Monday, December 28, 2009
"I can't go any further" said my 8 year old as we were skiing down one of the green/blue (easy/intermediate) runs at a ski resort in Colorado. It was our first time out this year, my youngest son was going through the same emotions that my other 2 kids had gone through also about this age.
I was so proud of my older kids (14 yr old and 18 yr old) for offering encouragement to their younger brother the entire time we skied. It wasn't easy for them though. My oldest loves to ski the black diamond runs (expert terrain) with my husband. My daughter enjoys the nice blue (intermediate) runs and an occasion black run with me. It took alot of reminding for them to realize that they had both been in the same position in years past.
Since today was my daughter's birthday, it was a great time to gently remind her of a time when she refused to ski down the rest of the mountain too when I was pregnant with her little brother. Thankfully, my father-in-law was there to carry her skiis while I gave her a piggyback ride the rest of the way down the mountain. While a few people gave me some strange looks, several women (they had to be mothers) just smiled at me and offer a nod of encouragement as I skied past them with my crying daughter on my back. We made it safely to the bottom of the mountain that day just as we did today with my son.
I have discovered that the a warm cup of hot chocolate after a hard ski day "hits the spot" for children as well as adults.
Throughout scripture believers are told to encourage one another. Why you might ask. Everyone needs occasional encouragement. At various times in our lives, we all go through periods of physical, emotional, or spiritual tiredness. It is at those times we need to hear words of encouragement from others. Encouragement can come in the form of a smile, a hug, a note in the mail from a friend, an email, a posting on their FB, blog, or twitter account.
The Lord can also offer us encouragement during times of prayer and reading His Word. If you have memorized scripture, sometimes, God brings a scripture to our thoughts at just the right time during the week. There are so many ways God can offer us encouragement.
My first challenge for you (and myself) today is to pray for God's sensitivity for others regarding the area of encouragement. Since there are no coincidences only God-incidences, ask Him to put you in the right place at the right time to be His instrument of encouragement to others as they need it.
My second challenge for you it to allow others believers in Christ to serve Him by encouraging you on those days when you need encouragement. Too often, we want to give to others but we feel funny being on the receiving end. Let others be obedient to God's direction to them. Let them minister to you when you need it.
Be encouraged today. May God's peace fill you with hope, love, and encouragement.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
In the movie Spy Kids 2, Carmen and Junie try to protect their parents from being killed by destroying a homing device that their father implanted in their teeth. While Junie is uncertain about destroying the device, Carmen assures him it is the only way to save their parents. "Family is sacrifice" Carmen tell her brother. They are willing to sacrifice themselves to save their country but do not want their parents to be killed too.I cannot image the sacrifice that both Mary and Joseph made some 2,000 years ago.
To be willing to have Joseph and her parents question her character, loyalty, and virginity;
To be willing to have people in her town ridicule her (and her family) because of her condition;
To be uncertain about what her future would hold.
To be willing to have his family and the town ridicule him for still wanting to wed Mary;
To be willing to wait to be intimate with his wife Mary until after Christ was born;
To be willing to raise a son (his wife's first born) who was not his biologically.
To be willing to leave His Heavenly home to come to earth in the form of a baby;
To be willing to live in a sin-filled world, see sin with his own eyes (upclose and personal), forgive the sinner who repents, and die on the cross for each and every human-being on earth so that we would not have to pay the price of our sins.
The lists above could go on and on.
To Sacrifice-to risk something; to be willing to give up something for the sake of another; to help someone by giving up something of value.
Christ loves us so much that He was willing to give up His Heavenly home for a period of time in order to show us how to become a part of His family. Mary and Joseph opened up their hearts and their lives to God's perfect plan of what a family looked like. They received Christ, the perfect sacrifice, into their family with love, awe, wonder, and a knowledge that God had a plan to save the world.
