“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Sunday, February 28, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 5
Renewal. Renovation. Complete Change for the Better.

photography by Anthony

Do not conform any longer 
to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the  
RENEWing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve 
what God's will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.  
Romans 12:2

According to Thayers Lexicon, the greek word "renewing" used in this verse is defined as:  a renewal, renovation, complete change for the better.

This weekend I attended a women's retreat hosted by my church.
The theme:  Renovation.
The name of my small group:  Renew.

It was a bit of an emotional weekend for me.  God allowed me to share a portion of my childhood... which was not idyllic... and I know most of you can relate.  How it grieves my heart to look back on that little girl... I want to wrap her in my arms and tell her that one day...
She will be renewed.
And --praise God-- completely changed for the better.
I am loving it.  Completely changed for the better.

After the weekend drew to a close, I set about looking for something to remind me of the weekend.  The work God did this weekend... and is continuing to do.  I came across a key-chain in the hotel gift shop with the word "courage" which resonated with what I had just done... and divinely coincided with the verse that was personally prayed over for me by the retreat coordinators...

Be strong. 
Take courage
Don't be intimidated. 
Don't give them a second thought 
because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. 
He's right there with you. 
He won't let you down; 
he won't leave you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG

And it was all true.  He was right there with me.  He didn't let me down.  He stayed with me.

And then... on the way home... we stopped by Starbucks... and of course, I saw this mug... and thought... this would be my altar... my remembrance... of how God is renewing me... renovating me... completely changing me... which fits so perfectly with Romans 12:2.  And so, I have chosen it as my 5th memory verse for 2010.

Are you growing weary of memorizing scripture?  I know I am.  I didn't memorize verse 4 yet... so I'll be memorizing my 4th and 5th at the same time.  But here's the thing... by memorizing scripture I am not conforming to the pattern of this world... and my mind is being renewed... and that truly is a change for the better.

Please list your current memory verse with translation as a comment.  It is always a blessing to read what is meaningful to you.

Friday, February 26, 2010

But she has decided to wipe the tears away. Reapply her mascara. Get in the car. And drive.

photography by Anthony

She is going tonight.
It is a fight for her.
She would much rather stay home.

But she knows this is good for her.
And perhaps...
Just maybe...
She'll meet someone.

Someone who will make her feel
Not alone.

But as she packs her suitcase...
Tears flood her eyes.
Because she is not sure.
Because she is insecure.

Why would she think
It would be different this time?
That it is worth the risk?

She fears that she will sit alone.
And others will notice, but not reach out.
They will all be content to stay
In their warm cozy cliques.

And she will tell herself...
"See, I told you so.
I am not trying anymore."

But she has decided to wipe the tears away.
Reapply her mascara.
Get in the car.
And drive.

She prays silently as she drives.
Asking God for something...
Wondering if it is wrong of her for wanting...
A friend.

And I have been praying for her.
Because I have been her.
And I will be there...
Waiting for her.

And I want her to know
There are others praying for her.
And they will be there...
Waiting for her.

She is going to a women's retreat tonight.
It is a fight for her.
But she will be glad
That she did not stay home.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

All I Want is for My Daughter to be Whole
and off those Antidepressants... Again!

I have felt prompted to re-surface this post.  I pray it will bring you either compassion, mercy or at least consideration.

Originally aired on July 21, 2009

"But I have prayed for you, Simon,
that your faith may not fail.
And when you have turned back,
strengthen your brothers."
Luke 22:32 NIV

I had never met her before. I had joined my mother for a luncheon and I just happened to sit next to her. A godly woman... perhaps almost 70 years old... well-put together. She explained to me that her daughter, a mother of fourteen children, was dealing with depression. And then she boldly exclaimed, "All I want is for my daughter to be whole and off those antidepressants!"

My eyes widened. My throat got tight. My heart hurt. And immediately I began the self-talk.

If you're going through the study Me, Myself & Lies, you know what I'm talking about... the talk that goes on in our head... often destructive in nature. And if not properly taken captive can tempt me to destroy everything that God has instilled in me.

