Saturday, December 3, 2011


Victory comes in different forms.
I experienced victory today.

Today at the Author Expo I sat there with my mother for four hours and sold zero books.
Yep that's right.
A big fat goose egg of a zero.

So how did selling zero books after smiling at strangers and handing out business cards and book info cards for four hours result in being an experience in victory?

My response to selling zero books.
That's how :-)

Probably no less than six months ago, driving over an hour, to sit for four hours, and sell zero books, and then spend over another hour driving back home, would have resulted in my very own pit of despair. Oh the slump of my shoulders would have been great as it matched the sagging slouch in my back as my face fell heavy and my smile diminished in my distraught state of doubt and confusion and frustration. By this time I would have told myself how foolish and just plain silly I was for thinking anyone would want to read anything by me. 

I would be wollering in self-pity and pouring into my spiral notebook pages of all my "why's" and "how come's" to God. My wide-ruled page lines would be bleeding blue because of the wetness of my tears as I sobbed my drama queen fit out in written words to a God I am thankful is willing to not strike me dead for my way too often and too easily come over-reactions.

However this was not my responce today...
Today was victory!
No self-pity!
No wallowing in tears or blue bleedings from blubberings!

I sit here now and I am good and I am perfectly at peace.

I had a wonderful day with my mother.
I met some pretty interesting people.

And I don't have to worry about whether or not I should order some more books to have on hand because I still got plenty.

My God is good.
My God is not going to let all that He has put within me die.
It is His word that He has put within me and His word endures forever.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8

He will accomplish what He started in me. Though I may presently remain clueless as too what exactly He has started in me... :-)

The LORD will accomplish what concerns me;
Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.
Psalm 138:8

My God is good.
This I know full well.

So when up at 5am on a Saturday plus driving over an hour to sell zero books equals it still being well with my soul... Well this most definitely clearly means victory experienced!

I hope maybe, just maybe, the Holy Trinity is up there looking down on me and saying Awww look, I think she might actually be growing up, look at our baby girl, you know just six months ago this little trial would have sent her over the edge and she would have been pouting for a week... but look at her now, yep our baby girl is finally starting to grow up...;-)  

Do Dreams Die

Today I am up at 5am and about to jump in the shower and head to Birmingham AL with my Mom to attend the local author expo. I will be taking the last box of Devotions From Genesis that I have in my possession. It might be the last box ever...

The dream I had, the calling I thought I had received from God, was to write a devotional study through the Torah. Something that was manageable to anyone at any point in their walk with Christ, even someone who hadn't yet began that walk... to introduce Him to them from the beginning. My desire is for people to see that the life of Christ did not begin in that manger. My dream was that God would use this series of devotionals to do that in the lives of His people.

My dream has began to die... as I had dreamed that by now I would have sold enough copies of the first book to pay for the publishing of the one I have been approved to publish... but sits in My Documents waiting. 

I don't know if there is any more disappointing feeling than to realize that maybe you heard God wrong...

If I had not have had such an overwhelming assurity that this was His leading, His Spirit driving me, working in and through me...

Oh me the "I don't know's" of life can be so terribly frustrating.

Yet, today I am off to the expo.
I am looking forward to a wonderful day meeting other author's and hopefully selling a few books.

But most of all I am looking forward to a fun day with the woman who shared her love of books and reading with me and always told me how wonderful my writing was, even when it was written in crayon with backward letters and every attempted word misspelled :-)

The woman who will never let my dreams die because I will always be able to see them living in her eyes.

So whose dreams are living in your eyes?

I think of my own girls...
My husband...

Can they see their dreams living in my eyes?

Because sometimes dreams that appear to be dying are not dying at all... only changing in form... yet they remain the same dream :-)
Devotional Studies Through The Bible

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Struggles

Yes, I must confess that I am the woman whose stomach starts churning and dreading the coming too soon Christmas season around October...


The whole money issue.

Yes, I am a woman who hates spending money... shocking as it may sound. There are some women who do not fall into the shopaholics anonymous category. I even refuse to stop at a gas station that won't allow me to pay at the pump because I do not want to be tempted to buy cokes and bags of chips along with my gas.

