Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gimme Your Eyes

Not long I came across a line in one of Rick Steve’s travel guides that has caused me to think hard about my place in this world. If you watch much public TV, you know Rick…he’s the guy that does all of the European Travel shows. How do you get that job???

Anyway, Rick was talking about how to best tour a new land and his advice was to enjoy the country more like a local than a tourist. He recommends getting out of the really touristy areas to experience how people actually live. Rick believes that travel can make you a happier American and citizen of the world, because it brings to our attention that we are just one of the nearly 6 billion equally important people who live on the planet.

Whoa…how’s that for perspective? I am one of 6 billion equally important people. Remember, I am an only child, so this is a very hard pill to swallow. But, Rick is right. While it is true that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God knows the number of hairs on my head, it’s also true that he knows and loves hundreds of millions of other people just as intimately.

So either I am far less important than I’d like to think, or everyone else is far more important. I believe it’s the latter. Jesus confirmed this when he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. To love someone else as yourself means you accept them as equally important.

I encourage you to join me in taking some time today think about your perspective about the importance of others. Ask God to help you to see others through His eyes, each person as an equally important individual created and called by the King.

Fluent in Faith

Thanks to my 7th Grade Spanish teacher and 3 trips to Guatemala, I’ve picked up a little Spanish. On my most recent trip, I found I had picked up just enough Spanish to almost engage in a conversation with someone, but then had nowhere to go because of the language barrier. It was SO FRUSTRATING!!! I’m a talker, I majored in Communication and talking is what I do for a living. So, for me, only being able to have shallow chats with people and not having the words to go deeper was really stifling. Fortunately, the Guatemalans I found myself in this position with were very gracious. They seemed to appreciate that I was at least trying to speak their language, even though my heart to communicate far exceeded my ability.

I sometimes feel the same way when I get into conversations with people about my faith. I know enough about what I believe and the Bible to start a conversation with people, but once we go deeper, I sometimes struggle to find the words to articulate why I believe what I believe. Has this ever happened to you? There are a plethora of books and websites that can help you find the words you need to have conversations about your faith. Josh McDowell’s website, is a good place to start. New Christians and long-time Christ followers alike could probably all benefit from a lesson in apologetics.

On the other hand, I have met many Christians who are extremely well educated in theology, doctrine and the Bible, but seem to lack the compassion and love in necessary to communicate that knowledge in a way that others are receptive to. In 1Corinthians 13 Paul emphasizes the importance of love in our communication with others, saying, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Paul reiterates the point that the language of our faith is a language of love. We can have the words and the ability, but it is love that allows the message to penetrate other’s hearts.

Butterflies & Moths

On a recent trip to Guatemala, I developed a new appreciation for moths. This happened as an unintended consequence of my roommates and I leaving the bathroom light on at night. Each morning, the room was inhabited by a new collection of these winged insects. They came in an enormous variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes.

Moths really are amazing creatures, but they’re the Rodney Dangerfield of the insect world…they get no respect! Instead, their first cousin, the butterfly, gets all the notoriety. Even though there are moths that rival the beauty of any butterfly, you never hear of anyone releasing moths at their wedding. There’s a butterfly farm in Greensboro where you can go see butterflies in various stages of development from caterpillar to chrysalis to adult butterfly. You can even feed the butterflies there and have them land on your hand. You’d never find a similar attraction for the lowly moth. Many little girls have rooms decorated from top to bottom with butterflies. A moth found in a little girl’s room will most likely get swatted.

Just as we may value the butterfly more than the moth, even though they are basically the same insect, we also tend to value some people more than others. Can you think of the butterflies and moths in your life? Are there certain people or groups of people that you value and respect more than others? Is that perspective in line with the example given to us by Jesus?

Remember, when Jesus walked the earth, he spent his time ministering to the people that could be classified as the “moths” of society. He spent his time loving and sharing the good news with prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen and thieves. He avoided the people who enjoyed an undeserved place of prestige in society. He also calls us as His followers to the same standard, challenging our value system by reminding us that when we serve the “least of these” we serve Him.

