Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be "tween" You and God

I was lucky enough to be able to review The One Year Be-Tween You & God devotions for girls, by Sandra Byrd, this past month. I have been looking for something age appropriate for my daughter and me to do together and this devotional was perfect.

The devotional's weren't too long and the message was just deep enough to get her thinking. I even had my son sit in on it too and he got something out of most of them, they really applied to both. If you are a mother of a tween, then like me you have come to realize that we are in a battle for their hearts. Their friends and boys are calling out to them and it is so hard to get their attention and keep them focused on what is most important, God's calling on their life.

So, I am going to let Keeli, my daughter tell you in her words what she thought about this book. I really couldn't think of a better way to review it, than to let the tween of the house, who I wanted the book for in the first place, give her two cents.

Hi I'm Keeli, and I like this book because its quick and easy to understand. It helps me with my day. It helps me get closer with God. I get a devotion in the morning to rise my spirit.

Well, there you have it, in the short and sweet words of my eleven year old, folks.

I personally really liked that the devotional's were aimed at topics that she is dealing with right now. There were a couple of times that we would deal with something like respect the night before and the next morning our story would be on respect and what that looks like in her life.

Each day ends with an applicable bible verse with What God Says, and a question to how they can apply the verse and lesson to their lives.

I would recommend this book to any parent looking for a good devotional to do with their tween girl.

I'm giving away a FREE copy!! Just leave me a comment and you will be entered to win! That's it! I'll pick a winner Friday.

**Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Grace In Disagreeing

There's been a whole lot of rumblings lately between the feminist Christian Rachel Held Evans and her new book, and more traditional Christians.

Honestly, I see both sides, but honestly, I don't want to be on sides.

Rachel spent a year living as a biblical woman to show exactly what that looks like if taken quite literally from the Bible. I think it was extreme, but she made her point. We are all going to fall short of what the perfect biblical woman looks like.

That's where grace and understanding come in. We need grace because we fall short and living your life word for word trying to be "perfect" isn't gonna happen. We need understanding because, God calls us all to different things. My life and the way my family runs isn't going to look the same way as my neighbors.

I wish the Bible would have clearly laid out some of these "minor" issues, so that this slaying of hearts with our words, cutting down people in Jesus' name didn't happen.  But He didn't, and for only reasons He knows. Maybe because in the grand scheme of things women becoming pastors, women holding leadership positions in the church, and women being head of household whether through finances or faith, isn't as important as the message Jesus came to give us. His message, that He died for; freedom through grace.

We can get so caught up in whose right and whose wrong and whose being misleading and misinterpreting that we forget as Christians we are all on the same team.

We can ask questions, God doesn't get mad, and turn on us. We can call out each other as long as it's done in the spirit of love and trying to understand their viewpoint.

We can get mad with indignation and righteous anger, but not with a stone in our hands aimed and ready to throw when others don't agree.

Women have rights, I think we can all agree. To the length those rights go is what seems to be in question, along with other parts of her book/books.
I think Jesus would be saddened if he came back and found us bickering and spewing venom at each other.

I hope grace will find it's way back into both sides of this conversation. The world is watching us Christians, watching how we respond to each other and conflict within the church. I can only hope that this will go forward with more dignity than it has started.

Ephesians 6:12 " 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."

Check it out for your self, click on her name above.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

With Every New Season, We Turn

"To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose under Heaven"
Pete Seeger "Turn Turn Turn"

The end of a season is coming like summer to fall, except this is a new season in our lives.

We will be packing soon and the house will be full of memories and boxes. Full of 15 months of living in a season of uncertainty and unanticipated joy.

We've been pleasantly surprised and loved on in the most unexpected ways.  God made a way when we weren't sure there would be any other way but surviving and the counting down of days.

When you live in a foreign place there are no strangers in God's world. He has a way of bringing family close.

They circle round and embrace you, love you , and encourage you.

They made the seemingly impossible possible.
And now with a tinge of regret and dread we pack to move on. To a new place God has called us to.

I'm scared, but God has been telling me not to be. He has made a way and has gone before me. He has prepared the land for our taking.

We go forth knowing he has been faithful before and will be again.

In this new Season, we turn.

Turn to the One that is working it out for our good.

We turn

Knowing our lives are not are own and we are in the care of the one that has us written on the palms of His hands.

The end of a season is the beginning of a new

So thankful for new friends made that will always have a special place in my heart. They've left their impression. I hope I've done the same.

We move ahead with wonder at what God has in store for us next.

I know whatever it is, it will be for his glory, our story.. part of his plan, somehow.

