Thursday, January 11, 2018

Blank Canvas.

2018: what a beautiful blank canvas!

Okay—so it’s got a little what what on it already. Maybe some imaginings: I’m gonna do this and this and this this coming year! 

Maybe some scribble throughs—uh, on second thought, that really wasn’t a great idea. 

But, for the most part, wide open. Over 350 days left to write on and color in and breathe in and live out til the year ends. 

My prayer for our Coastline women this year is that we do that with God. Many of you just met Jesus this past year—babes in your spiritual life! You are learning and falling in love with Him! How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

Many of you weathered unimaginable storms this past year. And here you stand. You and your God. Sometimes I’ve woken up this past year and found it sweeter than I can say that Jesus was still with me. Others have left. Others have abandoned. But not Him. You have found that, too. How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

Many of you are entering this year stronger than ever before. You have been growing and yearning and learning and you are on top of the mountain with your Lord. How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season you are in. 

And then many of us are a mixed bag! So much hard. So much good!! How precious and wonderful. What an incredible season we are in. 

Whatever it is, wherever it is, my prayer is that you know He is with you. That you walk out this season with Him. That you ask Him what colors to use on that canvas, when to paint furiously, when to sit back and just think about the big picture. I pray you wake up every morning with the sweetness of knowing He is there and go to bed every night knowing whatever the day held, He always held you. 

I can’t wait to see your canvas of 2018. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy December!

So do you have your happy happy Christmas pants on or what?! 'TIS THE SEASON Y'ALL. So exciting!!! My challenge to myself, and to you now, is...'tis the season for what exactly? 'Cause we have a choice. 

'Tis the season for...rushing and stressing and worrying and comparing and spending and going you know what crazy. OR 'tis the season for...peace and hope and love and generosity and good news to all mankind. 

I mean, obviously, we all say we want the second version of that scenario. But then we go and live out the first. I do, at least. I'm not very smart like that sometimes. 

So to help my own self I am writing these words at the top of my planner page every day of December: 'Tis the season. Just a reminder. I find the simplest things help me the most. It will only take me a few minutes to do it and then every day as I turn the page to fresh new day God has made, I will be reminded that I get to choose the kind of season I will have. 

God always gives us a choice. Life or death. Blessings or curses. You choose, He says. 

I'm gonna choose life as much as I can. I'm gonna choose blessing as much as I can. I know things can get sideways this time of year and it's easy to get off track from this kind of thinking, but I will have a brand new reminder each and every day. 

A brand new day to choose. 

'Tis the season for Good News. It'd be a shame to miss that. So maybe you will join me? With a written reminder or a sticky note or a phone alarm, whatever may work for you. You know you! 

Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dream Thief: Comparison

I love love love Pinterest. I love to look at Thanksgiving tables and Thanksgiving dishes and Thanksgiving decor and Thanksgiving everything. It's fabulous. As long as I keep it in context, it's a lot of fun and gives me gobs of inspiration. Where things get off track is when I begin to sigh to myself and say oh, I wish I had that. And that! And that! Can you say overwhelm?! 

Maybe you have a dream for a truly peaceful and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you do. Don't let anything steal that dream from you. Be aware of the dream thieves and give them no entrance. No matter how little they may be. The Bible tells us, after all, that it's the little foxes that spoil the vine. 

I take what I can from the inspiration--I love the look of 97 candles on the table, but I have 4 and they will do beautifully. I love the idea of making 42 dishes for the big day, but in reality, my family will only eat the same few things I make every year. It's fun to add in one or two new things, but overwhelm happens when I compare it to the 42 previously mentioned. 

Comparison thinking is such a little dream snatcher. Let's not let that kind of thinking steal this joyful day from us. 

Proverbs 17:1 "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife."

I hope there's so so little strife and so so much peace for you this Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! Is it just me or is it crazy town that we are a week out from Thanksgiving! I am very excited! Family and food and fun and lots of gratefulness. I wanted to tell you a little thing I've been doing to prepare my heart a bit. Since I have been seeing Christmas decorations at the mall and Christmas commercials on the tv since BEFORE HALLOWEEN (sorry I had to scream that at you, but it is very emotional), I wanted to do something that would help me keep my mind and heart focused on actually giving thanks so that I won't miss the beautiful Thanksgiving season in the mad rush to Christmas joy. 

