Monday, November 25, 2013

Enjoying the Holidays; Dealing with Difficult People

For my American readers this week marks Thanksgiving; for my Canadian ones sorry I know it was in October and for the other ones around the world humor me for a moment.  I’m an American girl (grin).  In the US, Thanksgiving kicks off a month of holiday fun and parties that leads into CHRISTmas (oh yes, I said it, grin) into the New Year.  This means a month of twinkling lights, Church specials, indulging a tad too much, and a load of gatherings that most likely will at least make you want to smack a few people once or twice (I always say family can bring out the best and worst in people).  I will only be writing one blog this week.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving.  However,  I must add a couple disclaimers here before I proceed in this blog: 1)  No we don’t celebrate Santa Clause in my house (ie the picture) it’s a personal choice and I really don’t need a dozen emails disagreeing with this picture that was very fitting to this topic, and 2) In talking about difficult family situations I am NOT talking about anyone specific in my family or my husbands, but making a lot of generalizations so no one is allowed to take a personal offense to anything I write….thank you.  J
Dan and I have lived across the country for over 13 years from ALL our family.  The holidays are one of the few times every year that we get to spend time with our extended families.  I think the lack of family on a regular basis has helped teach me how to deal better in difficult situations.  However it doesn’t stop the situations from occurring.  There are always the situations that arise that are difficult.  There always tends to someone on some side of the family that wants to make an off handed comment about someone’s weight, children, and career choices.  Random comments can be hurtful.  Holiday parties can turn into explosive events and it go from "decking the halls" to raging lunatics in about 2.2 seconds.   Such small comments, irritations, and aggravations can steal the joy of the moment.  I thought I’d give you some of our tips we’ve learned.
1)      We pray.  Before going into a situation that could turn difficult we pray.  We thank God that He has given us such amazing people that love us, and we ask for peace and joy in the time we have with them.  We ask God to guard us from offense.
2)      Don’t sweat the small off handed comments.  Seriously, for me to have family time is like a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes I feel like a sponge trying to soak it all in to sustain me for the desert lack of family time when we’re away.  So I try to guard my heart from those small comments.  Sometimes even in the midst of the comment, if I can separate what was said from the intention I can realize the person meant to express their love they just said it an abrasive way.  Try to separate the intention from the words. 
3)      Choose to show love.  If you know that a certain individual is already defensive and guarded around you, then show them love.  Sometimes I often joke that one can come up with an approved list of topics when the person is around and stay on script.  I’m not saying you can’t disagree with someone.  But, it’s the holidays.  If you must disagree do it sweetly and in love.
A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
4)       BITE Your Tongue.  You don’t need to always be right.  The Lord spoke to me years ago in the arena of marriage that a “Woman who always has to be right will be a divorced woman.”  Harsh, I know, but true.  You don’t always have to argue your point in public situations.  I’m not saying to compromise.  But learn how to look at potential explosive situations, and don’t let them become boiling over.  Sometimes it’s okay to let things go, even when you know your right.

Psalm 34:13 (NKJV)

13 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit
            Even though holiday functions can be a test of practicing the fruit of the spirit, they are the most amazing majestic time of the year in my opinion.  Enjoy them, enjoy your family, and enjoy the people around you.  Family is such a gift, and life is too precious to take those for granted around you.  No matter how difficult and how abrasive someone might be around you, it’s not worth it to flesh out at a family function.  Now I’m not saying sometimes people are so bad that you don’t need to separate yourself, but I think you get my point. 
            Enjoy this time of the year.  Remember Jesus is the Reason for the season. 
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sudden Divine Interventions

I’m going to write a little bit off the cuff today.  This is about some things I’ve been feeling in my family’s lives as well as the season we are in the body of Christ. 

Honestly Dan and I have faced some of the most intense seasons I’ve ever faced in ministry and life to date.  It wasn’t just about the move from our old home.  There are a lot of long awaited transitions happening that I’ll talk about in the coming days.  It’s been a season where God has spoken some very specific things to our heart and the pieces have yet come together.  I’ll admit my attitude hasn’t been the greatest about this pace that has felt like a skipping record stuck on repeat.  “Come on God,” I’ve wanted to yell, “I know you see me.  I know you have better plans, so let’s get this party started.  I want to run!”

I know I’m not alone in this.  There are many in the body of Christ in similar situations.  God has spoken some things, and it feels as if the pressure has been turned up to the maximum.  You’re trying to hold on and not be a rocking boat, but truly something has to give soon.

This morning in prayer I kept praying out the phrase “Divine Interventions of God.”  It’s a phrase I’ve prayed out numerous times in the last few months along with “Suddenlies” and “Turnaround.”  I believe that as a body we’re all in this season of time where as it looks now it seems nothing can change.  The very thing that God has spoken to you seems impossible, and the road before you seems so narrow and winding that you can barely see where you’re headed.

Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;

Many of you have heard it preached before that Joseph went from the pit to the palace in one day.   He did.  God often allows us to go to what seems like impossible situations.  It’s not to mess with you, but it’s to help you build your faith.  It’s so that you know that you know the answers that He brought were Him. 

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Trust in Him today despite of what you can see.  Trust that He is making a way in the wilderness and He has not abandoned you.  Wrap your faith around Sudden Divine Interventions.  Speak it over your circumstance.  I believe you’ll see that thing that seemed so momentous in your life begin to melt like wax.  Trust Him.  He loves you.

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!




Monday, November 18, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Pink House

Over eight years ago when my husband and I purchased a house closer to his work and our church, right away I dubbed it the ‘Pink House’.  I had never been a huge fan of pink but the lady who had the home before us certainly was.  It had brand new carpet that was a Pepto pink, countertops all pink, vertical blinds pink, the outside had pink accents, and even the tile had pink wisps next to the white.  As a joke once we bought it we began ‘Operation Depinking’.  Over the years we’d managed to either work with the pink, or change a lot of it.  We put a lot of work into that house.  It’s odd how homes can almost become like members of the family.  The pink grew on me.

For a whole list of reasons, that at the moment I’m not going to publicly go into, Dan and I had felt we needed to sell the pink house.  Simply put the time had come to move forward into a new season of our lives, and while we loved our home, in order to go to the next season the house needed to be sold.  Honestly we thought the process would be a long ordeal, or we probably wouldn’t have put it on the market when we did.  The house was only on the market for two days, and had two bids right away, but that is story we’ll save for another time. 

We moved from the pink house this weekend.  It was a myriad of bittersweet emotions.  We knew it was the right choice, and I have no regrets.  However it was emotional.  My youngest daughter was born since we bought the home, we thought of all the friends that had come and gone in that time.  My grandmother, who has since moved in with Jesus, helped us move into the house.  We thought of our spiritual poppa, who also has moved in with Jesus, and the times he was over to the house.  My list can go on and on.  Special memories can play like a film projector in your mind with some sappy orchestra music if you let it, and while we all know that selling the house can never take those memories it was very emotional.

When God is doing a new season in your life it can be so easy to hold onto the old.  Your emotions can run their course, and it’s as if with such a tight grip you may not want to let go.  Emotions aren’t a bad thing, and neither are memories.  However if you let them control your decisions then you’ll never be able to move in the timing of God.

Philippians 3:12 (NIV) “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;   but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

So I want to encourage you all today, as my family and I mourn the ending of one season and rejoice in what is ahead, to let go of the things where God is leading you to let go.  Hold tightly where he is telling you to move forward, and be every obedient to move in the direction of His leading.  Whatever the ‘Pink House’ is in your life, it’s not worth getting outside of your destiny and the leading of God.  The memories will always be there, but now it’s time to move forward into something new.

Isaiah 43:18-19a (NIV) “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Finger Full of Mojo Poo


A few days ago our dog Mojo came in from the outside while we were finishing dinner. Right away something smelled off.  It smelled rank.  Right away the Northern Woods Girl came out of me and I wondered how did this dog get around a skunk?  I found myself beginning to wonder if we had enough tomato juice for a skunk smell to clean him up. 

We opted by started to give him a bath.  The smell was atrocious and my eyes almost began to water as I reached down to his collar to take it off.  As I did, my finger gooed in what I knew right away was poop.  I think Mojo had rolled in it, got it wedged in his collar, and now permeated the odor all through my house.  In the end he had to be scrubbed at least three times, all my surfaces cleaned, and I’m still not sure he was 100% clean.

People in general can be like this in life.  You know something doesn’t seem quite right with them.  You try to help them out by helping them out, lending an ear, speaking the Word of God over them to clean them up, and when you do you find out there was a whole lot more going on than what you realized.  Sometimes other peoples “poo” or mess can get all over you if you let it. 

Absolutely, God wants us to love our brother and sister in the Lord, but we also have to guard ourselves from drama that might pull us down.  You need to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 23:29), sometimes you might get dirty, but clean it off.  The Bible also preaches that bad company corrupts good character (1Corinthians 15:33).  You have to learn to find the balance.  Love them, do whatever you can for them, but learn how to draw the line.  Jesus didn’t go around in his time on the earth worried, depressed, and caught up in other people’s drama.  He had compassion on people.  They came to Him.  He performed signs, wonders, and miracles for them.  But I can promise you at the end of the day he went to his camp at peace.  He learned to have rest even in all the unrest around Him. 

Think about this as God puts people in your life.  Sometimes the enemy can and does use your good intentions to snare you, and pull you down.  Guard your heart, love people, and trust God.

