Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I hear for 2015

            As people of God we all need to seek the Lord regarding the times and seasons that we live in (1 Chronicles 12:32).  Often people have ‘Words of the Lord’ for the next year as it approaches.  For years I’ve posted what I have felt God was telling me for the New Year.  I’ve seen how God always has a way of bringing these words to pass though often not exactly how I thought He would.  Many times people have fun rhyming slogans for the year.  In an attempt to not conjure anything that God hasn’t given me, I don’t have some cute rhyming phrase that sounds good with 2015.  Not that there is anything wrong with people who do, but I don’t this year.  However, I have been receiving what I believe is a download from heaven regarding next year. I’m doing my best to prophesy the way I see it, so it may not have a pretty package, but I am excited to share it with you in this blog. 
          When I started praying about 2015 I had a vision of someone panning for gold.  I saw the sifting and gold in the pan.  I began to pray about and meditate on this mental picture.  I’ll be honest.  At first I was a little bummed.  I personally have gone through a lot in the last few years and I saw this image and I thought ‘really God more sifting, I mean I realize no one has arrived, but a major breakthrough would be super cool’.  The more I prayed about this image I realized God wasn’t talking about the sifting in this vision.  The sifting had already happened.  What I was seeing in the vision was the gold that was left over after the sifting.  So how does this translate for this year?  I believe that there have been many that have been through a season of sifting.  As I was praying about this I kept seeing the number five.  It’s as if for five years many people have been sifting and sifted again.  God was showing me in the panning for gold vision that the gold was in the pan.  The gold in 2015 was going to become clear and evident.  I believe that 2015 is going to be a year of those things that have seemingly been hidden on the inside of many of the people of God would be uncovered.  Many might say, well “I never saw so and so with such and such an ability” but the truth was God had been sifting these people and those things will become seen in the natural. I believe that there is going to be an uncovering of things that God has been putting in motion for years. 
          As I was praying I also heard the term ‘Due Season’. I think that often the term due season is over used and miss used in various Christian circles.  It comes from Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” I believe that 2015 is due season for many who have been crying out for it and someone needs to hear this word and hold tight to it.  Due season means God has already done what He needs to do, and due season means that many are stepping into fulfillment if that thing.
            I also heard that 2015 is the year of the five Ex’s.  I know that sounds silly, and no I’m not talking about some cheesy relationship that you pray are staying in your closet for all time.  But the five ex’s in this case should make some of y’all shout.  The five ex’s here are: Exponential growth, Excited, Exuberant, Extraordinary, and Explosion.  As I began to pray about this I could sense a firework explosion.  This would be a year that would be marked in your life as an extraordinary move of the supernatural in your life.  It would be marked as a year that if you could only see the fullness of your life you would be exuberantly excited!  This part of this word brings us back to the sifting of the gold. The explosions are seen.  It’s something that will be seen in the kingdom.  It’s extraordinary.  It’s not the same old thing.  It’s a new thing.  He is doing a new thing! “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
          I hope that you who read this hear from God about your own situations.  I pray that God speaks to you individually as you read what I feel for a corporate word.  Please seek the Lord as to what He’s telling you for the first of the year. 

          Dan and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.  Be expecting for what God is doing, and remember God is good and faithful to you.  We pray for all of you often.  Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Instructions for the End of your 'Time of Transition'.

