Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bicycling From Behind

My family and I have taken to going on bicycling rides around our neighborhood when we can. It’s good family exercise and we’ve been enjoying it. However it can be a challenge to do this with my youngest. She’ll be 6 soon, and sometimes she still has problems riding up on the sidewalk or watching for cars. What usually happens is I usually lead and my husband usually rides at the end so that he can watch out for her. Often, I don’t even realize they’ve stopped until I’ve turned around. She’s stuck in the grass, her wheels have turned, and she wasn’t going fast enough over the bump in the sidewalk. Dan’s already there helping her, and I’ll stop and we’ll all wait until we can get moving again. Sometimes it turns into a cheering season where we all start chanting “GO! Go! Go! You can do it!“ Stopping like this can get a little frustrating, but our youngest needs the help.

I was thinking about this as we were out riding the other day, and how it relates to the church. Ideally like a family when the new believers come into the church we should treat them the same way. If their struggling in an area we should all encourage them. We shouldn‘t be so caught up in ourselves that when we see them struggling we just leave them out on a busy street. It would be horrible for us to do this to our youngest daughter, but yet why do we do this so often to people in the church. We have so lost the idea that the church is a team or family, and therefore needs to start acting like it.

I suppose this topic is one of my soapboxes and if you‘ve read my book you know this by now. But watching my daughter who needed help from a grownup reminded me we can‘t live our lives so busily caught up in ourselves. But we must remember those around us.

1 Corinthians 12:25-26 “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

I realize this concept is lacking in the body of Christ, but God’s design is that we would *gasp* really love each other. His design is that we would help each other. His design is if someone is struggling on the side of the road we don’t just leave them there. Ease is never an excuse for not doing God’s will. It may be easier to keep on going, but it’s not what God would want. God has awesome plans for your life. He has awesome plans for theirs. Get excited!

Monday, March 26, 2012

At The Books-A-Million

After the drama of having my radio interview reschedule on me last week. (The interview/book signing is on April 13th now), I had my first Books-A-Million book signing for my book. (I’ve done them before with another project but this was the first one for this book)

Going into a secular bookstore for this book, I knew would be an interesting adventure. But armed in prayer, I was up for the challenge. It went really well. There was one gentleman who bought my book that didn’t say much to me when he did. Because he was waiting for the rest of his party to be done in the store, I hadn’t known he had gone back to the store to read it. About an hour later he came up to me to thank me for writing it. He was Catholic, and the mentions of the body of Christ coming together and loving each other really blessed him. There was a set of pastors from South Florida that randomly stopped by. It ended in a delightful conversation, and I hope to hear from them again. I had another woman who walked right up to me and after talking to me she said, “I know I’m supposed to be in church again…but I got offended…and…” to which I responded, “I understand” and since I was in a store not far from my home church I gave her a card to visit our church. She happily bought a book. Sadly I had a girl of 12 come up to me and tell me she only reads books about witchcraft. While I’m not sure I was able to plant a seed in her life, I was able to talk to her a bit, and I can only pray for her now. As much as I know I technically go into book stores to sell my own book, what I did in the middle of the Books-A-Million on Saturday was much more than selling books to me. I was getting the chance to minister in the middle of a secular bookstore. Between the “Hunger Games” books and “Dr. Seuss” I was being a missionary in fields and stacks of books.

Sometimes people can hold a misguided attitude that the scripture

Matthew 28:19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

….is only for those who are missionaries or pastors. Yes, I am in ministry. But really if we accept the fact that Jesus told us all to go and make disciples…then we all are in ministry. So I encourage you wherever you are today, whether it be in the grocery store, the mall, or even in a book store….be open to share your faith if/when you feel the door to do so opens. I am not suggesting you get on a chair in the middle of Wal-Mart and start preaching. But I am suggesting that you be a light wherever you go to the world around you. Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

****So as I find myself officially in this book tour with several more Books-A-Million’s on my schedule, I ask that you all keep me in prayer for divine appointments at these signings, and please keep spreading the word about the book. We are believing for miracles! ****

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Just wrote an article about my book!

Check it out!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes You Have to Make a U turn!

