Sunday, December 24, 2017


Every year during the Christmas season we have a list of “must-see” movies. The ones everyone is 
watching and will continue to watch year after year and readily quote all the most meaningful, 
scandalous, or slap-happy funny lines.  

I admit that being the “creator” of Christmas in the way of baking, shopping,  wrapping, cooking and 
decorating makes it hard to sit down to watch a movie, so I usually get only bits and pieces of most 
of them as I run by in a frenzy, cookie dough in my hair and wrapping paper in hand (unless it’s “It’s a
 Wonderful Life”, that’s my sit down movie).
But, somehow this year I managed to watch “Miracle on 34th Street” with my full...okay ½ attention, 
and was actually captivated by it or more so God used it to speak truth into my spirit. Don’t judge
 because it happens a lot.

I know many people choose to keep Santa out of their Christmas and I respect their decision but I 
hope those that decide to welcome Santa receive the same respect.  Santa is not the reason for
 the season but for those that have not accepted Jesus I see it as a place where faith can be
 inserted and God can penetrate a normally hard and troubled heart. Now, before you throw up 
your arms in protest let me just explain…
Santa in fact was a man of faith in Jesus. A godly man. And even though society has taken his
 persona and elevated it to a place where I am sure the original man would not approve of I think
 His legacy of goodness cannot be easily separated from the root of his goodness.. I believe God 
used him and is still using his story to minister to the hearts of the most wretched men and when 
a wretched man’s heart is open God can enter in.  

“How silently, how silently

The wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heaven.

No ear may hear His coming,

But in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive him still,

The dear Christ enters in.”  (Oh Little Town of Bethlehem)

Christmas time can be a tough time for so many sad souls. Loss, hurts and baggage from sins,
whether our own or effects of someone elses, can make our hearts heavy with doubt, regret and 
Yet during Christmas we are reminded of childlike faith, Jesus himself praised and refered to in the 
" Then he said, "I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matt 18:3
The faith we all have had before the weight of sin and death made us cynical Ebenezer 
Scrooges, as we witness through our children just what believing can do...the joy, the wonder,
 the anticipation. Our hearts remember and want so much to go back to that simple way of believing.

 Why not? 

” Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
 (Heb 1:1)

   Or as  Fred Gailey puts it...
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” Miracle on 34th 
Street (1947)

So I write this post not to give answers to all the troubles of the world but in hopes that my friends
 who struggle with believing would let Jesus “enter in” and heal your wounded soul;
and for my friends who have felt God and still have doubt to give Him a chance by believing 
He is good even when the evils of this world try to steal your belief.  

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12:21

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
 against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly 
realms...In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all
 the flaming
 arrows of the evil one.” Eph 6:12&16

And for all of my friends who have known God and find themselves in a struggle with doubt,
 to allow yourselves to put down your walls and let Him in once more...let Him fill you with the peace
 and joy you have missed.  Not everything is clear but soon sweet friends we will all know and all 
bow before this same God.
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't
 be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as 
clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” I Cor 13:12 MSG

“If you can’t accept anything on faith, then you’re doomed for a life dominated by doubt.” 
Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

What I know is we all have the ability to believe but only we can choose to open the door to his
knocking...He so passionately pursues us.

Today we all celebrate Christmas some of us with our mind on gifts and food and family...some 
on the empty chair beside us or the ache of the want/need deep inside us. Only one gift can satisfy
 your longings this Christmas, don’t wait to open it...God is surely with us let HIm enter in.

“Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.” Kris Kringle  Miracle on 34th 
Street (1947)

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. “ 
1 John 5:11
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him
 shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

This year as in every year, I wait with anticipation of the glorious return of our Saviour and Christmas
 is just a glimpse of what we all hope for but cannot compare to in the coming fulfillment of what all 
our hearts desire, being united not just in spirit but in body with Jesus, the hope of all humanity.

Merry Christmas to all our friends far and wide! 

My wish for you this year is to let God enter that you may have fullness of joy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

We Have Lift Off.

