Monday, December 29, 2008

More New Beginnings


Friends, with 2009 fast approaching, the topic of New Beginnings is so appropriate. The following article reminds us to Lean on God when our "new beginnings" aren't as we expected.

A New Beginning Written by Carol Van Atta

A woman gives birth … to twins. An alcoholic pours his bottle of booze down the drain. An abused wife chooses to seek help. A convict is released from jail. A worker becomes the supervisor. A daughter loses her mother to a car accident. A mother survives cancer and chooses a new, healthier lifestyle.

New beginnings can happen any day at any time. A new beginning always involves leaving one thing behind and embracing something new and different. However, sometimes, new beginnings may not be of our own choosing or liking. Maybe the worker didn’t expect or want the promotion; yet, a new beginning has been thrust upon her. The alcoholic, on the other hand, has clearly made a choice to try a different path evidenced by the dumping of his precious liquor. Both have entered a time of new beginnings. And although the birth of a child and the death of a loved one appear very different, they both have two things in common: an end and a beginning.

It can be excruciatingly difficult to walk through the doorway of a new season in life. How do we effectively live in the midst of a new beginning that we didn’t expect, or even want?
What can we do to give God glory when our circumstances are not only new, but also extremely painful? Anytime we let go of something old there is discomfort, even pain. Anytime we lose something or someone of great importance we experience a great sense of loss, even hopelessness. Yet it’s comforting to remember that the seemingly greatest loss of all, the murder of Jesus Christ on a filthy Roman cross, resulted in the best New Beginning ever — a resurrected Christ.

His New Beginning and New Life allow us to live our lives to the fullest regardless of what we’ve lost or let go of. For in Christ, we are never alone. We are always loved. We can always expect the best from God. He sees far beyond our pain and suffering and has a way of making every new beginning beneficial to us and to those around us — if we’ll let Him. How can we thrive and even discover peace and joy during the process of letting go? There is a way…God’s Way!

The following acronym has reminded me that the best way to experience a New Beginning is to Lean On God.

L: Live in the truth
Whether you’re battling a tempting addiction, or grieving an untimely loss, a key to embracing any new beginning is to stay grounded in the truth — God’s Truth — God’s Word. Without a foundation of truth, we are prone to fall prey to lies, lies that increase our pain and keep us from growing and moving forward.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” - John 8:32 NIV

E: Enlist others for support
New Beginning times are best faced in the safety net of a group of caring and competent Christian friends. God is relational. Jesus was not a lone ranger. He was surrounded by His inner circle of disciples. We, too, will find support, encouragement, and help from others who have experienced similar circumstances, if we are open their aid.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV

A: Approach God boldly
With Jesus at the right hand of God we have the amazing opportunity to approach our Heavenly King with boldness and confidence. In the Psalms, David gave us the perfect example of how to cry out to God in every conceivable manner. Even in our anger, our anguish, and our anxiety. We need not face anything without God’s help. Go to Him boldly, after all, He tells us we can.

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12 NIV

N: Never give up
Never give up! Remember no matter what our present circumstance may look like, no matter how difficult letting go might be, with God, we win in the end. It may appear that we are loosing, but, ultimately, goodness and glory can grow in the midst of a new beginning. We must keep our eyes focused on our Leader, and remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we cross the finish line.

“…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

O: Overcome obstacles
When we’re in the midst of letting go we can find ourselves burdened by a barrage of obstacles — things on our path that can keep us from walking through the door of a better tomorrow. Certainly feelings of grief and heartache can be part of the new beginning process. Lingering negative feelings and thoughts can become obstacles that keep us stuck. With God’s help and the support of others, we can continue forward, getting rid of whatever holds us back.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

N: Neutralize the enemy
The Bible is very clear that we, as Christians, have an enemy. This enemy of our souls would like to destroy us and keep us from accepting God’s plan for our lives. We can disarm this devil by utilizing the armor our Commander and King so generously provides. Put on the armor daily.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes. You may be able to stand your ground…” Ephesians 6:13a

G: Go forward with God
This is much like “don’t give up.” New beginnings can be scary and we can find ourselves paralyzed, afraid to take another step. We don’t need to continue by our own power. In fact, our limited human power won’t be enough, but with God, all things are possible. Allow Him to lead, as you lean on Him.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength”-Philippians 4:13 NIV

O: Open your eyes
Take a look around at the beauty surrounding you on your journey. As you embrace your new beginning, you will discover (if you open your eyes) the wondrous ways God is working in and around you. From a bubbling brook to the salty surf God is present. Even in your darkest hour if you look you can see His light.

“Ah, Sovereign Lord , you have made the heavens and earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17

D: Decide to worship
Praising God in the midst of any situation brings blessings far beyond our greatest expectations. When freedom from a bondage or addiction is your new beginning it is only natural to praise your Deliverer. When a new beginning is the result of loss, worship may seem at first out of place, but consider Paul, praising God from within his prison chamber. Worship touches the very heart to God, and in turn He will touch yours. Worship God and expect the best.

Lean on God and expect one glorious new beginning after another. Each new day we can be filled afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit who will help us in our new beginnings. Won’t you invite Him to fill you afresh right now?

Father in Heaven,
I am so grateful that You sent Your Holy Spirit to be our helper as we walk the Christian life here on this Earth. Thank you for the power He brings as He fills us up and gives us strength and courage beyond ourselves to face the new beginnings in our lives. Today I ask You to create in me a clean heart. I ask You to fill me a fresh with the power of Your Spirit. Help me to be aware of each step I take and to do it with your help. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray, amen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Big 5,000!