Yesterday was a very long day. A few days ago, I thought it was a great idea to get all the boxes of books and take them from the garage to the house myself, and managed to twist my back. I had not been sleeping well because my brain sometimes needs to be reminded it is time to rest and my back hurt so bad. Then yesterday morning we had the kick off of my ‘Southern Book Tour’ at Freedom Life Church (which went well! Thanks to everyone). Then right after that we had plans to drive to a resort in the touristy district because some extended relatives of my husband were in town. It was very nice of them to cook us an Italian dinner. In theory we knew we’d be running a tad behind in time. But we’d get there to the hotel eventually. However Dan and I took a very quick look at the map and assumed that when we reached a main road we’d turn right when we were supposed to turn left. We traveled down International Drive for the longest time. The Florida sun is already starting to think it’s summer. There was some cheerleading/dance competition going on so between that and spring breakers we were stuck on I Drive for what seemed like FOREVER! We kept thinking we’d eventually hit the right hotel. So we kept driving. It was hot, we were all tired, the traffic was horrible, and I was trying to figure out how to use our new phone to see a map. Finally we realized that we’d gone the wrong way, and we weren’t a little late as we thought we would be originally. We were an hour and a half late. I hate being late for anything. Eventually everything worked out though. The meal was beautiful, and seeing family for us is like wetting a dry sponge. We had an enjoyable evening.

It’s funny in life we do these kinds of things all the time. We can be so convinced we’re going in the right direction only to find out we were wrong and we have to go the other way. I can remember seeing a T-shirt once I always loved that said, “God always allow’s U-turns”.

As many of you have read before one of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Yes, the fact we got lost, stuck in traffic, were too hot, or and I failed to mention our gas tank was almost on E, was irritating. But the good thing is, is that we got back on track and didn’t let that 1 hour detour destroy our evening.

If you find that you’ve been traveling the wrong way, it’s an easy solution, turn to the direction God has for you. Don’t mourn the lost time, just turn around and it’ll all work out. I’ve heard of many people say well I’ve spend so long going down this path if I turn around now, it’ll all be wasted time. Well no, God can turn anything into use for His kingdom. Our miss turn down I -drive wasn’t wasted time. I know now that the hotel we wanted was the other direction, and we saw parts of I Drive I haven’t seen in years. :-) Time is only wasted when you refuse to give it to God.

God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Confessions of a Spiritual Drama Queen

Yesterday I’ll admit to having a few moments. The book releases a week from yesterday. I have felt like such a ball of emotions, and let me just say that not being run or controlled by my emotions is something I work on. I call myself an artist with words. My background is in the theatre. Most of the time artsy people can be a bit dramatic. I can hold my own in this area. However in the realm of the spiritual being a drama queen can have a downside. Often God will have you in situations where you can’t be run on your emotions. The life of a power-packed spirit-filled believer is often a life of trusting what you can’t see. Thus, I confess I’m working on it. Not that emotions are bad in anyway, but being controlled by them is. It makes God excited to make what looks to be the impossible become possible.

I kept hearing the scripture, Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” In fact I even tweeted and changed my Facebook status commenting that sometimes being still and trusting in God takes just as much faith as mighty exploits because you have to be at peace and wait on God.

So was I still and knew that he was God….ummm well I had a few moments. Then made a phone call to try to get an event set up, to find out my book wasn’t in this major book sellers system yet, and from then it kind of was a downward spiral. It ended with an apology to a precious woman of God for my freak out moment because well technically my book doesn’t release till next week, and it will be in their system soon. Hmmm somehow it doesn’t sound like I was STILL for very long. My freak out moment was a tad embarrassing.
Then my sister called me out of the blue. She told me about an Amish store she frequents that as she was walking through it saw this scripture painted on a wall hanging, and how she really felt the Lord was speaking to her through this scripture.

“Really?” I asked. “What scripture?”

“Oh,” she responded. “That one in Psalms…’be still and know that I am God.”

God has such a sense of humor. I knew that scripture was for me too. So maybe I needed to have put my dramatic theatrical emotionless aside and DO what He’s saying. Being still isn’t easy for me. I’m a bit of a bulldozer by nature and sometimes I can hear my engines wanting to rev up. Being still doesn’t mean I stop doing everything I have to do, but it means I rest in His ability and not my own.