I simply bought a small box of thank you cards that are blank inside and began jotting down a note of thanks to my husband each day. Heartfelt and deep things like, "Thank you for listening to me..." to silly and fun things like, "Thanks for being so sexy!" It has been the biggest blessing to ME! But, bonus, he has been blessed by it, too. 

I cleaned the counter off yesterday morning and found his cards stacked by the coffee pot. I put them away, but when he came home he immediately asked where they were! Why in the world?! This was his answer: "I've been re-reading them every morning." Swoon. 

What a simple thing that has brought such great joy. Small investment, huge reward. 

Hey--you still have a week! Maybe you could do this for your husband, your kids, random people. Love on them while remembering to give thanks. Maybe you'll start a gratitude journal to God! But thank you cards work too!! 

Maybe you'll do it every day or maybe you'll write a longer one to hand on actual Thanksgiving day. There are no rules! Just an idea to bring some thankfulness into your days. 

Love you all!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Glow Starts Tuesday, September 19!

Hey ladies!! The band is getting back together! Glow starts Tuesday! Woo hoo! All the exclamation points!!!! If you are a regular, welcome back! If you haven’t been yet, come on and give us a shot! You belong!

Let me give some information based on the questions I get asked most:

*We are ladies of all ages in all different stages of life getting together to learn how to live as children of God. If you are a woman, Glow is for you!

*You don’t need to bring anything but yourself! No need for workbooks or books. Of course your Bible and maybe a pen and paper would be handy, but we have those at church if you forget.

*You won’t be called on to answer questions, to get in a group, to come up front, or to pray out loud. It is very much like a church service, just for us girls.

*I teach from the Bible, not from a printed study or book. Bible studies are GREAT! I use them myself sometimes in my personal quiet time. I know many of you use them in your home groups! Awesome! Glow, however, is a bit different in that though I may have a “series” sometimes, each week is stand alone. If you can only come once, come on! If you can come bi-weekly, bring it on. I know many of you have odd work schedules, have littles that get sick and cranky, and a myriad of reasons you have to miss sometimes. Every week is a complete lesson for this reason. You won’t feel behind if you pop in three weeks from now!

*We have childcare for ages 5 and under. Bring your little people with you—they will have a blast!

*We start at 10:30 in the main sanctuary at Coastline.

I love Glow with all my heart and have been praying for you and this semester since we broke for the summer. I can’t wait to dig into God’s Word with you and let it transform us more and more into the image of our Savior and Lord Jesus.

Love you all!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Creator of New Things.

Jason and I are on our Sabbatical right now, resting and praying and just being. Sabbatical comes from the word Sabbath—so if it is a confusing term, it simply means taking an extended Sabbath to refresh ourselves in the Lord. I am loving every minute of it!

One of the things I am doing personally is starting the Bible in the starting place. Genesis 1. I love to read books of the Bible, and I love to jump around to what I’m “feeling” on any certain day, and I will tell you there is no wrong way to read the Bible! It has just been a little bit since I started in Genesis and read it through. I’ve put no time frame on it, I have no “plan” to finish it by any certain time. What sparked this was a longing to rediscover Who God really is. Like really.

You can be told a lot about a person and it may or may not be true. It may be filtered through the teller’s one time experience or maybe they heard it from someone who heard it from someone—so many chances for misinterpretation. But if you go straight to the source and hang around for a while, you’ll get the real info. You’ll see who they are, what they are about, where they’re coming from. You’ll get an understanding of their motives behind their actions, their thoughts, their drives.

It's not different with Abba. If we want to know our God, we have to see what He said about His own Self, not blindly trust others’ opinions, no matter how great they may be. So I decided to go on a refresher course—an overview to remind me why God made me and you and this world and what is His plan anyway and Who is He really, really?

And maybe I will share some thoughts along the way! Although, you should go on your own journey. Your own refresher course, perhaps? And it doesn’t have to look anything like mine! Maybe you read a particular Book or study a particular word. So many ways to know Him!

As a mind blowing thought of how insanely great God is, I didn’t get past the first couple of verses in the Book before writing down something awesome in my handy little “God is…” notebook. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”

God sees past the darkness. God sees past the emptiness. He sees something where there is nothing.

I’m sitting here looking out a window onto a beautiful lake with trees and flowers and there are squirrels and geese and there is light. That used to be nothing. Nothing at all. Sheer darkness and emptiness. I see with my own eyeballs what God created out of that void.

