Archive for September, 2011

It seems these days there are makeover shows for just about anything.  Extreme makeover (for a complete new house), while you are out (a room redecoration), what not to wear (cosmetic, hair and clothing) and today I saw a portion of restaurant impossible, a show that does a makeover of a restuarant.  We do makeovers of our bodies, houses and the places we eat at, why couldn’t we do a ‘spiritual makeover’? It seems that the one thing that is the most important to us, our relationship with Christ and growing in that relationship daily, is usually what gets left til last….end of the day or week.  We take time to get clean, get dressed, hair dryed, curled and fed and then out the door we go.  But do we take time to soak in/read God’s extreme makeover guidebook?  Not always.  So how do we go about doing that?  Well the first step is making a change.  I believe Paul called it a ‘new creation’.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ”  If you haven’t accepted Christ, this is the first step.  When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, it is like we have had a makeover!  Once we were one way and now we are another.  Does this change happen overnight?  Well, no.  We have a changed heart, but we need to make changes in other areas of lives.  We do this by daily reading and soaking in God’s Word….His makeover guide.  We need to come to Him and bask in His presence.  While we hang out with God, we are convicted by the Holy Spirit.  He acts like a counselor to tell us what is right and what is wrong.  If you are unsure where to begin…may I suggest the Psalms. There are so many references to God’s Word in the Psalms and Proverbs and how important His Word is to us.  In Proverbs 23:12, the write encourages you to “apply your heart to instruction  and your ears to words of knowledge”.  These daily doses of instruction will help make you smarter about how you live this newly made over life.  With this makeover, people won’t whistle at your new looks or ooh and ahh over your newly decorated room, but they may see Jesus living in you and want to know more about your ‘spiritual beauty secret’.   Keep His Word, your makeover guidebook, as a set aside priority time in your life and in case people ask,”be ready to give an answer” (1 Peter 3:15) regarding the name of your makeover artist!

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Stick to the Map!

The road was only one and half lanes wide. Winding slowly to the top, we came around a corner and the road turned to gravel and dirt. In tandem, Karen and I burst out laughing, so hard that we cried. We were definitely lost! Have you ever taken a few wrong turns, tried to get back on track and thought you were finally headed the right way? Karen and I were headed to a meeting in Chaska and had left with plenty of time to get there. Unfortunately, our map and my GPS had the road labeled differently than what it was. With one bad turn, came another and another. I even called someone and asked for directions that lead us to the wrong location. Just so you know, I don’t usually ask directions… I think I carry the ‘male don’t ask directions gene’. When I stopped and asked someone directions a second time, we finally found it. We made it to our meeting, very late, but all in one piece and we had an adventure along the way.

This adventure reminded me of how often I think I know the way in life and don’t consult God’s roadmap, the Bible. And other times, I consult the map but purposely take a wrong turn anyway because I think my way is better.

God Word is clear that we need to ‘trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not on [our] own understanding. In all [my] ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct [my] path’ (Prov 3:5,6). Many times, I say that I trust Him and then turn and do my own thing. As if I am telling Him, Yeah I trust you but my way is better or I want to do it my way now because I don’t want to wait around for when you way comes along. Ouch! Do I really do that? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

He also says that, He will ‘instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” Psalm 32:8. God is going to give us instruction in this life. Does that mean this life will be all peaches and cream as He counsels us? No. Not all lessons are easy to learn. Even Peter said that we may ‘suffer grief in all kinds of trials’ so that our faith will be proved genuine (1 Peter 1:6,7). God is looking to see if we mean what we say and truly TRUST HIM, whether our walk matches our talk.

I need to listen to what He tells me and accept it. He promises me if I do that, then I am wise (Prov 19:20). I need to consult his guidebook (map) and there many references in Scripture to this being a daily occurrence. When He gives me instruction about which way to go, I need to follow it instead of taking another path or listening to the advice of another person, who may not know the correct way. His road may be 1 ½ lanes wide, winding and rough like gravel, but is the RIGHT direction to go.

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Don’t Blink….Enjoy!

It seems like time has flown by.  In a little over a week, my baby will turn 20 years old and my oldest will be 22 just three weeks after that. It seems like it happened in a ‘blink’ ….my kids were babies and now I will no longer have teenagers but young adults. I remember once when the kids were little – possibly 3 and 1.  Dave must have been frustrated that day since little ones take a lot of your energy….he said, “ I cannot wait until they are teenagers!”  I told him, “Don’t say that. Let’s enjoy how old they are now because there is so much to enjoy now.”  Yes, there are challenging days when your kids are little, demanding your attention…but it is all worth it. They learn from you by watching how you love on them or even on your not so patient days. I loved it as the kids got older, don’t get me wrong. They were more independent. They could pick out their clothes, get dressed by themselves and entertain themselves. I actually preferred the older years and even into the teens which I attribute to my love and passion for youth aged kids. But early on, I realized how much they each grew in that first two years and that I needed to enjoy the new things they learned and celebrate those accomplishments with them. Did I have my frustrating days too? Certainly! There were days that I wanted to give up and declare that I was not fit to be a mother or a wife. But God was with me and helped me get through those tough
days. It seems like the last 22 years has happened in a blink.  “Blink”, a song by Revive is what has gotten me thinking about this topic lately.  I
love the chorus and the refrain after it towards the end of the song:

It happens in a blink

It happens in a flash

It happens in the time it took to look back

I try to hold on tight but there is no stopping time

What have I done with my life.

