Category Archives: Christ-follower

Do I Look Like Wonder Woman?

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wonder womanA few weeks ago we had a staff retreat. The goal was to do team building exercises and planning for the next year. Since super heroes are popular again, the first ice breaker question was, “If you could have one super hero power what would it be?” I loved everyone’s answers and since I was last in the circle, I had plenty of time to think.

My power didn’t have a specific name but when I said it, everyone knew what I was talking about. I chose Wonder Woman’s ability to let bullets bounce off her metal wrist cuffs. And then I quickly added, “I would also love to have her lasso of truth.”

Someone asked me at lunch why I chose Wonder Woman powers. I openly answered, “Don’t you think itlasso of truth would be great if every time someone aimed something critical or ugly your way, you could simply cross your wrists and let it bounce off you?” As another person in fulltime ministry, my co-worker laughed and heartily agreed. I went on to explain that a lasso of truth would have been great when I was raising teenaged boys. I could wrap it around them and get all the honest details of where they had been and what they had done.

i can do all thingsOf course, each of us wish for this kind of power at some time in our lives. The good news is if we are Christ-followers, we can be Wonder Women because we already have supernatural power in our lives. We have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God Himself living inside us. So, when people hurl evil insults our way or when life throws something dangerous at us, we can remember the promises found in scripture. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

How will you use the supernatural power that you have this week? Will you use it to fight a verbal attack or will you use it to find Truth in a new way?

Don’t Miss the Signs

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tsa agentA friend of mine has several children and each year she takes one of them on a special trip with just her. This year it was her teenaged daughter’s turn and it was going to be her first plane trip. As they arrived at the airport, she used the time to teach her teenager the ins and outs of flying. She walked her through the check in process and everything was going well.

As they approached the security area, she explained in detail what to do. She told her daughter to watch her and do what she did and it would all go smoothly. They took off their shoes, jackets, and backpacks and placed them in the bins. Then, my friend went through the metal detector. No problem, no noise, no nothing. Right on her heels was her daughter, following her mother’s lead.

When the teenager tried to enter the machine, the TSA agent held up his hand to stop the daughter from entering the detector until high fiveher mother had cleared the scanner. Instead of stopping, she thought he was giving her a high-five. What did she do? She gave him a high-five back!

No kidding! She did! Did you know you aren’t supposed to touch a TSA agent? The gentleman proceeded to scold her, humiliating her in public.  Of course, my friend politely set him straight about her daughter misinterpreting his sign. It all ended well, but her daughter learned a valuable lesson that day. It’s important to interpret the signs correctly. 

haltSigns are a part of our everyday lives. They are everywhere. Even the Bible speaks of signs. In the Old Testament God used signs and wonders to reveal Himself to mankind. In Daniel 4:3, the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar finally interpreted what he saw correctly. He acknowledged the Most High God because he recognized God’s signs. Nebuchadnezzar declared, “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders!…”

Today, I say to you, “Halt! Open your eyes. Don’t miss the miraculous signs and wonders of the Lord.” They are everywhere and they are awesome. Join me in prayerfully giving God a “Holy High Five.” His wonderous signs deserve it.

Use What You Have

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About 5:30 on Friday afternoon, I realized I didn’t plan anything for dinner. That is usually solved by a take out pizza or a quick burger to go but we had that twice this week. I know, shame on me. Right? But there comes a time when a man use what you havewants a home cooked dinner instead of a cheap substitute. I had to quickly solve the problem of what to fix for supper? We have a garden this summer and the vegetables are being harvested a few at a time. I looked in the refrigerator and in the pantry and I took an inventory. There was plenty of food already in the house.  The question was how to use what I already had and turn it into something wonderful?  All the ingredients I found seemed like it would make an Italian or French dish. If Giada and Ina can cook, so can I. (by the way, the photos in this week’s blog I actually took myself, thanks Oklahoma Women Bloggers http://www.oklahomawomenbloggers.com/ for the blog tip)

I used eggplant, a small zucchini,  garlic, onion, peppers, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, a little Herb de Provence, salt, pepper, fresh basil, and dry white wine. I opened up a can of white Cannellini beans (if for no other reason than they sounded Italian) to add some protein. I put it all in the pot and let it simmer until it was a nice consistency. Voila´ratatouille! While it simmered, I made mushroom risotto for the side dish since I had all the ingredients on the shelf. Risotto is basically Arborio rice that is slowly cooked in white wine and broth, stirred constantly with the lid off. Once the rice is tender and creamy, you add parmesan cheese.

Voila!Mark was surprised when he walked in the back door. He smiled as he smelled the finished dishes and he was excited to sit down to a special meal. I was thrilled to be able to use what I already had to make healthy, satisfying food and to please my husband at the same time.

