Unselfish Stories – Mission of Mercy

This lady’s name is Amanda, and she’s changing the world.

Want to change it with her?  It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Read all about it:  http://www.unselfishstories.com/mission-of-mercy/

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Featured for Spring/Summer 2015

Hey Guys and Dolls,

Just a short note to say “Look at me, look at me!”  I’m kidding.  It’s really a short note to say, “Look at Him! Look at Him!”  Please take a minute and go read, download, and support this amazing resource for teenagers and college-aged women.

DEVOTION Magazine Spring/Summer 2015 Issue:

http://devotionmagazine.com/the-mags/4584315832

[Featuring “Promiscuous Girl”, a snippet of my testimony.]

Book Excerpt – 2

count your blessings.
Literally. Count them. Use your fingers, use your toes. Chances are, whatever you are going through right now, your blessings still outweigh your troubles. That was Bonpapa’s attitude. He lived with an attitude of gratitude that began with the Lord. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need? The way Bonpapa saw it, if nothing else in his life was going right, but he still had God, he was doing alright – better than many, in fact.
My husband and I went through a situation recently where I was called to put this into practice. After a long and faithful run, my husband’s car had finally gone ‘kaput’ on the side of the highway one night as he was driving home from work. Financially, we were unprepared. Practically speaking, we were down a vehicle that we needed desperately to function in our everyday lives. Spiritually, we knew what to do. We began to say ‘thank you’ to God in prayer.
We thanked him for my husband’s safety and that the ‘blow up’ happened close to our home. My husband works out of town, so the situation could have been much worse had it happened further away. We thanked God for the other blessings in our lives: Our home, our children, our friends, our health, our full bellies. There was much to be grateful for, even in this circumstance. We thanked God for the times he had brought us through challenges, reminding him and ourselves of all the times we have been rescued. Lastly, the hardest thanks to muster was appreciation for the lesson. It went something like this: “ Lord, whatever you are teaching us or whatever you will accomplish through this event, we thank you in advance for it. We praise your mighty name for allowing us to be a part of your plan, and for molding and shaping our hearts through challenges such as these.”
Thirty minutes later, a brand new car was delivered to our front door and all was right in our world once again. Ha! Not exactly. Not even close. Thankfully, though, daily scripture reading had prepared us for what we faced. In the next few days, two Bible verses played over and over again in my thoughts: Hebrews 6:19, which says we have this hope (relationship with Christ) as an anchor for our soul. Christ in our hearts keeps us steady, even as we go through life’s storms. The second verse, 2 Corinthians 4:7, says we have this treasure (relationship with God) in jars of clay, to show that power belongs to God and not to us. We humans are fragile, like delicate clay jars, and God within us is where our true strength lies. It is no coincidence that these verses both begin with “we have”. Bonpapa was right. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need?
One final verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, says that the Lord’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Only when we admit we are broken, do we allow God to take over, take control, and take care of us. If we can be grateful without needing explanation, we experience spiritual growth.
Being grateful doesn’t always fix the trouble, but it does prevent us from being overcome by our troubles. Recognizing that God’s ways and purposes are higher than our own gives us something and someone to lean on when times are tough. God never guarantees the ride will be easy, but he does assure us that we are never alone – never without hope – even as we walk the highway on a dark night. For that, I will say ‘thank you’.
We have this hope as a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah  Psalm 46:1-3
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Christmas and Traditions

I have noticed a trend this year among Facebook friends and some of the Mommy Bloggers I follow.  There has been lots of discussion this year about Christmas traditions – Elf on the Shelf being the most horrendous, in my humble opinion.  It got me thinking, because traditions aren’t something we value too highly in our little family.  We like trying new things, whether they be foods or experiences or weird do-it-yourself egg and mayonnaise hair treatments.  We get rid of clothing and furniture pretty regularly, we don’t have attachment to material things.