Recently I was reading in the Bible the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. It’s found in John 11. Before all of that go down the Bible mentions that there are some people after Jesus in the disciples in the area and Thomas pipes up saying something along the line of, “What we’re going to go back there to all be killed?” I can only imagine there was a ‘freak out’ moment in his voice. I started thinking about the disciple Thomas. I guess you can say he was known for being the drama queen in the bunch of disciples. He’s most known for not believing that Jesus resurrected until He saw Him. I wanted to know what He did after Jesus ascended and by the research I found. He became a traveling missionary and was eventually martyred in India. It sounds like He picked up his destiny. Helped spread the gospel, and while yes sadly was a martyr like most the other disciples did in fact make an impact for the kingdom.

If you are a professed spiritual drama queen don’t worry, there is hope for you too. If He can use me, He can use you. Trust in God. He’s got big plans for your life. Trust Him beyond what you see. Let go of the reigns of control. Let Him be in charge. He knows what He’s doing. Just because you don’t see, touch, feel the promise yet doesn’t mean it’s not on its way. I’ll confess to being a spiritual drama queen. I confess to have a few moments yesterday, and I’ll confess to maybe bucking the whole concept of being still for long. But at the end of the day, I know my God. He’s got my situation in His hands, and I know He has yours there, if you’ll let Him . Give Him the control. I promise His ways are so much better than our own. You have to trust Him in that. Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back at Firestone

This afternoon Dan, the girls, and I found ourselves behind the counter of a Firestone store/shop. The time had long since come for us to replace the front tires on our car. Tire buying is up there with one of those ‘necessary grownup purchases that one has to make but who really wants to’ with me. I mean I know I’m a guest minister with a book tour coming up and the idea of keeping bald tires on the car isn’t a good idea. So we bit the bullet and went to get them replaced. The funny thing is that as we left the car there and walked to the mall, I had a flashback of another time where we spent a lot of time in a Firestone store.

It was Christmastime 2000. I think it may have been only a few days before Christmas and I sat in the uncomfortable waiting area almost in tears. Dan and I had only moved into Central Florida a few weeks prior, and the likelihood we were going to have any family or friends to spend the holidays with was slim to none. We’d gone to a Firestone to have the breaks done on the car but there kept being issues with them (which I will add here Firestone did eventually fix the issues) but at that moment I was waiting for the umpteenth time in their waiting area. The smell of motor oil mixed with the smell of old carpet lingered in the air. I was about two months pregnant for our oldest daughter. Whoever had left on the TV left it on the holiday special of The Lawrence Welk Show reruns. I felt desperately alone, and questioning God for the millionth time why we couldn’t just go back to live around our families.

It’s funny but I hadn’t thought about those hours I spent in Firestone with the garland and ornaments scotch taped to the ceiling in years, but today I did. Waves of gratefulness began to wash over me like a sea of memories. While Dan and I certainly haven’t arrived yet, I couldn’t help but be so thankful He’d brought us through everything He has. It’s funny sometimes when you walk through life it can be so scary in the moment yet, when you look back on it you can’t deny His hand of faithfulness had been with you the whole time. Which makes me wonder as I look to the future why do I struggle believing He’ll get us through that hurdle or this hurdle? We have all had moments of questioning uncertainty. But I think it’s what you do with those moments. Do you choose to cower, or do you choose to boldly rise up and know He’d come through for you in the past and He’s certain to do it again.

Hebrews 11:11 (NKJV)
By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

God is faithful! He doesn’t let down His children. He hasn’t let me done, and He’s not going to let you down! You can rest assured that He brought you this far and He’s going to fulfill what He said He would. You can be at peace and know He Is Faithful! Spend some time reflecting on the things you know He’s brought you through in your life. Remember even if you’re not where you want to be yet…you’re not where you were. He is faithful! He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!!!!

***BTW, Oh my goodness! Can you believe the retail release date of my book is coming up on the 20th!!! Remember, please keep passing on the information to everyone you know about my book. This is beyond just selling a book to me. I believe in the message. I believe it’s a very NOW word for the church as a whole and needs to be shared. Super Smiles! ***

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are You Cheering at the Misfortune of Others?

