Monday, January 28, 2013

We All Lead

You may have heard the saying that you know you're a leader because people are following you. Sometimes those people come up to you hip and call you mom, and don't actually follow that well. You are still their leader.

I wrote this devotional for the Encouragement Cafe thinking of women in leadership positions, but as a parent, these same principles apply. As you are raising your kids to be responsible members of their own households someday, keep these thoughts in mind.

I would love to hear what you are doing to grow as a leader in your circle of influence!

Hang in There?

How many times have you told someone to just hang in there? We say that to those in a tough time as a means of encouragement, but can I suggest something a little more intentional?

Invite perseverance. Hanging in there speaks of trudging along and doing your best not to drown in whatever storm you're facing.

I was reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers earlier this week, and this is what he had to say about perseverance:

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than hanging on...perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered...that Jesus Christ will be defeated...Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

Let's remind each other that people with the hope of Christ do not just hang in there. We persevere, knowing that even if we face disappointment, there is the greater purpose of God at work.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rise and Shine

Hey there! It is bright and early, or at least early, Saturday morning. A steaming cup of coffee at my side should clear the cobwebs any minute now. If you stopped by from Encouragement Cafe, thanks for visiting! If you are wondering what I'm talking about, click the link to read my devotion on the One Word Revolution. It's a new take on what you may have read previously. Encouragement Cafe has devos every day with a theme for each week, along with a radio podcast by Luann Prater. You may recognize her name from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Anyway, if you've been hanging with me for any amount of time, you know my word for this year is GO! That's why I'm up on a morning when I don't have to be...last night before I went to sleep I asked God to wake me at 4:30 so I could get to work on my book revision before the house got busy. He obliged, and after spending 20 minutes or so regretting His diligence, here I am. I can't GO! if I pull the covers over my head, tempting as that is.

Later today I am headed to the Racine Public Library. This past summer I helped to fulfill someone's dream of being a published author by doing an edit/rewrite of her book, Can I Be an Inspiration to You? I learned a lot during the process and know that it was part of God's preparation for this year's One Word.

I came across a great quote this week in a writing book, but I think it applies no matter what direction you're travelling:

"Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don't have callouses on your soul, this isn't for you. Take up knitting instead."~David Eddings

Following a dream that God placed on your heart doesn't guarantee success by the world's standards necessarily, but it does bring you into fellowship with Him. Nothing compares to that.

While I don't know what the Lord has in store for 2013, I'll be praying to recognize His voice and look for the opportunities to GO!

I pray the same for you. If you woke up breathing today, God has a plan for you. Follow Him and see where He leads.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Your Roots Are Showing...

Or at least I hope they are!

We're not talking Cosmetology 101 here, though, we are having us a little dendrology lesson. Dendrology is the study of trees, which I just learned myself on Google.

I was reading a book about trees with my six-year-old and learned that one of the reasons a tree has roots is to keep it from falling over. Now, I knew about drawing nutrients and all that, but keeping the tree upright? That was new for me. My son looked at me and said, "Duh, mom. To keep it all stabled."

The biblical application of this fact"stabled" me as well. Scripture speaks of putting down roots in Christ so we can be strong in our faith. I think of roots as feeding the heart of the tree, which makes sense too. But, when the storms come and the winds blow, it is the roots that keep the tree from falling over.

When the storms come and the winds blow in our lives, and we know they will, it is our roots that will keep us upright. Dig'em deep.

"Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the faith you were taught. (Col. 2:7)"

Monday, January 21, 2013

March On, My Soul!

"Daydreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him."
Nobody likes to start their day with a punch in the face, but that is what I got when I read these words in my Oswald Chambers devotional Sunday morning.
 I am not behaving any better than someone who has no faith in anyone but themselves, and you know how far that can carry you. Sometimes across the finish line, and sometimes you don't even show up to the race. But how far you go depends on you alone.
I know better, yet I sit and say things like "I can't do a talk as good as someone else so I just won't do it" and "It's obvious that I am incapable of writing a novel." Both are an affront to God who called me to share His word with the gifts He has given me. Both indicate a lack of trust, because my actions say that the outcomes are totally based upon the ability I have. I leave no room for God to show up and do His thing. 
Reading in Judges 6 this morning, I discovered that Gideon is a man after my heart. God called Him to a task, and he listed the reasons he would be unable to accomplish said task.
God's words to him: Go with the strength you have and I will be with you.
God's words to me: Take the drop of skill and talent you have and Go! I will be with you.
The Bible is full of examples of those called to extraordinary tasks, and I have yet to come across anyone who complimented God on His choice. The response is usually to look over their shoulder, sure He meant someone else. And, equally important, I have yet to see God confirm their lack of capability. He always says, "Go, and I will be with you."
If you've heard God speak a direction into your life, what are you doing about it? Daydreaming and telling yourself all the ways you can't possibly do it? Waiting for God to change His mind and send someone else?
Or, are you giving it everything you have and knowing God is right there with you?  
Let's sing the Song of Deborah and Barak from Judges 5, and March on with courage, my soul!
Go where God has called you in victory, because He is already paving the way, even if we can't see it from where we stand. We don't need to. We need to keep our eyes fixed on the One who goes before us, the One who fights for us, our Jehovah Nissi. We need to be faithful to His call because the One who calls us is faithful.
So, ready to march on?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Warmer Days

I always say when I get old I am going to sit on a hill and stare at the sky all the time...turns out I'm already doing that. I took this picture one night when the boys and I were sketching pictures of the sunset at a hill by our house and added a little picmonkey magic. They ended up riding their bikes up and down the hill, and I ended up taking some pictures on my phone. We did color and sketch a bit too, don't worry.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reaching the World

Time to pick a new verse to memorize...

I chose Mark 16:15 because I find it encouraging: He said to them, "Go into all the earth and preach the gospel to all creation."

It's a short one, and I confess to feeling a little slackerish about it, but it reminds me that when I take the time to write, whether it's on a blog or a novel, that is what I'm doing. It soothes that feeling of selfish frivolity that pursues me when I take time away from other, seemingly more worthy activities, to hole up in a room by myself and peck away at a keyboard.

This is one way I can reach the world for Christ, and I don't even have to get dressed. Y'all know how I love my flannel pajamas.

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Need of a Word

Just had to share a quick answer to prayer with you this fine Monday! If you've been following along, you know my word for the year is GO!, and that I wrote a rough draft of a novel back in November. I've been rewriting and editing and trying to figure out what to do with it. I plan to submit it to the Women of Faith writing contest by January 31, mostly because I need the deadline, not because I think I'm going to win. Still working on that self-talk thing...

Anyway, over the weekend, it occurred to me to pray and ask God's guidance in this process. Maybe He never intended this novel to see the light of day. Maybe I wrote it because I had some things to work out. So I prayed, Lord, give me your vision. Tell me what to do.

Here is the K-Love Encouraging Word for today:

"Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does."
1 Chronicles 16:24

I so love that when I need a word, He delivers. That is just one of the amazing things He does. If you find yourself in need of wisdom in a situation, don't forget to ask the Giver.

Amen, So shall it be.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Rock

I love this rock! I have a talented photographer friend who agreed to take some pics of my photogenic treasure.  Anyway, take a cool rock, some pic monkey magic, a favorite verse, and voila'...spend some time today reflecting on our Rock.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Little Get Up and Go!

Once again, greetings from the land of GO! I have found that since January 1, I am less likely to procrastinate and instead, just go.  Today it was go clean out the fridge, go vacuum, and go park my butt in front of my computer and get lots of work done. I think I'm bumping up against a wall here, a place I made excuses as to why I couldn't get things done. And sometimes, when we bump up against something, we find that it moves out of our way so we can go.

I found this post I wrote back in July of 2009 about reaching our limits. I'm still afraid of heights, but the truth in the post still works...


Sometimes I say something smart that takes me by surprise. It happened today. I was going in someone's tree house with Justin because he was afraid to go alone. It wasn't very high, but I forgot that apparently heights aren't my thing. I was making small talk with the other mom, trying not to hurl, and I said "I never know my limitations until I bump up against them." Ok, so I know the good thought didn't originate with me. God put it in my heart and on my tongue before it entered my brain.

The deeper thought there, though, is if we never bump up against our limits, how do we know where they are? Why stick with status quo when we were built for so much more?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nurture the Relationship

It's  6:20 am, and for whatever reason, my house is still quiet. I've had the luxury of being up since 5:15 by myself, drinking coffee, writing in my journal, reading in my Bible, looking through old blog posts, and praying.

The scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I have desired to hang out with Him for some uninterrupted quality time.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've gotten lazy in the last little while. It comes and goes, my desire to spend quality time with the Lord. I do good for a while then decide I will probably be ok to coast for a bit. It's not a conscious decision; I just forget that, like manna, we are to fill up every day.

I hear lots of "Yeah, but's" out there, even from myself, but I'm reminded of something Oswald Chambers said: The minute you start rationalizing and justifying your choice, you already know you are wrong.

Yes, I am still worshiping God and honoring Him when I choose to snuggle my son while we watch Arthur at 6:00am.

Yes, I can still make the right choices as I go throughout my day even if I haven't spent time in His presence.

Yes, His goodness is not dependent upon me.

But the straight up truth is that when I don't spend time, purposeful communion with Him, the relationship gets stale. Kind of like being married but not investing any actual time with one another. Just hanging in the same place. You stop noticing what you loved about them in the first place and miss the little things they do to show their love to you. Same thing happens with God. We need to nurture the relationship.

I was thinking about my memory verse and the first line is "Therefore, prepare your minds for action." We prepare for action by getting in shape. I think the best thing any of us can be doing to prepare our minds for action is spending time in fellowship with God. Every day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Feeling a Little Pink

Hi Everyone!
 If you have been a regular reader over the years, thanks for sticking with me through the dry spells. While I have publicly claimed not to make resolutions,  I have made a plan to be a more intentional in my posting.

Resolutions...not so much, at least for me.

When I'm considering what Go might mean this year, one direction I hope to Go is to take my writing more seriously. Not taking myself more seriously, because what fun would that be? But, I do think God has given me an opportunity to touch people I might not normally get to through the written word, and I don't want to take that lightly.

In between blog posts, I am working through the rough draft of the novel I wrote in November in the NaNoWriMo contest. If everything goes brilliantly, I will win the Women of Faith writing contest and have a published novel before the end of the year.

If everything goes the way it probably will, I will be passing out xeroxed copies begging people to read it and tell their friends about it.

Stuffing the manuscript under my bed next to the dust bunnies is also a distinct possibility. I'll let you know.

Door number three doesn't exactly scream Go!, does it? I'll work on that. A friend pointed me towards Seth Godin's blog and I read an insightful post about the insecurity associated with pinning your dreams to your shirt. Read it here if sharing what you've made makes your knees knock.

In the meantime, I'm gonna Go work on the rough draft edit. Maybe I'll have a sneak preview of the book later in the month. Once my knees stop knocking, that is.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cold Feet

Those of you who know me know that I like to say that I'm fine with spontaneity as long as I can plan for it. With a word like Go for a focus in 2013, what if I don't have time to plan? What if I get where I'm going and find that I don't have what it takes or what I need? What if I fail? Anyone else relate?

Truthfully, the only failure is in not going.  I will Go where God leads and leave everything else up to Him. I will have the best travelling companion there is, anyway.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just One Word and a Challenge

The end of day one 2013 is winding down. I've been in my pj's since last year. Had I made any resolutions, I probably would've have broken them by now, but a few years ago I began choosing just one word.

This year my word chose me. Each time I opened my brain a crack to think up a focus word, go jumped into my head. Interesting and a little disconcerting, since for the past few years God has clearly told me to sit and stay. I admit to feeling a little canine here, but since my jammies have dogs on sleds on them, I'll just go with it.

Go. A strong word, don't you think? A word demanding action, because you can't go if you won't move. And going sometimes requires you to leave stuff behind.  Activities, commitments, attitudes, all kinds of things.

Going also usually requires one to have a destination in mind, but that has not been shared with me yet. So, I don't know what to bring and I don't know where I'm going. But the one thing I know is, I will go.

Because He has asked.

The past few years of sitting and staying have made me a complacent puppy. I know, still the dog thing. Whatever. Truth is, I've gotten a little lazy. So, to prepare for this next year of action, I am doing a little basic training.

I've decided to do the LPM Scripture Memory Challenge with Beth Moore. Few things write the word of God on my heart and encourage me like memorizing scripture. He communicates with us through His word, and memorizing scripture brings the conversation to a whole new level.

Since I need a kick in the pants, 1 Peter 1:13 was a natural choice:
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when He is revealed." (NRSV)

What about you? Are you choosing a focus word or phrase for the year? Is there a challenge or discipline you are engaging in? Leave a comment and tell the world so we can cheer each other on.

Without further ado, on our mark, get set...