On this wonderful Christmas morning, my prayer is that you feel a part of God's family. Family is sacrifice!!! If you are in God's family, what sacrifice do you need to make in order to welcome others into the family of Christ? Will it be the sacrifice of time, money, or your talents to let others come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior?
If you are not a part of God's family, my prayer is that you are willing to open up your heart to allow His love for you to enter in. Becoming a part of the family of believers in Christ is simple, pray and ask God to forgive your sins, let Him know that you need His love and guidance, and ask Him to take control of your life (to be your Lord and Savior). Thank Him also for coming to earth in human form, for dying on the cross for your sins, and for sacrificing so much for you to become a part of His family.
Family is sacrifice!!! Welcome to Christ's family,
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The Christmas season is a season filled with joy, laughter, gift-giving thoughts, and feasting. But if we are not careful, it can also be a season filled with jealousy. Jealousy over whose house in the neighborhood has the best Christmas light display, whose tree has the coolest decorations, who has hosted the funnest holiday party, who has gotten their Christmas cards out by the first week in December (clearly, not me), and who has created the most wonderful Christmas cookie delights at the local cookie exchange. The list is endless.
Obviously, jealousy issues began thousands of years ago as we can see from Miriam's example. The Lord does not like it any more today than He did back then. Miriam and Aaron were jealous of the ministry God had given Moses. Their thoughts of jealousy gave way to conversations of jealousy.
So it is with our thought life also. When we allow jealous thoughts to be entertained in our mind, Satan wants nothing more than to encourage us to take the next step. Thoughts of jealousy turn into to words and actions of jealousy.
I have changed the words of a popular children's song just a bit. I hope you find it to be as thought provoking as I did:
Oh be careful little mind what you think, Oh be careful little mind what you think, for the Father above is looking down in love, Oh be careful little mind what you think.
Oh be careful little mouth what you say, Oh be careful little mouth what you say, for the Father above is looking down with love, Oh be careful little mouth what you say.
The key to combating the problem of jealousy is to ask God to take every thought of ours captive to His good and perfect will for our lives. Jealousy pits one person against another. During the season of Christmas, our focus should be on uniting with fellow believers to share Christ with the world.
During this wonderful, joyous season, others are watching for our responses, our actions, and our words to see if they line up with the Christ that we say we follow all year long. I know for myself, I need to daily ask God to take every thought captive so that it is pleasing to Him. My children are watching. My family members and friends are listening.
Who is watching and listening to your words and actions this Christmas season?
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
It never fails to amaze me when I watch a movie with an obvious "villian", that my heart begins to do a "you deserved that" dance when the good guy prevails and the villian gets his due. We are continuously told in society that "justice will prevail".
What I have discovered is that, while it is ok for justice to prevail (the robber getting caught and going to jail for stealing a car), it is not ok for people to mock and call out not so nice names to the person who did the wrong.
The word gloat means "to gaze or think with malicious pleasure" (Webster's New World Dictionary, 4th ed.). Wow. Malicious pleasure sounds so mean and evil.
When someone at work gets caught doing something unethical, do I automatically think-well, they deserve whatever punishment they get OR do I wonder, what made them make that choice? Do I pray for them and ask God to reveal Himself to them? Is my reaction simply an inward reaction or also an outward reaction so my peers also know how I feel about the situation?
How you and I respond to situations when other stumble often reveals alot about our character also. Do you show compassion, kindness, forgiveness, or gentleness toward those who have been not so kind to you?
Sometimes the best way to win someone to Christ is to show them character qualities of Christ (pray for the fruit of the spirit). Only through prayer and humility (quiet and gentle strength-->not doormat status for those who might be confused about what that word means) can any of us respond in a Godly way.
My prayer for you (and myself) is that God will help me to not gloat when an enemy stumbles or falls but to see them through the eyes of Christ. May He give each of us His perspective. What situation (work, family, or community related) do you need to lift up to Him in prayer?
In His Service and with much love,
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The first thing I remember doing after we bought our first home was walk into each and every room of the house. I wanted to really get to know each room. I studied the closets, the windows, and doors,... I wanted to know every square inch of it.