Many of you have heard me tell the stories of how I trained in high school desiring to cheer for OSU one day. The girls in the high school squad were not huge fans of mine. If you have read my work any length of time, you will soon realize that politics, cliques, and fake friendships have never been my strong suit. We had try-outs coming up and while I was the only tumbler on the high school squad I decided I would perfect my standing back tuck for tryouts because I needed it to get on the Ohio State’s squad years later. So, having only done a standing back tuck either spotted on the ground, or on a trampoline I decided to set up a VCR camera and record myself performing this feat on a carpeted concrete floor. I still have that video. I ended my cheerleading future in the moment. I made that back tuck three separate times, but at the end, I fell forward and hit my wrist. Years of tumbling had done a number on my wrists to begin with so much that I remember wrapping them tight enough to cut off circulation a bit just so I could tumble. Long story short, ultimately I ended up breaking my wrist. A metal plate, six screws, and a pin in my wrist later….at least I learned to laugh about it. It took me some time after that adjusting to the fact, I would never cheer for OSU, but I can see now that as a result good things did come out of it all. Had I cheered for them, things in my life that happened would never have happened so now I see the good in it all.

However, at first I was heart broken. Never being one to let things keep me down for too long, it did not last long, but I had a season of adjustment. I had a season of coming to terms with all of it.

I still remember the day I went back to school after I broke my wrist. Tension and girl politics had been high about the upcoming tryouts. When I showed up in a cast, the whispers and gasps began. One particular girl had always been my rival competitor. She ran up to me asking me what happened. To my face, she was mildly sympathetic, and perhaps if I did not hear her scream exuberantly and squeal all the way down the hallway after she left my presence I would have believed she cared. However, the minute she hit the door thinking I no longer heard her. She began whooping and hollering at everyone she saw that I was injured and thus no longer competition for her. I could hear cheers all the way down the hallway from her and others. (I do not believe she is a reader of mine. However having said that please realize I forgave her a long time ago, and honestly wish her the best. I am making a point here with this story.)

We often talk about the Golden Rule in life. We embroider it on pillows and paint it on wall murals, but do we really live it?

Luke 6:31(NIV)
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

I love how the Message Bible says that scripture…

Luke 6:31 (MSG)
31-34"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that is charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

Are we living loving people, and treating them they way we want to be treated. Or are we merely acting one way in front of them, and going down the hallways of life really feeling something else. There is a lost and dying world who does not know Jesus and when we are fake people in front of them, they see it. Do you secretly snicker when that person you do not like and was mean to you goes through hardship? Or do you lend a helping hand and love them regardless. Life is too short to be fake. Be real with the love of Jesus and treat people the way you want to be treated. God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pack Your Bags!

I am sure at some point I have probably shared this story but yesterday, I really felt it stirring again, and wanted to retell it.

When I was just out of high school, I was a camp counselor for a small bit of time with LOMO (Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio) it wasn’t a long time or even a full summer, but I did a few small bits with them and actually really enjoyed it. I had known that I was supposed to work with them, and I can remember waiting for their phone call. The phone call felt like it was never coming and I was getting frustrated.

I can remember asking the Lord what to do. I knew these people were supposed to be calling me any day.

“Pack your bags” the response seemed odd to me. I tried to argue. Why would I pack my bags if they don’t want me to work for them? The Lord’s response was a consistent “Pack your bags.” So after arguing and insisting what I was doing was nuts, I packed my bags preparing to be a camp counselor. Within a few days I was called and I worked for them.

There are times in life where you have to step out on the water in faith because you know God told you to do something. You have to be in His timing and ready to move when he says go.

It’s a little known fact that for years I kept a bag packed in my closet just in case God were to tell me something like this again. I only stopped when a friend mentioned to me that I had a husband and children now and if I had my bag packed I should have one packed for my entire family. I thought the point was valid, and with kids it’s hard to keep a packed bag current with their sizes and I fell out of the habit.

I have been noticing more and more that many people want to step into the plan and destiny God has for their lives but sadly few choose to. Their either are too comfortable in their own plans, or they just give up.

