sins upon Himself and gave us salvation in return.  Oh, what a wonderful Savior we have.

What worry, fear, doubt, or anxiety have you been carrying alone?  Do you truly believe that Jesus wants to carry it for you?  Are you willing to humble yourself before Him and ask for His strength to cast those anxieties upon Him and let Him deal with them so that you can live the abundant life He desires for you? 

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you and praise you that I don't have to walk this anxiety-laden life alone.  Thank you for giving me your Son Jesus who took all my sins upon Himself.  Thank you, Jesus, for not stopping there....for inviting me to lay my burdens at your loving feet and to cast all my anxiety upon you so that you can take it and handle it for me. Thank you for exchanging my worries and fears for your peace that passes all understanding.  Help me to humble myself and turn over to you what tears me up inside.  Help me to know deep in my soul how much you love and care about me.  Let this become my truth.  In your precious name I pray, Amen.  

Be the end of the week I will be attending the "She Speaks" writers and speakers conference.  I may just take a break from posting next week, or who knows, maybe I will have been so inspired that I'll have lots to say.  Just wanted to give you a heads up :)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Short-Cut To God's Heart

Hey Friend,

For the past two posts, I have been sharing what I've been learning in reading through 2 Corinthians.  I admit that this book of the Bible is filled with hard truth.  It is the stuff that convicts our hearts and makes us ponder.  It has been a good journey for me to be challenged rather than resting on my laurels.

I can see that while I've been recuperating, God has had a purpose in pulling me aside and making me use my "down" time to go deeper into His Word.  It's made me realize, that as I become more mobile, I still desperately need time for rest, rejuvenation, and just drawing close to Him and seeing what He would have me learn in order that I might bask in His love and continue to grow.

It's interesting, that after the hard hitting truth, Paul ends this book with a rather upbeat exhortation to the disciples and the church at Corinth.  Leave it to Paul to always end on a note of encouragement and the "Basics of Discipleship".

Here are two versions of the same passage of scripture: (2 Corinthians 13:11)

"Be joyful.  Grow to maturity.  Encourage each other.  Live in harmony and peace.  Then the God of love and peace will be with you."

"Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you."

I would say that these positive, upbeat, definite choices are like the "Cliff Notes of Discipleship".  We all like a short-cut, so let's take a look:

1. Joy/Rejoice:  Choose joy, and what better way to do that than to look around and rejoice in the Truth that God has shared with you.  "This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it."  Look around, right now, and find something or someone for which you can rejoice.

2. Growth/Become Mature:  God tells us that we are to "grow up" into the head which is Christ.  We can no longer rest behind the excuse of "this is how God made me so you're just going to have to live with it".  God wants us to be continually open to growing and maturing as believers.  That means putting off what's old and embracing the new creation that we are.

3. Encouragement/Be Encouraged:  Do you believe that you are "Beloved", "Holy", "Chosen"??  Well you are.  Even if you don't "feel" this way - feelings lie. The facts in the Truth of the Bible tell us, time and time again, about the lovingkindness that God wants to lavish upon us simply because we are His.

4. Harmony/Be of the Same Mind:  Don't be divisive or stir the pot.  If these aren't words for today, I don't know what are.  Be of the same mind as God, and seek to live in harmony with Him and with others (believers and unbelievers).  

5. Peace/Be at Peace:  Easier said than done at times, but I believe this is one of the greatest desires of God for our souls.  I think that's why he bids us to "Come" so many times in the Bible.  I know for me, the only way I can find peace is if I truly lay it ALL at the foot of the cross.  When I pick it up and carry it - it's Pride.  When I lay it down and give it over to God, I find Peace.

This is a list, however, that we need to choose.  

This is a list that moves us closer to God's a place where we can crawl into His lap, rest our weary head on His chest, hear His heartbeat of love for us, and simply breathe.  Let go....and breathe....

This is a short-cut to the very heart of God. comes with a promise....

"The God of love and peace will be with you."  Amen!

If your life is feeling out of joint, disconnected from God, searching but unable to find the destination, will you give it a try??  Close to God's heart - that's certainly where I want and need to be.

Are you feeling like you are close to God's heart or far away?  Which of the 5 points above do you feel like God is calling you to choose today?  How would your life look different if, one by one, you chose these short-cuts to God's heart?

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that you always include encouragement in your Truth.  Thank you for these upbeat and positive exhortations that Paul's words offer to me as your disciple. Help me to embrace joy, growth, encouragement, harmony, and peace. You gladly offer them....let me choose them for myself.  Thank you that you never give up on me and that you always lead me back to your loving heart for me.  I praise you that I am beloved, holy, and chosen. Enable me to live in that reality and if I'm not there right now, pull me into you and your love and allow me to experience your peace and breathe....In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...
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Monday, July 3, 2017

Come Out From Among Them

Hey Friend,

I have to admit, there's not much I like to watch on television these days. When channel surfing, I find myself landing back on one of my old favorites - Law & Order. Yes, I was/am a Law & Order junkie.  Maybe it's my sense of justice, by I always love when righteousness prevails.

One of the clinchers in the attorney's case would be if they could get an eyewitness to identify the perpetrator of the crime in a police line up.  

"Yeah, that's him....third from the left."  (attorney and detectives smile)

What if I was in that lineup, I ponder?  Would I stand out, not as the perpetrator of a crime, but as a Christian?  By my words, and actions, my reactions, and how I lead my life - would someone be able to say "Yes" for sure she's the one. She's a Christian??

And I don't mean in the negative sense of the word, that my up-on-my-high-horse piety marks me, but that I live a life marked with love.  Does my life arrow point to Jesus?

I've been reading in 2 Corinthians and this passage in chapter 6 jumped out at me.  I invite you to read Paul's words as he's talking to the church at Corinth. He is telling them that they are ministers and that the message of Christ's love should prevail and their lives should stand out (and have stood out) in all these circumstances:

We give no opportunity for stumbling to anyone, so that the ministry will not be blamed. But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything:
by great endurance, by afflictions,
by hardship, by difficulties,
by beatings, by imprisonments,
by riots, by labors,
by sleepless nights, by times of hunger,
by purity, by knowledge,
by patience, by kindness,
by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,
by the message of truth,
by the power of God;
through weapons of righteousness
on the right hand and the left,
through glory and dishonor,
through slander and good report;
as deceivers yet true;
as unknown yet recognized;
as dying and look—we live;
as being disciplined yet not killed;
10 as grieving yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing yet possessing everything.....

Therefore, come out from among them
and be separate, says the Lord...
(2 Corinthians 6: 3-10, 17)

I ponder, can people tell that I'm a Christ follower through hardships and difficulties?

Are my words marked with purity and knowledge?

Are my actions guided by patience and kindness?

When I am slandered or disciplined does my faith hold up?

Do I rejoice even in my grieving because of the hope that is within me?

If I have nothing, does my life say I possess everything?

I have never been beaten or imprisoned for my faith, but I think of my brothers and sisters in Christ whom I serve in the Middle East.  If they were to stand publicly and declare that they are a Christian and Jesus Christ is Lord, the law would be on the crowd's side to stone them to death. 

Many have withstood trials, even unto death, because they stood out separately as a Christian.

Verse 17 really convicts me...."Therefore, come out from among them and be separate says the Lord..."

Back to the police line up.  Do I stand out from among them?  In this day and age am I willing to say, act, be described as a Christ follower?  Though the world goes this way, am I willing to say, "I'll go that way." ??

Am I a minister of the faith or do I hinder God's mission with my life?  Do I cause others to stumble, or do I encourage them to walk upright?  

This 4th of July, I have the freedom to choose....what will my life say?

What does your life say about you?  In a line up would you stand out from among them?  When you go through the experiences listed in the passage, what do others see?  What is your prayer for your life this freedom holiday?

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for when it is so much easier to go with the flow than to swim against it.  Give me the strength of conviction to want to "come out from among them" that my life would stand up for You.  Let me not be a stumbling block for others, but let my life arrow always be pointing to You no matter what the circumstances. Thank you for the freedom I have in this great Nation in which I live. Be with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are truly persecuted for living lives that stand apart.  I praise you for loving and forgiving me. Let my life always be worshipful of that truth.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed.....

 ps. Thank you for your continued prayers.  It's been two months....hoping to get the nod this week from the doctor to be able to start driving again. Learning, albeit with frustration, to pace myself in this recuperation.  Next - on to physical therapy.