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

Monday, November 11, 2013

13 Years Later

Many of you have heard me tell the story time and time again how 13 years ago today, Dan and I left my parents driveway in Ohio to head to Florida.  Dan and I had been living in Pittsburgh, PA for him to finish out his 2nd AA degree.  We were seeking the Lord as to where He wanted us to move.  I knew it wasn’t just for a job, but for the right church.  It was for God to put Dan and I  to be under a ministry to help us grow up in the things of God and to prepare us for what He had for us in ministry. 

While driving home from work one day in the Pittsburgh hills I heard the Lord say to me, “You’re going to Orlando and Dan is going to work at ***** company.”  I remember going home to Dan and telling him this.  I remember his response, “That would be great but ***** company hasn’t hired me yet.”  So we went on our quest to continue to try to figure out what God was doing and what he wanted.  Several job possibilities came and went in that season. Dan graduated, our lease was up, and we didn’t know what else to do so we moved all our stuff in my parents’ garage in Ohio thinking it would only be for a few weeks, and moved in with them.  Four months later:  we almost moved to New Jersey, there were some possibly California, almost moved to Cincinnati, Dan had to turn a job down in Columbus, then there was the Wisconsin company who took one look at Dan’s resume and swore they couldn’t afford him, and he was second in line at a job in Boca Raton.  Out of sheer desperation we drove down to FL.  He got as many job interviews as he could including one at ***** company.  *****company loved him but couldn’t hire him yet.  On our way back through the state, we got a phone call on my cell phone.  A small startup company in Orlando wanted to interview him before we left that area.  Travel rumpled, unshaven, and a little weary Dan and I drove to this guy’s garage for an interview.  That man wanted to hire the Dan on the spot.  We drove back to Ohio and began to pray. 

This is about the time we found out our oldest daughter was going to make a surprise appearance in our lives.  Fairly newly married we were in no place in our minds to be starting a family.  It wasn’t until months later that I would find out that I could still get COBRA insurance from my former job for prenatal care.  We panicked, but new our options were slim.  We had to make a decision and we had to do it quickly.  The guys’ garage startup wasn’t *****company, but it was getting us to the right location.  We were going to leave Ohio to Orlando, Florida.

I’d like to tell you 13 years ago that Monday Veterans Day Morning that I was full of faith, and was sure this was the right choice for our lives, but I was scared and nervous.  I puked with morning sickness all the way to the Florida line I think. 

We left Ohio on a Monday, got to FL on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning we woke up and began calling local churches we wanted to check out in the area.  Knowing very little about Orlando, I had called my church in Ohio to see if they knew of any good ones here.  They went through a directory of affiliated churches and gave me a few names.  I had a couple I wanted to check out too.  Freedom Tabernacle (Today, it’s Freedom Life) Church was the first one to answer their phone.  We set our plans to attend a service that night.

On Wednesday night as we pulled into the parking lot I wish I could tell you that I prophetically knew we were walking into a divine appointment.  I didn’t.  We were just going forward with the doors that seemed to open. 

When Pastor Arthur took the platform and took one look at Dan and I he began to prophesy that “we were not tumbleweeds and God had moved us down to FL” The prophesy is quite lengthy, and I’m paraphrasing but needless to say he read our mail.  At that moment we knew we’d found the church God had called us to.  We knew we’d found the right covering. 

Dan worked out of that guys garage for a couple months, then after a transition or so he went to work at ***** company.  In a swoop of divine timing that only God can do nine months later, the insurance for that job would kick in on a Monday and we had our oldest daughter by C section on that same Thursday.  It all worked out.  Dan and I still shake our head how it all did.  It was something only God could have done. 

Every time I tell this story, I am so overwhelmed by God’s ability to place people and get them where they need to be for the seasons of their lives.  Of course you have free will and you have to let Him do this in your life, but I have certainly seen that happen.  I set here 13 years later in the midst of some other transitions, but I am almost in tears.  Because I feel in this season we’ve run the race God put before us.  I am not proud at us by saying that.  I know how many times I wanted to quit.  But I am honored at the grace of God that He saw the end from the beginning. 

We always in life seem to cry to God and want all the answers.  Dan and I didn’t have all the answers when we came here.  We just knew we needed to go.  It wasn’t an easy decision, it was brutal, but we did what we knew He led us to do.

Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

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.”

I often have preached about Joseph.  Joseph knew Jesus was the son of God.  There were so many prophesies concerning Jesus, but it wasn’t like Joseph had access to all of those.   It wasn’t like he sat in the manger next to a newly birthed Jesus with a large scroll saying, “Next we need to move to Egypt then Jesus is supposed to be from Nazareth, etc.”  All of those prophesies came into being because God led them place to place.  They were fulfilled because Joseph and Mary were obedient to the promptings of God and he led them where they needed to be going. 