And the self-talk in my head that was prompted by this woman's exclamation sounds like:
"Those anti-depressants... That's you, Sheri... you're on those anti-depressants. You know what she would be thinking if she knew you were on those anti-depressants... if only you trusted the Lord more... prayed more... were more godly. Christians shouldn't be on those anti-depressants."
This particular conversation with myself has occurred many times. And since I am on anti-depressants... and most likely will be on them for the rest of my life... I have had to "speak truth to my issues." I have sought the Lord in prayer. I have sought His heart through reading the Bible. I have worked with Christian counselors. I have done medical research. All of this to combat the damaging self-talk.

I have begged the Lord to take the depression away from me. And wondered... why would He not do it instantaneously. Why not an instant miracle of healing? But through reading the Bible I find it is not always the case.

I consider Naaman in 2 Kings 5 who had leprosy. He went to Elisha for healing and was disgusted to find out that he had to dunk himself seven times in the muddy dark waters of the Jordan. "But Naaman went away angry and said, 'I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.'" 2 Kings 5:11 NIV Ultimately he did go to the Jordan... did the dunk... and was healed by God.

Or I consider the man who brought his son to the disciples for healing. He said to Jesus, "I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not." Mark 9:18b The disciples in all their proximity to Jesus could not heal his son. So the man went to Jesus... and then the son was healed.

These people were not healed instantly. They had to pray and then pursue and act and then receive. It did not happen as they thought it should.

And what about the shame I feel in regards to taking medication? I realize that there are people with diabetes or thyroid cancer or arthritis or asthma or IBS or irregular heartbeat... who are on life giving or pain relieving medication... and we shame them not. So, why should I feel shame over taking medicine for a medical condition?

I have done my share of medical research. And due to sexual abuse under the age of five... and due to hereditary issues from my father who had mental illness... and due to the effects of thyroid cancer... I come about my depression honestly. The effects of the abuse, heredity, and thyroid cancer cause my synapses and serotonin to be out of whack.

Still when the exclamation was made... it sent me into destructive self-talk... but I immediately covered it with the truth. And later that day, admitted to my own mother that I am on anti-depressants.

And in writing this post... and revealing this weakness... this vulnerability... I realize that someone could decide to leave a comment that could send me back into that self-talk. But I also know that I am not alone... and that by "confessing" my issue, I am taking away some of its power over me.

My thorn does not define me, but instead refines me.

At first I didn't think of it as a gift,
and begged God to remove it.
Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it's all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.
I quit focusing on the handicap and
began appreciating the gift.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 The Message

Dear sister, when you are prompted to start the destructive self-talk... take courage. Press into the Truth... read the Truth... pray... and find someone in whom to confide. 

And may God's grace be sufficient in your weakness.

Monday, February 22, 2010

If Only...

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
 if only I may finish the race and 
complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—
the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.  
Acts 20:24

A "prominent false positive" is "the one thing that would make you more secure in all things."

Just wondering if any of these might be your "one thing"...

If only I was married...
If only I had children...
If only I could have had more children...
If only I had married someone else...
If only I hadn't gotten pregnant...
If only I lived closer to my family...
If only I could lose the extra weight...
If only my husband wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I wasn't an alcoholic...
If only I could be a stay-at-home mom...
If only I didn't have to deal with depression...
If only my husband was faithful...
If only I could be faithful...
If only I had a best friend...
If only I had more friends...
If only I wasn't lonely...
If only I could make friends at church...
If only the church leadership would see my potential...
If only I would be promoted...
If only I was given a raise...
If only I looked younger...
If only I was younger...
If only I was in shape...
If only I didn't have chronic pain...
If only I could get over him...
If only I had financial security...
If only I was beautiful...
If only I hadn't been sexually abused...
If only I hadn't been neglected as a child...
If only I had a college degree...
If only I knew what God wanted me to do...
If only I was more spiritual...
If only I could meet my own expectations...
If only my children would come back to the Lord...
If only my husband would come back to the Lord...
If only my family didn't embarrass me...
If only the church would help me...
If only I were more like other people...
If only I was emotionally stable at all times of the month...
If only my sister wouldn't judge me...
If only the Bible were easier to read...
If only I lived in a better neighborhood...
If only my home looked like hers...
If only I looked like her...
If only I didn't feel so guilty...
If only I could forget my past...
If only I could please my mother...
If only I didn't care so much...
If only I didn't love so much...
If only I wasn't so sensitive...