I did something similar when each of my three children were born. I must have studied their faces, their hands, their breathing noises, and little sounds they made for hours upon hours. I wanted to get to know them deeply for they were mine (or at least they were on loan to me from God).
In Genesis 13, when God told Abraham that He was giving him all he could see to the north, south, east, and west, Abraham knew it to be true. God told him to walk the land's length and breadth. God wanted Abraham to get to know this land He was giving him. I think that is when the idea of "prayer walking" got it's start.
I cannot imagine walking every piece of that land and not doing anything but daydreaming. Abraham had to be singing the praises of God, thanking Him for all that He had just given him.
As I thought about that, I wondered, have I walked every area of the property God has given to my family? No. I have not. Have I praised Him for all He has given me? I earnestly try to do so. Have I praised Him for my husband and my kids? You bet!!!
Well, I have a new idea of were to go hiking now. We have several acres and a few barns on our property. When the weather allows and there is a bit of free time, I will be hiking the length and breadth of what the Lord has given me and my family.
Consider your property (whether rented or purchased). Do you know it well? Have you praised God for it? If not, don't delay. Getting to know your property (land, house, car,and family) and praising God for it and praying over it is a great way to connect with God.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Girlfriends are essential in the life of almost every female I know. Even with family responsibilities that keep us occupied throughout the week, having even a few minutes of girlfriend time to talk personally, over the phone, or even email, FB, or text each other just helps our week go smoother.
Our lives as women set such an example for our daughters and our nieces. What positive communication skills am I modeling for my daughter and her friends? I can ask a similar question about any negative communication skills that I may be modeling. Am I know as a woman of integrity? Do others hear words of affirmation, encouragement, appropriate (not seedy) humor, and general concern and compassion coming from my mouth?
Our children (no matter their age or ours) learn more from what is caught than what is taught. Am I (and are you) truly modeling positive communication skills in what I do? Doing this helps to build a sense of honesty, of trust, of respect, and of integrity in my life and yours. These positive aspects of our life help to give us a "good name". I desire for others to see Christ in me. When I interact with others and they know I love Christ, they associate everything I do with my faith.
"A good name is more desirable that great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." (Proverbs 22:1)
I desire to have a "good name" for Christ's sake. I desire to role model this for my daughter, her friends, and any others who I am around. Do I always do this at home--not all the time. However, when God shows me my negative communication skills, He has also given me the wisdom and humility to go back to my daughter (my 2 sons and my husband) and ask for forgiveness.
How are your communications skills? What type of role model are you for the children and young adults God has put into your life?
Thoughts-Pray through Proverbs 22:1-Ask God to give you a "good name", that you would desire it more than great riches, more than silver or gold. Ask Him to only allow positive, life-giving talk to come out of your mouth. He is faithful!!! Thanks for being here!!!
In His Service,
Saturday, September 26, 2009
LEGOS!!! A source of fun, creativity, wonder, and excitement. Each time you play with them, you can create oodles of designs. I have spent countless hours creating the design they were intended for (according to the directions) and many more hours coming up with my own creation based on suggestions from my children. (Children really do have creative imaginations.)
After spending what seems like hours building ships, castles, skyscrapers, cruisers, and an army of various lego people to be integrated into each new scene, my kids would sometimes spend only 10-15 minutes playing before my lego building skills would once again needed to repair a broken ship or put back together a crashed cruiser.
Confused by the quick destruction and rapid rebuilding process that was needed, I decided to watch my youngest play with his legos once I was out of sight. Lego warriors scaled the tall building, rescued other lego buddies from a burning ship, and crashed their modes of transportation into other legos. There also were swords flying and Tae Kwon Do matches going on among the lego people. Very fascinating!
