What Does God Want From You?

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

Sometimes I think we’ve made our relationship with God far too difficult and confusing. We strive so hard to draw closer to the heart of God. And all the while, God’s outstretched hand is reaching to draw us in.

For more than half a century, I have been striving, pursuing, and seeking God. And like a cat chasing her tail, I’ve been going in circles.

Circling in the wilderness with the Israelites, if you will. Saved from slavery, for sure. Headed to my own personal Promised Land, hopefully. But somehow stuck in the wilderness wandering ever circling but not quite reaching Jordan’s shore.

And I am not alone. Statistics show that one of the top desires of Christians is to grow closer to God. During a recent poll, 65 percent said they were declining or on a plateau in their spiritual growth. On the other hand, Peter wrote: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

We have everything we need to experience the ever growing, continually maturing, abundant life, so why aren’t we? Why are most of us languishing on the desert plateaus of mediocrity and complacency? Why are most of us satisfied munching on the predigested truths of teachers rather than pulling up to the banquet table and feasting with God at a table set for two?

“God, what do you really want from me?”

I’ve pondered that question since the genesis of my relationship with Christ. Perhaps you have too. When you boil down all the water from the diluted soup of questions men and women have simmered in their heart through the centuries, this is the one question left in the pot.

And somehow, we feel that if we could answer that one question, we would discover why that glory ache persists and how to satisfy our yearning.

I had asked the question a thousand times, but one morning, I got quiet enough to listen. And then, in the stillness, He showed me that my busy sisters and I have been asking the wrong question.

Rather than ask God what He wants from us, we need to ask Him what He wants for us.

I meditated on Acts 17:28 throughout the following year after the day God whetted my appetite with the possibilities wrapped up in those eight little words: In Him we live and move and have our being. I came to realize that what He wants for us is to sense His presence, experience His love, and delight in intimate relationship as we live and move and have our being in sacred union with Him. And when we do, He opens our eyes to His glory all around and the ache for something more is soothed.

So today, I encourage you to be still. Just get quiet. Breathe deeply. Jesus in. Worries out.

Don’t make your faith about what God wants from you, but what God wants for you.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Don’t Miss The Beautiful

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message….

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. ~ Hebrews 12:2a, NIV

A few years ago I was invited to speak and sing in Tennessee at a women’s event. To my delight, my daughter Kennedy was able to join me. The two of us are all about “mommy-daughter time” so we were all smiles as we started off on the three and a half hour drive.

Prior to the trip, I had given Kennedy permission to use my iPad to watch a movie. So once we hit the highway, she got cozy with her pillow, her headphones went on, and her attention became fixed on the rectangular screen in front of her. Random giggles floated from my little movie-watcher as I drove and prayed for the event we were heading to.

It was the first week of November, and in the Tar Heel state that’s primetime for fall tree color. Once we past the congested traffic and the hullaballoo of the suburbs, the splendor of God gripped me. Showcased through traces of red, yellow, orange, and brown, the leaves danced in the breeze under the backdrop of a brilliant blue Carolina sky. The trees continued to boast of more and more glory as I neared Virginia… and then the mountains joined in.

Oh, the mountains!

They puffed their chests with the majesty of color and power!

My heart was captured by the glory of it all.

And then I realized that Kennedy was missing it. Ugh!

I tapped her on the shoulder and pointed out the window. “Look around! Lift your eyes and soak in the wonder, sweetie! Don’t miss the beautiful…” I urged.

“Don’t miss the beautiful!”unnamed-2.jpg

She paused her movie and joined in on the beauty moment, totally agreeing that God was showing off with His fall art. Minutes later, she went back to watching her movie as I drove on undone. Wrung out by glory. Overwhelmed by the sacred sanctuary I’d stumbled upon. I stayed in the moment and celebrated the beautiful as the psalmist did in Psalm 96:

1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Worship poured from my heart. Splendor and majesty were before both Him and me. I thanked God for the beauty show. And as praise and adoration continued to rise, a God-thought settled on my heart. Tell them, Gwen.

“Tell them what, Lord?” I wondered.

Tell the women what you told Kennedy. Tell them not to miss the beautiful.

Ahhhh, yes! I would tell them, and I would chew on that challenge for days to come. Convicted by questions like: How often do I drive right through the busyness of my days and miss the beautiful? How many moments of glory do I not even see because my eyes are on the mundane? Do I even look for it?

As we dance between the days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years – as we decorate the doors and the hearths of our homes and communities – let’s be intentional to decorate the doors and the hearths of our hearts with ribbons of God’s grace.

Let’s live with eyes lifted to the Gift of gifts, Jesus Christ.