Are You a Fruity Christian?

For me, nothing beats a ‘mater sammich in the summer time. In my book, the perfect recipe for this dog-day delight includes a big, juicy home grown tomato, Hellman’s Mayo, a slice of American Cheese and a couple of pieces of Wonder Bread. The tomato must be home grown. The best ones are still warm from the summer sun.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever successfully grow any tomatoes at my own home. Alton and I have tried year after year with no success. This year, I even let him put the scruffy looking plants in our front yard, the only location that gets the kind of full sun that tomatoes require. We’ve been so faithful about watering and feeding the plants. I was excited when I saw lots of buds and then little green tomatoes starting to develop, thinking our dedication was finally paying off. However, it appears that some kind of critter, maybe a bunny or a chipmunk, is getting to the nearly-ripened ones before we can. It’s so frustrating!

I can kind of understand how Jesus must have felt in Matthew when he was hungry and was hoping to snag a snack off a fig tree, only to find the tree bore no fruit. I’m guessing Jesus was more that a tad irritated when he said to the tree, “May you never bear fruit again!" causing the tree to immediately wither.

I think there’s a lot more meaning to this story than a hungry Jesus and a barren fruit tree. As Christians, we are meant to bear fruit. While bearing fruit is not a requirement for our salvation, it is an outward sign of the Holy Spirit that now dwells within us. In Matthew 7, when Jesus is teaching the disciples how to identify real from false prophets, he said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”

Jesus hungers for fruit in our lives. He longs to see us allow the Holy Spirit to take over our hearts and minds enabling us to do great things for the glory of God. Ask yourself this question, if you were a fig tree like the one mentioned in the Gospels, would Jesus easily find fruit among your leaves? If you’re a little embarrassed by your bare branches, ask God for help. Ask Him to help you weed out the things that might be stunting your growth and to direct you down paths that lead to fruitfulness.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Meeting Jesus

My daughter Carley and I are leaving this Friday for a week in Guatemala to serve on a Caroline’s Promise mission team. I am super excited to share this experience with her! There are lots of great reasons to bring your child on a mission trip: they get to experience other cultures, they’ll hopefully gain a new appreciation of their own life, they will learn how to be more flexible, not to mention the incredible opportunity you’ll have to bond with your child while on your adventure. But the best reason I can think of to take your child on a mission trip (as soon as they’re mature enough), is that by doing so, you are giving him or her a chance to meet Jesus in person.
In Matthew 25 (35 & 40), Jesus tells his disciples, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me”...”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Let’s be intentional about providing our children with opportunities to encounter Jesus among the least of these. You don’t have to travel internationally to do it, there are plenty of opportunities right here in our community! Just pray about where God would like you to serve and I promise, opportunities will present themselves.
What are your suggestions about places to serve Christ with your kids? Please, share them with me by email,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From Heir to Eternity

Did you hear about the homeless guy from Utah who recently found out that his wealthy brother had passed away and left him a huge inheritance? For several months, this man walked around with no home, pushing all of his possessions around in a shopping cart without knowing his true worth. How many people spend their whole lives walking around poor in spirit because they do not know about the inheritance that awaits them? Through Jesus, we all are entitled to the spiritual riches bequeathed to us as children of the King. Yet, not everyone lives in this truth. Some are still clinging to the ratty things that this world has to offer.

Instead, let’s choose to live in this truth found in 1 Peter (1:3-5)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thrill Ride

I’ll never forget the first time my husband took our, then, young son Andrew on a real roller coaster. It was about 2.5 seconds into that ride when my husband had the panic attack. It wasn’t because the ride scared him…but when he looked over at our young son, Alton began to wonder if Andrew was really big enough for the ride. Was he actually secured in his harness? Could he fall out? By the time the ride was over, my poor husband was so weak in the knees that he had to sit down for a few minutes just to compose himself.

