Thursday, April 27, 2006

Behold I am doing a new thing!

I’m writing this while sitting in front of a pot of bright yellow mums on my kitchen table. The sun is well on its way up for the day, and is illuminating a newly leafed Maple tree, so that the tree looks like it’s on fire. The world has come alive again. It is Spring in Michigan, and I am renewed and hopeful.

Mind you, if you had talked with me three months ago, I would have told you that I was getting dizzy from going around the mountain – round and round, repeating the same mistakes and getting discouraged from the results. Like so many other people, I had gotten trapped in the ruts that I had worn over the years and began buying into the thoughts of not being able to change my life. My life was good; I had no complaints. It just wasn’t the abundant life Jesus promised us (John 10:10).

Shortly after the beginning of the year, something shifted. I began to wonder, “what if I got out of the boat.” I was tired of the boat, tired of status quo. Jesus said, “if you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth and the truth will free you” (John 8:28, The Message). Freedom? That’s what I longed for…
…freedom from past mistakes
…freedom from the expectations of others
…freedom to know who I am, not through the eyes of others, but through the eyes of the One who knit me together in my mother’s womb
…freedom from financial constraints
…freedom from religious tradition to pursue an intimate relationship

You know what? That’s exactly what God wants for us too. We put ourselves in a box; He tells us to get out of the box. We put ourselves in chains of shame; He died that we might leave our shame behind. Christ has set us free to live a free life (Galatians 5:1).

So I find myself ready and beginning to bust out of this cocoon that I put myself in. The old is gone and God is doing a new thing, not just in my life but in His church and in His people.

One place that “new thing” is very evident to me is at Spread the Word, an online Christian book and (coming soon!) downloadable music store. After prayer and deliberation, we bought a store. I'm so excited because I found a ministry/family business that promotes freedom – freedom to grow in your faith, freedom to grow in your finances, freedom to grow professionally, freedom to build the body of Christ.

I know people are skeptical of “Christian businesses.” I was most skeptical. But after my husband and I listened to our first Overview call, I began to sense that this business was different. Every call at Spread the Word is opened in prayer…and not just a little “God bless the children” prayer, but a soul-seeking, we-want-to-glorify-You prayer. Amen! Furthermore, my sponsor – along with other leaders in the company - blew my socks off with willingness to share anything they had to give – knowledge, time, prayer, even leads. Now that’s refreshing!!

A big eye-opener for me was learning that while over 13 billion dollars were spent on Christian products last year, over 80% of that went to secular companies. I'm all about the covenience of shopping on the Internet, but I am also the queen of deals. I found I can get all my books 25% off, and I know the money is going back into the hands of Christian families and ministries.

Check this place out - yes, it's for real - if for no other reason than to be encouraged that God is doing GREAT things in the marketplace!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comfort

I was watching Oprah the other day, when she interviewed a couple of families that had lost children through tragic accidents. Both of these families had turned awful experiences into incredible testimonies to the lives of their children. In one of the families, the sister of the deceased (about age 12, if I remember correctly), raised $10,000 to help build an orphanage for children in Africa, in an area where the previous orphanage had burned down. The other family’s story was equally amazing. As it turned out, the families, although they had lost their children in completely different and unrelated ways, lived very close to each other, and therefore witnessed each other’s stories on the local news. Both families were inspired and encouraged by how each other turned tragedy into triumph.

While I don’t know if either of these families believe in God, I do know God has made provision for these events in our lives. It’s a universal principle.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more than the good times of his healing comfort – we get full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians, The Message)

If you have ever received comfort from those who have not experienced your hurt, you know the power of encouragement from those who have stood where you now stand. If you have ever offered empty words of comfort from a well-meaning heart, and felt your words drop on the ground, you understand the feeling of helplessness in encouraging someone who is experiencing something about which your heart knows little. More often than not the exchange leaves both parties feeling decidedly undernourished.

Perhaps this is why I am so encouraged by this passage today. God has made provision in the Body of Christ – His Church – for hurting people. While people question why God would allow someone to o through such a terrible ordeal, people also need to know that God has made abundant provision within that time of trial to minister to a person with His own hand and heart…Then He sends others who have been in our place, to minister effective words to us… Then He allows us the privilege of ministering effective and life-giving words to others that are coming into the place where we have already been.