If only I wasn't so insecure...

And Abraham said to God, 
"If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!"  
Genesis 17:18

Once again he spoke to him, "What  
if only forty are found there?" 
He said, "For the sake of forty, 
I will not do it."  Genesis 18:29

The Israelites said to them, 
"If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! 
There we sat around pots of meat and 
ate all the food we wanted, 
but you have brought us out into this desert 
to starve this entire assembly to death." 
Exodus 16:13

"Tell the people: 
'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, 
when you will eat meat. 
The LORD heard you when you wailed, 
"If only we had meat to eat! 
We were better off in Egypt!" 
Now the LORD will give you meat, 
and you will eat it. Numbers 11:18

And Joshua said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, 
why did you ever bring this people 
across the Jordan to deliver us 
into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?  
If only we had been content to stay 
on the other side of the Jordan!  Joshua 7:7

He said, "They were my brothers, 
the sons of my mother. As the LORD lives,  
if only you had let them live, 
I would not kill you." Judges 8:19

"If only this people were under my command! 
Then I would get rid of him. 
I would say to Abimelech, 
'Call out your whole army!'" Judges 9:29

And Absalom would add, 
"If only I were appointed judge in the land! 
Then everyone who has a complaint or case 
could come to me and 
I would see that he gets justice." 
2 Samuel 15:4

The king was shaken. He went up to the room 
over the gateway and wept. 
As he went, he said: "O my son Absalom! 
My son, my son Absalom!
If only I had died instead of you—
O Absalom, my son, my son!" 2 Samuel 18:33

If only I had never come into being, 
or had been carried straight 
from the womb to the grave! Job 10:19

If only God would speak; 
if only he would tell you what he thinks! Job 11:5

Their insults have broken my heart,and I am in despair. 
If only one person would show some pity; 
if only one would turn and comfort me. Psalm 69:20 NLT

If only you would slay the wicked, 
O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 
Psalm 139:13

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord,  
if only you had been here, 
my brother would not have died. John 11:21

Sunday, February 21, 2010

So Long, Insecurity - Week 2

Rays of Hope
photography by Anthony

I've struggled to write this post.  I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it is because there is so much meat-y material... and I really wish I could buy each of you and everyone I know a copy of So Long, Insecurity.  And for those of you who are not reading the book, I have found it difficult to make my answers feel sufficient to give you an idea of what Beth is asking about this week.  And I normally don't write posts until I feel inspired to do so... but I didn't want to wait much longer because I don't want to miss reading your answers to Week 2 before Week 3 is already here.

Your answers to  So Long, Insecurity - Week 1 have touched my heart and opened my eyes.  How we can be so secure in some areas of our lives... and so insecure in other areas has been an epiphany for me.  I am trying to take advantage of what security I do have... and use it in other areas of my life.

You are welcome to leave your answers to So Long, Insecurity - Week 2 in the comments section of this post.  It will be exciting to track our growth alongside each other.  And we can pray for one another.  As always... because we are dealing with insecurity... feel free to leave an anonymous comment. 

So Long, Insecurity - Week 2

1. Based on Chapter Three, what tends to be your own "Prominent False Positive"?
Beth defines a "prominent false positive" as "the one thing that would make you more secure in all things."
I would consider my "prominent false positive" to be my "chronic need for affirmation."  Which includes wanting everyone to like me... and to be pleased with me... and to tell me about it.  And even after that... to remind me, again. 
"No one solitary thing on this entire planet has the power to secure everything else." ~ Beth Moore