I don't know where summer went but now I am a day away from taking my son and 2nd child to college.   I had 19 years to prepare myself for this and it still sneaked up on me.
I am hoping that we prepared him for life...that this day will prove that he has the form, stamina and power to launch into this new world on his own.   Whatever the case this bird wants to fly, the rocket is ready to launch whether I am ready or not to see it happen. I think he mentally left a year ago and has been coasting to this day ever since.
Whatever motherly demands he puts to me, my response has been, "19 years is my limit now its time to make your own food!"   I am somewhat joking but seriously, when its time it's time.  My sentimental sappy mom side wants to get all Hallmarky but honestly, I know it's time and I couldn't be more thankful that he is excited to go.  That makes me excited for him and for all the new experiences he will have.  So I guess I can, somewhat, pat myself on the back that I am not pushing this bird out of the nest but he is's much easier that way on everyone.
What do I want him to know as he leaves?
1.  I will always love you no matter what. No grade, accomplishment or path you decide to go will change my love for you.

2. Sometimes college and life is not so fun.  We all remember the best times have to be paid back, relationships can be heartbreaking, and the cafeteria food will definitely be disappointing.
Hopefully you will have enough sense to work hard when you don't want to, remember that there are other fish in the sea, and your mama's food will taste better than you remembered when you come home.

3.  Kindness, forgiveness, and love go a long way.  No amount of talent or cleverness can replace good character.  Be kind. Love big. Look over an offense.

4. Don't be a push over but do listen and hear people out because even though you think you know everything you don't and listening to others will help you learn and help you make a well informed opinion.

5. Your opinions do and will change but don't compromise the absolute truths you have learned and know from experience.

6. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and His name is Jesus.  Keep close to Him and share Him with everyone.

Here is a tip for mamas who are crying into their coffee mug every morning because their babies are gone.
1. It's okay to cry.  Raising a child to adulthood is the most important and difficult job you will have and maybe somewhere in the middle (some of us at the beginning) we wanted to quit but somehow, in the end, we just feel so sure we can't live without them. Going cold turkey from the addiction of motherhood is tough, it takes time to get used to our new normal.  The truth is they will be back and we will be able to adjust but it's okay to cry, you earned the right.
2. Stop crying. Keep it together for their sake and save the blubbering for the long ride home.  I know the scene that you keep creating in your mind of the long and emotional goodbyes...driving away waving and blowing kisses as you watch your son/daughter become a dot in the distance as they wave and watch you pull away.  This is it mama's we have trained them and they are ready to launch don't interfere with take off by making them responsible for your
feelings. Trust God to be with them when we cannot and if that scene you created in your mind doesn't happen, its okay, just remember when they were difficult and you wished them to grow up and thank God they did.

3. Celebrate. This is a great day!  Our kids are doing it!  They are embracing their future and walking into the great unknown.  It is good to rejoice in the passages of life.

4. Enjoy your new life.  Find the good and embrace the new things God can do in your life. Don't feel guilty about doing things that you never had time for, I am sure God has some great opportunities planned for you...after you stop crying. 

I hope these days of change will be a way to trusting a Love that is bigger and better than yours for your children's future and yours too. 

" O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me. 
 You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 
 You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do. 
 You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head...

If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me. 
 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night— 
     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you."
Psalms 139:1-5, 9-12

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Wholesome 30 Challenge

 Last month I jumped on the band wagon and did the Whole30. Those of you who do not know what that is, I will give you a brief description from co creator Melissa Hartwig:
Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?
Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food. The most important reason to keep reading?
This will change your life.
I cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about food. It will change your tastes. It will change your habits and your cravings. It will restore a healthy emotional relationship with food, and with your body. It has the potential to change the way you eat for the rest of your life. I know this because I did it, and millions people have done it since, and it changed my life (and their lives) in a dramatic and permanent fashion.

 I was reluctant to subject myself to this pain of deprivation but I figured I could do anything for 30 days, right?  I was right, although there was some grumbling in the desert of Gluten-Dairy Free, I did survive, but no one should ever have to live without cheese. I have a new compassion for those of you dairy intolerant people, I'm so sorry.
So the question asked, “How was it?”  “How do you feel now?” Honestly, I did feel better and I didn't die without bread and dairy (not literally, anyways) but my bigger take away was that I could psychologically conquer matter with my mind...albeit, with a little crying.

