Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Free Book Giveaway and Post on 3 Stranded Cord

Yesterday I posted on my marriage site, Thankful Hearts, about a wonderful book which I'm going to be giving away for FREE.  Thank you Lynn & Dineen for the extra copy to put into someone's hands who will be blessed by it.  If you don't regularly visit that site of mine, I encourage you to do so.  If you are interested in a copy of the book or know of someone you think would benefit from it - please just leave a comment on the post and you'll be entered in the drawing.  I will be drawing a name at the end of the week and posting the winner the beginning of next week.

Free Book Giveaway - Winning Him Without Words


In addition, I was honored to be able to share in Lynn & Dineen's ministry yesterday.  They have once again asked me to contribute something to their Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog.  I wrote yesterday about The Power of a Three-Stranded Cord in an Unequal Marriage.  If you did not get a chance to read it I encourage you to do so.  This was an eye opening revelation for me and I pray it will bless others as well.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Secret Millionaire

I have a short drive to work each day and don't tend to listen to the radio much, but when I do I find myself tuning into Air1.  I love this station and often will listen to it over live streaming at work when I have more "brainless" work to do that does not require alot of concentration.  Luckily for my co-workers I usually remember where I am at and don't start belting out loud the wonderful music I hear (and if you work with me and I have done so before, I apologize now.)

One day last week on my way to work they had an interview with a woman named Dani Johnson who was going to be in the premier of a new show called "Secret Millionaire" on Sunday, March 6th.  After listening I was curious so I set my TiVo to record the series and I had a chance yesterday to watch the first episode.

I must admit, I cried through almost the entire show.  Dani is a woman who had a very rough childhood and was homeless and on welfare at the age of 21.  Within just a couple years through hard work and perserverance she became a millionaire and is now a radio personality and a motivational speaker, with a heart for those who are now in the place she was once in.  In the show she spends one week in a Knoxville area which is known for it's poverty and bad neighborhoods.  She is given a small run down one bedroom apartment to live in and $40 cash to hold her through the week.

She spends her days looking for groups who are committed to improving and helping the community.  Dani find three such groups and they all touched her heart and mine as I watched.  At the end she reveals to them who she really is and gives them money to help in their continued efforts to reach out to others.

The groups she found were:

The Love Kitchen - Their motto is "Everybody is God's Somebody".  This is a kitchen which has been opened in the 1980s and is run by twin 82 year old sisters, Helen and Ellen.  These women were absolutely adorable and exuded love.  Dani mentions in the show that the name fits perfectly because everything about these two women speaks of love, as she is right.  They have created a safe place where those who are homeless can come for a good homecooked meal (and these are really good meals!) and create a family environment with others who are in need.  The kitchen also delivers meals to those in the area who are homebound.  Just thinking of these two precious ladies brings a smile to my face.  They are living examples of how we should treat one another.  On their website and in the show they talk about the truths their daddy taught them growing up:

1. Never take the last piece of bread. Someone may come by in need of it.
2. There is only one race, the human race.
3. There is only one Father and that is the Father in Heaven.

Please visit their site - http://www.thelovekitchen.org/  And pray for Ellen as she has been admitted to the hospital with chest pains.

The Joy of Music
This is a nonprofit organization in the Knoxville area that provides music instruction for children who could not otherwise afford to learn music.  They have a waiting list of about 50 children at any given time due to the need.  On the show Dani met with three very talented young men who have benefited from this organization and have in some cases earned themselves scholarships for college.  It was so amazing to see the joy and hope in these young men's eyes, young men who without this organization may have ended up in a very different scenario.  http://joyofmusicschool.wordpress.com/

Special Spaces
This is an organization started by a mother of nine (three children born to her and six adopted) who remodels rooms for children who are ill.  Kind of like a Make A Wish for bedrooms.  In the episode Sunday night they were remodeling a little 5 year old girl named Daisy's room to be a princess bedroom.  Daisy has leukemia.  It was amazing to see the smile on her face and her family when they saw Daisy's new room. **Spoiler Alert**  And later in the show when Dani was visiting the groups and presenting them with checks she gave one to this family too.  I had tears streaming down my face watching the reaction of her family - especially her older sister and her dad.  Wow!  http://www.specialspaces.org/

If you missed the episode and did not record it, you can watch the full episode on ABC's website.  They also have links to the organizations featured on the show and ways you can help. 

I can count on one hand the shows that I record and watch faithfully.  If the first episode is any indication for the future of this one, I will be adding this show to my list.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Big Dream - What's the problem?