So, with a verse He brought me to just 15 short months ago and I look upon again for the future.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Is 43:18,19

There is a season for it all. So let go and trust.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Go Get `Em


Stepping out of our tidy little circles means doing life with those who haven't done such a good job of hiding their own sin. They are laid bare for the world to see and judge (Samaritan woman at the well).

Will we be willing to eat with those others think offensive? (Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors!}

Mary Magdalene went to visit her friend Jesus's tomb, but He wasn't there; she thought someone had taken him and she wanted him back. She was willing to do whatever it took to get him back.

 John 20:15 "Woman, he said, "Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"  Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

Have you ever had a friend that started down a path, you knew would only lead to pain? I have.

A friendship that under the weight of pressure and sin, collapsed?  I have.

Instead of confronting in love, I ran. I turned my back. I didn't know what to do or say. So I did nothing. Pretty soon the phone calls got less and less and contact ceased.

I agonized over doing the "right" thing, if you were associated with her, you were talked about, people assumed you agreed with her decisions, why else would we stay friends?

My own spiritual maturity wasn't enough to make an impact on her, or so I believed, and I felt like she was having more of an impact on me than I on her.

My own spiritual immaturity just seemed to make things worse.

It's hard to think clear when your in the situation. But maybe loving from a distance was the best thing I could have done for both of us. I never stopped praying and hoping the best for her. She was one of my best friends and I loved her like a sister. But I didn't know what to think or say or do with her!

In Proverbs it says "That a friend loves at all times" I wish I could have been that friend for her. I didn't have to agree with everything, but I could have stayed. Because this happened, I look at friendships differently now.

I know the importance of keeping your own faith strong so that when you have a friend in crisis you can be a sounding board for them. They don't need a sermon, just a listening ear. I too often found myself lending advice, good advice, but it wasn't what was needed.

Sometimes people have to walk the road on their own and come to their own conclusions. Maybe that is how God is choosing to work it out in their lives. He knows they need to go through it to come back to Him.

Losing a friendship is heartbreaking. In future friendships I want to be a Mary Magdalene  If my friend is lost I want to go get em! I want to be that friend that listens with her ears and heart first, without planning on what I am going to say next, or trying to figure out a solution to their problem.

I want to be the friend that doesn't care what others say, but sticks up for my friend when they are going through their fiercest storm.

I want to be the hug and the deliverer of ice cream when the day craps on them.
And when they are lost and can't find their way out of the darkness I want to be the voice of wisdom and an encouraging word when they ask or need it.

I want to speak truth, but not give Christiany candy coated answers.

And when I fall short of grace and mercy I will be quick to ask forgiveness, and ask God to fill in the gaps.

I want to be the type of person that my friends can come to when they are struggling, and be a safe place to confide in.

Mary went after her friend! 

I will be the friend that does the same. I hate that this happened, and if I could go back in time and change it I would, but God, like in everything has used this as an opportunity for me to see what real friendship could and should look like.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Did you handle it better than I did?

I love this song by Casting Crowns, too often we forget, it's not our place to swing the sword in judgement.

"Jesus friend of sinners
The one whose writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away
And the stone fall from their hands
Help us to remember
We are all the least of these
Let the memory of your mercy
Bring the people to their knees"
"Jesus Friend Of Sinners" Casting Crowns

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Come Closer- What I Learned From Fasting

"Thou shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:3

My church is going through a series called Fuel. It's basically 40 days of moving through different rhythms to grow closer to God.

The first week was fasting. And if you know me in-real life you know that missing a meal makes a little grumpy :) I wasn't sure how I was going to do this or if I would make it the full week.

The pastor suggested if a full on fast of all meals was too overwhelming, start off small. Like off of your favorite snack, one meal, TV, anything that would pain you a little to give up for the week.

I thought and prayed about it and decided to give up coffee and carbs for the week.

I LOVE bread and carbs, while I eat mainly whole wheat and good for you carbs, they are still a  weakness and I knew it would pain me to give them up for the week.

Coffee, I have to have! It's how I start my day, it wakes me up and puts that little perk in my step. My brain just doesn't function without it, trust me, I know this first hand, tried to quit cold turkey once, and swore I would never do that to myself again.

So, these two I set out to fast from. I told my husband and kids so they would hold me accountable, which they did ;) God love `em.

Day one I woke up and longingly stared and my coffee maker sitting there on the counter all by it's lonesome.  But I didn't do it! I resisted.

And you know what?!

I went to bed that night with a migraine, the size of Mt Everest.

The next morning found me begging God to let me out of that one, I really needed to add the coffee back in, because that headache was a killer. But promised to stay off the carbs, and begged for strength to say "NO" each day.

