Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Going Through the Back Gate

Last weekend we took the girls to Ormond Beach. We wanted to stop at Peggy’s Wholefoods (Which is one of the best places on the planet for Health food/ supplements and vitamin items. I’ve done book signings there. They are amazing! We even had lunch there. The plan was to go there and then go to the beach for a little while. We weren’t sure where we were going, and as we drove near a park we saw they were having some kind of Native American Festival.

On a whim we decided to find a parking spot and go check it out. After negotiating a small parking lot Dan was able to get us a spot and we walked to go make our way to the entrance. We didn’t know where we were going so we found ourselves walking around a gate and dropping down into the festival a few feet. Honestly I didn’t think a thing of it.

“You can’t do that!” We saw a guard yelling at us.

“We can’t do what?” We didn’t know what he was talking to us.

“You have to pay to get in. You can’t sneak in here!” The guy looked a little less than happy with us. Honestly we didn’t mean to sneak into the event. We were just trying to get onto the grounds. I looked down at my girls feeling like an idiot. We managed to find the front entrance and then they only took cash. Dan and I never carry cash, and nowhere in sight was an ATM machine. We finally opted to keep driving and we’d figure we’d either find an ATM machine or find the beach. We found the beach first and had a very enjoyable afternoon. The Indian Fair was forgotten and the family was happy. It worked out better this way, and we never did make it back to the festival.

While my story is a minor funny moment now, and the kids may tell stories about the time we got kicked out of a festival for trying to sneak in…Many people in life think they can live their lives this way when it comes to heaven. They think that at the last minute they can just squeeze their way in, and all will be well. Maybe they think they will just shrug their shoulders and pretend like they didn’t know any better.

John 10:7 (ESV)
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Hosea 4:6a (ESV)
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

On that day when you get to the entrance of Heaven, you can’t sneak in the back. You can’t claim you didn’t know any better. And I assure you the alternative isn’t a day at the beach. The good news is that Jesus already paid your entrance fee, so cash isn’t required. If you accepted Him in your life, He is already expecting you and your name is already in His book.

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Are You Really Prepared?

Among the many things I am doing these days, Dan and I are in the process of opening up a chain of bookstores in churches. It’s kind of a long story how we’ve gotten thrown into all of this. I’m partners with Dr. Webb in our film company (Tri Legacy Films International He is helping start Bible Colleges in churches all over the globe and as a result these same churches are in need of bookstores. This is where Dan and I are coming in. It’s been a learning process.

I have been in want of a small Bible based skin care line. So I did some Google searching and came across a line that I thought had some great potential for the stores. I actually got a little excited when I saw their products. However when I called the phone number they had listed on their website, no one answered. I didn’t even get a voicemail. The recording said that they hadn’t recorded a voice mail yet.

Call me a tad business hardcore, but my interest is done. If these people do not have enough faith, time, or fortitude to set up a voicemail that someone will actually call them from their website then I don’t want to do business with them. They had faith to set up a website, but with no contact information other than a non-working phone number. Then they aren’t someone I want to work with.

God will often call us to make faith steps that can feel like huge jumps, but we have to do our part. We have to live our lives ready for the day we get the voicemails, and emails from people that’s excited about what we’re doing. We have to get to the door He calls us to, and while we can’t actually open that door on our own, we do have to be ready for it to open. We have to do everything we can including setting up voicemail accounts even if it’s doing it in faith.

The Bible clear says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). It would be like staring at a car. You know the car was there but you have to physically get gas in the car, check the oil, sit in the driver’s seat, and turn the engine. You have to do your part.

So remember this story as you endeavor to do what God has called you to do on the earth. If your breakthrough were to happen tomorrow…would you really be prepared? Have you done everything you need to do?

Remember, God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grocery Shopping Argument

Several months ago Dan and I got into a fairly heated argument. Really now the argument seems silly but at the time we were both pretty mad. He wanted to start going grocery shopping with me. I know that it sounds odd that I had such an issue with it. But in my head, I saw it differently. I don’t work a typical 9-5 job, I could go when he was at work and it wasn’t something he needed to be bothered with. I have my couponing, stores, and products down to a science. I didn’t want him coming in and messing with my system. My system works so why mess with something so efficient? I argued my point, and got nowhere. Dan wasn’t moving from his desire to come with me, and I finally had to yield.