That same God that led Joseph and Mary, that same God that led Dan and I through that very difficult season, is the same God that can do the same for you.  He is no respector of persons (Romans 2:11) I hope our story encourages you today.  It was a good reminder to me of what God has brought us through.  Be encouraged.  God is intimately concerned about your life.  Be open and obedient and He will direct you to the places He has called you to go.

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Engine Blew Up!

I’ve mentioned before about my first car.  It was a 1979 Cutlass Oldsmobile.  We once fit nine people in it.  I do believe the periscope attachment came with a separate kit that I never received (insert sarcasm here).  All in all it was the perfect car to learn how to drive in.  I think I had a dent in it (some minor and some not so much) for every week I drove those few years I had the car.  Rocko (Its name) was a car of first car stories, which live in infamy within my family lore.

This story is one that I will probably never live down, though I’ve tried.  I’m guessing I’d only been driving about a year.  My parents were super awesome to bless me with the car, and every time I turned around it seemed that someone was checking the oil.  I didn’t know how to check oil, so I just assumed that all would be fine.  Until that fateful day when I drove the tank back from town and I saw smoke coming out of the engine, it never occurred to me that I would need to learn to check the oil.  I hate to be a dumb blonde stereotype here, because I don’t consider myself that and I hate those jokes, but in this moment I kind of reinforced that stereotype.  Sure I made it home for the vehicle to roll into the driveway.  Sure I was okay, but my Rocko was not.  It had died and we would need more than a hearse to get it out of my parents’ driveway.  Eventually the engine was replaced and I got the car back, but there was months that I was carless.

When it was discovered that the reason the engine had blown up, was because it had no oil in it I was in trouble. I claimed ignorance to all things car, which in all fairness wasn’t a legitimate excuse.  While I thought someone should have taught me these things, truthfully if I was going to take on the responsibility of a vehicle I should have taken the initiative to learn the basics.  I still maintain that instead of high schools making students learn how to build a bird house there should be a mandatory life skills class where kids learn how to change the oil and a tire.   

People often try to take the same ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to life and the Bible.  But here is what the Bible says.

Hosea 4:6  (KJV)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Corinthians 2:11 (NKJV)

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.


            All of this meaning, God doesn’t want you to be ignorant.  He wants you to study the Bible so that you can know what it says.  Ignorance is not an excuse that will stand before God on the day that you and I have to stand before Him and give an account for our lives.  He doesn’t want us destroyed but wants us to know or have knowledge of His words and His will. 

            How easy it is for people to twist the Word of God and present it just slightly off to ones who don’t know what the Bible really says.  God doesn’t want you to end up with your ‘engine blown up’ so to speak.  He wants us fully functioning where He has placed us.  He wants us filled with the knowledge of His will and His plan.  Think about that the next time you study the word of God.  Get knowledge where your lacking and don’t just assume that those around you will take care of things for you.

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


Monday, November 4, 2013

Is He Back Yet?

Anyone with kids or pets know, those moments right when you return home and your child or your pet sees you it’s like a long lost reunion.  Our dog Mojo is no different.  No matter how short or how long we’ve been away he gets so excited to see us.  He waits by the door almost and in the instant we walk through it he jumps and wags his little tail. He’s a miniature dachshund so he practically folds his body in half and wags his tail so fast I think it could power a small city.   It is like all is right with the universe again because his people are home. 
 Last week right before Dan came in from work Mojo thought he heard him coming home.  He went nuts.  He started whining and pacing by the door.  He started setting there waiting and waiting for that one moment when the door would open.  Here are two pictures I got of him.  He was so excited to see Dan return there was no way I was going to distract him from the door.  He was anticipating the moment when Dan would walk through the door. 
Mojo’s reaction began to stir my thoughts on Jesus and God.  God instructed us to wait and look for his return because He would be returning for His people.

Matthew 25:13 (NIV)

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
            Many of us, me included at times, aren’t really watching and anticipating the return of Jesus like we should.  We get so caught up in our own routines.  There are signs and birthing pains of the return of Jesus, happening all over the world.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to give you a date or time; anyone who tries to give you that is false.  Even Jesus doesn’t know when that’ll happen (Matt 24:26).  But we are seeing the birthing pains on the earth.  We are seeing lawlessness seemingly to about and what has been considered as bad according to popular opinion has been deemed as good. (Matt 24).
            When we hear these signs it should make us take note and wake up.  It should make us continue what we’re doing but get excited.  Just like Mojo are we ‘waiting in anticipation’ or are we saying, ‘yup that’s just another sign don’t bother me’.  I’m not saying God wants us to be like dogs, but I am saying we need to live like Jesus could return tonight.  We need to be ready and be on our guard.  We need to keep our lamps trimmed and burning.  (Matt 25:1-13)
            Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!