2. What is the challenge stated at the very end of Chapter Three?  (I want us to see this restated in our comments hundreds of times so it breaks into our belief systems. It is critical to our journey. SO, I don't care how many times you've seen it written on this post, write it again for yourself. That's your mama talking.)
"That, beloved, is our challenge.  To let the healthy, utterly whole, and completely secure part of us increasingly overtake our earthen vessels until it drives our every emotion, reaction and relationship.  When we allow God's truth to eclipse every false positive and let our eyes spring open to the treasure we have, there in His glorious reflection we'll also see the treasure we are.  And the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon us (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)." ~ Beth Moore
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17 NKJV

3. Based on Chapter Four, what Biblical figure (or statement about him/her) resonated with you most and why?
Some of the Biblical figures that were discussed in the book were:  Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Leah and Rachel, Saul, the woman at the well, Paul and Moses.  My answer to this question is in the post Blogging is so Passé... Again! 
"...even when fears are founded and threats are real and we are about to be swept away in a tidal wave of well-earned insecurity, there is a divine power, wisdom, and clarity of thought to be found.  
...surely, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we are not alone in our struggles.  Human flesh and blood have no weakness so strong that God's strength is made weak.  He's got what we need.  It's up to us whether or not we're going to let the worst of us get the best of us." ~ Beth Moore

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly 
about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me. 

That is why, for Christ's sake, 
I delight in weaknesses, 
in insults, in hardships, 
in persecutions, in difficulties. 

For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Blogging is so Passé... Again!

I just finished reading Chapters 3 & 4 of So Long, Insecurity.  Chapter 4 discusses insecurities of Biblical characters.  And we find Moses... begging the Lord to send someone else... It reminded me of a recent post I wrote on December 13th of 2009... and I felt the need to revisit it.  

I will be posting the questions and my answers in an upcoming post... but for those of you following along... you already know my answer for question #3.

Winter Water Falls. Photography by Anthony.

But Moses said, “O Lord, 
please send someone else to do it.”  
Exodus 4:13 NIV

Siesta Scripture Memory Verse 10
(May 15-30, 2009)

"Blogging is passé."

I was startled by the statement. Is it really? Because I just thought I was getting the hang of this whole blogging thing. And what will I do if I don't blog? Hmmm.... actually... it might be a relief. But for now... I blog.

I have often asked, "O, Lord, please send someone else to do it." Send someone else to write this or that post. Sometimes I feel inadequate. Okay, lots of times. Or frustrated. Some posts I struggle to write... some come easily. Some reveal my faults... and some posts seem a bit braggadocios.

Blogging has been somewhat dangerous to me. A bit tempting. I found myself in words Alicia Britt Chole wrote in Anonymous...
"...I craved affirmation and longed to be spoken of in superlatives...

Through his Word and his people, he revealed how vulnerable it made me to the power of others praise, my own prideful perfectionism, and a whole host of other unpleasant spiritual ailments...

Man's praise is like cotton candy --sugar-laden and insubstantial... For my spiritual health, I had to make a change...

Once we have known an addiction to man's praise, shifting our diet from finding value in man's acceptance to finding value in God's acceptance does not happen in a matter of days. It is a process we revisit though out our lifetimes. Thank God for hidden years! In those underestimated seasons, when no one shows up to decorate us with praise, life is finally bare enough for us to notice that God's adoring eyes have always been upon us. We had his attention all along. We just could not see it because we were too distracted by the sight of ourselves."
And so, I have found that blogging has been good for my soul. Good for my relationship with the Lord. Good for my desire to know God in a more intimate way. Choosing to be obedient to Him... whether I want to or not... knowing that others may be reading... or not. But coming to a place where I am finding my significance in Him.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and
then feeding you with manna,
which neither you nor your fathers had known,
to teach you that man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 8:3 NIV

Now, don't get me wrong... I love me some cotton candy...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Just Need Some Time To Think...

We all want to live in the zone of God’s blessings, but are we willing to pay the price for those blessings? You see, sometimes—not always, but sometimes—those blessings bring unexpected and undesired consequences into our lives. Sometimes our blessings will arouse the envy of those who are not so blessed. ~ Pastor Ray Noah

My thoughts have been here for the past few days...