I bet you are wondering how this all relates to "Love you neighbor". As a Christian, we are asked to rescue (help) those around us who are in need of assistance. That could be by holding the door open for them when their hands are full. It may mean taking an extra 5-10 minutes to call a friend who is struggling with something. But, we are not to have our swords flying at one another. That means, watch what you say to others. Our words can be so sharp and hurtful that we actually injury someone emotionally with them. Gossip is another way that we can harm another. Loving your neighbor means to be considerate of them. No verbal or emotional Tae Kwon Do matches!!!
Who is God asking you to be kind to? Be aware that sometimes, it may mean going out of our way to help them or show compassion to them. Listen for God's direction and ask Him everyday, how you can show kindness and love to someone else.
In His Service,
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Building a house takes a lot of planning, work, and money. It must begin with a solid foundation. If this foundation is weak, the house may be blown away when the storms of life come.
Our own personal faith can be considered to be like a house. We must build our faith on a solid foundation (Christ alone is that solid foundation). As we study God's Truth in the Bible, we are to pray for God's wisdom and insight so that we can understand the words written in scripture. As God opens His truth to us, we begin the develop a deeper understanding of Him. This deeper understanding helps to develop strong "beams" and brick walls to make our house stronger.
It does take planning on our part to set aside time on a regular basis to spend with God, it takes work (discipline) to not let the distractions of this world draw us away from studying or away for believing that God is the answer! It also takes a money (an investment maybe money or maybe an investment of time). God's Word tells us that were our treasure is, there our heart will be also.
When the storms of life come, they may rattle our windows but when our foundation is built on Christ and His Word serves as the beams and walls of our house, our house is not shaken off its foundation.
As you look at your own life, are you investing your time to build a solid foundation (one built on Christ)? Do you set aside time regularly during the week to pray and seek God's direction and wisdom? How do you spend your money? Do you give back of your time and money to serve others (participate in canned food drives, volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate to the Cancer Society or other worthy causes) and are you teaching this to your children, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren?
I challenge you to be sure you have build a solid foundation on Christ. Be ready for those storms. It is not if they come, it is for when they come. Blessings,
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
This past weekend, I attend my 3rd "She Speaks" Conference offered by Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org). I knew the Lord had something special but I was unsure what that was. I always come to this conference expecting one thing and going away with more than I even imagined. I learned long ago to not put God in a box (try to limit what He is able to do based on my own human ideas).
The Friday evening session of the conference, presented by Lysa Terkeurst (www.lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com) was the beginning of my wonderful weekend journey. The verse that stood out to me the most was Acts 4:13-"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (NIV)
Wow. Christ spent time with ordinary men. The rulers, elders, and teachers in Jerusalem could see this very clearly. Yep, these were just ordinary men. But, the fact that they had been around Jesus, in His presence, spending time listening to His teachings--this changed them. They showed courage. They astonished people with their teachings.
Could it be that because I too spend time with Jesus, studying His Word, praying, meditating on scripture,...could this change me from ordinary to extraordinary? Well, scripture suggests that "being with Jesus" does change people. I am not an extraordinary person. However, when I spend time in the scriptures, when I pray, when I wait on God's truth to teach me, I am changed from ordinary to extraordinary. It is only by the grace of God that this happens.
What about you? Do you regularly spend time studying God's Word? Do you take time daily to pray-to praise God, thank Him for the blessings He has given you, confess your sins to Him and receive His cleansing, and present your prayer requests to Him believing that He is able to answer them in His perfect time? I encourage you to develop a daily habit of Bible study. This time with the Savior will take you from ordinary to extraordinary.
In His Service,
Friday, July 24, 2009
I continuously saw examples of how the staff took their job seriously as they served others by praying for them, offering words of encouragement, teaching our children about God's love for them, role modeling Christian values for our teenagers, glorifying God in all they did,... The staff and ranch hands put in long days but their focus seemed unwavering. Keep your eyes on Christ-the maker and perfecter of your soul.
It was truly a mountaintop experience. While I thought I might have been able to offer some encouragement to some of them, they gave back so much more to me and my family. Too often, we approach ministry as a 1-way street.