It’s as if many people make the first step to step out of the boat of normalcy but then find themselves hanging onto the boat treading water for dear life. Their too scared to walk on the water, so instead they hang on getting more and more frustrated and tired. The might have taken one step of faith, but then ran back to the boat in their journey.

When Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to meet Jesus, he had to “pack his bags” or take a step of faith knowing that God had his back. (Matthew 14:22-33) Most people view this story as Peter’s lack of faith, or teach about how he took his eyes off of Jesus. But I see it as Peter’s amazing amount of faith. He stepped out of the boat! He did walk on the water. Of course then he began to see the winds and the waves and had doubts but he did do what God told Him to do! He wasn’t consistent, but he tried.

The key though is consistency. Just because Peter stepped out of the boat once didn’t mean he got to where Jesus was calling Him. Sure Jesus made sure He didn’t drown, but I believe if he would have consistently been in faith about walking on the water he would have walked right to Jesus. Just because I packed one time before a job offer didn’t mean I got to my destiny. I’m on a path just like all of you. I’m not there yet, but I’m moving forward. Being driven by the destiny God has for your life will never be achieved unless you are consistent.

Galatians 6:9 (KJV)
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

So maybe it’s time for you to take the steps of faith that you know God is calling you to do. Maybe it’s time to “pack your bags”, “walk out on the water”, and let go of the side of the boat. He’s waiting for you and He won’t let you down. God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

****The presale special for my book is over...the retail release date is the 20th!!!! However the books are now for a good sale price on my website. They retail at $14.99 and I'm selling them for $12. Thank you to all who prebought! And please keep passing the info along! I have a lot of books in my garage that need a good home. :-) ******

Friday, March 2, 2012

Are You Loosing Air?

A few days ago my mom, dad, and grandfather arrived on a long car trip from the North. They didn’t stay long and sadly left our house this morning. On Wednesday I was trying to set up the air mattress for my mom and dad. Years ago when we first moved to Florida, my parents and my in-laws both bought us air mattresses’ so they could sleep on them when they visited. We finally came to the conclusion if you put one on top of the other it makes for a decent mattress. So on Wednesday, I rushed to set up a bed for them.

The first air mattress went up smoothly, and in the midst of doing what felt like fifty things at once I started to plug in the pump of the second. However, there was a problem. The motor turned on but nothing was happening. I watched the mattress start to inflate, and then like a sigh drift down. I started getting bummed. This had been such a good air mattress for us, and it appeared it was dying. I was tired. Thoughts kept piling in my head. I started to get frustrated. I was determined to make it work for my parents, so I kept trying to inflate it. I sat out there for at least fifteen minutes maybe more. I kept trying to adjust the motor, I tried to move the mattress, and I was tempted to see if I could inflate it with nothing but the hot air out of my lungs but nothing was working. Out of desperation, and almost ready to cry out of overwhelming frustration I called out to Dan.

“Help me!”

My husband is ever the voice of reason for me. God knew what He was doing when He put us together because Dan walked out to where I was, looked at me and responded, “Did you close the plug so it was sealed?”
“No. But it had to have been closed since the last time we used it.” Dan picked up the mattress, shut the seal, and chuckling to himself he laid it back on the ground. You know it’s amazing when you actually seal off an air mattress how quickly it will inflate.

You know it’s funny in life how quickly we all jump to conclusions and worst case scenarios before we actually have all the facts. Worries and frustrations can be like an ax that will chop down your peace. It’s kind of like inflating an air mattress with the plug off. You’ll start to think that it’s going to work, and all the anxiety will pop off the plug and slowly make it deflate.
The word of God is very clear about what we can do with worry.

Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I already had that air mattress left up for trash in my mind, when truthfully the problem was the one inflating the thing not the mattress.

Most the time I think that situations aren’t nearly as bad as we initially think they are. If we would just stop our minds from wondering down into the pit, it would be amazing how much less stress we’d have in our lives. You have to remember that you can’t let your mind be filled with worry, anxiety, and stress. Their usually just lies, and worrying will do nothing to help you. Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

*Remember the BOGO free deal for my books ends Monday! I will be changing the price on my website! Super Smiles!