I feel guilty for every dime I spend on me. I hate to shop... so I only go when I am in actual desperate need of something.

When at the beach earlier this month it was colder than I had packed for and so I needed to pick up a warm outfit. We went to an outlet mall and I found a fleece sweatsuit that was on sale for %60 off, yet I still walked around the store for an hour, yes literally an hour, trying to decide whether or not my conscience was good with making the purchase. I was praying for the okay from God as I was trying to decide if I was under conviction or condemnation.

Does anyone else do this?

So now Christmas is here, the purchasing must be done...
Now once the shopping actually begins I usually get excited because I get caught up in the joy of actually buying things that my loved ones will really be excited to receive... so I am not a complete scrooge :-)

Now our first purchase from our Christmas budget was for our home, we have some repairs that need to be done, and I have been wanting a new chandelier since we purchased our home over five years ago (I got a gift card to pick one out with last year, but the vacuum cleaner broke, so I got a vacuum cleaner instead) and we picked one up when we purchased the material to do the repairs. Then the day before yesterday I made my first Christmas purchases for our girls and I was excited and ready to shop some more... bring on the Christmas cheer!

Then that night about 10:30pm we open the laundry room door to discover the catch-pan under the hot water heater two inches deep in water.


My first thought was...
Yep this is my punishment for shopping,
I knew I spent too much,
And we shouldn't have bought that chandelier, we should take it back.
Hello, Murphy! I knew you wouldn't stay gone for long...

(pout, pout, frown, sigh)

Then I remembered that my God was Jehovah-jireh, our Provider.
I remembered that we had prepared our budget and saved all year to make these purchases.
I remembered that God was sovereign over even hot water heater issues and I would not pout, frown, or sigh in doubt or frustration.
I would trust Him to meet our needs.
Murphy would not steal my joy.

And guess what...
God was faithful.
Imagine that :-)

I will enjoy Christmas this year.
I will enjoy the time shopping with my husband as we buy gifts for our loved ones.
And maybe, just maybe, next Christmas I will not even experience that stomach churning dread of the coming Christmas season.

So how about you?
Do you want to throw up the first time you see the "so many days until Christmas" sign?
Or are you the one who starts counting the days down in overwhelming excitement at the first sign of the season?

Under the Ban

We are slaves to rebellion even when we know it will only lead to the death of our dreams.  Even when we know that ALL we have to do is bend a knee and we’ll get all the grace we  so desperately want, we can’t bring ourselves to do it.

Crazy rebellious humans.

But our rebellion can’t erase our soul’s memories of another world.  We were made to need approval from an Authority.  We were made to fear the disapproval of that Authority.  No matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we don’t care, that need and fear is knit into the deepest parts of our soul’s by our Maker.  The tears betray us.fabs

I read this post by fabs and it reminded me of one of the Scripture cross-references we looked at in the lesson in our spiritual gifts class last week as we discussed the gift of mercy.

Nothing from that which is put under the ban
shall cling to your hand,
in order that the LORD may turn from His burning anger
and show mercy to you,
and have compassion on you
and make you increase,
just as He has sworn to your fathers,
Deuteronomy 13:17

Our Creator is a God of mercy. He patiently waits to pour out His mercy upon us. But to receive this mercy we must let go of those things that are under the ban. We are to cling to Him and only Him. Yet for some reason we find ourselves clinging to the things that are only destroying us and keeping us from the mercy we so deeply desire and yet feel so unworthy to receive or even request.

The things that were under the ban, were the things that were to be utterly destroyed, they were not for us to hang on to or to trust in. They were things that God had made clear would be destroyed and if we chose to hang on to them we would be destroyed with them.

That has not changed.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
in which the heavens will pass away with a roar
and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat,
and the earth and its works will be burned up.
 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way,
what sort of people ought you to be
in holy conduct and godliness, 
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
 because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning,
and the elements will melt with intense heat!
2 Peter 3:10-12

This present world and the things of this world are under the ban. They will one day be utterly destroyed, yet today God waits with outstretched arms to freely give His mercy to any who would turn to Him and cling to Him instead of this world and the desires of this world.