Did it change my life?  Well, let’s be totally honest, I can't give it that much credit. I am all about a good detox and resetting my body; I can even be a health guru sometimes,but let's get real... nothing can change your life like Jesus. So, while I was in the whole30 desert I decided I would create my own whole30 challenge for true life change, because we all need a good detox from wrong thinking and the only way to do this is knowing truth.
...And because we are all dense and need the hammer of truth to sink it in deep, this idea came to me right in time for our new series titled Toxic. Here is the description of this week’s sermon: “Need a little personal poison control? Are there relationships, thoughts, or behaviors that quietly compromise our well-being? How can we learn to recognize and remove the hidden dangers in our lives? This morning Pastor Mark will unpack the ways that we can reject poison in our life and replace it with God truth.”  Coincidence? I don't think so...that's how the Holy Spirit works so, this is what we are going to do, I am challenging you to a wholesome30 and eating all the bread you want...the bread of life I mean:
Certain habits (like slander, gossip, or entertaining negative thoughts about yourself and others) could be having a negative impact on your  heart and spiritual walk without you even realizing it. Is your prayer time inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have bad attitudes and strained relationships that can’t be fixed? Are you having a hard time keeping friends no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of heart condition, like jealousy, self hate, impure thoughts, or chronic potty mouth, that you can’t seem to get a handle on? These symptoms are often directly related to the things you feed your mind….even the “healthy” things you try to do once a week are not enough to help you. So how do you know if this isn’t you?

Strip negative talk from your life completely. Eliminate the most common wrong craving-inducing, , gut-damaging , inflammatory talk  for a full 30 days. Let your body mind and spirit heal and recover from whatever effects those negative thoughts and words may be causing. Push the reset button with your mind and heart, habits, and relationships, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the words and thought choices you’ve been making. Learn how the thoughts you’ve been indulging in are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, church body, and relationships. The most important reason to keep reading?
This will change your life.
I cannot possibly put enough emphasis on this simple fact—the next 30 days will change your life. It will change the way you think about yourself, Jesus and others. It will change your desires. It will change your habits and your cravings. It will restore a healthy emotional relationship with your family, friends and everyone you meet. It has the potential to change the way you live for the rest of your life. I know this because I did it, and millions of people have done it since, and it changed my life (and their lives) in a dramatic and permanent fashion.

Ready for a life change?  You can do’s just the start to a better life of freedom from poisonous, potentially life threatening habits.

Everyday for 30 days we are going to pray for these things:

  1. Transform my heart and renew my mind so my thoughts are pleasing to you. (Ps. 51:10 Romans 12:2)
  2. Let my words give life and help me to hold my tongue when I want to say something that is not helpful or edifying about myself or others. (Proverbs 18:21 Ephesians 4:29)
  3. Give me love for those who don't like me or hate me and not repay evil with evil but help me to sincerely do good to them. (Mt. 5:44 Luke 6:35, 1 Peter 3:9)
  4. When I am feeling anxious, fearful or worried help me to trust you with every need big and small. (Phil 4:6-7 Matt 6:25-34) (1 Tim 1:7)
  5. Help me to think of others more highly than myself (Phil 2:3-7)
  6. Help me to forgive more and judge less myself and others. (Matt 6:14-15, Matt 7:4-5, Eph. 4:31-32, 1John 1:9  Ps. 103:12)
  7. Let your word speak to me and give me new revelation of who you are, who I am in you and your love for me. (Romans 10:17, Hebrew 4:12, Ps. 119:11, Eph 2:10)
  8. Take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to your truth.  (2 Cor 10:5)
  9. Help me to not entertain poisonous conversations and know when it's time to walk away from an unhealthy relationship. (Proverbs 26:20-22, 1 Cor 5:11, 1 Cor 15:33, Prov. 13:20 Prov 14:7)
  10. Help me to protect my heart and put good into my mind. (Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45)

Friday, March 18, 2016

No More Excuses...Be. Awesome.

Beginning a new year is always refreshing.  We all take it as an opportunity to start over and do better, to finish things we have never finished and to start things we have never started. To become more efficient, proficient, and achieve a long list of personal goals.

Of course, a new year is just a new year.  It holds no magical powers to make us super human...all though some of us try hard to pretend it does.   I do.  Every year without fail, I set myself up for just that..failure.  It may be the hype from those around me that make me jump on the band wagon, but I can't blame others for my failures.  So, this year just like every new year, I prepared myself to do something new and allow my God given talents to take flight and stop making excuses because it's a shame to let them all go to waste...yep, that was a sarcastic sentence.  Well, my new found confidence lasted about 2 seconds.  I won't go into the ugly details of my lowest husband can tell you all about it, though... it was pretty pathetic.  Not wanting all my pathetic "loser" moments to go totally to waste, I like to share them with you.
Surely, someone out there can relate to my story.  Over and over we get to the edge of the mountain and we allow fear to creep in and we just can't soar.

Fact # 1  When you are the most vulnerable is when you are able to hear the best.