The Unintended Consequences of Divine Blessing

For those reasons, it could be that God’s favor will force you to leave your comfort zone. But fear not, for if that’s the case, that forced move will always be to a larger zone where greater blessing can be received. ~ Pastor Ray Noah
It has really caused me to think.  Or perhaps, I'm not sure what to think.  I guess I always thought it would be a call to obedience that would stretch my comfort zone... and I guess it still is... will I try to please God... or men?

Am I now trying to win 
the approval of men, or of God? 

Or am I trying to please men? 

If I were still trying to please men, 
I would not be a servant of Christ.  

Galatians 1:10

Monday, February 15, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 4

 Mt. Moriah, Jerusalem 
photography by Anthony

Then Solomon began to build 
the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, 
where the LORD had appeared to his father David. 
It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, 
the place provided by David. 
2 Chronicles 3:1

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010
Verse 4

Here we are at verse 4 already!  If you are just joining us... Welcome!  and I encourage you to stop by this post to get more information about our Scripture Memory 2010.

To pick my fourth verse, I looked at the upcoming two weeks and thought... I am going to really need some wisdom... and where else to get wisdom?  God's word.  God's precepts.

The fear of the LORD is 
the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts 
have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise. 
Psalm 111:10

I always think of Solomon asking God for wisdom in 1 Kings 3.  Realizing that Solomon didn't always rely on the wisdom given by God encourages me to remember how I need to keep God's word fresh in my heart and mind daily.

One of the ways I memorize my scriptures are by printing them out and posting them on my bathroom mirror.  Another way is to write them in a spiral and keep them with you... so that anytime you have a couple minutes... you can study them.

Last year, Beth Moore did a set of mini-videos about how to memorize scripture (see this post).  She would encourage us to use the acrostic RENEW.
R - Read It
E - Examine It
N - Need It
E - Echo It
W - Wield It

So, what's your memory verse?  Please include the entire verse with location and translation of the Bible.  And share any tips you use for memorizing scripture... or why you chose your scripture.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

photography by Anthony

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore. 
What future bliss He gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now. 
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be, blest. 
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come. 
~ Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, circa 1732-1734

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Okay, Sheri... You Are A Big Girl... Act Like It!

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
photography by Anthony

Wednesday Night.  I had just dropped Christopher off for kids' choir rehearsal at church.  I needed to eat dinner, but Anthony had to work late.  Do I dare walk into the church by myself and eat dinner on my own?  It would be too overwhelming to walk into that room and figure out where to sit... or who to sit with.  What if I ended up sitting by myself?  Wouldn't other people notice and think "poor Sheri"... all alone... eating dinner by herself.  As if all eyes would be on me.  It would just be easier to run over to Pizzicato's... grab a slice of pizza and a magazine... and eat dinner without anyone knowing me.

The struggle.  I couldn't believe it.  Wow!  Am I really this insecure?  Yes, I am.  But hadn't I just spoken to women on Tuesday about stretching their comfort zone.  Didn't I just wear a pink feather boa as I taught about Abraham?  Weren't these the same women who would be at church eating dinner?  Okay, Sheri... suck it up... you are going to eat dinner by yourself at church.  You can do this!  You are a big girl... act like it!

I walked into the room.  Surveyed the other diners.  Yes, I did know some of them... was there room at their table?  Or were they done eating and just about to get up and leave, as I would be sitting down?  Aha!  Steve and Jeannette are in line with me getting dinner.  I know them.  I'll just follow them to their table... and voila!

I am half laughing and half cringing as I write this... who wants to admit their insecurity?  I feel childish and weak and alone in it all.  And God knows that... and on Thursday what book did I start to read?  So Long, Insecurity!  Perfect timing!

So Long Insecurity Week One!
Here are my answers to the questions Beth posed in her first post.
1. Write a journal-type entry on the inside cover of your book describing this present season of your life and why you’ve chosen to read a book like this. 
Okay... see above!  Plus... I love sharing whatever I learn with the precious sisters around me... and you, too!