God is Big-Picture. Most of the time, we only see our little corner of the puzzle and therefore can easily get discouraged and overwhelmed with what life throws at us. But God in His great wisdom has provided so much more for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worded into something good (Romans 8:28, The Message).

Father, I pray for those who are in the middle of the valley today. Help these people recognize that You are their comfort in this time. Let them see with their eyes and experience with their hearts your grace and mercy generously poured out. Draw them near to You in an intimate way. Give them hope today for the future and give them vision for healing and triumph.

Monday, April 24, 2006

From Tragedy to Triumph

I was watching Oprah the other day, when she interviewed a couple of families that had lost children through tragic accidents. Both of these families had turned awful experiences into incredible testimonies to the lives of their children. In one of the families, the sister of the deceased (about age 12, if I remember correctly), raised $10,000 to help build an orphanage for children in Africa, in an area where the previous orphanage had burned down. The other family’s story was equally amazing. As it turned out, the families, although they had lost their children in completely different and unrelated ways, lived very close to each other, and therefore witnessed each other’s stories on the local news. Both families were inspired and encouraged by how each other turned tragedy into triumph.

While I don’t know if either of these families believe in God, I do know God has made provision for these events in our lives. It’s a universal principle.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more than the good times of his healing comfort – we get full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians, The Message)

If you have ever received comfort from those who have not experienced your hurt, you know the power of encouragement from those who have stood where you now stand. If you have ever offered empty words of comfort from a well-meaning heart, and felt your words drop on the ground, you understand the feeling of helplessness in encouraging someone who is experiencing something about which your heart knows little. More often than not the exchange leaves both parties feeling decidedly undernourished.

Perhaps this is why I am so encouraged by this passage today. God has made provision in the Body of Christ – His Church – for hurting people. While people question why God would allow someone to o through such a terrible ordeal, people also need to know that God has made abundant provision within that time of trial to minister to a person with His own hand and heart…Then He sends others who have been in our place, to minister effective words to us… Then He allows us the privilege of ministering effective and life-giving words to others that are coming into the place where we have already been.

God is Big-Picture. Most of the time, we only see our little corner of the puzzle and therefore can easily get discouraged and overwhelmed with what life throws at us. But God in His great wisdom has provided so much more for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worded into something good (Romans 8:28, The Message).

Father, I pray for those who are in the middle of the valley today. Help these people recognize that You are their comfort in this time. Let them see with their eyes and experience with their hearts your grace and mercy generously poured out. Draw them near to You in an intimate way. Give them hope today for the future and give them vision for healing and triumph.

Trumping Tragedy

I was watching Oprah the other day when she interviewed a couple of families that had lost children in tragic accidents. Both of these families had turned awful experiences into incredible testimonies to the lives of their children. In one of the families, the sister of the deceased (about age 12, if I remember correctly), raised $10,000 to help build an orphanage for children in Africa, in an area where the previous orphanage had burned down. The other family’s story was equally as amazing. As it turned out, the families, although they had lost their children in completely different and unrelated ways, lived very close to each other, and therefore witnessed each other’s stories on the local news. Both families were inspired and encouraged by how the other family had trumped their tragedy.

While I don’t know if either of these families believe in God, I do know God has made provision for these events in our lives. It’s a universal principle.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more than the good times of his healing comfort – we get full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians, The Message)

If you have ever received comfort from those who had not experienced your hurt, you know the power of encouragement from those who have stood where you now stand. If you have ever offered empty words of comfort from a well-meaning heart, and felt your words drop on the ground, you understand the feeling of helplessness in encouraging someone who is experiencing something about which your heart knows little. More often than not, the exchange leaves both parties feeling decidedly undernourished.

Perhaps this is why I am so encouraged by this passage today. God has made provision in the Body of Christ – His Church – for hurting people. While people question why God would allow someone to go through such a terrible ordeal, people also need to know that God has made abundant provision within that time of trial to minister to a person with His own hand and heart...Then He sends others who have been in our place, to minister effective words to us....Then He allows us the privilege of ministering effective and life-giving words to others that are coming into the place where we have already been.