If you are feeling empty and darkness has overtaken your life today, would you go to your window, too? Maybe you see a kid riding their bike to school, or a big palm tree, or a bird flying by, or a cloud shaped a funny way, or a rainbow. Whatever your view is, it used to be nothing. And then God made something. Right at the beginning of the Story, He shows us what He can do.

He showed Abraham, too. A lot of great things happened in Abraham’s life. The greatest, in my opinion, is that he was God’s friend (James 2:23). In Romans 4:17 we are told it was because “…Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.”

So who is God? He is certainly the Creator of new things. I’m asking Him to create new things in me today. Things I can’t even see—all I see is the emptiness and formlessness and darkness in some areas. But He can see the shape. He can bring the light. He can fill it with something good. He’s already proven He can do it. Let’s believe Him to do it for us.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Good From Bad.

How has your summer been? Full of so many summery things that you wish it could last forever? Full of so many summery things that you have actually had your fill and are ready for fall? Too short? Too long? Not what you expected? Mine falls in that last category.

I had a certain type of summer planned out in my mind back at the end of May. Then…I’m sure you know what happened next…life happened. Family things came up, ministry things came up, all sorts of things came up! Some good, some not so good, and all unexpected. The hardest thing was definitely my husband breaking his ribs in late June. Boooo. And hissssss. And booooo again. Obviously the boos and hisses are for all the pain he has been in, but also for all the plans that had to be put on hold. But you know, that is only part of the story.

The other part is that I had my husband home alone for a couple of weeks with—wait for it!—nothing to do. Nothing. To. Do. This is unheard of! And it was doctor’s orders, which of course makes it official! And it was something unexpectedly bad that was turned to an unexpected good. I love when that happens. You start to be so mad at a circumstance or situation, so angry that it happened to you, then God starts to show you the good that He can bring from it. He is so great like that. He can turn things around.

Romans 8:28 tells us God does that exact thing. I realize this sounds like a pat answer to many people. “Going through a hard time? Hey, its okay! God will just turn that sucker around for good!” Of course we don’t want someone to gloss over our hard times, toss out a Bible verse to us, and move on thinking it will fix all our ills. Or to imply that our hard times aren’t that hard because one day it will be better. Of course not. We are called to love. Love is action. Love is getting off our high horse and getting into the ditch with people. But I really do want to be loved with God’s Word. I really do want you to bring His Word in the ditch with when you come for me.

In case you don’t know the verse, it says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” And it is absolutely true. And I absolutely need to be reminded of it over and over and over. He does this, this bringing good from bad, for me because He loves me. And I need to be reminded of that.

Certainly my husband’s broken ribs are not as heartbreaking and life-draining and breath-stealing as what many of you are going through. I, however, have walked through other kinds of hell these past couple of years. Dark times. Hard times. Feeling like my nose is just barely above the water while the rest of me is sinking times. And that verse? It gave me hope. Reason to breathe. What a reminder that HE IS HERE. He is real. He sees the horrible times, the somewhat horrible times, the laughably horrible times, and the good times as well, and holds all of them in His hands. I need to remember during all of these times that He’s watching. He’s gonna love me through it. He knows.

A few chapters later in Romans we get these words in verse 9:Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” And then verse 15 tells us, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” We’re called to act like God, so I have to believe this is how God is to His children. He is happy with us in the good times. He weeps with us in the bad. And, yes, He works all of the times out for our good in the end. That doesn’t mean it will all tie up with a bow and a happy ending. It doesn’t mean every event will be explained to us. But it does mean that, as the Message Bible puts it, “…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” He can work unimaginable pain into peace. He can heal emotional wounds. Scars that no one else can see can be soothed. It's possible, but only with God.

I understand that people want others to keep cliché sayings to themselves. Sometimes we just can’t help it in hard times. We want to say something, but don’t know what to say. Our motives may not be bad, but our words can be questionable. Not so with the Word of God. The motive is always His love for us. He only thinks good thoughts toward us, never evil ones. He sees us through the eyes of His Beloved Son Jesus if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. If you haven’t, you can ask Jesus into your heart right now—give your heart to Him and ask Him to forgive you for the ways you’ve lived your life wrong, ask Him to lead you from now on. It's not complicated, it's not a religious thing. It's entering into the relationship you’ve been waiting your whole life for. (And if you want a little direction for what’s next, click here.)

So the motive. It's always good. And God’s Word? It can never be reduced to a cliché. It is living and active. It is for our good.

The summer was different than I thought. At first glance, not good different. But it sure turned out to be pretty amazing. Good from bad. I’m thankful for the reminder.