What can my pastor do for me?
How can this person serve me?
We forget that healthy relationships and healthy ministries must be built on 2-way communication. While I may have been able to encourage a few people while we were there, I can certainly continue to offer words of encouragement to them through cards and prayers on their behalf.
What ministries has the Lord put in your life? How have you viewed those ministries (ie-as a 1-way or 2-way street)? What action do you need to take to begin to have 2-way communication with those ministries (ie-offer words of encouragement, send an email, offer to pray for them,...)?
We are to be Christ's hands and feet in this world. Let Him lead you as you begin this 2-way process.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
First, we completed construction on a school building. The area we worked in was the only area (out of 4 total) that did not have a school building.
Second, we worked on an actual bathroom for this school (they currently have a bamboo building with a hole dug out in the middle of the ground) and a septic area.
Third, we paid for a well (for fresh water) to be dug while we were there. Their current water source was a well dug near a drainage ditch which supplied them with brown water they used for washing dishes, clothes, and drinking.
Fourth, we conducted a Vacation Bible School all week so the children could learn about Jesus. Our teens gave out hundreds of Gospel bracelets and had a blast playing soccer with the children.
Fifth, we held medical clinics in all 4 of the schools that were located on the plantation were we worked.
Sixth, our most important work was sharing the love of Christ with each person we encountered.
Our work has only just begun, however. Our continuing task will be to pray for this group of people to not only accept Christ as Lord and Savior but also to grow in their faith and love of Christ. Being there last week helped to plant seeds of faith, to show them that they have not been forgotten by the Lord, and that He loves them deeply.
This is my third mission trip to Ecuador and my daughter's second trip. My job as a mother is to not only role model servanthood for my children but to also encourage them to serve as God directs them. What a privilege it has been to serve Christ with my daughter at my side. Even though we are back in the states, our service must continue through our prayers for the people we encountered, the physician and his family from Ecuador that we work with each year, and for God to provide new ways to serve Him locally.
What are you doing with the talents and abilities God has given you? How can you serve those around you both near and far? I would encourage you to ask Him to guide you into an area of service for Him. The world needs to see Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.
"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out, yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." by Saint Teresa of Avila
In His service,
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Too often, I let the "activities/things" in life squeeze out my needed time with God. I can see the shortening of my prayer time, then the occasional skipping of my Bible study for a day or 2. Then suddenly, I have missed spending time with God for several days in a row. Guilt creeps in. I sometimes let those feelings of guilt overwhelm me so much that I believe the lie--> God won't notice me gone if I don't say anything. HA!!! Who am I kidding?
My Lord and King always knows when I have missed a day with Him. His quiet, compassionate voice whispers in my thoughts--> Karrie, I am waiting right here for you. I love you. Come and spend time with me, let me give you encouragement, love, and forgiveness. You are my beautiful child. I will always love you.
One of satan's ways to draw us away from God by distractions. Who really wants to add more "things to do" to their schedule than anyone can humanly accomplish? None of us would volunteer to have such full schedules but it happens very gradually. I know the importance of praying before I volunteer to do something extra at work, church, or in our community but I too get in trouble with an overbusy calendar at times.
This summer, I am working diligently to ask God to order my days. I desire to do His good and perfect will each and everyday. I don't want to be distracted and miss any time with my precious Lord.
What distractions exist in your life? How do you handle requests for your time? Do you pray about each request to be sure that it is God's best for you? Be careful to not let the things of this world squeeze out your precious time with God. He loves you and wants to spend time with you.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The moment we accept Christ's gift of everlasting life (acknowledge Him as Lord as Savior-confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, believe in our Heart that He died for me, that He rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of God) we become indwelt with the Holy Spirit. He is a He, not an it. He is the "counselor" our Lord Jesus spoke about in Scripture. He lives within us.