            Today while driving back to get groceries I had an “aha” moment.  It was one of those moments were suddenly God seemed to connect the dots in my head.  It was a revelation by which I was tremendously blessed and instructed.  I believe that there are many who will read this, who have found themselves in similar places, learn from this Rhema moment.  While often my blogs are not outwardly prophetic in nature, this one is, so hold onto your hats people.  I hope God uses me here to speak to you in your season.
            This has been a time of great transitions in the body of Christ. I believe this has been going on for the last several years. I know of several people who are pursuing the things of God,  who have made major moves whether it be through business, church, location, etc. etc.  I personally believe that to those who are really hungry for and seeking after the things of God, God has been divinely placing His people where He chooses. (1 Corinthians 12:18)  For Dan and me, I can personally testify to this in our lives.  We’ve known for years we were going to move from FL, though we didn’t know where.  In the last six months: we’ve moved across the country, started new jobs, new assignments, new schools, met bunches of new people, and have found ourselves under a new covering (church and leaders).  These are all choices that we 100% know we are where God wants us to be in our lives. We have no regrets in these choices because they were God ordained.
            However for a while something has been stirring on the inside of me. Personally for Dan and me we have come through a wilderness season, to be right where God has told us that was our land.  We are no longer in the Wilderness so we need to mentally talk, think, and focus that where we were is not where we are now.  This has been bubbling on the inside of me for some time.  Then I found this Facebook post from one of my heroes in the faith Don Nori Sr, that I believe said it best, “WHERE ARE YOU LIVING? Listen to how you pray. Listen to how to talk. Listen to your perspective. These quickly tell you where you are living. Can a bird reason, make decisions as a fish? A person's perspective is the directing force of his life. Promised Land folk no longer reason as Wilderness folk. There is no cloud of smoke or pillar of fire in the Promised Land. Yet, it is where true union with God occurs. It is the place of genuine co-labor with God. It is where destiny is born, grows, and matures. Change, it happens every day.
            Today I began to think in my car as I was driving that the Israelites had to have gone through the same thing.  That they were no longer in Egypt, and they had to realize that part of their life though was meaningful and would always be with them was in the past.  As I was thinking this I kind of asked the Lord, “God it would be like you to have brought the Israelites to a test regarding this.” Suddenly as if the scales were removed from my eyes I saw it.
            In Exodus 32 Moses went up on the mountain, had a moment with God and received the Ten Commandments.  The people at the bottom of the mountain still had slavery on their brains.  They had recently left Egypt.  They had walked through miracle after miracle regarding the promises of God.  They saw his Word happening.  But God was now taking too long in their opinion.  In verse 1 it says, “When the people saw Moses delayed….”  It was then they got this idea to make a golden calf and worship this.  What happened?  They were still thinking in their old Egypt ways.  They had a crisis in their minds and the resorted back to their captivity.  It was their IMPATIENCE that made them MISS their promise.  As a result of this many of them died because in short God wasn’t happy they were worshipping the golden calf.  The longer they were left to their own devices the worst they seemed to regress into their old ways.  What would have happened had they simply believed and waited for their leader?  I believe the results would have been so much different.
            So how does this relate to all of you?  I believe that many of you are at the tail end of your transition.  I believe many of you have made the adjustments you needed, but here at the end is going to require some patience and trust in God.  I know people don’t get all giddy when you talk about trust and patience.  They’re not exactly words people want to shout about.  However people don’t make the wisest of choices when they are impatient.  You can’t go back to what God brought you out.  You can’t go back physically, you can’t go back spiritually, and you can’t go back emotionally.  God brought you out, so the place for you is forward.  Let God do what God told you He was going to do.  Just because things haven’t changed yet doesn’t mean they are not going to.  You are on the tail end of this season.  The chapter is turning and God is bringing you to a new season. You have to change your mindsets.  You are not struggling.  You are not going to barely squeak by in life.  You are an overcoming through Christ! 

Joshua 1:8 (ESV)

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
            You will have good success!  So be of good cheer!  Walk away from the mindsets of the past and press forward to the place God has for you!  Do not loose heart if it looks like it is delayed, for God is victorious in your life! Be patient and trust God!
God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Are you being forced to be too flexible?

            Years ago in my gymnastics days, I went to a gym for classes that would physically shove us further down into our stretches.  It wasn’t enough to physically hurt us too much; however it did cause some pain.  However it did make us get more flexible than we thought possible.  The moments of uncomfortable forcing were worth it in the end.  Our class got more limber as a result.
            There are many moments in our life that are like that.  Circumstances can push us further than we want to go.  We are uncomfortable and complain in the moment, but later we realize how much the situation helped us.  Those moments can make us ready, able, and prepare us for times we may need the flexibility. 
            Many of you have heard my rubber band analogy before, but I think it bears repeating here.  Years ago I was cleaning out an old junk drawer.  I heard the Lord tell me that he needed to stretch me at times so that I didn’t end up like that crusty rubber band in the back of the junk drawer.  Why does that make sense?  Well you know the crusty rubber bands in the back of the drawer that are never used.  When they are used they snap when you need them. The moral to this story is simply, there are times in your life that you will be uncomfortable and stretched further than you think possible, but simply allow yourself to go through the process or you’ll snap in the times that you seem as important. The training process is always worth it.
            When we find ourselves in these situations that are stretching us and preparing us, it’s important to remember just to go with it.  Complaining, whining, and fighting against the process just frustrates everyone.  We have to stay flexible.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing,” Philippians 2:14 (ESV)
            Just go with it. Here’s a quote I just found in my stash of old quotes. “I have often thought about the faith it took for the Israelites to walk in the Red Sea behind Moses and watch as the waters parted. If they had waited to understand it all they would have stayed on the bank of the sea and would have missed their time of crossing over. May we endeavor to recognize when God is doing something and just go with it. May we not stop for it all to make sense, but realize we are living stories we will one day tell our great grandchildren as they sit on our laps.  Hold onto what He is doing and just go with it!”