Precious Readers, thank you for visiting this site. I just happened to notice that I've had over 5,000 visitors since April.

Visitors as far away as Israel, India, China, and Russia, have stumbled onto this site. My prayer is that God would use my words to encourage, inspire, and challenge women around the globe. He is certainly answering that request.

Please, if you like this site and if it helps you in your walk with Christ as a Princess Warrior, refer others. Sign on as a Princess Warrior partner/follower.



Remember to thank God in all things, for He is the Provider of every blessing we receive. God bless you all! I'm looking forward to sharing more Princess Warrior helps in 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Beginnings: A New Year

Merry Christmas! I hope you all had an incredible Christmas. We've been in the midst of a snow storm like much of the Nation. Here in Oregon, we've out-snowed all records. I haven't seen this much of the fluffy-white stuff since I was a kid, and that was a few years back.

Being "forced" to stay inside with my family has proven to be a meaningful and highly educational experiences. Seriously, we did great, considering. I bonded with my kids on a whole new level -- a much needed level. I also spent massive amounts of time in God's Word, soaking in His goodness. Sometimes, I think God says, "Enough!" HE wants us to slow down and rest in Him.

When you can't leave your home, well, you start to focus on what's important. If not, you might go a bit whacko, or as we jokingly say "get cabin fever." So, I'll admit, I got a teeny weeny stir crazy today. But, I think I'll be able to drive my car tomorrow. It's been buried under about five feet of banked snow.

As the New Year fast approaches, most of us are looking ahead and planning for a better more fruitful 2009. I'd like to share a previously published article about that very topic. I hope it helps you prepare for your New Year, New Beginning.

New Beginnings -- Written by Carol Van Atta

Amazingly, it’s that time. A New Year is approaching right on schedule — again. This is the time of year so many of us start making resolutions to change a certain area, or multiple areas in our lives. Maybe we have some extra pounds to shed. Possibly, we are committed to changing a specific, harmful behavior. Our infamous New Year’s resolutions range from simple desires to seemingly full-proof-plans for extensive life change. What we all have in common is the hope that something will change, and life will be different (and better) in the year ahead.

Do you have a resolution this year? Or are you like so many people who have done away with their hopes for lasting, life change? Every year, women ring in the New Year with goals to live life differently on some level. However, a few short weeks later, many of these very same well-wishers end up discouraged and filled with shame and remorse over their failed attempts to make New Year’s resolutions come to pass. Who knows? This may be the second, third, fourth, or fifteenth year someone has tried to “kick the habit.” After so many misguided attempts, why would they even want to try again?

That’s a good question. First consider a few additional questions…

  • What if every spring, the flowers just gave up on blooming?
  • What if the local birds that have migrated to some faraway place just decided to stay put on that tropical island?
  • What if the sun chose to hide behind the clouds all summer long?
    Worse yet…what if Christ had not come to earth as a baby or hadn’t risen from the dead?

I don’t know about you, but I sure love fragrant flowers, sweet singing birds are pretty nice, and, oh, how I love that summer sun smiling down on me, but the thought of a Christ, who didn’t defeat death, is downright terrifying. Without His resurrection power, we really would have no hope for permanent life change — ever.

However, He was born. He died. And He most definitely did rise again.

That means this year, this month, today, or even this moment, is filled with hope for a better future…in Him. We don’t have to white-knuckle it anymore. Whatever your “it” might be, you too can turn from your sin, and release it into the capable hands of the ultimate Life-Changer.

When we desire change, we have the perfect example to follow – Jesus Christ. When we are ready to implement change, we have the perfect guide book – His Word. Finally, we have the perfect power source to strengthen our resolve – His Spirit.


His Son

His Word

His Spirit

As we pursue change God’s way, hope for a better future is no longer a dream; it becomes our reality. We truly can experience freedom in our lives today, tomorrow, and forever. In fact, with Christ, we don’t have to wait for another New Year to roll around, or for the big glittery ball to drop in Times Square. His mercy is new every morning. We can pursue our own new beginning right now.

It is my hope the following acronym for the word FREEDOM will assist you as you start your New Beginning-journey. For it is in our relationship with a loving, redeeming God, where we will find the freedom we so desperately yearn for.

F: Follow Him forward

Romans 15:5 (NIV)–May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus…

We are to follow Christ. As we pursue Him and seek to imitate His ways, we move forward in our process of change. No more slip-sliding backwards. When we truly follow Jesus we are on the path that moves forward and upward one step and a prayer at a time.

R: Repent readily

Jeremiah 18:9 (MSG)–But if they repent of their wicked lives, I will think twice and start over with them.

What a great translation! When we repent, God will think again and start over with us. Start over. A New Beginning…exactly what we are seeking. When we admit and repent of our shortcomings, and sinfulness, God is faithful to forgive and make us white like snow. Clean. Fresh. New. Don’t wait another moment – repent

E: Earnestly Pray

Ephesians 6:18 (NLT) Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.

Prayers are incredibly powerful. They are the foundation for any life change we desire. As we earnestly pray, we will find ourselves empowered by the One true Power Source. There is no better time to pray than right now. Let us pray persistently, remaining alert, and consider our Christian brothers and sisters everywhere, after all, we are on this journey together.