2. When was the last time you came face-to-face with our gender’s massive struggle with insecurity? Describe the setting. 
Just this morning!  Anthony's mood dictates mine... if he seems upset about anything... I think it is my fault... what did I do wrong?  I feel I need him to tell me exactly how I contributed to whatever is going on inside him. 
3. What part of the definition or description of insecurity resonated most with you and why? 
Page 17. "A deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate."  In my family of origin, two common statements were "Just get over it" and "Quit crying or I'll give you something to cry about."  Wasn't really encouraged to face my feelings... so I think that still follows me today.
I have decided to open up this post to your answers to the So Long Insecurity Week One! post.  I encourage you to post your answers to Beth's questions on her blog, but I thought it might be interesting if we had a little small group here, too.  That way we could work alongside one another... encourage one another... and have a little discussion, too.

Feel free to post your comment Anonymously.
Feel free to leave a comment even if you are not reading the book. 
I'll refer back to this post next Thursday when Beth posts our new questions.

All I can say is... I already know this book is going to be added to my "altar" shelf.  I am ready to "press through the discomfort of staring at my weaknesses than live in denial and bondage." Page 16.

For we are God's workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.  
Ephesians 2:10

Friday, February 12, 2010

Don't Drink the KOOL-AID...

Vera Bradley Petal Pink Binder

Okay, so I live about 2 miles from a Hallmark store that carries Vera Bradley.  Often items go for 50-75% off (and even once 90% off).  So, when this pattern was retired almost 2 years ago... I snagged it for a deal.  I plan on using it whenever I have the opportunity to teach in the future.  Not sure what that looks like, but I am anticipating it!

Last night my husband "kind" of questioned me about my fanaticism for Beth Moore lately.  I immediately agreed with him that I have been talking about her a lot or blogging about her or flying to see her in Houston... or reading her current book release!  At the SSMTC one of my new BFFs, Linda, said that her husband had told her not drink any KOOL-AID she might be offered by Beth Moore.  She chuckled and told him that if Beth Moore was offering... she'd ask for a pitcher full!

Here's the deal... last year I was talking to a wise friend of mine about a relationship I was in... I was trying to "fix" someone... a habit I am sooooo giving over to the Lord.  Her advice to me was... "Are you pointing her to the Lord or to yourself?"  Gulp!  She encouraged me to draw my friend to the Lord... and not try to be her "everything."  Such strong words that I immediately wrote them down and keep them in my office as a reminder to myself... whenever I feel like I don't know what to say to someone or how to help them... or how to fix them... I ask myself, "Am I pointing her to YOU or to me?"

And in the same vain... I look at those I esteem in the ministry.  Are they pointing me to God or to themselves?  As for Beth Moore, I can only say that her influence over the years through Bible Studies, books or teachings have so increased my love for the Word of God that I am overwhelmed with gratefulness.  That she is constantly pointing me to Jesus and to the truth of the Bible... I guess I just can't contain myself.

And so, I also say this for myself... If I am ever pointing you to me and not to God... don't follow me!  Follow God!  And please... in love... gently rebuke me.  And remind me... that it is sooooo about God's grace and mercy... and the best thing I can do sometimes is to just shut up and pray.

...for they received the message 
with great eagerness and 
examined the Scriptures every day 
to see if what Paul said was true. 
Acts 17:11b

Thursday, February 11, 2010

6,000 Insecure Women

Today I am hanging out with 6,000 other Siestas (aka Sisters) on the Living Proof Ministries Blog.  Beth Moore's book So Long, Insecurity has been released and she is hosting a discussion group over the next nine weeks. 

I am kind of surprised that there are 5,999 other women dealing with insecurity.  I thought I was the only one.  And I know... I know... you think I don't deal with insecurity... but I have proof that I do... Just read my blog!  And yes, since I turned 40 I have been having my hair highlighted... and I am not giving it up... just yet.

If you know someone who deals with insecurity... why not invite them to get the book and follow along on the LPM blog?  I'd love to know if you are reading along with me, too.