Slow down— before our day becomes our yesterday

Slow down —before you turn around and it’s too late.

Slow down.  Take an inventory of your days…don’t keep looking back…Remember don’t blink…enjoy the days you have with them each and every day!

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The blood trickled out of my arm, into the tube and down into the bag. Every 56 days or so, I attempt to give blood. I say attempt because my hemoglobin hasn’t always been what they need it to be. Ever since I increased my iron intake last year, I have been able to give every time. Sometimes Dave comes with me but since he does the apheresis machine (double red cells), he doesn’t go as often as I do. So why do we do it? Because giving blood saves lives….up to 3 lives per pint! In thinking about giving blood, it reminded me how similar it is to the shed blood of Jesus who gave us His life for me. Except for when he gave His blood, ALL of it, it was spilled for ALL of humanity, not just 3 lives. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”. John said in 1st John 1:7b that “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”. There is nothing we have done that can’t be washed away by His blood. Theses scriptures remind me of a favorite hymn of Rachel’s, ‘Nothing But the Blood of Jesus’. When she was in kindergarten, she went to a Christian school and they learned this hymn in her class. I remember how she’d sing the question in the first line, ‘What can wash away my sin?’ and then belt out the answer, “NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!” She’d continue that way through each verse and would loudly sing the repeating line, “NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!” It was so cute but if you’d ask this 6 year old what it meant, she’d tell you – Jesus died on a cross and His blood was the way to get clean again. Jesus’s blood saved lives then and still does today. Have you accepted the gift of His saving blood? He will wash away all those sins and leave you ‘white as snow’. Remember, you can give blood to help save lives here on earth but unless you accept the cleansing blood of Jesus, you will spend an eternity without being in the presence of God who loved you so much that He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ for you! (John 3:16). Accept Him today or share Him with a friend today!

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“…You and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses…. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Joshua 1:2-3, 5

These are the words the Lord said to Joshua as they were about to enter the Promised Land. Their leader had died and now the reigns were being transitioned to a new leader, with instructions regarding the transition and promises for a new future in the land flowing with milk and honey. These were also the words that the Campus Pastor at Huntington University read to us when we were sitting at the Dedication Ceremony on Kyle’s first college orientation day in Huntington, Indiana. He made comparisons to our situation that day to the situation the Israelites encountered. I will try to recap those similarities.

The Israelites were heading into new territory and would encounter many unknowns: Who are the people they will meet? How will they find food? Where will they live? Will they go to war over the land? Will their God be accepted by the locals? Finally, they were getting to a destination that they have looked forward to for over 40 years that they had heard from their relatives who toiled in Egypt and then wandered the desert for years. Like the Israelites, we are both heading into a new territory: Kyle is going to school in Indiana, three states away and we are now encountering an empty nest. Kyle will also have many new challenges that he will have to navigate without our assistance. Will he like his classes, professors and the school, in general? Who will he meet and become his friendship base? Will he get a roommate (since his roommate didn’t show up to orientation)? If he does get a roommate, will he like him and will they get along? Will the financial aid come through? How will he get back and forth to Indiana? In addition to these questions, it is an exciting time for Kyle. He is also entering territory that he has looked forward to since he decided to go to Huntington University.

The one verse, as a mother, that I find comfort in the Lord’s words to Joshua is this: “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Just as the Lord was with Joshua and the Israelites, so He will be with Kyle. I can rest in the comfort that my Lord is watching over Kyle, even if he is three states away! He will also be with us as we transition to having an empty nest.

Be comforted my friend…in whatever situation you are in, GOD is with you and HE will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!!

Originally written: 9/21/10

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Have you ever taken an inventory of your favorite things?  “My Favorite Things’, the Rodgers’ and Hammerstein song from ‘the Sound of Music’ lists many favorite things and thinking of them, you don’t feel so bad.  Village Creek Bible Camp (VCBC) is a favorite place that conjurs up these same feelings for me.  Nestled in the rolling hills and valleys of NE Iowa, it is beautiful landscape that you feel at home with.  Or maybe it is because this place has such a warm spot in my heart that is doesn’t matter whether it is rainy (like today), sunny, snowy or the beautiful colors of fall.  VCBC is where I grew up going to camp as a kid, worked as a college student, biking miles to raise money for, and spent hours as a camper worshipping my Lord and Savior.  This place is one of my ‘favorites’ and also precious to me.  It is precious because I can learn God’s Word and His love for me.  Psalm 19:9-11 says

“The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.  By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

At Village Creek Bible Camp, I can learn more about my Lord and His precious Word….it is finer than pure gold and even sweeter than honey.  It holds warnings…things in life that God knows are not good for me.  If I heed them, then I reap the rewards for not doing those things.  And, yes, there are commands (not suggestions…they aren’t called the “Ten Suggestions” you know!) that I need to follow for my life.  By being obedient to what He commands, I reap a great reward.  When I ponder my favorite things, I definitely list Village Creek Bible Camp as one of ‘my favorite things’!!!  How about you?

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