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is There Caution Tape Over Your Life?

My girls and I have been taking turns at dinner reading passages from scripture and then discussing the passages as we eat. Yesterday at dinner my oldest picked a passage where Jesus casted a demon out of a person.  This opened the conversation about angels and demons.  We also found ourselves in a conversation about spiritual doorways, and how one opens up doors in their lives for demons to come in and mess with them.  The conversation then went into using your spiritual authority that Jesus gave us, and that Jesus was stronger than any of this.  As I was explaining all of this to my youngest I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to explain to her that if she ever opens a doorway by committing a sin, then all she needs to do is repent and ask Jesus to shut it.
She thought very silently for a moment and then piqued up, “Then Jesus puts caution tape over the door and nothing can come into it?” 
I had to laugh at her for a moment, but she was right. “Yes, in a way it’s like that.  Nothing is allowed to come in unless you let it.”
As I began to reflect on this, I realized how much I loved this idea.  When we come into the kingdom, it’s like Jesus sets “caution” tape up over our lives.  It says, “Caution, This One Is Mine!”
We are set apart for His glory (Deut 7:6).  When people see you do they see the “Caution Tape” over your life? Do we realize this, or do we try to blend into the culture that we live in.  There is real peace that surpasses all understanding when you realize that God is for you, and therefore nothing can be against you! (Romans 8:31)  Be at peace! God is on your side! If you feel you’ve opened any door to anything to mess with you, simply repent and ask the door to be closed. Trust in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Rest in His peace!

God has awesome plans for your life. Get excited!

Monday, November 24, 2014

All I want is Bread Crumbs and Parmesan Cheese!

A few weeks ago I thought that going grocery shopping on a Friday night was a good idea.  I’m not sure what possessed me to think this.  In the future I may avoid Friday night shopping like a plague.  After my kids were done with their piano lessons we went to three stores.  In a frazzled moment in the checkout line I realized I had forgotten to get bread crumbs and parmesan cheese that I needed for a recipe I was making.  But all is well, I thought, I’ll get them at my next stop.  OK, so I’ve been in this wacky season of still transitioning and nothing is the normal to me.  I found myself at my last stop overwhelmed by the amount of people in the store, and lost because nothing in this particular store was where I thought it should be located.  My youngest daughter and I started making a chant up about “All I want is Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs.”  I stopped three different employees of this store and none of them seemed to care I was officially ready to have a meltdown.  I was tired.  I was frustrated that these items weren’t where they were in every other store on the planet, and as much as I was ready to just leave without them I needed them. There were so many shoppers in the store the whole thing was becoming beyond overwhelming.  When we found what we needed I know that we had probably passed them several times. When we finally got out of that store, I was beyond emotionally spent. 

The lady at the register asked me sweetly, “Did you find everything okay?”

“No, I didn’t.  I asked three different people for help and no one seemed to care.  I just needed Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs!”  I was trying to respond to her as sweetly as I could but I knew my veneer was cracking. 

We have all been in situations like these.  We’ve all found ourselves frazzled and frustrated, when really we just need to get to our place of safety with dinner and a nap.  My point in this blog is twofold.  One is that when we recognize we’re in this kind of a state, that we really overly guard our mouths.  I did shed my frustration on the cashier but I’ll also I sweetly just told her the truth.  I’m sure a lot of people unload on her.  It wasn’t personally her fault the customer service in the store stank.  Also I bring up this story because I kept thinking how could I recognize and see others who were overwhelmed like this in life and help them.  You see many people go through life like this.  They frazzled looking for some kind of meaning, and often it seems like no one will help them.  Maybe it seems simplistic to say my one bad moment in a grocery store is like life, but sometimes it is.  Everyone has their own agenda, and few really care about helping others out.  Even those that you’d think would.  Do we let this make us bitter?  No.  But it does serve as a reminder to me to be a person in a sea of people who will truly care about the lost. 

In Acts 3 at the Gate Beautiful Peter and John were used to walking that way many times.  I’m sure they had their own places they needed to be, but when they SAW the lame beggar and reached out to him, that man’s life was forever changed.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit that man God up and was healed.  While they went on with their life, that man would never be the same.  While yes there are times in life that we need to get to where we are going, however may we all learn to retrain ourselves to see the world around us.  This life is so short. 

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Do Not Be Deceived!