P.S. I decided on the "altar" for my teaching on Abraham.  
I had used a pretty Vera Bradley binder to hold my teaching notes.  
I'm thinking about using it each time I teach in the future and 
listing the dates on the inside cover.  
What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Butterflies In My Stomach

An Altar:  Christopher's Beanie Baby from the NICU

Yesterday, I got to teach.  And I had a lot of fun.  I had been asked to teach on Abraham for our Tuesday Ladies' Bible Study.  It was like being on a favorite roller coaster for 45 minutes... with ups and downs and turns and twists and best of all... butterflies in my stomach.

And yes, I did wear the pink feather boa.  I thought I wouldn't have to... I felt so calm and at ease yesterday morning... I felt your prayers... but as I began to speak the blood started pumping quicker and quicker and I thought I might faint... so I put it on... and ended up keeping it on.

Jackie, one of my new BFFs from the SSMTC reminded me that it wasn't about me... and with or without me God was going to do His thang...
Sheri, we had our Loving Well Retreat Friday and Saturday.  Beth was saying right at the beginning how nervous she was because there was 19,000 women in the arena. In classic Bethese, she said that God told her "you're not good enough to mess this up. I'm (God) going to be there. You can come if you want or you can stay home."
And I am so glad that I did not stay home!  God had prepared me early on talk about the altars that Abraham built for God.  I had been listening to a podcast by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson... and God let me know that this was what I was to share... but I was to make it mine.  To make it personal.  Because I am in the habit of setting up altars.

To me an altar is something that reminds me of God's faithfulness.  Perhaps a pink feather boa that reminds me that it is okay to go out of my comfort zone.  Or a Beanie Baby that newborn baby Christopher was given in the NICU... where God miraculously healed him.  Or a book like "Anonymous" or "Conquering Depression" that changed my thinking... and my life.  Or my many journals (and now my blogging) which mark the path where God has taken me from... and where He is taking me to...

Abraham would set up altars after a spiritually significant encounter with the Lord.  Whether the Lord appeared to Abraham or revealed more details on His plans for Abraham or brought Abraham to a point of decision... and sometimes Abraham even ended up worshiping at an altar that he had built years before.

If we don't have some type of reminder... we will forget.  You know I have a baby book for Christopher... because in all honesty... I don't remember when he took his first step...  But I can open the book and find out.  As I look back at the reminders of my pregnancy or depression or spiritual growth... they remind me that I have had some difficult times in my past... and I can see God's hand upon me... and the difference between then and now... Thank YOU, God!  And if I ever go through another time like that... I have proof of God's faithfulness in my past, so I can count on His faithfulness in the future.

When we look back on Abraham's life, it wasn't easy.  He was not raised to believe in The Most High God... he had been raised in a polytheistic home. (Joshua 24:2) His brother died at a young age (Genesis 11:28) and Abraham became like a son to him. (Genesis 12:4)  His wife was barren. (Genesis 11:30) He was a foreigner in the land God promised his offspring. (Hebrews 11:9)  He was tested by God.  (Hebrews 11:17) He only saw his offspring to the 2nd generation.  (Genesis 25:7-8) Yet, he is known as a friend of God.  (2 Chronicles 20:7, Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23)  And here is the thing... he never got his hands on what was promised.  (Hebrews 11:39)

But God took every moment of Abraham's life... God didn't waste a moment of it.  Through all of the trials and tests and sufferings and WAITING... Ultimately, Abraham became a father of a great nation and his name became great and the people on earth were blessed through him...

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ 
the son of David, 
the son of Abraham." 
Matthew 1:1

Is there an altar you can build today?  Perhaps it is a photo or a journal or even a particular Bible verse... and it reminds you of God's faithfulness?  We need to remember... because we are prone to forget.

Today my challenge is to find a way to mark my path... to set up a spiritual stepping stone... of the roller coaster I was on yesterday.  Because it is not something I want to forget... ever.  And I have a feeling that it is just the beginning...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kind of Like a Security Blanket...

I'm feeling nauseous.  Really.  No, it is not something I ate.  No, I am not expecting... I am getting ready to teach on Tuesday.  And I am sick. 