E: Enjoy the journey

1 Samuel 2:1 (NLT) Then Hannah prayed:“My heart rejoices in the LORD! Oh, how the LORD has blessed me! Now I have an answer for my enemies, as I delight in your deliverance.

As we travel down the road of renewal, receiving answers from God along the way, we will have a number of reasons to rejoice. Many times we are so focused on the destination; we forget to enjoy the journey. When we take a road trip, even though the driving might be daunting, dangerous, or just plain boring at times, if we take the time to truly see the unique beauty of the surrounding landscape, we may discover the journey can be enjoyed almost as much as the destination. Enjoy God’s journey. He has planned a perfect path just for you.

D: Devour His Word

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV) For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God’s Word is the ultimate food for our thoughts, nourishment for our souls, and the map we must follow on our journey down the path of New Beginnings. We know when our stomach growls, it is a signal for us to nourish our body with food. So it is when our spirits “growl;” we need to dive into God’s truth and devour His words like the sustaining substance they were created to be.

O: Open your heart and mind to His truth

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In order to grasp God’s truth, we need to pray for an open heart, and an open mind, to better receive the truth, know the truth, and obey the truth when we hear it. Be prepared to hear the Lord speak. He will.

M: Make new friends and move mountains

Colossians 3:12-13 (KJV) Put on therefore the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

As we walk in godly love for one another, by forgiving, encouraging, and helping, we will find the strength to do what one person alone could never, ever accomplish. Friends, we need the power of the Spirit, and the power of each another. Together, we can move mountains! Often, our New Beginning and long sought after freedom rests just on the other side of the highest peek. But together, we can make it through the roughest terrain. We were never met to “go it” alone. Jesus had 12 disciples. He knew the value of loving and supporting relationships. Let us learn from His example.

As we’ve discovered, change can be challenging, but this New Year, as we journey together down the road to freedom, let’s stay focused on the one guiding us…Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy New Beginnings!

You are not in this alone. Jesus promised the abundant and fruitful life as the result of being filled (directed and empowered) by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-filled life is the Christ-directed life by which Christ lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit (John 15). You can pray a prayer like this to be filled with the Holy Spirit today:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for a New Year, a time of new beginnings and a hope for freedom and renewal in our lives. No matter how many times we may have fallen short of our goals in the past, may we be reminded you are a God of tomorrows. You have a plan to prosper us, and to give us a hope and a future. With You all things are truly possible. May we trust You to do what You do best…love us. I ask that you would instill deep inside every one of Your children a new hope and greater level of trust as we take those first baby steps forward toward our future.

I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith.

I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.Help us to resist temptation and to rise above our difficulties as we work together to serve You, to serve others, and to find freedom at last. In Your name we pray, amen.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let it snow!

Friends, the countdown to our Savior's birth has begun. In a few short days, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It is so easy to take His birth for granted. We've heard the story a million and one times, and for many of us (I'm guilty, too) we get pretty comfortable hearing it. We tend to forget just how miraculous of an event His birth truly was. His birth, subsequent death and resurrection marked the beginning of a whole new age. For the first time in history, every person, gentile and Jew alike, could approach God with a freedom and confidence found only in relationship with Christ. Every man, woman, and child became worthy, because of Jesus, to become part of a new family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation -- a new generation of believers.

Christmas is the ultimate birthday celebration, offering hope for the future and forgiveness for our past mistakes. As we countdown the days to His birth, let us remember that Christ is who makes it possible for us to reign real as His princess warriors. Who we are, is all about Who He is.

As I sit at my computer, a snow storm is raging outside my window. The fury of nature pounds and screeches just beyond the walls of our home. Thankfully, we are protected from the freezing temperatures and icy landscape.

This sight reminds me that in Christ we are surrounded by His love and protection. We are safe from a howling, harassing devil who would like nothing better than to destroy us. Just as I am safe from the storm in my home, we are all safe from satan when we are covered by Christ. Have you wrapped yourself tight in His love, power, and protection? Do you take as much time preparing to use the Sword of His Spirit -- His Word -- as you do planning for the Big Freeze?

There is no better time than right now to cozy up with Christ, basking in His glory, and reading His love letters to the world -- to us. Imagine yourself trudging through huge snow drifts in subzero temperatures, with an icy wind clawing at your face. Brrrrrrr.....

Now picture a warm light in the distance. As you draw closer, that light becomes a man. A man with his arms open and waiting to wrap you in heated blanket. You would be foolish not to run into those waiting arms.

So? What are you waiting for? Run, sisters, run! Wrap up in Jesus right now. Pour youself a cup of steaming cocoa or coffee and open your Bible. Re-read the Christmas Story with new appreciation. That little babe in the manger came to rescue us from the chills of life and the fires of hell. And all He wants for His birthday is our love and acceptance of His open arms. Receiving His gift is the greatest gift of all. Let us remember to unwrap it every day. Amen!

http://sermoncentral.sermonspice.com/videos/22206/what-child-is-this

Please watch the above video for a reminder of God's Greatest Gift -- Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Christmas Reminder

I heard a story about a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before. Her arms were full of bulky packages when the Elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the Elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!” A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”

We need to remember who is responsible for the whole Christmas thing. It is all about how God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son so that who ever believes in Him might have eternal life. John 3:16
-Author Unknown-

I don't think I need to add another word to that little story. God bless you. Merry (almost) Christmas!

http://sermoncentral.sermonspice.com/videos/3838/12-crazy-days-of-christmas



Take the time to watch the above clip in its entirety. The scenes change. The ending is priceless. If you think your Christmas Season is full of challenges! All in all, though, this stuff is so minor compared to the 'BIG THINGS" in life. However, and believe me, I know; 12 days of this would make me nuts, too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Christmas Story (continued)


If you are just tuning in, you will want to read the last post featuring Part I to this modern Christmas Story. Read it and hurry back!