That day I realized I wasn't exactly killing it, is the day God sent my son in to reenact my life.  It went something like this:  He gets home from school.  I hear a lot of shouting, followed by a loud bang.  I run down to see what was happening and to possibly assert my authority by joining in the chaos with yelling. My three other children are eager to the point of giddiness to retell the whole story..."He was yelling and upset at ____because they were teasing him.  He can't take a joke and was so mad he kicked that table and now he is sulking and keeps yelling that, ' he doesn't want to talk about it!' "   I used my in charge mom voice and  summoned said kid to a private place to interrogate him.  It turns out he was upset about the teasing but also about some other things that happened during the day...something that made him doubt himself.  I want to stop here and say I never do that..I never get mad and take it out on everyone else because I am upset about something else, I don't know where he gets that from?!

Fact #2  I have said it before and I will say it again,  God uses my kids to slap me in the face!  It's like a live action lesson to "bring home" something He has been trying to tell me.

 My son's story was just a reminder of my own that day. He let someone make him doubt himself and although he wanted to blame someone else, all responsibility of his actions and reactions were on him.
  We never have to question our worth in Jesus Christ.  We may slip up, say the wrong thing or maybe we do a tumble down the mountain type doesn't matter with Jesus we can be restored, we are forgiven.  So lesson # 1: God says who you are and that is all that matters.
The real kicker to the whole thing is my son was correct!  Here is the're surrounded by a group of your peers, 3 or more I would say, and they are all telling you the same thing...just assume that they are not all wise or good counsel, but they are negating what you just be looking at the king walk in naked with no beautiful royal clothes on and say "He is naked!"  while the crowd shuns you for thinking such a crazy thing.  Guess what?
The king was naked.    So lesson #2.  When we choose to follow Jesus, not only does He say who we are but with Him we are always the majority. He is the only backing we need, His cheers and His opinion is the one that matters...even when you are faced with opposition from someone you have looked up to for your entire life. 

Fact # 3 If God has given you a dream; a job to do; a burden, then you can be assured that it is Him who will give you the ability to achieve it. 

 I have to give a warning here...God never goes against His word, if it doesn't line up with His word than it is not from Him.  God also gives us a guide called the Holy Spirit...learn to discern and listen to what He is saying to you.
My family and I spent 13 years living in Russia, as you can imagine, life in Russia is very different and it's culture took time to understand.  One of my memories of these nuances was seeing a vendor on the street getting someones attention by there product and/or very clever sales pitch.  It only took one and soon another would stop and from there it was like a magnetic miracle to watch the crowd grow. Just because it seems to be a good idea to one person and leads others into the same direction doesn't make it a great idea.  Make sure you are not being influenced by love of popular views or the need to be recognized...check your motives. Whether it is needing to be a part of the crowd or trying to be the maverick that stands alone, both can be wrong when done in the wrong attitude and wrong motivation. Here is a hint: All glory and all honor belongs to God.  If we are looking for an achievement to complete us or for selfish reasons at all, we are sure to come up empty. Even when we try to disguise it as something we are doing as "unto God" we may fool others but God is never fooled, He knows the inner workings of our heart. You cannot hide the truth from Him.

Fact #4 God + us+ trust in God=unstoppable. 

Fear of what we could be if we really surrendered ourselves...our sickness, weakness, insecurities, etc.. to God keeps us stuck in the slave land of "what if?"  We have been living with our own sicknesses so long we would rather be enslaved to that sickness than be free. The familiar, yet unhealthy, comfort of it keeps us from being who God really made us to be.  Example:  Those crazy Isrealites whom God delivered out of slavery, who were so fearful they wanted to go back to slavery again! This is what they said to their leader Moses:

"Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” 

Exodus 14:12 

Moses replies: "Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”  Exodus 14:13,14

Fact #5 There is growth in the desert.

Being free from our "stuff" doesn't mean that God is going to expect us to do something radical...
alone, because He will ask us to do radical things but "He will fight for us." we just need to stay calm.
 I don't know about you but I would rather be free and living within "the land of milk and honey" than be enslaved, but to be free we have to trust God through the healing...through the desert. Trusting God through the desert is a game changer, it puts everything in Gods hands because when we can't He has to; fully trusting Him.  We lose ourselves in the desert along with all the stuff that hinders us and we start to become more like Him.

So, now we are in March, a perfect time for new beginnings.   Don't be afraid to be awesome.  Because when we are fully in Jesus He is the awesome we cannot be.  Embrace Him and His purpose in you.   No regrets.  When you let yourself be awesome, you inspire others around you to be awesome too.

 2 Corintians 12:9-10 The Message

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.