God is Big-Picture. Most of the time, we only see our little corner of the puzzle and therefore can easily get discouraged and overwhelmed with what life throws at us. But God in His great wisdom has provided so much more for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worded into something good (Romans 8:28, The Message).

I pray that you would be encouraged by God's own Hand and Word today if you are in the middle of valley. I pray that you would know His grace and mercy, and in turn, be willing and able to offer the hope you have received to others.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A deer in the headlights

I am like a deer in the headlights lately. Except, I know I'm in a better position than the deer is in. We started a company Thursday, and I am completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of it (in a good way, I must add). That being said, I'm a little off-step, and a little dry in the writing department. Funny, I always give the guys a hard time because they don't mult-task effectively. I'm straight up in their single focus world!

I simply wanted to send out a blessing to each one reading this. I pray that you will make the world a little brighter today; that you will make someone's load a little lighter. And, most of all, I pray you will be blessed doubly in return.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Corruption, by Mike

Mike wrote this poem this week...future English major? Anyway, he said I could post it. I told him, consider yourself published!

Corruption
In the world these days, you are not you you say you are.
They made you an enemy, taking something so beautiful,
only to destroy the perfect image God created.
They feed our minds confusion,
by sweetening the taste with pollution that makes us imperfect.
Some people call us brothers, maybe they could set me
free, these people hate each other.
But God has always been there for me.
I refuse to be like you, without life caving in,
I surrender, giving all that is within.
In this on coming world of confusion and destruction,
what is left to do?
How can a person hold on to what they believe,
when there is so much debating and corruption
in other people's lives?
Living in this world of pain, don't let it bring you down.
I believe that those on earth believe in love.
And I believe that you and I will overcome.
Our time has come, we lay and wait, don't hesistate,
when opportunity knocks, break the locks and rush the gates.
Never give up, because it will only lead to
the path of destruction and despair.
Trust in the One that created you,
He will set things straight and start repairs.
-Mike, April 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Adoption

The goodness of God is overwhelming me today. We received an announcement from a soon-to-be official family member Karen, that Amanda (Mike's sister) will be legally, formally and finally adopted on May 9. Amanda, who turned 13 in March, and is one of the most beautiful girls that I know. Under the umbrella of Karen's love, she has grown and blossomed, is healing and becoming a really neat young woman.

It is a miracle.

Adoption is an amazing miracle, in that God takes strangers, wraps their hands together and calls them family. Sometimes, especially when adopting an older child, it feels more like two worlds colliding! The family may not be a mixture of complex genetic material, but instead they become grafted into one another. Either way, they spell family.

So not only am I overwhelmed with God's goodness in providing the perfect home for Amanda, but I also am overwhelmed (in a good way) with how crazy our family tree is beginning to look! I'm not sure what this "makes" Karen and Amanda to us, but I do know in my heart they are family. Perhaps it is time to scrap the family tree concept and proceed with a family vine….Lots of room to graft in branches…Lots of room for grapes!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Beloved

Throughout my readings of the Gospel of John, I have always been troubled by John referring to himself as the "disciple whom Jesus loved." Actually, more than troubled - I thought John was being downright hoity-toity. Mistakenly, I have interpreted that phrase to mean that John thought Jesus loved him more or better than He loved the other disciples. I was wrong.

John simply described himself in that way because he had had such an awesome revelation of God's love for him. As a matter of fact, Jesus' love was the single most important thing to him; John defined himself by God's love for him. Boy, if we could wrap our minds around that! If we could define ourselves and see ourselves how God sees us, instead of how our neighbor sees us, or how we see ourselves. God is much more graceful than we are.

God says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).

God says that you have stolen his heart with one glance of your eyes (Song of Songs 4:9).

God says that He loved you so much that came into the world, not to condemn but to save (John 3:16, 17).

John had it all right. It wasn't just knowing God, it was being known by God (Galatians 4:9). It wasn't just the miracles that Jesus did: It was all about the Love He gave. John knew what we still can know today - that the powerful Divine Love still can rock our world.