            On Saturday night I had a dream.  While parts of this dream I have yet to understand I thought I’d share part of it for the sake of this blog.  I was at a church conference of some kind.  It wasn’t a church I recognize though there were various people that I know there.  The conference had seemingly been a very great experience.  However suddenly in the last group session I began to notice something didn’t seem quite right.  In the final main session I walked into a sanctuary type main room.  I was looking for Dan but he wasn’t there.  There were no normal seats available so I pulled out a couple handicapped seats.  As the mass of people sat down, I looked up on a balcony.  I saw a machine gun open fire to the crowd.  People all around me were dying but they weren’t really calling out.  I looked around and it was only me and a few people still in the chairs that weren’t dead.  So I looked around trying to figure out what to do. It was then I woke up.
            I knew that God was trying to say something to me, so I asked Him what that was?  Clearly I felt Him say, “Tell My people not to be deceived.” 
            Deception is a snarky thing.  The thing about deception is that people who are deceived believe they are right.  Recently I heard of a once “Well-known” Christian speaker who has since converted to Chrislam (It’s a budding religion that mixes Christianity and Islam, which is SO not of God).  This same individual that was once a respected leader is now propagating Chrislam and meeting with other leaders of faith for “unity to one religion”.  If you know the book of Revelation you know this is concerning.  Revelation talks of “One Religion” taking over the masses.  As well as it talks of “One World Government and One Currency”.
            1 Timothy 4:1 (ESV) says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”
            If you know me or have read my writings enough you should know that I’m not a “doom and gloom” kinda preacher.  I believe in the End Times; however I also believe we need to live our lives for Jesus in the now.  Personally I do believe the signs of the End Times are getting closer and closer.  I do believe that we are in the last “season” and only God knows when that is.  However, in following with this dream I had, I need to say, “WAKE UP PEOPLE!”  Be on your guard.  Do not allow yourself to get deceived!  GET TO KNOW WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS!!!  There are many men and women of God you may respect, but take everything they say and put it next to the Bible.  If their words are not 100% rooted and grounded in the word of God do NOT allow yourself to be misled.  Be on your guard!  I have personally witnessed that many who are deceived get to be so because the word of God gets very subtly twisted.  It’s kind of like someone was on the right road initially and then took an exit, and before they know it they were way far out there.  I will repeat that if anything does not line up with the word of God, then don’t let it in.
            I come to you today on what I believe is a mandate from the Lord.  Do not be deceived.  Be on your guard.  This is NOT to put fear inside of you, but to tell you to be watchful and diligent.  We live in a very strategic time in the Kingdom of God.  The good news is that even though it seems as if the dark is getting darker, the light is getting lighter.  Exciting things are happening, so keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus!

            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Random Reflections

            WARNING:  To all who read this, this is a total random blog today. Welcome to the inside musings of my mind.
                  Today is always a day of reflection and contemplation for me. It was 14 years ago that God moved my husband and me across the country to Florida.  We lived there for 13.5 years.  It’s been 5 months that we’ve been back in Ohio, and I know without a doubt both moves in those individual seasons were the in the right place at the right time for our lives.  I guess I set this day up as a memorial in my walk.  I had been a part of leaps of faith in my walk with Christ before this one, but somehow that one 14 years ago was one of the defining moments of my life.  I have no regrets to either.                  

     I finished the rough draft of my 21st book on Friday.  Before I wrote my first book I can remember telling Dan how much I refused to be one of those people who always said they were going to write a book and never did.  I think now after I’ve done this 21 times with the plans of 22, 23, and 24 off in the distance, I’ve certainly made the point that I wasn’t going to be a kinda woulda shoulda individual.  Sure I get frustrated because I want to be a lot further in my career, however on the other side of all this I have no regrets to the work I’ve done.  I would appreciate prayer regarding all of my works that are still unpublished.  It does get kind of old feeling like most of my books are sitting beside a literary highway holding up a cardboard sign saying “Will Write for Food.” I have a lot of possibilities as to where to step next in publishing and am just believing for the God kinda door to be illuminated. The process of writing so many books has taught me so much as a writer and a believer.  God really does make the impossible possible.  I LOVE to write and I love getting to speak; I continue to believe that God opens the doors for that more and more.                  

     Yesterday a member of our church asked for some people to come over and help them paint.  So Dan, the girls and I donned some paint clothes after church and helped.  We all enjoyed getting to paint.  Their fixing up an old home from the 1800’s and it is a beautiful home.  It was nice to get to meet a few people from church outside of church.  I think that the body of Christ often misses the point that we are supposed to help each other out.  We need to be a family.  I was glad to see my girls dive into painting the trim, even if we had to make a few drop clothes readily accessible.  I am a person that has always loved doing ‘Acts of Services’ projects and it’s something I need to actively seek doing more.                 