When we face the stresses of our lists, and our tasks, and our activities, and our heart burdens, let’s commit to remembering that the best present is His presence. He’s our Hope, our Peace, our Joy… our Beautiful.

Don’t miss the beautiful.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

The Simple Things

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message.

Now as they went on their way, He entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home  (Luke 10:38, NIV)

Balance always requires a fierce and ruthless examination of priorities. Our true priorities are not just lists of activities. They are candid reflections of our heart desires. What we deem important receives the most time, energy, attention and resources. The importance of right and balanced priorities is illustrated by the life of Martha.

Jesus knew that He was always welcome in the home of Martha. Scripture tells us that Jesus “had no place to lay His head,” but He often came to this home when He needed to rest or get away from the demanding crowds. At the age of thirty, the Son of God left His natural home and there is no record of His ever returning to live there. He often went to Bethany, to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and even spent His final week on earth there. Jesus didn’t have to wonder if He was welcome in this home or if Martha was “ready” for His presence. He knew she was. Can He say the same about us?

Seeking God begins with recognizing who He is and then inviting Him into our lives as Lord and Savior. If He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. For some of us, the problem is not that we lack a personal relationship with God. Our problem is that we are not “making room” for that relationship. Balance comes when we yield to His plan in the everyday moments of life

One summer our family went to Pennsylvania where we visited Amish country. I have always been fascinated by the Amish people and enjoyed every minute spent in their beautiful and carefully ordered world. As our visit came to an end, I wanted to buy a souvenir to remind me of the peaceful days we had spent there, but everything I picked up was too expensive. Being a committed shopper, I was not about to let that stop me.

We travelled up and down the small hidden back roads of each community, looking for the Amish products known only to a few and to those relentless shoppers who were willing to persevere. I was beginning to lose hope when I spotted the small, white sign posted on the fence of a quaint and absolutely perfect house. “Amish Crafts” it said. This was it!

As we climbed out of the car, a sense of peace settled around us like an old familiar blanket. Our voices immediately dropped to a whisper as we tiptoed up the narrow stone path and gently opened the screen door. When we stepped onto the porch filled with beautiful Amish crafts, a woman welcomed us with a beautiful smile and introduced herself as Mary. She invited us to browse and to let her know if we needed any help. I have to admit that I was almost rude in my pathetic attempts to catch a glimpse of her home through the porch windows. Reading my mind, she graciously offered, “Would you like to come in and look around?” I thought she’d never ask!

Mary’s home revealed a world very different from mine and an uncommonly simplistic lifestyle I desperately longed to experience. The house was sparsely furnished with only the necessities. Mary described her life and daily routine with words like “calm, uncomplicated, peaceful and serene.” When I asked why she had chosen such a lifestyle, she sweetly responded with words of wisdom I will never forget, “I have discovered that when my life and my heart get too crowded, there is not enough room for God.” Exactly!

An unbalanced life is too crowded for God. It is so easy to relegate our spirituality to religious activity when all He really wants is to spend time with us. He wants to wipe away every tear.  God longs to share every hurt and celebrate every victory. The Father yearns to wrap His strong arms around us, bringing the peace and balance we so desperately need.

Instead, we often relinquish control of our life to unworthy demands dictated by a world that operates in “urgent” gear. We forget what is really important. The important rarely barges in while the urgent is always an offensive intruder. Certainly, there are times when the important is also urgent – but we must learn to discern between the two. We wrongly conclude that a busy life is automatically a productive life and think that a full schedule will surely produce a full heart.

I have great news! He loves who you are more than He loves what you do. Seek Him today. Make room for Him. He is waiting.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Be Intentional!

WOOHOO!  The New Year has arrived…. some are nursing hangovers this morning while others are looking forward to enjoying another day off with friends and family.

I’m ready to kick off 2018 with my ONE WORD – INTENTIONAL!

So why did  I pick this word?  Believe me I didn’t pick it, God placed it on my heart.  Last year was all about being accountable. I will admit in being accountable I had MANY moments when things were done by the seat of my pants.  The end result always seemed to work out BUT I wanted this year to be different.

By definition “intentional” means done on purpose; something deliberate.  Intentional means you are purposeful in word and action. It means you live a meaningful and fulfilling life – whatever it is to you. It means you make thoughtful choices in your life. It means you actively interact and engage in your life.