The tricky part is the idea of being "filled". I cannot take credit for the illustration I will share with you now but it helped me to understand the concept of being "filled" with the Holy Spirit.
Imagine that your life is like a house. You have a room for "friendships", a room for "parenting your children", a room for "your marriage relationship", a room for "work relationships",.... With each room, comes a door that you can open or close. When we live a life "filled" with the Holy Spirit, we allow the Holy Spirit access to each and every tiny square inch of our house. However, sometimes, we live our daily life with a few closed doors. Because of a arguement with our spouse, we may close the door of our "marriage relationship" so that the Holy Spirit cannot work to reconcile that damaged relationship. On another day (or week, month, or year), we may keep the door to our "work relationship" closed. This may be because we are having an emotional affair with a coworker or maybe we are harboring unforgiveness of a coworker that has seriously damaged our work relationship. When (hopefully, it is not IF) we let the Holy Spirit have access to ALL of the rooms in our life, then we can know we are living a Holy Spirit filled life. (Watch out for those dark closets too.)
The beauty of allowing the Holy Spirit access to all aspects of our life is that it can lead to serious spiritual growth. With spiritual growth always come hurdles to overcome though. Know that the Holy Spirit's job is that of counselor and teacher. We will eventually have to face that coworker we have not forgiven and ask their forgiveness. All of this begins and end with prayer though.
If you desire a life truly filled with the Holy Spirit, then develop a daily habit of Bible Study. During that Bible Study time, ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn. He is patient with us. He will slowly reveal areas in your life that need work. He knows what is most important for you and will walk you through each room as you allow Him too. You may even want to begin making a list of the "rooms" in your life and then pray for God's wisdom and guidance daily.
I hope that this word picture has helped make the concept of being filled versus begin indwelt a bit easier to understand. Blessings to each of you,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Maybe a day or two goes by and I ask one of my children to do something they do not particularly enjoy doing (helping with the dishes, fold the laundry,...). Suddenly, my obedient child is replaced by a child that could not have been raised in my household. Who swapped my kind, considerate child with the one in front of me right now that is whinning about matching the clean socks in the laundry basket?
As I ponder this interesting Jekhl and Hyde phenomena that happens in my house, I cannot help but wonder how my Heavenly Father wonders about my reactions when He asks me to do something.
I can say there have been clear times in my life when I know His good and perfect will for me and I have obeyed whole-heartedly. However, I also know there have been times when I have whined and pleaded with God to let me do something else-something that I enjoyed instead of something that I either knew nothing about or that I clearly did not enjoy.
Thankfully, I serve a God who loves me no matter what my attitude. He desires obedience but He loves me even when I whine. His patience with me is tremendous. Just as I continue to teach my children the importance of obedience (the first time), God continues to teach me the same lesson.
Why do I too often think and react like my children? I believe it is because I am still growing spiritually. I too need a loving parent to guide me gently into obedience. I need to remember how loving but firmly God teaches me to obey and then try to model that to my children.
Do you struggle with thinking like your children too?
Friday, April 24, 2009
Well, never say never. God had different plans.
God's clear nudging began in February during not only my quiet times I spent with Him but also as I participated in a Mom's Bible Study group at my church. "What Lord? You couldn't mean me. I know nothing about blogging." I tried the arguing thing but who was I kidding.
I then made the mistake of telling my teenage daughter about some of God's confirming signs regarding blogging. With no sugarcoated kindness, she quite pointedly said "Mom, don't you get it. God wants you to start a blog. So when are you going to do it?" Ouch!!! "Couldn't you have been a bit nicer?" I thought.
Sometimes the Lord uses our children to grab our attention.
The time for obedience to God's clear direction was now. I had learned years ago that delayed obedience was actually "disobedience". Who was I to argue with the God of the universe?
While this site will go through some more additions and modifications as I learn more about blogging, the main goal will stay the same. My goal is to encourage and equip women to see that their true beauty and worth are found in a God who has created them in His image.
I look forward to the journey together.
Created in His Image,