     I am shocked, saddened, and blown away by the death of Dr. Myles Monroe and his family as is most of the Charismatic Christian Community.  While I never knew him personally I did know of many who did.  He was a mighty man of God who will be missed.  It reminds me yet again how fragile life is while we are on the earth.  It reminds me of how important it is to leave a legacy (which he and his family certainly did). It is also a good reminder how important it is to cover you leaders in prayer.  Please pray for the surviving family, along with his spiritual children.                    

       As I close out this totally random blog for the day, I want to add this; today in my devotionals I stumbled upon one of my favorite scriptures.  Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”  It’s easy for all of us to have so many things that we are praying about and putting our hands to accomplish.  But isn’t beautiful to know that as we give it to God and acknowledge Him then God makes a promise that He will and shall direct your path.  All those years ago God directed us to Florida knowing that one day He’d direct us back.  All those years ago when I struggled writing my first book He saw me being able to say I just finished my 21st.  I’m believe as I have my whining moments about wanting them all published He’s seeing me at that place of fulfillment.  Dan and I spent YEARS praying that God would lead us to the right church for this particular season in our lives, and He did.   God has a beautiful way of turning things around.  He has a beautiful way of making something right out of something that seems beyond wrong.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and do what He puts on your heart to do, and HE SHALL direct your paths!  I never claim to be perfect at any of this, but it’s glorious to know the ONE who is!
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!         

***Tomorrow is Veterans Day and if you know me you know I’m a softy for this country and Veterans.  Make sure you hug a Vet tomorrow and say ‘thank you’!  Many Veterans barely get a thank you ever.  You might be surprised to know this but it’s true.  Honor those who serve our country.***

Monday, November 3, 2014

Really, My Child Did Not Just Say that. . . Did she?

            A few weeks ago my youngest and I were in a grocery store parking lot and there was a guy in a car with the windows rolled down smoking a cigarette. His car happened to be parked right next to mine. The whole scene looked like something out of a 1970’s street movie because there was smoke billowing coming out of the car.  My youngest shares something with most outspoken children; she has no filter for these things. 
            Loudly as she walked over to our car she exclaimed, “Mommy!  That man is smoking!”  As if she was the damsel in distress in a cheesy 1950’s horror movie.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a tad but it certainly felt like it.  Sure I’m glad she knows that smoking is bad for the health of people, however I wanted to crawl into my trunk and close the door at that moment.  Instead I forced on a mom smile.  You know the mom smile I’m talking about, the one that screams, ‘Did my child just say that?  I know you heard it?  I am so sorry.” Kind of smile and walked to my car.
           As I drove away that day I began to think about the times I’m sure I’ve done the same thing to God.  He loves us unconditionally but I know I have said things at times that though were well meaning and correct didn’t come across in the best manner.  I am set free from ‘Open Mouth Insert Food Disorder’ really I am, and I’m sure God has looked at me from heaven a few times shaking his head thinking, “Yup, she’s mine, and she’s working on tact.”
            I’ve been trying to work hard on the following scripture lately, Proverbs 15:1  says “a gentle answer stirs up wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  I think if we all would learn to put a guard over our mouths it would stop a lot of division that goes on in the world.  I’ll admit I’ve had my moments of immaturity in this area.  But I’m trying to get better.  I want God to see me and not to be embarrassed, but I’d rather Him say, ‘Look!  That’s my girl!’ 
           May we all set a guard over our mouths (Psalms 141:3), because we want to be truthful and honest, however we also need to show love in the process.  Remember words are an important thing.  God spoke the world into existence.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and we all need to learn to watch what we’re saying.
           Remember God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Went Apple Picking!

            Yes, it is true.  I went apple picking.  I suppose too many this is a triumph that doesn’t seem to blog worthy.  I suppose too many it’s not.
            Probably about five or six years ago I had the biggest desire to go apple picking.  We were living in Florida the land of the hot and hotter and it wasn’t until this desire hit, did I realize you can’t go apple picking in Florida.  Shocking I know, but I never realized that apples need the freeze to grow and there are no apple orchards that I could find in any kind of drive from the Orlando/Kissimmee area.  I know this seems so minor, but it totally bummed me out.  I even joked on Twitter about four years ago that I was going to move back to Ohio, get a house with apple trees and sell jars of apple sauce with every book I ever sold.  Then I found some Ohio business organization found that tweet and posted it on their website.  My husband and I laughed about the whole thing.  We never thought we actually move back to Ohio. 
When we went this weekend to a local event and found ourselves apple picking I have to admit I found a sweet spot of happiness.  My family had a blast diving in leaf piles, going on a hay ride, and getting lost in a hay maze.  Then my oldest and I took our bounty and made apple sauce for the first time.  I had never made apple sauce before now.  I found out I make a good apple sauce.  In fact Dan and I now want to have a few apple trees of our own when we find the right house to move into. 
Psalms 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I think God has a way of bringing his people to a place where they find they are living the desires of their heart.  I realize that picking apples and making apple sauce isn’t a huge ground breaking desire I had, but it was a small one.  It was something that I wanted to do, and am happy my family and I got to enjoy it together.  I’ve mentioned before that I think our culture has become too involved in observing life, versus living it.  The older I get in the Lord the more I realize that we just need to enjoy where God has us for the moment, and trust Him for the ride.  God has a way with bringing things around in your life, working all things to the good of those that Love Him. (Romans 8:28)  Trust Him with your life.  I believe that he can give you some of your hearts desires both big and small.  Trust Him, and watch what He can do.