So it continues ...

Later that evening:

"Hey girl, you don't look like you belong down here. What's up?" A young woman with ultra-damaged, bleached hair asked. She slunk over to where Mary stood alone on Broadway in the heart of Downtown Portland.

"I don't know where I belong anymore." Mary was too tired and discouraged to fear the tough looking street girl.

"Let's sit over there, on that bus bench. Tell me all about it. I got all the time in the world." The girl gently pulled Mary to the empty bench.

"Why do you care?" Mary looked closely at the young woman's face, surprised by the sympathy she saw in the girl's sunken, hazel, eyes.

"Maybe I don't. Maybe I do," the girl shrugged. "I'm bored, lonely, and hungry. I listen; you buy me a burrito. Oh, my name's Nancy." She smiled revealing several missing teeth.

"I'm pregnant. My parents kicked me out. My boyfriend says he needs time to think about the whole deal, and my God-focused high school expelled me when I tried to talk to the guidance counselor, today. Oh, and my best friend told me I was crazy. So much for love and grace, huh?" Mary handed the girl a dollar bill.

"I don't know much about love and grace, but I do know something about your problems. I got kicked out when I was thirteen. I was really into boys and did some stupid stuff. My dad talked me into an abortion. Now, I mostly do drugs and have sex for money to survive out here. Believe me, you don't want this life." Nancy stuffed the dollar into her pocket and looked away, ashamed.

"What can I do? No offence, but I don't want to end up on the streets." Mary hoped she hadn't overstepped her boundaries, but for some reason she believed she could talk candidly with this girl.

"No harm. It's the truth. You don't want what I have. Later, after I'd already made my choice. I heard about this special home. You know, a real nice place out in Gresham. They help pregnant girls, like you. You can live there and they don't care how you got pregnant. It's called Bethany House. You even get your own room, meals, counseling, support, and from what I've heard, lots more." Nancy pulled a crumpled flyer from her inside coat pocket "See, here's the place. For some strange reason, I've been carrying this around for months. I guess now I know why." She held out the faded paper.

"Thanks. You know something, Nancy, no matter what you've done, God loves you. I'm going to tell you my secret. You probably won't believe me either, but, oh well. My son is the Chosen One, Jesus. When He's born something amazing is going to happen. You can count on that." Mary smiled, feeling a little flutter in her abdomen for the very first time.

"I'm ready to believe anything at this point. I better go. Call that number, okay?" Nancy rose and walked away. There was a new bounce to her step.

Glancing at the paper, Mary knew what she had to do. Find a safe place until the baby was born, and hopefully, Joe would decide to marry her and accept the child. She hurried to a nearby phone booth. As she slipped the coins into the shiny slot, Mary instinctively understood that somehow everything was going be all right. Just as the angel had said, with God all things are possible.

Alone, pregnant, and afraid -- not the words most of us consider while reflecting on our Savior's mother and the feelings she must have felt during the first weeks and possibly months of her pregnancy. We picture a loving Joseph, a cozy stable, and a Mary filled with joy. Certainly, there was joy, but I suspect that Mary, who wasn't more than 14 or 15 years old, was actually terrified. After all, it wasn't every day a girl found herself pregnant by God Himself. Most of the Jewish population expected the mother of their Messiah to be royalty, not a common young girl engaged to a carpenter.

What did her parents think? What about her friends, or their neighbors? Before the angel appeared to Joseph, did he calmly accept his wife-to-be's astounding circumstances? After all, sex outside marriage was punishable by death. Had Joseph denied Mary his name, where would she have gone?

Thankfully, Mary didn't have to answer that final question, but there are so many single, pregnant women in our world who do. Yes, yes, many of them have made poor choices that led to an "unplanned" pregnancy. I refuse to say unwanted, because God wants all of His children. No one is created without God's hands in the design, married, or not. Certainly, committing to purity and having sex only within the covenant of marriage is preferable and God's ideal. However, the staggering statistics easily demonstrate that God's best is not always the norm in our world today.

Consider:

Teen pregnancy rates are much higher in the United States than in many other developed countries. They are twice as high as England and Wales or Canada, and nine times as high as the Netherlands or Japan.

Each year, almost one million teenage women -- 10% of all women aged 15 to 19 and 19% of those who have had sexual intercourse -- become pregnant.

78% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, accounting for about one-fourth of all "accidental" pregnancies annually.

It's difficult even to imagine the Virgin Mary as yet another statistic, but had she found out in 2008 that she was pregnant and alone, what would she have done? We have young, hurting women who desperately need to experience the love of God in tangible ways that will help them make better choices in the future, and allow them to raise their children up in the Lord in spite of their own difficult circumstances.

Having a safe, Christian refuge to call home is crucial first step in this process of healing and change. Such a refuge, Bethany House, offers a home and program of hope for pregnant young, women and their babies. With godly principles woven through the fabric of the program, women are able not only to gain practical and education insight about pregnancy and motherhood, but also are allowed to grow up spiritually and emotionally, thus finding a new hope and future for themselves and their unborn children.