Many struggle with this scripture. Ephesians 5:21 (ESV)21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Sure I could have argued my point for hours, and to be honest I probably argued a bit too long over this. This scripture doesn’t mean you become a doormat. It doesn’t mean you don’t do anything unscriptural. It just means that sometimes you have to swallow your pride and learn how to be humble enough to accept that maybe the other person may have a point and just maybe you need to let it go.

When Dan and I started to take our every other Saturday mornings to go grocery shopping together I didn’t think it would last long, and I expected sparks to start flying over what kind of yogurt and cereal to buy. But actually (Insert Big Breath) Dan was right. It turned out to be something really positive for our family. He’s able to give me ideas over meal planning and budgets. Having his help at the checkout and getting the bags in and out of the car is a huge blessing too. It all worked out and reminded me a valuable lesson.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Auto Theft At The Border?

As many of you know my family and I travel to Canada about twice a year. In the 14 years now that I’ve been visiting my in-laws; Dan and I have collected a variety of funny border stories. There was the time when Dan and I were dating and the American Border Guard asked Dan essentially “what his intentions were” with me as an American. There was the time that we’d forgotten the birth certificate of my oldest daughter when she was about four and made her keep rehearsing “I’m an American from Florida” in the car. Or there was the time where I kept trying to explain to the guard that the “homemade coppicollo” was for our private consumption and it was really okay for us to cross with it. My list of funny stories could go on.

We always drive up there borrowing a vehicle from my parents. This summer my parents purchased a brand new luxury vehicle. For years my mother used to put in a note that stated I could borrow her car, and we stopped doing it because in all the years no one ever asked us about it. This year as we were leaving Canada we must have found the border guard with a subtle sense of humor, but I was trying to stay serious. Because the car was so new, and I was trying to explain to the guy how we live in Florida but fly into Ohio, he started to ask me how he didn’t know I hadn’t stolen the vehicle. He seemed serious at first. Plus I remember some story about TSA agents being able to fine people for cracking jokes once, and I try to keep straight faces anymore around these people.

I tried not to panic as I began searching for any ID that still had my maiden name on it. But let’s face it. I began to see newspaper headlines already in my mind, “Minister/Author arrested for auto theft and stopped at border.” I finally found an old College ID from Ohio State that had my maiden name and I handed it to the guard.

“Ma’am? Do you realize what state you’re in, and where I graduated from school?” His question took me off guard. I was thinking I gave you an ID…we’re in Michigan…sigh the old Michigan/OSU rivalry. Really?

When I realized both Dan and the border guard were now laughing I knew my mug shot wasn’t going to end up in newspapers I finally was able to laugh a bit.

It’s a funny story now. Yes, I got questioned at the border for auto theft, and I suppose it’s a good reminder to me that I need to just lighten up a tad.

Proverbs 17:22 (MSG) “A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.”

Sometimes you just need to remember its okay to laugh. It’s okay to laugh at yourself. We can’t go through life filled with doom and gloom. Be of good cheer!

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Christmas Miracle

A few weeks ago when my family and I were in Windsor Canada, Dan and I went to the Tecumseh Mall. Like any mall just days before Christmas, it was crowded. The hustle and bustle of commercialization clung to the walls and lights everywhere. There wasn’t a line up to see Santa and even though I thought it would be fun for Dan and I to take a picture with Santa he did not. The foot court smelled of greasy French fries and like moths to a flame those Canadians love their Tim Horton’s.

I carried my Acer Tablet with me in the mall because I didn’t want to leave it in the car. I didn’t want to chance my mom’s car getting broken into, so I thought it would be safer for me to carry it in. Dan and I looked around some stores and then met the girls and my in-laws in the food court. However when we got up, unbeknownst to me, I let the tablet. I was more worried about the couple dollar store items we’d bought, getting out to the parking lot, and getting the kids hustled off and I totally forgot about it.

On the way back to the house, it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have it. It wasn’t until we were about to pull into my in-laws drive did I realize my mistake, and I started to panic.

“Dan, we need to go back to the mall.” I was so mad at myself and questioned even going back to the mall. I just knew my tablet was gone, and it was my fault. There was no way I would ever see it again. While my mind was racing against me, the most amazing peace came on me. It was just a tablet and all was going to be okay. I knew Dan was upset with me, as he turned around and we went back.

As I walked around people in the food court I knew the tablet wouldn’t still be where we were sitting and it wasn’t. I made my way back to the office and tried to explain myself to them. As I told them my story I knew by his face he didn’t think I’d see that tablet again. He smiled and tried to reassure me and quickly got on the radio system to the mall security.