God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Running Through Alpaca Poo

            This weekend my family and I went to help some very dear friends of ours at their alpaca/chicken farm.  I think it was a great learning experience for all, and of course we learned there wasn’t anything some good soap and water can’t clean off.  For my primarily raised in city kids, there was some great lessons here. 
            Toward the end of our visit my friends decided to get one of their alpacas away from the herd so my children could feel their fur.  It was a great idea.  My kids wanted to do this.  However no one realized how much of a challenge this would be for all of us.  I hadn’t realized before this how much alpaca’s are herd animals.  They don’t like to get separated from the others.   The others do not like one to get separated from them. I’m not sure if I will ever run with the bulls in Spain, but I can now easily say I have run with the alpaca’s in Ohio.  Separating one from the herd wasn’t easy.  We had our little dog with us and he flipped out.  At one point I had to take him out of the area.  Eventually in a time filled with alpaca poo, some alpaca spitting (which my youngest will tell with great gusto), the one that they wanted to show my children was cornered and they were able to feel her fur. 
            I thought about this today, and realized how much we as people need to be the same when members of our herd or pack get separated.  We need to think of people around us like our herd and if something is going amiss we need to come to their aid. 

1 Corinthians 12:26 (ESV)

26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
            In a world where the norm seems to be that we are all out for ourselves, I think we’ve forgotten the scripture above.  I realize that some can take advantage of others, but it seems to me that we can learn a lesson from the alpacas; that those around, the ones God has put around us, are our ‘herd’.  If one suffers we all do.  We need to stop being so self-focused and realize how we can help those around us.  Likewise, if one is honored instead of being so self-focused that perhaps we weren’t the ones honored, we need to learn to rejoice in the triumphs of those around us.  We need to stop thinking we are individuals on this earth, but realize we are a ‘team’, ‘herd’, or ‘pack’.  We need to start acting like one.  Churches are also to be like families for a reason.  We need to learn to be a family and stick together.  Amen.
            God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Having a Real Leaf Fight Is Just More Fun!

            Dan and I both grew up in lands of changing seasons.  However we lived in FL for 13.5 years where the only seasons they have is “hot and hotter”.  When my oldest daughter was about three we decided we wanted to give her the experience of fall.  I tore up a bunch of magazines and newspapers in the living room and we let her attempt to pile them up and play with them.  I know the experience didn’t come close it was my futile attempt. 
            Now that we have moved back to the land of four seasons, my children and dog have been experiencing fall with gusto.  We recently had to do some raking of the leaves to have a leaf fight for the first time ever.  As much as Dan and I tried to replicate the experience for our children when we tore up the newspapers and magazines it really was no comparison.  We all had fun.  A few days later my daughters, dog, and I found ourselves in the same leaf pile looking up at the sky calling out what shapes we saw in the clouds.
            I realize more and more that life is so beautiful, and it is moments like the above you just can’t duplicate.  A camera can never fully capture the moment, but instead of a picture the image will remain deeply embedded in our hearts.
            We live in such a society where I think we’ve stopped being livers of life, and started to be observers only.  Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with observing people (in a non-creepy sort of way) or trying to duplicate experiences, but we can’t go through the motions of life just to update our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  None of these things are bad, in moderation, but what are we truly living for?  Is it another like or follower? 
            I recently watched the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and loved it.  I’ll easily add it to one of my top 20 films of all time.  There is a great scene where Walter who had been all over the world trying to find this photographer and then the photographer chooses not to take the picture.  

Here’s the quote of their exchange.

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?
Sean O'Connell: Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Walter Mitty: Stay in it?
Sean O'Connell: Yeah. Right there. Right here.