He looks at us, and I imagine with deep eyes of understanding He shakes His head with loving frustration as He watches us desperately and ignorantly clinging to utterly worthless things...
like pride,
like hate,
like lust,
like money,
like opinions of man,
like emotions,
like feelings,
like jealousy,
like rebellion,
like unforgiveness,
like revenge,
like status,
like sin...

Why is it so hard to let go?

The crazy thing is that once we do let go and we look back we never cease to wonder why in the world we were fighting so hard to hang on to that in the first place...

Then we look up into the face of our merciful God and are overwhelmed with His patience and love for us that He was willing to wait on us to let go and show us mercy in His never ending, ever reaching grace.

So what are you clinging to that is keeping God from showing you mercy?
Do you know that He longingly waits to show you compassion?

Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him.
Isaiah 30:18

Organizing Happiness Review

Dwelling on the problem doesn't take you closer to the solution. If you eat candy all day, you'll be sick. Likewise, if you put junk into your mind all day, you'll be sick. If you want to be happier, feed your mind a happier diet. ~ Lorrie Flem

The above quote is just one little bite of the bite-size words of encouragement and tips for you to chew on as you read through Organizing Happiness by Lorrie Flem. This book is one that you can easily read in one sitting but it is filled with counsel that will be beneficial for a lifetime.

I read the title and was a little skeptical thinking how in the world can you "organize" happiness? Then after reading the book I saw the point of the title. So many times as a wife and mother my unhappiness comes from frustrations that are rooted in disorganization.

You know, "What do you mean you mean you can't find your library book? It's due back today!"  or "Are we not on our way to basketball practice? Why would you not need your basketball shoes for basketball practice?" and then there's always the "Ugh, I can't believe I forgot the... (fill in the blank)"

As a wife and mother the "to do list" is ever growing and never ending... so I will take all the help, and insight, and pointers I can get, and there were some pretty good tid bits in this book.

One of my favorites being "Never give up on your husband and children"

Yes I am guilty of the thought, "I quit! I am packing up and running away because all anyone will miss is the clean laundry"

So I don't know about you, but I am always in need of encouragement and my eyes and ears are always open to good advice on how to be the best wife and mother that I can be in the grace of God. I also need that advice to be something that I can actually utilize in my life. I need it to be simple and practical because I am indeed a simple and practical kinda girl. 

So if you need some simple, practical, bite-size, and free of charge advice today I would recommend following this link on over to subscribe to the newsletter to get your own e-book download to Organizing Happiness.    

Remember that the book is free is with your free subscription to the newsletter for Eternal Encouragement magazine where Lorrie Flem, the author of Organizing Happiness, is also the Publisher. This is a magazine devoted to give Real Help by Real Moms.

May you be abundantly blessed in Christ!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Names of God - El Shaddai

Okay ready for another post in our Names of God series?
So far we have looked at three names of God, Elohim which reveals God as our Creator God, El Elyon which reveals God as God Most High and El Roi which reveals God as the God who sees. Just the revelation of these names alone are enough to jump up and shout over, don't you think?

Today we are going to discover our God as El Shaddai, God Almighty.

We first discover this name of God in Genesis.

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old,
 the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him,
   “I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
“I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.” 
Genesis 17:1-2

We must always remember our context. Remember that Abram was seventy-five years old when he first was promised descendants. Then after waiting for a while and having no child, Sarai comes up with a plan and Abram goes into Hagar, Sarai's hand-maid. And yes a child is conceived... but this is not the promised child. This is a child of fleshly efforts, not faith and divine power.

Now thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael, the LORD appears to Abram again. Abram is ninety-nine years old. Ninety-nine. Which means Sarai is eighty-nine. Yes, eighty-nine years old. And now God appears to Abram and says, Abramit's time to do this thing. 

God then changes Abram and Sarai's names to Abraham and Sarah.

How does Abram respond?