A dear friend of mine recently sent me a book called "The Dream Giver".  The first part of the book is written as an allegory or a parable.  It is about Ordinary, a Nobody who lives in the Land of Familiar.  He decides to leave one day to follow his Big Dream.  I love "Pilgrim's Progress" and Randy Alcorn's "Edge of Eternity" so I quickly read the first part of the book.

The second part turns the story to focus on you and your journey to your  Big Dream.  The Big Dream that our Creator put into our hearts even before we are born.  This is where I put the book down and it gathered dust for a couple of months.

However, that little red book caught my eye again on a particularly dreary day in my life.  I began reading it again and with that I began asking myself a few questions.  Questions like...
  • Has YHVH put a Big Dream in me?
  • If yes, what is it?  Can I even begin to identify it?
  • If I can, why haven't I been pursuing it?  What is holding me back?
In the book, the author,  Bruce Wilkinson, lists the most common reasons he hears people give for no longer pursuing their Big Dream.  Honestly, none of them really resonated with me so I began to really start digging.  I know what my dream is.  It has changed a bit over the years, but it is still the same dream.
"Your Dream may not look quite the same as it did years ago.  But the essence of the Dream - the tug of longing you feel to do what God made you to do - is still there."
I've always wanted to write.  When I was young it was to become rich and famous.  As I got older it was just to support my family by doing something I enjoyed.  Now my dream is to write to honor my Adonai by helping others, even if it does not yield so much as a penny.

I've pursued my dream half-heartedly at times.  Sometimes I've pursued it with all my energies for a short time.  I've attended writer's conferences when I was still a child and even as recently as when I was pregnant with my youngest child.  But I have always ended up backing off.  Why?

Those are the questions I started digging into, looking for brutally honest answers. 

1. Time - I am a wife and a mother of three young children.  I work full-time outside the home to support my family.  I can barely keep up with basic housecleaning at times.  I'm happy if the clothes and dishes are washed (mind you washed, but not necessarily put away!).  If my floors are cleaned often enough to avoid attracting rodents I am satisfied.  When am I going to find time to seriously pursue writing!?  Even this post has been bouncing around in my head for days before I found time to sit down and type it out!  

2.  Guilt - A part of me feels that to truly pursue my Big Dream I would have to put my family second to it.  I already struggle with meeting my expectations of what it means to be a good wife and mother.  Pursuing my dream would mean falling even further from the mark of being a devoted and loving wife and mother.  It would be selfish of me to pursue my dream now that I have others in my life depending on me.  Or is this just another excuse?  A wonderful seemingly selfless excuse to cover up my next two, not so selfless reasons? 

3.  Too much work / Too hard - This is the excuse I hate, the one that makes me cringe.  The one I did not want to write down, but if I am going to be brutally honest I need to include it.  Bottom line - I'm lazy.  It is one of the things about myself that I hate.  Writing takes a lot of work, a lot of research and at the end of the day I'm exhausted and don't want to put in the time and effort.  It makes me wonder if I really want this Big Dream.  Seriously - I've always thought that those who really understand the importance of something and really want it will pursue it at all costs.  They will sacrifice all for it.  Am I willing to do that?

4.  Failure - I'm not good enough.  I will fail and others will mock my attempts.  I remember at a young age telling an adult I respected that I wanted to grow up to be a writer.  This well-meaning person proceeded to tell me how I needed to decide to do something more practical because if I pursued a writing career I would most likely be poor and starve.  So although I have always dreamed of writing and have always journaled and dabbled in writing, I pursued a career as an Accountant.  It is something I am good at and I enjoy it most of the time - but it is not my Dream.  Now that my dream has progressed from wanting fame and riches to helping others, I would have thought this fear would decrease.  After all, if I'm not looking to make money off my writing, there should be no fear of rejection, right?  So wrong!  I fear I don't know enough to truly help others.  I don't have enough knowledge or experience under my belt.  I fear that what I write, although well intentioned, will mislead others.  What if I fail them?  What if I fail my Adonai?

As I finished the latest chapter in this book, something caught my attention.  Bruce talks about Moses and how his life can give us three insights:

1.  A Big Dream always seems overwhelming at first.
2.  Ultimately, a Big Dream is aimed at meeting a Big Need in the world.
3.  While you still have breath, it's never too late to act on your Dream!

So there it is - my brutal honesty about my Big Dream.  I decided to share it here in order to hold myself accountable.  Ironic that I'm writing about my Big Dream of writing and why I've not really pursued it before.  Maybe, this will be the start of my journey.  My journey of one Ordinary Nobody pursuing her Big Dream to become the Somebody that YHVH intended for her to be.  A dream He placed in her heart as He was forming her in her mother's womb. 