During the Christmas Season, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, there is an opportunity to reach out and touch the lives of many wounded women and their children -- women with no husbands, even families in sight. Women who have no warm bed to rest a tired head, no food to eat, and no medical care. There is simply not enough room at the inn for these women.

We, precious sisters, can bring tidings of great joy. A ministry like Bethany House cannot operate on its own. It wasn't meant to.

With financial support, in-kind donations, and the love of volunteers, it will continue to flourish. Sisters, Princess Warriors, this is a ministry that I support wholeheartedly. I wanted to give you an opportunity to give the gift of life this Christmas. We know so many people who have everything. Why not send a donation to this program in their name?

Instead of purchasing another item for re-gifting next year, give an eternal gift. I personally know that this 20-year-old ministry has struggled financially this year like so many of us and so many other worthy ministries. However, any gift can help keep their doors open.

Sadly, three maternity programs in my area have closed this past year due to finances, and all at a time when pregnancy rates are once again on the rise. Many Christians speak out against abortion yet do nothing tangible to support life. Bethany House is an opportunity to give in relation to God's truth and your values.

Believe me; God will gift you back in mighty ways.

To learn more, or give an online donation, visit: http://www.bethanyhousenet.org/
Let's make our own Christmas Story this year as we touch two lives at a time and generations beyond with Christ's love and generosity. Thank you for letting me share this with you. God bless you.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Christmas Story

Blessings, friends! I hope you like my new holiday-themed blog design. I thought it would be fun to update the format to reflect the season. Thank you everyone for your touching comments in relation to the posts on this site. I can't express just how much your words mean. Knowing that my writing is challenging, encouraging, and motivating others in their walk with Christ is a gift worth unwrapping many times over.

I hope you enjoy the following story I wrote for a magazine in 2005. It's as applicable today as it was then.

Mary's fingers flew across the keys of her new laptop. The precious homework aide was her favorite birthday gift from her mom and dad. She was, finally, sweet sixteen, a straight A-student, and head of school's cheer leading squad. However, after returning from a recent mission trip to Mexico, her aspirations were slowly changing. Cheer leading didn't seem quite as important anymore. Helping others discover the miracle of God's grace had taken center stage in her life, next to Joe.

Joe was the best boyfriend any girl could ask for. He was kind, attentive, attractive, fun, and he respected her godly values. Not to mention, he was already in a carpentry-training program after completing high school a year early. They'd known each other since kindergarten. Mary rested in the knowledge that someday she would rest in Joe's arms as his cherished wife. Glancing down, she twisted the silver band on her left ring finger. The ring's words -- True Love Waits -- helped provide her with the encouragement she needed to face a world filled with so many young people having sex and not waiting for "true love." This tiny piece of jewelry represented her commitment to remain pure until her wedding night.

"Honey, lights out," her mother's voice drifted up the stairs, interrupting her thoughts.

"Goodnight mom, dad," she called out before shutting off her computer and slipping between her cozy, flannel sheets. Life was sweet. She hoped her dreams would be sweet as well.

"Mary!" A musical voice trumpeted. "Awaken, child."

Bolting upright, Mary clutched her comforter under her chin. How long had she been asleep? Nothing could have prepared her for the massive form towering over her bed. His skin was copper and shone like the afternoon sun. A cascading mane of golden hair draped over his muscular shoulders. Dressed in a flowing white tunic secured with a belt adorned with jewels, the winged creature smiled.

"Do not fear God's chosen one, for you, Mary, have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive a baby, and will give birth to a boy. His name is Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end to His Kingdom."

Still terrified, yet honored by his request, Mary had to ask, "How is this possible, angel? I am a virgin. I'm not even finished with high school."

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore the child you bear will be called the Son of God. Also, your loving Aunt Elizabeth is also pregnant in her old age, for with God, nothing is impossible."

The implications of this request were beyond Mary's understanding. However, she did know the One who had sent this angelic messenger, and she could not resist His love. "I will do it, gladly," she agreed.

With his mission completed, in a roaring tornado of wind and blinding light, the angel vanished. Mary was left breathless, her heart pounding like a stampede of wild horses under her nightgown. How would she explain this to her parents? to Joe? to anyone?

Sliding from her bed, her knees sank into the soft carpet. "God help me," she cried, "God help me."

Three Months Later

"What do you mean you're pregnant?" Her father's voice reached a decibel level Mary had never heard in her sixteen years living under his roof.

"Honey, calm down. Let Mary explain." Her mother interrupted.

"Dad, please, listen. I didn't have sex ... "

"Were you raped? I'll kill him! Was it Joe?" Her father's voice again escalated.

"You're not listening! I am pregnant by the Holy Spirit, Daddy. An angel came to me and told me I would have God's Son, and to name Him Jesus." She couldn't believe she'd finally said the words out loud.

"Mary! That will be enough! I've never heard of such a stupid thing. Until you can tell the truth, you can just get out of this house. No daughter of mine is going to be seen pregnant and tell people she got pregnant by God. People will think we're crazy, abusers, something. When you're ready to tell the truth, you can come home, until then, pack your bags." Her dad turned and stormed away; slamming the door with such force their two-story house shook.

"Honey, go stay with a friend or something until your father calms down. I'll talk to him. You and Joe better do something. I know we've always been against abortion, but maybe in this case it might be the best thing." Her mother tried to sound soothing.

"Abortion! I can't believe you're even suggesting that. We love God, remember?" Mary raced up the stairs, her thoughts in a whirlwind. Where would she go? Who could she tell?