 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed,
and said in his heart,
“Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old?
And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 
And Abraham said to God,
“Oh that Ishmael might live before You!”
Genesis 17:17-18

Abraham is belly rolling and says something like, Oh yeh God, that's a good one! Then Abraham has a bright idea, God, just let Ishmael be the one, I mean really have you forgotten how old Sarah is? Hello, our stuff don't even work anymore!

But God says

“No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son,
and you shall call his name Isaac;
and I will establish My covenant with him
for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Genesis 17:19

You see God had just introduced Himself to Abram as El Shaddai, God Almighty. God did not need any help from Abraham and Sarah's physical and fleshly efforts. He is the All-Powerful, All-Sufficient, Almighty God. God is never in need of our ability. He supplies our ability, He just asks for our availability. 

And He has said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is perfected in weakness.”
Most gladly, therefore,
I will rather boast about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses,
with insults,
with distresses,
with persecutions,
with difficulties,
for Christ’s sake;
for when I am weak, then I am strong
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God would display His glory and His might and perfect plan in the not only weak Abraham and Sarah, but dead. There bodies were dead to the ability to conceive, but death has never stopped our God. There is no weakness that we carry, no struggle that we have, that God's power cannot be perfected in and through. He is God Almighty.

For the material they had was sufficient
and more than enough for all the work, to perform it. 
Exodus 36:7

You see whatever God has called you to do, whatever you have, where ever you are, it will be more than enough to perform what He has called you to do. The power is not yours, it was never in you to begin with, it's His and it's in and through Him...

Not that I speak from want,
for I have learned to be content
in whatever circumstances I am. 
I know how to get along with humble means,
and I also know how to live in prosperity;
in any and every circumstance
I have learned the secret of being filled
and going hungry,
both of having abundance
and suffering need. 
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13

Living in Love Book Review

This is my first official book review... so bear with me. I only hope I am able to do the book justice and some how encourage you to pick it up and read it. Trust me it will not be wasted time.

I finally finished reading Living in Love by James & Betty Robison. I say "finally" because it was so full of wonderful information that I would stop and take notes, then read over it again, and then stop again and take time to reflect on what I had read and evaluate where I was in light of what I had just learned. If you could see my copy, you would see that it is full of post-it notes marking things I want to go back over and over again.

This book was full of practical counsel. It was also full of hope. There was truth in every page. James and Betty openly shared their hearts. They shared where they had struggled in their marriage and where and how they began walking in victory.

The book is an easy read (an excerpt). It is broken up into manageable sections and chapters. Even someone who is not particularly found of reading would be able to make it through this book. The book is written in such a personal tone that I felt that I was sitting there talking with James and Betty instead of simply reading a book. At the end of each chapter is a few questions to hopefully kick-start you in the personal evaluation and application process, but for me it was easy to begin the evaluating as I read because of the way the book was so practically and conversationally written.     

I would go so far as to recommend that every married couple and every couple engaged to be married by two copies and two hi-liters. Then both read through it and hi-lite the things that spoke to their own heart. Then trade books and see what the other saw as important and sit down and talk about the why's. But don't take just my word, there are videos and another sneak peak into the pages of Living in Love to encourage you even further to seek out the benefits of reading this book.

I would give my hind-tooth to have been at a place in my life to have read this book before I ever entered into my marriage. I cannot even begin to imagine the struggles and hurts that could have been diverted or at the very least lessened and shortened had I known the information that is in this book beforehand. However, I can start today to apply what I have learned to the life of my marriage. One of my favorite quotes in the book, "No pit is too deep or too dark that God cannot rescue you from it, if you're willing." No matter where you think you are in your marriage God can use this book to reach you where you are and build up and strengthen your marriage.   

I must share a word of caution to any married person who reads this book, please remember that James and Betty have been on this journey for many years. I have walked the marriage journey only a short twelve years. I can't compare my marriage to theirs. I can't compare my spouse to them. I can't read this book in a spirit that only marks where I see my spouse has failed or is failing. I have to read this book in a spirit that is focused on me and God. Allowing God to show me where I need work, where I need change, then trust God to move in my marriage. It is after all His design. He more than anyone wants to see us living in love.


FTC disclaimer
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"