Our lives are a lot like dinner that night. We can look around and wonder what to do with ourselves while in reality, we have all the ingredients for something wonderful right before our eyes. 

Each of us has been given talents, personalities, the ability think, and the capacity for love.  If you are a Christ-follower you have more available in your pantry, additional spiritual ingredients like: fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the Bread of Life (John 6:32-35), new wine (Proverbs 3:10) and oil (Psalm 45:7). What an amazing list and that’s only the beginning!  We have the ingredients, we simply have to use what we have.

When will you take a personal inventory?  Look at your resources. What ingredients do you have that are not being used? How will you use what you have so you can experience a rich and satisfying life?

  

Hands Off Girl

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Danica PatrickI am coming out of the closet for the blog world so I can openly admit I am a huge NASCAR fan! I have kept it in long enough and it’s time to write about the life lessons one might learn on or at the race track. I grew up going to the Nashville Speedway as a child. Instilled in me at an early age is the love of fast cars, loud engines, the checkered flag, and cheering fans. My memories as child include the dirt track residue bouncing into the stands, bouncing off me and the other spectators.  I still remember my inside shaking when each car passed. I didn’t shake from fear but from the reverberation of the sheer horsepower and sounds that shook my little girl body. Whether I watch on television or go to the track, I still get goose bumps when those engines fire.

I feel better sharing that part of my life, now on to the first lesson. A few years ago a successful driver, Danica Patrick, left the INDY circuit to join a NASCAR team full-time. For the most part, NASCAR had been a male dominated sport.  The male commentators and drivers were a little skeptical and most had a few comments about her ability to compete at that level. Danica did well but many chalked it up to beginner’s luck or the fact that she joined a successful racing team.

 On race day, hand's off drivers are selected to have an onboard camera in their car during the race. Unfortunately, the day Danica had the camera in her car, she also had a serious wreck. The camera recorded the entire spin and crash. But it also revealed, she took both hands off the wheel when her car was out of control and in a full spin. It didn’t take long before she faced criticism for removing her hands. The media commented about how the female driver took her hands off, let go, and put her hands in front of her.

The press didn’t waste any time asking her why she let go of the wheel. She didn’t make any excuses but she did make the media look foolish when she explained her actions. As a former INDY driver, she had been trained to let go of the wheel when you start a spin that cannot be recovered. The experts tell the drivers to take their hands off and totally let go. This move keeps your wrists, hands, and lower arms safe. If your hands stay on to the steering wheel you can break bones, or at the very least pull a muscle or tear a tendon.  She didn’t let go because she lost control or because she was a weak girl, she let go because it was in her best interest to do so. As a professional driver there was a reason for what she did and guess what? Now many NASCAR drivers are taking their hands off when they are about to crash. That’s one of those times when I am very proud to be a female race fan! Go “Go Daddy Girl.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be trained to know when to hang on and when to take our hands off? I would love to be a professional, experienced enough at life, that when everything spins out of control, I would simply take my hands off, surrender to the situation, and let the Lord be in control of the outcome. Psalm 20:6, tells us we can trust the Lord to keep us in the race and that His hand is always on the wheel, “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” There is danger in keeping our hands in places that really belong to the Lord.

Where in your life are you hanging on to an out of control situation? Will you join the team and wear the “Hands Off Girl” racing uniform? I’m joining and you can know for sure, I’m going to paint Psalm 20:6 on my race car somewhere. See you on the track!

 

 

I’ll Take My Coffee With Cream

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coffee barI enjoy a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  I like mine with a splash of real half and half. I am definitely not a coffee snob who requires specialty blends, weird milk, or a certain expensive machine to brew it. My sweet husband spoils me by bringing my coffee to me each morning.  He quietly places it on the bedside table. Then he runs, because he knows I am grumpy until I have that first cup!

Occasionally, I meet a friend for coffee at one of the local coffee places in town. Each time I go, I am amazed by all the different orders. There is usually a long line to the counter and I have fun listening as each person orders their own concoction. They step up to the barista and spout their order quickly and with expertise. For example, one might say, “I’ll have a caramel mocha with almond milk and raw sugar, make it a tall.” When they receive their order the customer seems delighted.

 I am amazed at how they know exactly what to order. I am the lady in line who says, “What do you have?” The frustration is evident and the person behind the counter says something impatiently like, “Read the board lady.” I become fearful of making an order mistake so I simply say, “I’ll have a small cup of your regular coffee, please, if it’s not too much trouble.” Then the coffee experts standing nearby are shocked. They suck all the oxygen out the room because of the words I just uttered. I am amazed as they hand me an empty cup as they shoo me away and point out the lonely carafe of house blend in the corner. latte

The last time I left one of these places, I thought to myself. Wow, those people really know how to order their drinks. But later in the day, I thought about it more. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to order our lives like we know how to order our coffee? As Christ-followers we never need to fear making a mistake in the way we order our lives. Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.” The word “ordered” in this verse is complex but clearly defined in the Hebrew language. It means “established, to be steadfast, firm, to be ready and prepared.” Because the Lord orders our lives, we can be confident that He directs each step we take. Don’t be troubled as you try to order your life. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

Rainbow Shooters

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rainbowA couple of years ago a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult time. She had weathered numerous storms in her life but this time, there were several stressful things happening all at once. Trials with her health, difficulties with her children, and even family issues were taking a toll on her. She was suffering spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She said to preserve her sanity she had pulled away from a lot of relationships. This young woman who was always an outgoing, sanguine personality had to set distinct boundaries in her life in order to survive during this time.

As she poured out her heart to me, she explained the hurtful conversations she had with others when she tried to maintain relationships with her friends and family. Through her tears, she told me that being around people with seemingly perfect lives made her angry and sad. She said, as she was looking for hope and mercy just to survive each day, those people complained about everything. To make matters worse, she said they offered her meaningless advice and empty platitudes, to try to help. I asked her how that made her feel and I will never forget how she described those people. Her voice broke as she cried, “They are nothing but a bunch of rainbow shooters!” At that moment, I totally understood. 

Later I spent a lot of time pondering her description. I decided you could take the term “rainbow shooters” a couple of ways. Did she mean they offer a shot of something to make her feel better, like the “rainbow shooter” drinks that are served in a bar? Maybe a quick, “you will feel better soon” or “this too shall pass.” rainbow shot A small shot of mercy that might deaden her pain for a while.

Or did she mean, while she was looking to the Lord for hope and mercy (like the Biblical promise in the rainbow)  they took aim at her heart and shot down her rainbow? Were they shattering  the Lord’s promises which was all she had to hold onto during this time?

To this day, I am not sure what the meaning is but there is one thing I know for sure, I don’t want to be a “rainbow shooter” to my rainbow gunfriends and family. It is always hard to watch someone struggle in their lives as they face things beyond their control. But, I am learning to be slow to speak and quick to lavish others with my love and prayers.

God gave the rainbow in Genesis 9 as sign to Noah and to us, so we will remember God, His promises, His mercy, His hope and His everlasting covenant. Genesis 9:16, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” The question for us is this, will we point others to God’s promises or will we be “rainbow shooters?”

  

Scarred for Life

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bandaged ladyHave you ever seen anyone who has terrible scars due to illness, accident, or trauma?  I remember seeing a young woman on a talk show who was terribly disfigured because her father poured acid on her face and hands.  The burns healed but she would need numerous plastic surgeries. Through her tears, she said, “I’ll never be the same on the inside or outside.”

This courageous lady, broke down and cried when she talked about her life. She openly admitted that the hardest part was going out in public where others could see her scars.  She said people either gasp and stare, turn away shocked, or they approach her, ask questions, and offer her their compassion.

Not many of us escape this life without an event or trauma that leaves us changed forever. All of us are scarred in some way. For most of us, our scars are on the inside, not visible to others. I wonder what it would be like to go out into public where everyone’s internal scars are exposed? Imagine walking down the street and actually seeing the visible scars of mental abuse, failure, public sin, disappointment, loss, depression, and persecution.

How would we respond and react to one another if, we knew their scar filled story?  Would we stare and secretlyhands compare our wounds to theirs?  Would we be thankful that our hurts aren’t as bad as theirs? Would we turn away shocked to see someone so exposed and vulnerable? Or, would we take time to approach them, ask questions, and extend heartfelt compassion and care? 

I pray I would be like Jesus. He was an advocate for the down and out.  He came to the rescue of those with internal, as well as, external scars. He reached out to the demon possessed, those caught in adultery, and even prostitutes who sold their self-esteem and reputation for a bit of bread. Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that he has made.” May we follow the example of Jesus, the one who extended compassion with perfection.

Women of Iron

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woman lifting ironTuesday night I took a giant leap of faith and I attended a local writer‘s group called WordWeavers. Several months ago a friend told me about them but I couldn’t muster up the courage to go. I didn’t feel like much of a writer anymore. I wasn’t seeing  growth in the blog and it had been a year since I had posted anything.  About the time I was going to give up on my writing dream, I felt this gentle nudge. The nudge was soon followed by a strong desire and then the desire compelled me to act.  I emailed the friend who previously invited me. Guess what? That day was their regular monthly meeting. I don’t believe in coincidence but I do believe the Lord nudges us through His Holy Spirit‘s presence and His timing is always perfect.