Fanatically, shoving her clothing into a large backpack, she raced to get away from her mother, who was no in her room calling abortion clinics.

"Sweetie, this doctor says twelve weeks isn't too late. There's still time."

"Who are you, mom?" Snatching her favorite stuffed bear, Mary bolted from the room. Her mom, whom she no longer recognized, trailed behind, still trying to convince to at least Visit a clinic for advice.

LATER THAT EVENING:

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW.

The photo above is a little girl born at the maternity home, Bethany House. www.bethanyhousenet.org





Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No time for Christmas?



WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!

Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! it’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay". With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "we don’t have time for that!"

SOURCE: From "THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS" by Glenn Pease. http://www.intohisword.net/luke/luke17. shtml


With the Christmas Season in full swing, life can get a little hectic ... don't I know it. Sometimes the busyness that seems to accompany this time of year can lead us to feel out of control, even frustrated; especially, as finances are so tight for many of us.

After reading the above story, I was reminded, again, that there is only One Real Reason for the Season -- Jesus Christ. If we don't have enough time to slow down and appreciate His ultimate gift to us -- salvation -- then we are indeed too busy. More than busy, we are in trouble. No shopping schedule or holiday parties should interfere with our devotional and prayer times.

Ladies, if we find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of December, it's time to find our way back to the True Reason for the Season -- The celebration of our King's birth. Jesus is never too busy for us. How can we possibly consider becoming too busy for Him?


Disclaimer: This message is not to berate you, but too challenge you in your walk away from what the world deems "normal." Remember, we're not of this world. Let us live like we know who we belong to. Amen!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Keep Praying

Precious Princess Warriors, the "Holiday Season" is now in full swing. It was heartbreaking to see the sad news story about the stampede at WalMart. A rush for stuff literally killed one worker. How terrible that so many people are willing to stomp on another human being just to get a discounted item. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of death. Life is not valued the way it should be. Killing has become so commonplace, society at large simply ignores the repercussions of this moral decline.

What can we do as Daughters of the King to reign real this Season in the midst of such selfishness and greed?

I think that's a pretty valid question.

Most importantly, we must keep praying. Morning, noon, and night ... and in between. It's so easy to get caught up in all the busyness that our prayer life starts slacking.

I know for me, every night I'd come home from work and we'd all end up bickering and biting at each other. I was the leading lady in this nightly production, and some production it was. A few too many raised voices for my taste.

It was then I realized that I'd been praying less. So, in response to this not-so-fun development, I committed to praying every night, in the car, on the way home from work. Guess what? My household has improved 110%. I can feel God's peace and power as I take the time to honor Him and simply talk with Him on my evening commute.

Considering I'd written an article about becoming a Praying Road Warrior, I thought I better get back to walking what I'm talking. Which is another way we can help others see the light during this sometimes chaotic season.

Living like we belong to Jesus is the best gift we can give the world around us. That old saying: You might be the only Bible someone reads, comes to mind. I don't know about you, but I'm not always the best Bible. It's time for all of us to put our actions where our words are. Amen!

Prayer and walking the walk are two huge ways we can bless those around us in the coming weeks. Won't you join me in extending Christ's hands to a hurting, hungry, and very confused world?

If you would like to commit to this challenge, please send me a note. I'd love to hear from you. God bless you, Princess Warriors.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My New Website

http://princesswarriorsforchrist.com/

I'm excited to announce my new ministry website. Just click the above link and take a peek. If you are interested in having me as a speaker for your women's event and would like to learn more about my mission as a speaker and author, this is the place to visit.

Tis the Season for Thanksgiving


Happy late Thanksgiving. Although, I'm not really late am I? For being thankful is something we can celebrate every day. Amen!?

I hope your day was as wonderful as mine. I'm going to move in different direction and share a clean Thanksgiving joke. It had me in stitches. My kids just looked at me like, "duh." They didn't get it the first time around.

Here we go:

The Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music, and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up, and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot, and the parrot got angrier, more profane and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird, and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

I bet that bird was thankful for his new found freedom! I, too, am forever thankful for my freedom in Christ. This Thanksgiving, my daughter suggested a fantastic idea that I will implement often, not just on holidays.

As we sat eating our yummy food, she suggested that we play a little game. One by one, we had to go around the table and say something we were thankful for for each letter in the alphabet. Some of our answers were a bit silly considering the letter, but, overall, some amazing things were revealed. Please, give it a try. If all else fails, you can do this yourself in a journal. List those letters and go for it! You'll be amazed by your gratitude.

Lastly, I read a story about a little boy, age 11, who was dying from cancer. His doctor gave him two weeks to live. Many of you may have already read this, but, if not, I encourage you to take in the gracious giving heart of a boy. As we kick off the whole holiday season with a bang, we can be encouraged by the true meaning of giving selflessly.

http://www.bellaonline.com/ArticlesP/art2452.asp



Monday, November 24, 2008

A Princess Warrior's Words


Don't let Satan hijack your words (tongue)!

I know. The picture is REALLY unsettling. But I feel like God is REALLY trying to get my attention and maybe yours, too. I suspect this disgusting picture did just that.

However, it makes a powerful statement, doesn't it? Sometimes, maybe more than we'd care to admit, what comes out of our mouths is just as disgusting. The book of James talks about that one little organ -- our tongue -- causing so many problems. What we say cannot be erased ... ever. Once said, always said. Certainly, we can apologize for our misspoken words and confess, yet the consequences may remain far into the future as scars on another person's heart.