{Coffee is really more of a gradual thing, I wouldn't suggest anyone going cold turkey on that one. If I ever decide I need to give up my cup then I will gradually decrease each day from now on}

I made it the whole week sans carbs, and not only felt great, but God was answering prayers and coming closer than He has in a long time.

I've never really understood the idea of fasting, until now. Before I always thought it was something you did to get God to answer a prayer or come through with a miracle.

But now I've realized it's so much more. It's about giving up something not to get something from God, but to reconnect with him. Removing whatever it is that is taking priority in your life over God and allowing Him his proper place.

I will never shy away from this practice again. I have learned to embrace it.

If you didn't catch the last post Change, then you don't know we are moving! We are leaving our little farm house in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa and heading to Texas, in about 4 weeks, and man have things been stressful around here. There were so many things leading up to this move that were question marks, but you know what? God answered them all that week!!

What was unclear was made clear.And there was peace about the situation that I hadn't had yet.

I have friends that were doing it too and they said the same thing, they had never felt closer to God. They could really feel him closer and moving in a way they hadn't in years.

Some days were tough, and not because of the food, but because of circumstances surrounding the move. But emails sent at just the right time, something that someone would say that would really touch my heart, and they had no idea that their words were Heaven sent were said, and music on our local faith radio station would play all the right songs that I needed to hear. And it was all God!

It was truly an amazing week.

I haven't felt that close to God or heard him so clear in years. I craved it each day.

I woke up expectantly with bright eyed wonder at what God would reveal that day. I had been reignited.

I have realized how distracted I am, by not only food and what I'm going to eat, but by TV, and Internet. There always seems to be something vying for my time, and honestly it seems easier to veg out in front of the TV, than to be quiet before God and wait.

God persues us, but He won't force us. When we let other things take over, He waits, until we realize we can't do life without Him, and then there He is. He never left, it was us.

Intentionality is key. Choosing the quiet over the distractions has to be an intentional choice each day.

That's what I've learned from this week, that I can be busy, and there's nothing wrong with that, but my heart and soul need to reconnect with Him. I have to make the time to read my bible and pray.

I'm so thankful for this series at my church, it has made me take a good hard look at where my heart has been lately and where the divisions are exactly.

Thank you God!
Is there anything in your life that is taking precedence over God? Maybe taking a fast will help you see more clearly this week too!

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Monday, October 8, 2012


I've spent the last week in TX, house hunting.
We are moving there in exactly 5 weeks. We knew this move was coming, but still, knowing something is about to happen, and being prepared for it when it actually does, are two different stories!

I missed the kids terribly.
I had such anxiety over leaving them, but I knew they were in good hands. and Trey and I knew we could use a few days to ourselves without them ;).

We took in a Cowboys game, which is definitely an experience, not one I hope to experience anytime soon again, but it was fun!

                             Do You See That Traffic?! Imagine having to drive on that Roller Coaster!

And there is just something so nice about a dark cold hotel room, it's just ripe for the most perfect sleeping conditions. And after walking around all day it doesn't take much to seduce me into a sleeping coma:)

We looked at so many houses and drove around neighborhood after neighborhood they all started to look alike after a while.It felt like we were literally driving in circles.

(This was in a little English Pub we had lunch in)

I forgot how stressful moving is. It's kinda like when you're having a baby, at the time you're in so much pain, and your swearing at your husband for doing this to you, and you scream never again!

But you do, cause you forget, kinda like that.

Wanting to make the kids happy and us, we fretted and fretted. Our poor Real Estate Agent didn't know what she was in for when she met us. But to her credit she was very patient with wishy washy us, me.

I just couldn't decide. If you've ever been to Dallas you know what I'm talking about, the place is HUGE!

We would drive to one area and I'd think, ooh this is it, but is it too big?? Will the kids adjust easily? Will I? Are the people gonna be stuck up and mean? Will they like me, them?

Exodus 14:13 "...Don't be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord's salvation He will provide for you today..."

Back and forth, back and forth. We asked all our family what they thought, and we loved getting their opinions, but it ultimately comes down to what we think is best. We prayed, a lot. And I got the feeling it didn't really matter where we ended up. We'd be OK.

So, we made two offers. In two different neighborhoods on completely opposite sides of town. We decided we couldn't go wrong with either, so we threw our offers out there to see which one would stick.

And stick it did.

We are getting quite a sweet deal, the kids love it from what they saw online, and everything is falling into place...suhweet!

I left knowing that it didn't really matter where we chose to live, because we could make any house a home, as long as my family is there, that is home.

Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I will trust in You"

Moving hard for you?? Got some good tips to make it easier?

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