As I prepared to leave for the meeting, I noticed I had butterflies in my stomach. These weren’t ordinary butterflies but those that flip, flop, and flutter. I didn’t need to be nervous. When I arrived, the members were friendly as they welcomed each new person.  The writer’s group has male and female members but on this night only women were present. The first thing I noticed about each author was her passion for her craft. These women were all ages and their writing styles were as diverse as their personalities.

After they took care of the evening’s business, the president led the group to a time of short story review. These stories were written by members of WordWeavers. As each author spoke, they offeredwoman with computer honest, constructive feedback and criticism. They exchanged ideas with civility instead of hostility. They encouraged instead of discouraged, they were building up instead of tearing down. I noticed the absence of pride, as those, whose work was critiqued; accepted each honest assessment with great humility and gratitude.

I sat quietly. I watched, listened, and learned. By spending time in the presence of these wonderful women, I became better, sharper, more focused, and definitely inspired to chase the dream that the Lord planted deep in my heart many years ago. I can’t wait to become friends with this group of gifted people. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Based on this verse, I quickly came to a conclusion. The women I met are “women of iron.” As iron sharpens iron, the “women of iron” will sharpen me with great  skill and their tools of the trade will be pen, paper, and a computer. I promise to keep you posted (weekly I hope).

Thank you Jesus for stirring my heart once again.  

 

Fill My Mouth With Worthwhile Stuff

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My friend Linda B. gave me this little prayer written on a 3×5 card. I have repeated it numerous times. “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I’ve said enough.” Amen

A few months after Linda gave me the prayer, my son was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when I realized Christians say the darndest things! When someone is facing the crisis of cancer, well-meaning Christians struggle to find something worthwhile to say and they always say way more than enough!

Last week a friend sent me a link to Jon Acuff’s blog, Stuff Christians Like  http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2012/06/what-not-to-say/  the title of the post is What Not to Say When Someone Has Cancer by Tracey Solomon.

With humor and honesty, Tracey painfully pinpointed the wrong things to say to a person when someone has cancer.  I personally heard the same remarks when my son was ill plus a hundred more of the  insensitive platitudes.

Proverbs 10:19 says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

You might ask, “What is the right thing to say?”  I am not sure there is a right thing to say. What gave me comfort during those hard times was when a friend simply said, “I love you, I am here for you, and I am praying.” Knowing that people were  using their lips to talk to Jesus about healing my son meant more than any words spoken to me.

Who in your life has received a cancer diagnosis?  How generous will you be in offering prayer on her behalf? What wise words will you speak  to bring encouragement to her life?

Heavenly Father, Fill our mouths with worthwhile stuff and nudge us when we’ve said enough. Amen

Crossing the Line

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Okay, I have never shared a pet peeve with my readers but there is a first time for everything! 

Here is the first pet peeve. I hate meeting cars head on and then notice that the driver is texting. How do I know a driver I am meeting head on is texting? Well, they cross the line right before they pass me and then they look up horrified (like a deer in the headlights) when they realize they are about to hit me head on! Then, they swerve and nearly side swipe the car next to them. That’s how I know!

It happens all the time.  My route to work everyday is also the main route to the local high school. This week, I actually saw a teenage driver crash into the back of a man’s car because she was looking down texting. The man did not slow down to turn or anything, she was so distracted that she hit him full speed without ever using her break. She was still holding her cell phone when she got out of the car to see if the man was okay. And guess what she did? She actually finished the text as she walked to the man’s car. No, I am not kidding!

I did a little research to find out that teenage drivers are ending up in more accidents than ever, the Department of Motor Vehicles blames the increase on cell phone usage while driving. Head-on collisions in some states have doubled due to texters crossing the center line.

Some states have passed laws against using a cell phone to talk or text while driving. They have added paved areas for drivers to park so they can talk or text while traveling on some of the major highways. The no texting laws are in a driver’s best interest. It is dangerous to text and drive, breaking this law could cost someone their life. 

I couldn’t help but think this lesson can apply to us as Christ-followers. As we go through our daily lives, living life in the fast lane, we get distracted with the ways of the world. God has given His Word to direct our actions. But it is easy for us to ignore or break  God’s laws or rules. We can easily get into the habit of disobeying God’s Word and pretty soon we cross that deadly  line of sin and disobedience.  If we are not careful our lives are destroyed.

Just like the civil law, God’s Word gives rules and laws for our protection. Deuteronomy 30:19-20, God is speaking to Israel but He is also speaking to us, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days,…”

What worldly things are distracting you? What from God’s Word are you ignoring? Where have you crossed the line? What steps will you take to start obeying God’s Word?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for protecting us when we are driven by disobedience and distracted by the world. Forgive us when we cross that dangerous line and put us back on the track of obedience and life. In Jesus Name, Amen