This time of year, for a number of reasons, people tend to get more stressed. Holidays can bring out the worst in some folks. Maybe, for whatever reason, it brings out some ickiness in you. For me, my finances are tighter than most years. I vacillate between trusting God as my Provider and attempting to figure money stuff out on my own. You can probably guess that on my own, I don't do so well. Stress can quickly escalate into words that seem to pop (or as in the above picture) slither out of our mouths. For what resides inside seems to spill into the world around us.

At church this past weekend, our pastor, Mr. Creative, himself, walked around the room with a big canvass bag. He asked us unsuspecting church goers to stick our hands in and see if we could figure out what lay inside. Well, being a daring Princess Warrior, I took the "feel" challenge. Ew-w-w-e! A nasty slimy blob resided in that bag. Please Note: He did provide a squirt of hand sanitizer following each person's turn.

Are you wondering what this was? I sure was. Our pastor used to be a youth pastor so he is very adept at using highly visual and impacting illustrations to make a point. Okay, okay ... it was a cow tongue. Seriously. Well-washed and cleaned up, but still a big, gross, ugly tongue. Can you guess what he was talking about? Uh huh ... the harm a tongue can cause. He waved that thing around and we all had a very powerful reminder of what a tongue can do. So powerful, I'm still sharing about it.

The lesson was good, though. We have got to stop wounding others with our words. Praise God if you don't have an issue with this. If that's the case, I challenge you to pray for those of us that do. Although, considering this was a topic God saw fit to include in the Bible, I suspect most of us struggle with it now and again.

So, what do we do?

Even though it sometimes feels like words just explode from our mouths without a sane thought on our part, there is always a preceding thought and time to make a choice. I know in the heat of the battle it can be difficult to push the PAUSE BUTTON. But that is exactly what we need to do.

My daughter came home this summer from church camp wearing a pin-on-button that said PAUSE. This button was to serve as a reminder for her to think before acting. Friends, we all need a pause button. If purchasing a button helps ... do it. After all, Jesus tells us to cut off our hand if it causes us to sin. Personally, I'd prefer wearing a button over loosing my tongue.

All humor aside. We've all been wounded by words and we've all injured others. Keeping our mouths clean is a must for every Princess Warrior for Christ.

Practical Tips:

1. Pray for God's supernatural help and strength to help you pause before speaking.

2. If you have to, cover your mouth with your hand and/or walk away rather than blurting out something unsavory.

3. Ask if what you plan to say would glorify God.

4. Make sure everything that comes out of your mouth is encouraging to others.

5. Ask if you'd say that if you were face to face with Jesus. (Ouch!)

6. Manage your stress ahead of time by spending time in prayer, worship, and talking with others about your problems. By alleviating stress you will be better equipped to converse calmly without anxiety and worry tainting your words.

7. When you mess up. (Not if, when) Admit your mistake, immediately. Ask God for forgiveness and repent. Turn again from your sin and move forward, making restitution for any harm caused.

I've fallen short a lot in this area, lately. My daughter is really good at pushing buttons other than the Pause Button, if you know what I mean. She is experienced at pushing my personal buttons. It's time for me to disengage those buttons and respond as Christ would, with love and truth, balanced and in harmony with each other.

We belong to a royal priesthood, a holy nation of God. Our words matter. We can use our mouths to bless or curse. Let's choose to bless. Amen?!

Happy early Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hear the Battle Cry!






Please watch the above video clip.


I think sometimes we forget the warrior part of our identity. We forget that sometimes as Princess Warriors for Christ we have get tough and fight for our King's truth. What we believe may not be popular. What we say may not be well-received. What we do may be ridiculed. We are not of this world. We belong to another. Yet, so often, we spend our time overwhelmed by what's happening around us, instead of fighting the good fight, we get stuck feeling like we have no power and that we must accept the world as it is. So not true!

Friends, we serve a mighty God. His power is accessible to us. He gives us a sword -- His Word -- to defeat darkness.

Jesus faced the devil in a historic showdown in the desert when he was hungry (starving) and exhausted. The enemy tempted him with everything the world had to offer, yet, Jesus was able to defeat temptation from the master tempter by wielding the ultimate weapon -- God's powerful and eternal Word. The spoken Word of God forced the enemy to flee.

Yes, we are to love, but that doesn't mean we aren't supposed to fight. We can stand against our true enemy -- satan. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and dark powers of this age.

Is it time for a Armor check up? We make sure (well, most of the time) that our cars are fuelled and have received their 3,000 mile oil change. If our brakes aren't working, we get them repaired.

As this world continues to spiral into chaos, it is more important than ever that our Armor is battle ready. Is yours polished? Ready for battle? More importantly, are you putting it on? Every day?

I'd like to share the following prayer that has helped me visualize putting on the Armor of God. These are not words to simply say, but to believe ... to live by.


Dear Lord, I come before you today to put on the spiritual armor that you have so graciously provided for your Princess Warriors. First, I put on the Belt of Truth, buckled securely around my waist, for it is Your truth that sets me free. I then put on the Breastplate of Righteousness that covers my heart and emotions and shows I am in right standing with You. My feet are shod in the preparation of the Gospel of Peace, and I take those feet and I bring peace and love, not anger and discord where I tread this day. I grasp the Shield of Faith and use it to quench every fiery arrow the devil may fire at me, and I take the Sword of the Spirit, which is your precious and powerful Word and I use it to pierce through the enemy’s wicked plans. For Your Word states, all I must do is submit myself to You, and tell the devil to flee, and he must go. I choose to follow You this day, my Heavenly King. May I serve You with joy and perseverance, living boldly and lovingly as Your Princess Warrior. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, I pray, Amen.