(To be continued...?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful in Trials

Dineen wrote an amazing post today over at Laced with Grace called "Thankful for Trials?".  Please take a moment to visit the site and read what she wrote.  I can personally attest to the truth behind what she wrote.  The Lord has proven Himself so very faithful in these things in the past weeks for me and I pray everyone I know will one day learn what He has revealed to me recently - how to be thankful, to praise Him and to trust Him in the midst of whatever I am walking through. 

Psalm 57:1-2
(Complete Jewish Bible Translation)

Show me favor, God, show me favor;
for in you I have taken refuge.
Yes, I will find refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the storms have passed.
I call to God, the Most High,
to God, who is accomplishing his purpose for me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Intentional Marriage & Advice to Younger Self

Lynn and Dineen over at SUM have just started a new project called Intentional Marriage.  I highly recommend checking out the post on SUM introducing this and watching the video that Lynn did for the first month.  I had the opportunity to watch it live, and it was wonderful. 

Each month Lynn & Dineen will tape a new video which can be watched live or as an archived video.  In addition, they will have a meme each month that viewers can participate in. 

This month the meme is to give advice to our younger selves - specifically on our wedding day.  Advice regarding what we've learned over the years of being married that we wish we had known on our wedding day.

I will be participating each month in the meme on my Thankful Heart blog, which is my blog dedicated to marriage.  Check out this month's post here - Advice to My Younger Self.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ephesians 1:1-14, In Christ

Verse 3 of the first chapter of Ephesians talks about us being blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  I found this interesting, these are not just blessings that we are given, we are given them in Christ.  Through verse 14 Paul talks about a handful of things that are ours in Christ.  So I decided to go through the verses and take notes on these things:

In Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14)
  1. We have been given every spiritual blessing in heaven.
  2. He chose us before the world was made
  3. God made us His own children
  4. God freely gave His grace to us
  5. We are set free from sin by His blood, we are given grace
  6. God let us know His secret purpose for us (see also 1 Corinthians 2:7)
  7. God joined all things in heaven and earth together
  8. We were chosen to be His people
  9. God put His seal, His special mark on us (Holy Spirit)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ephesians 1 - Blessings & Prayers

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms, with every spiritual blessing in Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:3
As I read the first chapter in Ephesians, verse 3 stands out to me.  We are blessed in the heavenly realm with spiritual blessings.  I began to dig further - what are these blessings?  As I continued to read I jotted these down:

  • He chose us to be holy & blameless in His sight.
  • He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ
  • He freely gives us His glorious grace (because He loves us!)
  • We have redemption through His blood
  • We have forgiveness of our sins
  • He lavishes us with all wisdom and understanding
  • He marked us in Him with a seal, the Holy Spirit.  This is our deposit, our guarantee of our inheritance!
In addition, Paul writes about prayers that he has for the Church of Ephesus.  Prayers that I truly believe the Lord has for us, even now in this day and age.

  • Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding: This is God's desire, that we have revelation of Him so we may know Him better.
  • Eyes of our hearts enlightended:  As we receive more wisdom and revelation of God and who He is, our hearts will begin to understand the hope that He has called us to.
    • Riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
    • Incomparably great power for us who believe
  • Power:  Incomparably great power - I love this.  He has a mighty power that He wants to give each of us access to through Him.  This is the exact same power that -
    • raised Christ from the dead
    • seated Christ at His right hand in the heavenly realms - far above all rule, all authority, all power and dominion, far above every and any title ever given or which will ever be given!  It is the power that puts all things under Christ's feet and makes Christ head over everything for the Church/His Body.
As I read over this chapter, looked over my notes and prayed, a few things came to mind for me.
  • God has spiritual blessings for each of us, but we must draw them out by pursuing God through prayer.
  • Everyone needs prayer, even the best of Christians.  When we hear of the needs of other Christians, we should pray for them, lift them up to the Lord in prayer.  Paul continually prayed for other Christians and he continually asked for the prayers of others.  None of us is above the need for prayer and none of us is above the requirement to lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Paul prayed for other Believers while he was in prison and being abused.  None of us are ever in such need ourselves to where we should think only of ourselves and not take the time to pray for others.
  • We can only get to know the Lord more through His mighty power.  Jesus is the One who supplies us with everything we need, so the more we pursue Him, the more spiritual blessings we receive.
  • No matter who powerful those around us or the circumstances around us may seem, we need to remember that when we pursue God we have access to His power which is greater than any other.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ephesians 1: God chose Me!

While studying the Armor of God, I recently dug up some old notes I took a few years ago when I studied Ephesians with my home church.  In with these notes I have quite a bit regarding Ephesians 1 which I want to share with you over the next week or so.  I was greatly encouraged while re-reading these notes and pray that you are as well.
v. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Reading this verse it struck me that the blessings we receive are not just physical, as in material blessings of this world which we often think of in regards to blessings.  This verse is telling us we are not only blessed here on earth, but we are already blessed in the heavely realms - with spiritual blessings - which we have because of Christ and who we are in Christ.
v. 4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
God choosing me has absolutely nothing to do with me.  He chose me not only before I was born, but also before the world was created.  He did it for His glory and He took pleasure in doing this for me.  I am NOT a burden to Him.
v. 7-9  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.
God does not make mistakes.  He chose me to redeem and show His grace to, even though He had full knowledge and insight of what that would mean and how I would react (how unfaithful I could be).  Once again it speaks of the pleasure He takes in revealing Himself to me and His plan for the future.

God takes pleasure in Me, just the way I am.  He takes pleasure in watching me grow in Him.
v. 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Remember God's final plan in everything - to bring everything under His Son, Jesus.  Through everything God wins, there is no question regarding this.
v. 11 - 14  In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are in God's possession - to the praise of his glory.
We have been chosen not only to be redeemed, but also to have an inheritance.  We were given a seal to mark us as God's - the Holy Spirit!  "A deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" until Jesus returns when we will come into our inheritance and we will bring God glory.
v 17 - 19  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength.
This is beautiful and this is the cry of my heart - to be given the Spirit of Wisdom so I can know the Lord better, so I can grow in my relationship with Him.  To shine a light on the eyes of my heart so I know the Hope He has for me, the inheritance He has set for me.  There is great power working in us.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead and placed Him higher than anything in this world or anything to come.
Stay tuned - more to come...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Worth Fighting For Blog

I came across this blog today and felt it was worth sharing with my friends.  This is a blog written by four teenagers who are taking a stand for unborn children in our world who do not have a voice of their own.  I found this site so inspiring, not only because of the stand they are taking but because they are the young people who will soon be the leaders of our world.  I thank God that we have young people who are willing to stand for His Truths and are not ashamed to do so.

Please take a moment to visit this blog - Worth Fighting For

In particular this post caught my eye - a poem written by a friend of one of the teenagers who writes for this blog and ministry.  Worth Fighting For: The Time for War

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Spiritual Warfare

"There is something in human nature that just doesn't want to face the reality that we live in two worlds. We live in the physical, material world where we have jobs, read books, and go about our business. And we live in a spiritual world - and that is a world at war." ~ John Eldredge

I am a huge Ted Dekker fan. He is an amazing writer with a wide variety of books, however all of them have a common theme. God's love for us and the battle of good and evil in our world. I just happened to pick up a book yesterday that I purchased quite awhile ago but have not yet gotten to. It is called "Adam". As I read the opening pages I realized this book is about spiritual warfare. The quote above and one other I'll list below are at the beginning of the book and at the end they have an dialogue between Ted Dekker and John Eldredge about Spiritual Warfare that is very interesting. I started to read it and then realized it probably has some spoilers for the book, so I'll go back to it later.

But in the meantime a couple things struck me. It sounds like this book goes really deep into spiritual warfare, to the point of demon possession possibly. However, Ted wrote this book to make a point. He says many of his readers are in their mid twenties or younger and don't know much at all about Satan. Christians now days don't want to face the reality of a real personal evil that works in this world. Many believe evil is a just a general force in the world, not real and personal.

This is not to say that we can blame everything on Satan because the reality of it is, we are sin ridden creatures. We cause enough damage on our own. But to live your life in ignorance of the spiritual battle that rages around you is no better than believing everything you do bad is because the devil made you do it.

One thing to be very aware of is that the armor of God we've been talking about is what protects us as Believers. We can't fight these forces in our own power, we MUST have the protection of God. However, keep in mind that those in our lives who are not Believers, do not have this protection. They are wide open for the enemy to attack and many times use to try to trip us up.

The writers of the New Testatment many times warned the churches of not only the sin and evil in their own flesh, but of the spiritual evil that dwelt amoung them that they needed to be aware of and ready to fight. To them it was a given that the Believers of that time were in a spiritual battle. We've lost this awareness in our time for the most part.

There's a thief, and he comes to steal, and kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. - John 10:10

Be on your alert. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that your brothers around the world are undergoing the same thing. - 1 Peter 5:8-9

One last quote from Ted Dekker regarding the book Adam:

"This whole novel boils down to these two truths. First, evil is real. Satan and the demons are aggressively arrayed against all Christians, all the children of God, all those who were formed in the image of God. And second, the only way to defeat all the forms of darkness in your own life is through the light of Jesus Christ." ~ Ted Dekker