This Christmas is significant for us, because 1) We are in a new home (movin’ on up, as they say) 2) My daughter is away at school and this is the first Christmas that she won’t be home with us, and 3) my son is 5 and able to enjoy the stories, help wrap presents, and grasp the idea of Christmas and the holiday more than he did in years past.  For these reasons I have been thinking about Christmas traditions – do we need them? Do we want them?  Are they silly?  Are they a sweet way to stay close as a family?

We don’t have traditions.  We do things differently every year.  The tree, the decorations, the food, the music, the routine of whose house we go to first or last or not at all.  Maybe that’s our tradition.  Some years we didn’t have a tree (due to finances and, well, cats).  Other years we had only construction paper snowflake ornaments.  We don’t watch the same movies or eat the same foods every year, and while I do have fond memories of my grandmothers “broke-neck” gingerbread men and the laughter they inspired among my cousins and me,  I guess don’t see traditions as necessary.  I realize, though, that for my son there is comfort in the familiar, and my husband and I want to begin to put him on a road towards a relationship with Christ – one that begins with reverence and respect for Christmas, Jesus’ birth.

So, this year we decided to start our first Christmas tradition.  It may be the only thing we do EVERY year consistently, but it’s a good one.  We found an advent calendar – the kind with the little numbered doors and chocolates behind each one – and a website that explains the Christmas story in a way kids can understand.  Every morning in the month of December, we read and talk a little about Jesus – who he is, why he is important, what he did, and his Earthly family.  Then, my son gets a chocolate.

The chocolate may be his favorite part of our talks, but I know that some of the things he learns are sticking.  For instance, he knows “advent” means “coming”. He knows “Immanuel” means “God with us”. If I say “Jesus is the ____” he responds with “Light of the World” (and a big smile).  He knows Jesus’ mommy’s name was Mary and he knows Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  I feel like, for one so small, that is a lot of information.

The cookies won’t last and one day the presents will be forgotten, and maybe my son won’t grow up watching a parade on tv eating the same treats I make every holiday season, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Setting up a place for him in our son’s heart and life is one tradition I feel worthy, and one I know I can keep.

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Hebrews 12:1

“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

My analysis and how to apply this…

Starting at the beginning: yes, we are surrounded by a huge crowd, aren’t we, followers? Everywhere we turn people are observing, watching us to see if we are like Jesus. SO that is motivation to really be like him, to really lead them to church and ultimately, to the Lord. I don’t want to be the one who convinces someone they DON’T need what Jesus offers!

Many Christians struggle with extra weight, anger is mine which I have told you girls a thousand times already, but there are others, and we all have them. I think this verse is saying to lay that all down because otherwise we can’t run this race. I think about soldiers who run with big 50 lb packs on their backs. I would fall down and die! And my anger is like those packs, weighing me down, slowing me down, and usually making it impossible for me to continue the way God wants. UNTIL, I put it down.

I must say, I love the analogy of running. I feel like it’s so accurate to what this life is like, what my walk with God feels like. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, feeling awesome, wind in my face, I’m totally confident I’m going to make it to the finish. Other days it’s lots of hills, slow going, having to coach myself out loud to take another step.

One last thing to mention. The NIV version says to run the race that is “marked out for us”. I wanted to include that because, it’s so important not to compare our race with others. Keep your eyes on your own lane on the track! Your race might be shorter or slower, faster, bumpier, smoother, whatever… than someone else’s race. But it has been marked out FOR YOU. You’re not running their race, you’re running the one that was given especially to you. The other way I read that is that the course has been MARKED. Which, if you’ve ever run a trail race you know the markers that tell you where to turn are crucial to success. Without them you get lost in the wilderness. Same goes for our faith. The race has been marked out, if we follow Jesus we won’t get lost.

Prayer for today: Father, thank you for this word today! Thank you for how happy I feel writing about it. Help me to keep this light and share it with others and always feel this passion for witnessing. Thank you for my race. Thank you for marking the way for me and encouraging me to keep going. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Run!
Run!