Minutes later two men came to the mall office in smiles, “About ten minutes later and I would have put this on kajiji (Canadian’s craigslist) for extra Christmas spending money.” Gruffed the mall cop at me. He handed me my tablet back. Evidently right after I’d left it he saw it and picked it up. I jokingly told him he restored my love of Canadians.

I know me leaving my tablet was my stupid mistake, but I did get it back. While I’ve been calling it my Christmas miracle, I do think that God protected my stuff that day. In Psalms 91 God talks about how He will protect his children. In this case, I believe it was grace and some protection. Whatever it was, there is just another testimony to me that even when we mess up, God has mercy. He does protect us and our stuff. He did that for me, and I know He does that for you too.

Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get Excited!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shower Gymnastics

My family knows that I always joke that “This momma is not doing emergency room visits especially when we are out of the country!” We travel to Canada a few times a year to see my in-laws and kids are kids and have their share of accidents. We’ve had a couple times where I thought we’d end up in a Canadian ER but haven’t yet. Not that I wouldn’t go if we really needed it but going would create piles of paperwork that I would rather avoid if possible.

This year however I was the one that I thought may end up in the Canadian ER. All women who read this will laugh in understanding of my clumsiness. I needed to shave my legs in the shower. It gets slippery in there. Put someone… anyone in a small space with slick surfaces that are being covered in water and give them a razor, there is bound to be accidents.

I stood in the shower that morning with one leg resting on the wall at about chest level, and using the other one to support my weight. Water poured down all over me, and just for a moment in glimpse of clarity, I heard what I thought was myself, “This would be very bad if you slipped right now. Nah…I’m not going to slip. I’m fine.” It was after that brief moment of mental common sense that my back foot slipped. The next thing I knew I came crashing down in the tub and as I looked up into the shower head, I kept thinking, “I have to move because if I don’t their going to have to break the door down and get my naked butt out of here.” (Sorry for the visual) Eventually as I managed to work my way out of the tub and take stock of my injuries, I had a bruised shoulder, bruised knee and a cut on my left heel where I must have hit the tracks to the shower door with it…. and a bit of a bruised ego when I had to go downstairs and explain what that loud boom was that everyone heard in the house. Honestly I don’t know how I didn’t shatter the door with my foot.

As I laid there I kept thinking how I had heard so clearly before all of this that what I was doing wasn’t a good idea. Honestly I’m convinced it was the Holy Spirit trying to warn me, and I ignored the warning.

So often we think that when God speaks to us it has to be this huge booming earth quaking life altering moment. Yes, there can be those moments. However there are also those still small voice moments (1Kings 19:12) that we have to learn to be sensitive to and to pay attention to them. Honestly in the years I’ve walked in the Spirit, most of the time He speaks in the still small voice. It wasn’t God’s fault I had just attempted a back tuck in the shower. It was my klutzy moment. I know he tried to warn me.

Let my moment of shower gymnastics remind you to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Be sensitive to what He is saying. Don’t ignore Him. He knows your future, and fortunately in my case I wasn’t emergency room hurt. But I do consider it a lesson well learned.

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tales of a Charismatic Preacher teaching in a Lutheran Church

Before Christmas this year I got the opportunity to preach at two Lutheran churches in Ohio. It was a real honor. If you’ve read my book, or been around me a lot you’ll know I talk a lot about us learning in the church to come together as one body. I was raised as a Lutheran girl and getting to go back into two churches like I did to me was like coming full circle a bit. I desire to go and preach wherever the Lord is leading in any denomination, and this was one of those times. The pastor of both churches is a dear friend of mine, and as I write this I’ll ask you to keep her in prayer.

My friend had to ask and prepare the council for me coming. I am an ordained pastor, but not a Lutheran one. I don’t know what exactly she said to all those people. She’d been printing various blogs of mine in newsletters for years. I went out of my way in both services to be rather tame. If God would have told me to prophesy to all of them, I might have questioned it but I would have, but He didn’t. Both services went well. While I might be used to hearing a few more “Amen’s” or “Hallelujah’s” when I preach, it was okay. I know both churches were touched. I had one woman who came up to me to tell me she cried the whole service and I knew God was touching her.

Dan and I laughed hysterically when after the second service one woman who after she shook my hand and walked away she shouted back to me, “You didn’t scare us at all!” One of the deacons kept telling me that he thought the Lutheran church needed a good kick in the rear every now and then.