In being “intentional”, I have begun planning for 2018.  Check out some of the NEWNESS coming…

  • The January Edition of my NEW Customer Newsletter is ready to go.
  • Monthly Customer Appreciation Online BINGO events are set up
  • New logo to “brand” myself and my business
  • Changes in blogging schedule (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday only)
  • Monthly themed Facebook Parties (mystery hostess)
  • Give Back with Me Monthly with random acts of kindness
  • Focus on Fundraising and Giving Back to the Community (especially kids)

Looking back over my “one word”, I realize God has been answering my prayers, in his time not in mine.  My vision is to make a difference in the life of others but I needed to grow personally before I could do this…

My first year selecting “one word” was In 2013 and my word was FAITH.  Faith to believe when the way is rough and faith to hang on when the going is tough will never fail to pull us through and bring us strength and comfort too. Helen Steiner Rice. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20

FAITH led me to my word in 2014 which was EMBRACE.  The goal was to EMBRACE all of the blessings God had in store for me.  I needed to have FAITH before I could EMBRACE the me everyone else saw – confident, thinner, and some might even say fun.  I learned to EMBRACE challenges as blessings without a visit from Doubtful Debbie or Negative Nellie.

Having FAITH and moving forward as I EMBRACED the blessings in my life, I had to learn to TRUST in 2015!  Learning to lean on God for ALL things and TRUST him to direct my path was probably the toughest for me.  I had to learn to stop taking control when things didn’t go my way.  God is in control and I TRUST he will direct my path. I grew in my FAITH, knowing God will provide for my needs.

The inner gremlins were rearing their ugly head so in 2016, my word was CONFIDENCE!  I needed CONFIDENCE to believe when the way was rough and the going was tough.  CONFIDENCE as I learned to live with my recent diagnosis of MS.  CONFIDENCE as I squashed the inner gremlins which had haunted me all of my life.

Then in 2017, it was all about being ACCOUNTABLE.  Being accountable meant in all areas of my life not just my business. It meant watching what I ate, working my business as a business. Most of all, it meant being fully transparent in my relationships which was scary as HELL!

All of these lead me to this year of being INTENTIONAL!

Whatever your word is for this year, I wish you a safe, healthy and Happy New Year.  May this year bring you everything you desire….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

A Truth That Will Change Your Life

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

One blessing of being in women’s ministry is the friendships I have with other women in ministry. We are our own little band of sisters. Sisters with a mission! We cheer for one another, cry with one another, laugh with one another, pray for one another, and rejoice with one another.

One sister I’ve had the opportunity to lock arms with for the journey is named Renee. Renee is a talented God-fearing, Bible-teaching speaker and writer.

Several years ago, Renee traveled across the country to speak at a women’s retreat. When she got there, a few unexpected circumstances caused her to send out an “SOS, pray-for-me-now” email to her ministry sisters.

I got the email and hit my knees.

Early the next week, Renee sent us an email thanking us for praying and telling us what God did in the hearts of women at that retreat. She told us that she spoke about the lies that we believe as women and told personal and biblical stories that illuminated God’s truth. Then, at the final session, Renee asked the women to consider what they believed to be true about themselves.

Her challenge went something like this: “When you settle your soul long enough to simply be still—when you pause to listen to your heart—what do you hear? Are there lies that linger in your heart knowingly or unknowingly?”

She encouraged them to write down on a note card the lies they had accepted as truth, whether lies spoken by a parent, kids in the schoolyard, a friend, a family member, a spouse, a child, a pastor, or a stranger. She told them that some of the lies might never have been spoken at all, just believed.

When they finished she invited them to bring the cards to a wooden cross at the front of the room. Next to the cross she had placed baskets filled with promises from God’s Word, and after each woman nailed her card to the cross, she picked up a truth that would replace her lies.

Tears ran down cheek after cheek as the women brought their lies to the cross and embraced God’s life-changing Words. Guilt was forgiven and sorrows were traded for joy that day. Then a beautiful celebration went down. God, through his Holy Spirit, revealed His heart to those sweet women and shattered the lies of the enemy.

After the retreat was over, Renee looked through the cards that had been nailed to the cross. One card jumped out at her. Written over and over was one word: Worthless!

The woman who wrote that wasn’t the only one at that retreat who felt that way. That same word—worthless—was penned on many of the cards that weekend. It represents a lie that has been believed by most every woman at some point in her life. There have been days, weeks, and months that I’ve believed it myself.

It’s one of Satan’s favorite words to throw at us, and it is a big, fat, ugly LIE.

The Bible clearly shows us that we are valued in the sight of the Lord. When we allow God’s Word to flood our lives with truth we are changed by the height, the depth, and the width of His love for us.

“Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

God loves you with a personal love.

He knows your name.

He considers you highly valuable.

He adores you.

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith today to believe this one truth: you are perfectly loved by God.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!