          When Jesus went to the cross and died for us, He did it to give us a life in heaven. However, He also wants us to enjoy life here on earth.  He came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10).  Life is a gift.  He wanted us to experience it.  This doesn’t mean to go sin.  But it means to step out of our comfort zones and back away from our computer desks.  It means to breathe in the moment, and truly embrace the ones you love.  Sure, we all get caught up in the motions sometimes, but may we all find ways to embrace the truth.  This doesn’t mean we all need to go backpacking through the Himalayas, but what I’m saying is simply ‘stop getting caught up in life, and start smelling the roses’.  Just like our attempt at duplicating a leaf fight, the duplication just wasn’t the same.  My girls needed to experience a leaf fight for themselves.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is This What Your Church Looks Like?

            I took this picture while we were in Indy.  It’s the top section of the Scottish Cathedral and just found the picture kind of comical. I get that the church is trying to keep bird poo off their doors, and I get that they don’t want birds to hang out there.  Too many people in the world this is exactly what churches look like to them.  They won’t set foot in a church because they see people as abrasive people, or ones that would judge them if they knew the truth behind their smiles. 
            I recently started to be on a Greeters ‘Dream Team’ at our church. I firmly believe in needing to contribute to the church you’re in, and it was something I could do as we are still living so far from the church. As I thought about it, I thought about this picture.  How would I want to be treated if I just started to come to church and don’t know what to expect.  I’m new to our church having just moved in June to be here.  How would I have liked to have been treated on the first day? 
            The Bible has simple instructions when it says to “Do unto others as you would have them do to you? (Luke 6:31)  The words are often quoted yet seldom done.  We seem to all get caught in our own motions that we forget that there are people that sometimes just need a smile or reassuring hug. 
Somehow, I keep thinking about this picture when it comes to church growth in general.  I don’t believe this is my church at all, but in general, how can we all make our own churches not look like this?  Sometimes people will come in, hang out, and get spiritual “poo” all over. How can we all learn to love people regardless of the mess the make, and see past their exterior? 
This is just a random thought I’ve been thinking of late.  I hope you can think about it too, and think about what you can do so that your church doesn’t look like this.
God has awesome plans for your life.  Get excited!

*I’ve been writing these blogs for over five years now.  While I do still have plans to keep writing them, there are some changes that are going to be made.  It may not be as consistent, and instead of 2 times a week in may go down to 1.  I wanted to make that announcement just so people know I’m not slacking off.  I’m going to start mixing things up a bit.  Change is a good thing, and I feel led to break out of the typical 2 times a week way I’ve always done it.  Get excited.  I believe that God is doing great things in the body, and I believe for doorways to open up over my life and yours.  I love you all.  Super Smiles.

Monday, October 6, 2014

We're Not In Florida Anymore...

            I have never been a lover of cold weather.  I can remember that when I lived in the north going out to scrape my car windows muttering “Dear God Please send me somewhere warm!”  Well.  He did.  I lived in Florida for over 13 years.  For over 13 years I experienced the seasons of “hot and hotter”.   While Florida weather isn’t ideal, flip flops are a clothing “must have” year round.  I hardly ever wore socks.  For 13.5 years I visited colder weather fondly at Christmas time, and then returned to climates where their idea of winter weather meant you might have to throw on a sweatshirt.  While I always missed the seasons I NEVER missed the cold. 
            My family and I moved to Ohio this year in June.  We all knew this was God’s doing. While I knew the winter months would be arriving, I tried very hard to put all of this out of my mind.  Really one needs to pursue the place and location God has prepared for them over the comfort of the climate.
            Fall has hit this year.  My family went out to see a movie on Saturday and I looked out at my oldest daughter who swore though the sky was producing a frozen rain sleet combo, flip flops were appropriate attire.  Sigh… and I’ll admit my annoyance of everyone telling met this year is supposed to be some insanely cold year that parallels to last year’s polar vortex. 
Ok, I still have NO regret to moving back to Ohio.  However, I’ll also admit to beginning to guard my tongue from complaining.  If God felt this was our land then perhaps I need to watch what I say about the weather and continue to declare “I am graced to be here.”  I mean really, an excuse to shop for warmer clothing isn’t always such a bad thing. . .and we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us…..including to adapt to this climate.
We all go through these kinds of seasons don’t we?  We find ourselves in situations that are not comfortable or ideal.  However the last time I took stock of my life, it’s in the most uncomfortable times, I have grown the most.  When the Israelites began complaining and murmuring about their situation they ticked off God.  Let us all learn the valuable lesson of guarding our tongues and attitudes in those moments.  Really, what is having to learn to wear boots over flip flops in the grand scheme of things?  I want to encourage all of you to adapt to where God has planted you.  Trust him and declare you are graced for your race, and boldly move forward in all He says to do.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Divine Moments at the Museum