I talk about in my book how denominations if hidden behind divide the church. It’s okay to go to one. I don’t think their wrong. I think you need to go to a Christian church were God has called you to go to. However keeping up walls, don’t bring the unity that God intended. Too often people hide behind their labels.

In 1 Corinthians 12 the Bible talks about all of this. We need each other. We are all part of one body. I’ve heard too often Charismatic ministers would either baulk at the idea of preaching at a Lutheran church or, they would have just gone there to prove a point and thus tried to turn them all charismatic and attempt a move of the Holy Spirit without God’s approval. I would have loved to see the Holy Spirit break out in the services and everyone one get healed and delivered in some dramatic display. However I can’t do what the Holy Spirit isn’t leading me to do. On the flip side of this, I don’t think many denominational churches would have welcomed me in with open arms, because they would be afraid I’d scare off the whole congregation. There had to be a level of mutual respect.

To me it was such an honor to be part of this baby step toward unity. Foundationally we believe the same things we just show it differently. I didn’t go up to teach and nitpick at our differences, but to motivate us all to move forward as The Church. May we all continue to seek that in our own circles of influence. It’s about building the Kingdom of God.

Remember He has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Celebrity or President?

****This is not post for or against any president or for any political party. . . just a commentary on the office as it is in modern times. . . call it a random rant if you will*****

George Washington was voted as our first president. It wasn't based on how his Jay Leno appearances went or what tie he wore. He became president because of his ability to lead a country as a General. He'd willingly staked his own life for the land and the cause of a greater good. He'd put everything on the line. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Adams...our founding fathers were men who led a nation. It wasn't about a power suit but freedoms do or die. Maybe idealistic, but I want this country to be a nation again where the media is not the ultimate driving force; a place where people of honor and integrity can run for office and not just ones with a billion or two to loose. Historically FDR has been heralded as one of our best presidents, but a man who was wheelchair bound w/polio...what would the TV cameras and the Diane Sawyer or Barbara Walter's specials do to him today? I realize campaigns are popularity contests, but when did the presidency become more celebrity and less a General that has walked the walk?

If some think my naivety is my moral compass, I caution you my point is quite clear.

I want a Commander and Chief for a President and not merely a person who plays one on TV.

Grandma's Prayer Warriors

My family and I returned from our trip from the North a few days ago. Like always we had a very good trip and it was difficult for us to return and leave our family in the colder states. While this trip was to spend time with family over the holidays, this year I preached at a few different events.

One of these events was a woman’s conference at The Gathering Place in Marion. I had been asked to teach a writer’s workshop before preaching and in between services a woman who I never met to my knowledge came up to me. She began the conversation by asking me if I was related to my grandmother. I’m from a fairly small town so I smiled and nodded my head. True I didn’t know who this woman was but my grandmother had a way with knowing most of the town. My grandmother moved in with Jesus several years ago. Her impact on my life is unmistakable and it has always been a regret of mine that she never lived to see me published or ordained. The picture above was the two of us at my high school graduation.

After I preached the message this same woman’s daughter came up to talk to me with her mother. As their story unfolded, these ladies had been part of a prayer group with my grandmother during a time my grandmother would have desperately needed some prayer. What resulted was a friendship, and as that friendship progressed she’d go and tell them all about me. The one woman told me how grandma was always saying, “We gotta pray for that Anna!” These ladies had been praying for me for the last 25 years. Together we sat sharing memories and laughter of all the times grandma would come into that prayer meeting talking about my latest adventure.

“She would have been so proud of you.” I know my grandmother would have been, but my tears weren’t lacking to hear the woman say that to me. I was overwhelmed at the God coincidence. These ladies who had been praying for me all those years just so happened to sign up for a conference not realizing who was preaching were fruit of their prayers. Those kinds of things never cease to amaze me.

I think that too often in the kingdom we misunderstand prayer. It never ceases to amaze me how prayer is like this living organism. In Isaiah 55 when God talks about the words He sends out they won’t return to Him void it’s so true. These ladies I’m sure never thought all those years ago they’d hear me preach one day, they were just obedient to my grandmother’s requests. But their prayers along with the will of God and many others have prayed for me over the years, and I can see their fruit in my life.

When you feel led to pray for someone, do it! You never know what is going on in their lives, and you never know when you may see the fruit from your prayers. Remember God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited.