Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are You Craving Connection? (Plus Giveaway!)

Hey Friend,

Ever since I can remember, I've always belonged to groups.  Whether it was youth group growing up or joining a sorority in college, I liked "belonging". Perhaps that's why I joined Newcomers groups when I moved around, MOPS when I was a mother of preschoolers, Bible studies, church small groups....

There has always been something deep inside me that craves community.  I find this kind of ironic because I was an only child who learned, early on, to be comfortable in my own company.  In fact, I like being alone in the quiet and still of the early morning.  

I am now in a season of life where I am working from home.  I head up a non-profit ministry - Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. that supports and fosters Christian education for the orphaned and destitute in one of the scariest places on earth - the Middle East.  How I got here is a story unto itself, but it all began through this blog. 

I'm up at 5 am. while it's still dark outside (revisit loving my alone time and quiet time with God).  I work pretty much non-stop all day, taking time out for lunch and perhaps a cup of coffee in the afternoon.  I'm pretty much alone all day (except for my beagle) until my husband gets home.  This is REALLY different for me.

I tried joining an evening Bible study, but since I'm up at 5 am. I find that my brain turns to mush and pretty much shuts down by 7:30 pm.  Not good for adding to, or deriving anything from Biblical discussions.  

I'm learning that at different stages of life, connection looks different.  

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.  (Matthew 18:20)

I'm learning to maybe put extra hours in one day so that another day I can meet a friend for coffee.  To be able to look my friend in the eye and pray with and for her is just good for my soul.  

The way the enemy prowls about, I know this time is not a's a necessity!

On a regular basis, my husband and I have one of my single friends over for dinner. After we eat, my sweet husband excuses himself for some hockey on the tube upstairs while my friend and I chat away.  I know we both need this community.  We are both dealing with some of the same trying issues with our adult children and it's good to know we are not alone.  

You know those ideas you get....gee, wouldn't it be great to invite a few of my neighbors over who I never get to spend time with?  One day I decided I'd share my coffee time with three neighborhood friends.  I kept it simple - just coffee and scones that I picked up at a cute little french boulangerie.  Can you say non - stop talking?  I admit my "coffee break" ran a little long - oh say 2-3 hours long. I politely had to show my friends the door as we could have easily sat and talked for a couple more hours.

And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The next day I started my workday a little early and got caught up on the time I had set aside for community with friends. I needed that time with friends to hit the "refresh" button! 

I am learning that I NEED unity and connection with God, my friends, and my community.  

Community is not an option or a's a life source.  Cut it off and we'll soon perish.

God created us to be in community with others.  So where do I start....

I'm excited to announce the release of a new book "Craving Connection" which is a collaboration by some of the best Christian writers I've read.  They talk about:

* EMBRACING the desire God has given each of us for connection
* INVESTING in meaningful relationships, right where God has you
* BECOMING the friend you wish you had

Each segment, written by a different writer, gives you things to consider.  She'll also give you a challenge and ultimately a way to engage with others.  

Not only do I love the different writing styles, but I love the different ideas that I wouldn't have thought of - like this one:

**Set your phone alarm to remind you to pray for friends and family on your prayer list throughout the day.  **

The best news is:  I'm giving away a free copy of "Craving Connection" !!

To enter the drawing you can get one entry for:
1.  Leaving a comment either here or on   Facebook
2.  Another entry for subscribing to my blog

Drawing will be held on Feb. 6th so be sure to get your entries in.

If you aren't fortunate enough to win, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book online or at your favorite bookseller.  It's a must read!!

So, what's holding you back vs. what is there to be gained by making connections?  Who might God be putting on your heart to make a connection with?  How can you be an easier person to connect with?  

I also invite you to join our online connection group hosted by (in)courage.

We will be doing 5 sections of the book together starting on Tuesday the 7th.  For 5 consecutive weeks we'll read a section (about 8 pages) and then do the challenges together.  I think it will be great fun to learn new ways to connect.  I hope you'll join me!!

You'll be glad and blessed if you join us (yes, I'll be there)...

Friday, January 20, 2017

More Room For Him

Hey Friend,

When I got married three years ago, it was like the King of clean and simple lines married the Queen of clutter.  

Yes, I admit that I am that sentimental person who hangs onto everything. Everything has meaning - from a piece of furniture, to a knick-knack, to my children's kindergarten drawings.  My attic was...shall we say....a disaster?

Enter my loving and patient husband.  He knew my "deer in the headlights" look and so he pared down a huge job into little chunks.  It's taken three years, but you could hold a small ball in our attic.  There is room to move, Praise!

He's also helped me around the living areas of our home.  I truly have adopted the truth that less is often better.  I suffer from an anxiety disorder and, not surprisingly, I found that as I cleared out the clutter and over abundance of stuff, my anxiety levels went down.  

Was it hard to part with some bet.  After numerous garage sales, I found, however, that I was happy that some of my "beloved" things were going on to a new home and would be appreciated by someone else.  It was time for them to move on.  Other stuff simply needed to be pitched.

I've been reading this month in the Gospel of Luke.  In chapter 9, Jesus speaks to this very issue.  Listen carefully to what He says after He commissions the twelve to go out and proclaim the Kingdom of God...

"Take nothing for the road,"  He told them, "no walking stick, no traveling bag, no bread, no money; and don't take an extra shirt."  (Luke 9:  1-3)

Jesus would definitely not approve of how I pack my bag for trips - with extra outfits "just in case".  

Jesus is clear when He tells the disciples to live simply and travel light.

He really breaks it down to bare bones.  Why so?

I believe that Jesus wants His disciples to learn to lean on Him for their sufficiency and not their "stuff".  In the unknown up ahead, Jesus wants His disciples relying and depending on Him, not the comfort of their belongings. He wants them to trust that He will provide for their needs.

I've asked myself why I hold onto my stuff?  

Does fear of the unknown make me hold onto what's comfortable around me like a security blanket?  I can see it, touch it, grab hold of it, whereas God is a lot less "tangible" at times.  

Even harder questions...

Do I want "fear" to be my anchor in the storm or do I want "Faith" to be my anchor?

Am I willing to trade the "known" for the "unknown"?

Do I really trust that God will be sufficient for ALL my needs?

Further on in Luke 9, Jesus talks about the twelve taking up their cross.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me."  (Luke 9:23)

Think about it realistically.  Can I realistically pick up my cross and follow Jesus if I'm dragging along all this baggage?  

I have this vision of me fumbling to carry my cross (which is what really matters), because I am schlepping along suitcases filled with physical and emotional stuff and baggage.  

Some time, some where, I have to leave some thing behind...

My mounds of stuff may temporarily sooth my feelings of insecurity, but eventually they will rot and rust and turn to dust.  

Can I wrap my little pea brain around the fact that God is enough?

God is even MORE than enough.

I am finding that as I clear out the clutter in my home, in my mind, in my I leave the comfortable but useless baggage behind....

I have more room for Him.

How about you find it hard to part with stuff?  What are you clinging to that God would have you let go of?  Is there something hindering you from leaving it all behind to take up your cross and follow Him?

Dear Heavenly Father, how I thank you for your patience with me.  You coax me to leave the "known" behind, take your hand, and step into the "unknown".  Help me to trust you and not to live in fear.  Help me to leave the comfortable behind and trust in your "enoughness".  Guide me to live with only what I truly need.  Enable me to trade in my chaos for the sake of Christ.  Show me the way - your way - and help me to walk in it.  Help me to travel and live light so that there will always be more room for You.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed....

ps.  Speaking of living simply, the children at our school in the Middle East live SO simply.  We take for granted that when it's cold we hike up the thermostat or when we're hungry we raid the fridge or the pantry.  Not so for the children of Redeemer Christian School.  This  blue jug of propane barely takes off the chill in the classroom in the winter.  This meal in school is the only meal they will get for the day.  

In an attempt to live simply, might you give to those who barely have anything?  Heat, food, shelter...we need your help today.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Oh To Be On Fire

Hey Friend,

Each year I choose a "Word" for the year...a goal, a watch-word, a guide-word for my daily living.  In 2016 it was "See".  I intentionally tried to slow down and be cognizant of God all around me each and every day.  I wanted to truly see Him, His Creation, His work all around me.  

So this year, why "Fire"?  Perhaps it was because I was inspired by a quote by the great theologian John Wesley:

"Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn." - John Wesley

It made me think about my I live with a passion - a love for Christ - that is so intense that people would say that I'm on fire for the Lord?  

My greatest desire is that a (wo)man would look at my life, and the passion they saw would point an arrow directly to God.  I want it to be unmistakable just Who is the love of my life. 

Jesus, himself, said that half-hearted, lukewarm, indifferent Christians make Him literally sick to His stomach.  So much so, that He would spit them out of His mouth.  

Is that me?  Do I call myself a Christ follower, but yet have no fruit that would testify to the blood of the Spirit coursing through my veins?

I believe that Jesus wants on-fire, red-hot, enthusiastic followers who love Him more than any one or any thing.  I want that to be me.

The word "Enthusiasm" comes from 2 Greek words, "En" which means "in" and "Theos" which means "God".  "En Theos" literally means "in God" or "God in us."  An enthusiastic person speaks as if possessed by God.

The word possessed usually has a bad connotation - as if possessed by an evil spirit.  Actually the word "possessed" means to be spurred on or moved by a supernatural power.  

The love of Christ compels me.  (2 Corinthians 5:14)

I want to be determined to follow Jesus and I know that I need His love to compel me and propel me forward.  

I want love and compassion to motivate all that I do.

I want a heart that is yielded to the Lord.

Lest I get too ahead of myself...I can't be "on fire" for the Lord out of my own will and striving to be on fire.  I cannot burn unless there is a Source for my flames.

The source of my heat is His Word!

The source of my heat is His Word!

I say that twice for emphasis because I know me.  In my good intentions, I will try to fan the flames of my own self-produced fire and I will be nothing more than smoke....wisps of hot air that rise up on the wind and disappear.  

Our God is a consuming fire.  (Hebrews 12:29)

In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is compared to fire or flames of fire.

I want to be on fire for the Lord.  I want HIS consuming fire to consume me.  

I want His passion to be my passion.

"Is not my word like fire?"  declares the Lord...

In order to be on fire, there is no getting around it.  I NEED TO BE IN HIS WORD DAILY...PERIOD.

"I have found that I have no unusual endowments of intellect.  But this day, I resolve that I will be an uncommon Christian."  - David Livingstone

Christ's disciples were not endowed with great intellect.  In fact, most of the heroes of the Bible had great weaknesses.  That's okay, because through their weaknesses, God can shine.  The kindling of their lives produced the hottest fire because it was evident that God was the Source behind the flames.

May I go forward in this year with the Word as my sword.  May I speak and act courageously.  May my life be so on fire that others will come from miles to watch me burn, and may they ask...What set her heart on fire?

This is my prayer...will you pray for me that I would be on fire for the Lord - in His strength, not my own, and may God get the glory?

What is your "Word" for 2017?  Would you share in the comments?  If you haven't picked a word, might you consider starting this year and ask others to keep you accountable?  

Be blessed....