I've been here before and then again

This year I have been given the opportunity to teach on Abraham.  As soon as I found out... I turned on my radar because I knew I would be encountering Abraham every where I went.  And it has been true.

And I am prepared.  Super prepared.  Reading.  Listening.  Praying.  Prepping. 

And I have been so excited... because God has made me to teach.  And to get this opportunity is like a dream to me.

And encouraged... oh, my... YES!  I have my wonderful sisters praying for me... and even asking me for direction as they work on their study.

But as Tuesday draws closer... so does the doubt... so does the insecurity.

And I am reminded that when I wore that pink feather boa in Houston, Texas at the SSMTC... I was bold.  I am not sure why.  But somehow having the guts to wear a pink feather boa in Houston... made me feel confident and fearless.  Kind of like a security blanket...  

So, guess what I am wearing right now?  My pink feather boa.  I'm still a little queasy, but it's not as bad... and who knows... maybe on Tuesday you'll see me teaching on Abraham with with pink feathers around my neck... and you won't be surprised one bit!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

But I have not been invited.
Nor do I want to be.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
  photography by Anthony

She is in her own desert
And it is by invitation only.
I have not been asked to join her.
I can't.

There are many like her
In this desert.
Hurting and broken hearted.
Feeling alone.

All I could do
was offer her a cold cup of water.
I offered.
She accepted.

She spoke.
I listened.
She explained.
But I couldn't understand.

Her child is dying.
And she is helpless.
Her strength is fading.
God is her only hope.

I wanted somehow
To go into the desert.
But I have not been invited.
Nor do I want to be.

So from my lush meadow
I lean over
To hand a cup of cold water
To her in her desert.

And I pray for her
And her son.
And I humbly thank God
For mine.

Monday, February 1, 2010

2010 Scripture Memory Verse #3

Verse 1
Verse 2
Verse 3
Verse 4
Verse 5 
Verse 6 
Verse 7 
Verse 8

Congratulations to Jen C for winning your own copy of 
So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore. 
Thank you to everyone who entered!

I have hidden your word in my heart 
that I might not sin against you.  
Psalm 119:11 NIV

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  
Psalm 86:11 NIV

I am so excited that some of you have decided to memorize scripture alongside me this year.  I will follow the same format I followed last year from the 2009 Siesta Scripture Memory Team on the LPM Blog.  Below I have pretty much plagiarized what Beth Moore said on her blog... but is it plagiarism if I tell you I did it?
Here's what you do today (and on the 15ths and 1sts of the months that will follow): You will put your name, your city, and your verse (with reference and translation abbreviation) in a comment to this post. If you want... tell us why you are choosing your particular verse... okay, this part is different from the LPM Blog... but I'm interested!

You are welcome to memorize the one I have chosen or any of the other verses listed in the comments. However, you still need to put your name, city, and the verse in a comment to this post. It's a vital part of the accountability. Don't feel silly or like you've copied. That's what the Body of Christ is for! Many of the first Scriptures I memorized were those I heard other teachers or leaders recite and I knew I wanted those words for myself. It's a normal part of discipleship so feel free!

Try to post your verse within the first 24 hours of the post both times each month so you will stick with it and take it seriously. I have learned along the way that when you start putting something off, the power to obey and prosper in it begins to drain and soon we lose our fervor. Resist thinking to yourself by the third or fourth month, "Well, I'm not going to take the time to sign in but I'll still memorize the Scripture." I can almost guarantee you (based on experience) that you will not memorize 24 Scriptures by the end of 2010 without sticking with the accountability part of putting your name down each time. Sign in twice every month... even come August... and December!

I have the privilege of teaching about Abraham on Tuesday, February 9th at our Ladies' Bible Study.  I am learning so much about Abraham... and having such a fun time prepping for the teaching.  I have decided to chose a verse that will remind me throughout the year about this precious season I am sharing with the Lord.

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, 
"To your offspring I will give this land." 
So he built an altar there to the LORD, 
who had appeared to him.  Genesis 12:7 NIV

So, what's your verse?