I wanted to take a moment in today’s blog to again reiterate how much I love the Holy Spirit.  When we were in Indy, I was to have one more day while Dan was working.  I honestly had no idea where I should go.  I’d done what I wanted to do, and was just being indecisive about what else to do.  I couldn’t, nor did I want to, stay in the hotel the rest of that last day.  Early that last morning as I was waking up I felt as if the Holy Spirit hit me upside the head and dropped into my spirit that I needed to go to this Scottish Cathedral downtown. 
I was sure there had to be some divine reason for me to go to this Cathedral.  Maybe I’d get to talk with some old school Scottish priest, or maybe have a divine moment of speaking into someone’s life, but for whatever the reason I just knew I had to go there. 
However when I got there, the doors were locked.  Have you have done that?  Been so pumped because you were sure you had to go somewhere and then there was no way you could actually get there….so I figured since the doors were locked I’d look around the area and try again.  When I came back about an hour later the doors were still locked.  But when I was on my walk I happened to see the World War Museum and decided that I’d love to investigate it. 
I thoroughly love, enjoyed, was moved to tears in the World War Museum in downtown Indy.  If you’ve been reading my blogs for any length of time or know me personally you’ll know I have a soft spot for the military. The picture above is on the door going into the museum.  In fact I’m really glad there weren’t a lot of people inside the building because at one turn in the museum I had a God moment.  I felt as if an idea for a future manuscript was literally dropped on my shoulders.  I could see the scenes play out in my head.  I found myself sitting in the middle of a fake trench exhibit from World War I in tears.  I realized the Holy Spirit impressing on me to go to the cathedral wasn’t about me literally going to the cathedral, but it was about me going downtown and going to the World War Museum.  That was the God encounter I was seeking.
How often do we all do this?  That we get so convinced of what and why we think God is doing something that we will often miss what He is actually doing.  God telling me to visit the Cathedral was just a way to get me downtown.  Sure I really enjoyed seeing the big building and I do have a funny blog coming up next week about it, but the goal was the museum.  We always have to stay sensitive and movable to where and what God is doing.  We always need to learn to go with the flow. 
So many people look for the big booming voice of God before they will ever move on what they feel God has said.  But in all the years I’ve been following God I’ve learned that for the most part He speaks with a still small voice.
1Kings 19:11-12 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
I pray today that you learn to hear God in the still small voice.  I pray that you learn to be sensitive to His leading, and to go where He leads….not necessarily where you think He leads.

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Being Followed By A Stranger

            I’m turning today’s blog into a bit of a PSA for listening to the Holy Spirit.  Do you know that the Holy Spirit is awesome?  He is a friend, and he will let you know when something isn’t right.  You have to learn to listen to those feelings.
            As I mentioned before that last week Dan and I were in Indy, and I was going all over the city.  One morning I went to downtown and I walked around the area.  I was taking a picture of one of the monuments and I noticed a couple different people that were a bit odd looking.  Perhaps they were homeless, maybe they were just released from a mental institution, and maybe they weren’t, but something didn’t seem right about these people.  There was one in particular that seemed to stand out.  I realize that many would argue with me here.  Maybe I should have offered some kind of assistance to them, or shown compassion.  I believe in helping people, however I also believe in being led by the Holy Spirit to do so.  Something didn’t register well with me in the situation.  So I quickly walked by.  As I found myself walking back to my car that was a good block away and on the other side of the street, I took a couple more pictures of the city.  But something inside of me made me feel as if I needed to hurry up and get to my car.  It wasn’t until I got to my car and opened the door did I realize that one of these off looking men had followed me across the street and was about 10 feet from me.  I have no doubt he was intentionally following me.  I also have no doubt that uneasy feeling that I felt on the inside was the Holy Spirit telling me to rush.  I don’t know what would have happened had he got to me.  He didn’t. 
            In the simplest of terms, if you don’t feel right about something don’t do it.   The Holy Spirit is God’s breath on the earth.  The Holy Spirit is taking care of you, and you have to learn to listen.  In Luke 24:49 Jesus is referring to  the disciples getting the Holy Spirit and He equates this with ‘Power from on High’.  You have to learn to listen to those gut reactions.  You have to learn to stay sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is saying.  Often throughout the scriptures the Holy Spirit is referred to as a comforter or a friend.  It never ceases to amaze me when I talk to Christians and they don’t even have an understanding as to who the Holy Spirit is.   He needs to be your friend.  You need to know that you can trust what and where He is leading.  Please dear readers, I pray you get to know who the Holy Spirit is.  If you don’t think you know, then ask God to reveal Himself to you.  Ask Him to show you.  He wants to be your friend. 

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