Andrew, on the other hand was ready to do it again. And, once he realized that he and his son were safe and that he could trust the harness system on the ride, Alton was ready to ride again, too.
Like a roller coaster, life can be crazy, filled with ups, downs and moments of anticipation, acceleration and exhilaration. Fortunately, we’ve been given a safety harness to help us stay calm, even when life isn’t. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus offers this invitation, “Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lavish Them With Love!

My dad was pretty typical of the men of his generation. He was not very open about his feelings and emotions. I knew he loved me, but somewhere in the back of my mind I always questioned if he liked me. At my father’s funeral I was shocked as co-worker after co-worker shared with me that my Dad regularly talked about me at his workplace. They said he was so proud of me. I was shocked! I really had no idea that he felt that way.
Dads, please don’t let this be your story. There is an ever-growing body of evidence that shows that a close relationship with ones father is a predictor of future success in life. And, I’ve spoken to many people, women in particular, who did not have a close relationship with their father and now struggle to understand their relationship with their heavenly father.

Time is fleeting. Don’t assume that your kids know you love them and are proud of them. Take time to lavish love and praise on your children every day…starting today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Than I Can Handle

1 Corinthians 10:13 may be one of the most misquoted verses in scripture. I’ve heard it and also said it like this, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”.  But the verse actually says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

When we mistakenly say that God won’t give us more than we can handle, we create an image of a deity who sits in heaven meting out misery, stopping just before we hit our breaking point. Do we really believe that’s the kind of God we serve?

Isn’t it far more in line with God’s character to believe that we suffer trials because we live in a fallen world? And, because he is our Father God, who loves us and provides for us, he offers us his strength and his power to help us cope with these tough times. Instead of not giving us more than we can handle, he actually gives us the strength we need to handle the difficulties that go along with living in a fallen world. We can call on him to give us strength to endure.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Forgiveness, Grace and Mercy

I’ve been struggling lately with an unforgiving spirit towards someone. I’ve committed the issue to prayer and asked the Lord to help me work this out. And, while I long for a more forgiving spirit, when I compare my heart to God’s I realize how totally inadequate my ways truly are. How can I ever come even close to offering the kind of grace God freely gives each of us? Here’s what it says in the Psalms (103:6-18 MSG)

God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he's rich in love.
He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
Men and women don't live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God's love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

Let’s take time to thank God today for the mercy and grace that he continues to show us. Let’s also ask Him to grow in us a spirit of forgiveness so we can be a better reflection of his love in this world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I just returned from a long weekend at the beach with a friend.  This is something I haven’t done in ages, and it was so refreshing to be responsible for no one other than myself for a few days!    I did feel a little guilty taking off for the weekend and leaving my hubby and kids home to fend for themselves, especially when I found out that my youngest daughter started running a fever just a few hours after I left.  But, the truth is, I have come back a better mother and a better wife after having a few days to recuperate.  And, everyone on the home front survived and I think my husband has a new appreciation of what I do every day.

We all need a break sometimes and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Jesus modeled this for us by regularly taking time away from everything to rest and have time alone with the Father.  The Lord modeled rest on the seventh day of creation.  

Taking time to rest is not selfish, in fact it is one of the best things you can do to be a better servant!  Think of the instructions a flight attendant gives on a plane about the oxygen masks.  We’re told to put the masks on ourselves first and then on any children we are travelling with.  This is because if we don’t give ourselves the oxygen first, we may pass out before we can give it to our children.  Taking care of ourselves first does not come naturally, but it is necessary. Schedule some rest for yourself today.

Mountain Climbing

I’ve never had an actual near death experience, but I came close once on a hike with my family up Hanging Rock.  I didn’t realize how tough the steep, 3 mile hike was going to be and there were several points on the hike that I really didn’t think I would make it.

My struggle to climb that mountain is a good reminder of what happens when we haven’t been conditioning our spiritual muscles and we come up against a difficult situation in our lives.  When molehills begin to feel like mountains it doesn’t take long for me to realize that I haven’t been spending enough time with God.

In the fourth chapter of 1st Timothy, Paul writes a lot about the importance of spiritual conditioning, saying: “ For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”

Let’s pray today that God will help us find the time and motivation to spend time daily with Him so that our spiritual muscles will be in good enough shape to handle whatever challenges come our way.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sister Marta

On one of my trips to Guatemala, I met a precious lady named Marta and her adorable little girl, Claudia. Marta, like many single mothers in Guatemala, lives well below the poverty line. Her home, which she rents from her brother, is really just a one-room shack with a dirt floor, leaky roof and no toilet. If she needs to use the bathroom, she can use her brother’s, as long as she PAYS him! Her brother treats her very badly. He claims that he is angry with her for having a baby outside of marriage. He’s taken it upon himself to judge and punish her for her sins.

I can’t help but be angry with her brother. There is so much he could do for her to help her out…fix up the house, offer her some food, install a toilet, or at least let her use his for free. But this supposedly “very religious” man looks with disdain upon his sister and refuses to give her and her child any help at all. So, she continues to struggle every day just to survive.

But, in a lot of ways, I am just like Marta’s brother. When I see people going through a hard time, I often find myself looking for what it was that they did to bring on their problems. Maybe if I can figure out where they are at fault then I am somehow relieved of the obligation to get involved, because, after all, they brought it on themselves.

I’m not sure Jesus is too thrilled with this judgmental and self righteous line of thinking. I can’t think of one scripture where Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give water to the thirsty UNLESS they are sinners who created their own misery. Actually, it was exactly these kinds of people whom Jesus seemed to spend the most time with! Take a few minutes to read John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered at the well. Here was a woman who had been married 5 times and was currently involved in an illicit relationship with a man who she was not married to. Yet, without ignoring her sin, Jesus still showed her love, treated her with kindness and offered her a sip of His living water.

Let’s pray today for hearts that are filled with grace and that a judgmental spirit never gets in the way of our compassion.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Month of Sundays

Friends, I am so happy that this day has finally come!  You see, for several years I have been trying to compile a collection of some of my "Moment for Mom" devotions into a book.  Since I have been working on this whenever I could find a few spare hours, and since spare time is something that is almost non-existent for me, this has taken much longer than I expected!   

The book, "A Month of Sundays: 30 Days of Reflection and Inspiration" is finally a reality.  Praise God!  It is a collection of some of my favorite "Moment for Mom" devotions, thirty of them to be exact.   In addition to the devotional that you'd normally read here on the blog or hear on WBFJ, the book also includes a special prayer and some thought provoking questions to go along with each devotion.  I also have included several journal pages where you can add your own thoughts, prayers and reflections.  I hope that you will find each day's devotion to be like a mini-sermon, giving you something to think about and deepen your relationship with God.

The interesting thing is that, even though I did not select the devotions for this collection with any theme in mind, one has definitely emerged.  Many of the devotions in this book, although each unique in its own right, seem to center around staying faithful, focused and encouraged, even during life's difficulties.  I don't believe it to be a coincidence that this is the theme that has emerged.  Even though these devotionals were written over the past five years or so, the past year has been a very difficult one for me.  So, I believe that God is pointing out to me that he was preparing me for the trials I would face in my life far in advance, by
giving me these words long before I would fully understand their meaning.

I am selling the books for $18.00 each (+ $2.00 shipping/handling for online orders). Currently, the profit is going towards offsetting the high cost of printing.  As soon as that is covered, my intention is to use the proceeds of the book towards mission trip expenses and other charitable causes.  

You can order a copy right here.  Simply click the button below and you'll be directed to Paypal where you can securely complete your transaction using any major credit/debit card or your Paypal account.  You do not need to have a Paypal account...simply choose to complete your transaction as a guest when you get the Paypal website.  Your order will ship via USPS within 48 hours of reciept of payment.  Thank You!

"A Month of Sundays" Cover
A Peek Inside

Table of Contents