Ladies, we can be victorious. Let's us raise our swords and stand for our King.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Big Fluke ... or a Miracle?

September 4, 1990, was the beginning of a new era for the Ellison Family of Long Island. It was mom Jean’s first day of a new teaching job, and daughter Brooke’s first day of seventh grade. But things didn’t unfold as planned. Brook was hit by a car that day, and a different story of a Mother’s dedication unfolded.

In the following years, Jean stood by her daughter through paraplegia, through her fight to stay in a regular Jr High, and even lived 4 years in a dorm room with Brooke so she could graduate from Harvard.

In Brooke’s 2000 Harvard Graduation speech she says, "Ten years ago, I was hit by a car. No one expected me to live. I have been paralyzed from the neck down and on a respirator since that time. Tomorrow, I will graduate from Harvard. Miracles happen. They have happened to me and they are happening to you. You need only to look at the people in your lives in order to see them." Brooke only needed to look at her Mother, a woman who had made one of God’s miracles incarnate in her life. SOURCE: SermonCentral staff. Citation: Brooke and Jean Ellison. Miracles Happen: One Mother, One Daughter, One Journey. New York: Hyperion, 2001

I have to admit when I read this story I choked back a few tears. Miracles come in so many shapes and sizes.

Have you ever wondered how in the world the ancient Israelites walked through a sea parted by God's very hand, yet later forgot He could deliver them? Manna from heaven, water from a rock, a pillar of fire ... the miracles just kept coming, yet God's people just kept disbelieving and doubting Him. Did they think it was a fluke of some sort that the waters receded for them then crashed over their enemies?

It's crucial as princess warriors that we keep our eyes open to the miracles that God is performing around us even today. For me, when my faith starts to wane, I find that reviewing the incredible things that God has done in my life helps me get back on track. That's why I keep a journal full of prayers and gratitude lists.

For some reason, we have a forgetting problem. Our ancestors did, and we do, too. When life gets hard, many of us find ourselves quickly loosing sight of all God has done in us, around us, through us, and for us.

He's at work, always. I didn't walk through the ocean on dry land, or walk on water like Peter, but I was able, with God's power to give up a life of drugs, promiscuity, and destruction. People who knew me "way back when" can't believe who I am today. (and I don't just mean the extra pounds I've added) When you practically lived with the motto: Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll tattooed on your forehead (not literally, of course) and now you're praising God with Jesus Christ tattooed on your heart, well, that's a miracle.

I want to challenge you, today, take a moment, and list each and every miracle that you've experienced in your own life and others that you've seen or know about. Keep your list somewhere where you can easily refer to it when you are facing times of faithlessness.

God bless you, sisters!




Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thank you Princess Partners


This is a note for those of you who faithfully visit this blog. Thank you so much for your kind words, encouragement, and prayers. I am honored that you have chosen to become Princess Partners and follow this blog on a regular basis.


I believe it is important to say thank you ... a lot. So, thank you! Although I can't send flowers and candy to all of you, just know that if I could, I'd make the above picture a reality.

What I can do, though, is pray for you. May God continue to bless you richly and beyond measure. I look forward to sharing more of the Princess Warrior journey with you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happy Birthday to me (and you, too)

It's the BIG DAY. You know. That time once a year when we are reminded of our birth day or as we refer to it now ... birthday.

If we're lucky, we can look back on the past year and rejoice over the exciting things that have happened in our lives. However, for some of us, a birthday can serve as a reminder of all those things we haven't accomplished, that career we never captured, dreams seemingly lost forever.

Simply celebrating our special day in the midst of trials and tribulations isn't always fun. Thankfully, though, no matter that the occasion, if we're daughters of the King we can celebrate and rejoice no matter what our circumstances. (I'll get to that in a moment)

For me, today has been, honesty here, not so lovely. My sixteen year old son chose today of all days to dump a load of sour emotions on me. What he said hurt, a lot. I cried. Actually, I sobbed. For me I'm already tender on my birthday because I'm adopted. This is the time of year when I wonder about my birth parents, and possible siblings.

Finances have been tight for us, like so many other families, so I instituted a no gift rule for me. No big out to dinner event or fanfare this year. Surprisingly, and kind of embarrassingly, I found myself a bit down about my lack of gifts. Hey, I just wanted the Mandisa Christmas CD! I guess it was a lose lose situation; because had they got a present for me, I probably would have chastised them. ANYWAY, I was feeling pretty blue by the time I got to church. I was feeling bad about my past mistakes and wishing I'd accomplished more in my forty-four years on this planet.

Then, God spoke like He so often does through our pastor and tonight's message. Can you believe they even talked about letting go of past mistakes and allowing God to do what He does so well: use them for His Kingdom glory? Humph. Over the course of the evening, I was reminded how when we are adopted into God's Kingdom we are reborn. That's right! A whole new "birthday" for us. Once we're His, we remain His, forever.

I started to mentally tally up all the many ways God has blessed me. He have given me more gifts in my lifetime than I deserve. He has delivered me from my past and allowed me to minister to hurting people, especially, other women. He has turned my ashes into rejoicing over His gift of salvation. He has elevated me from a pauper to a Princess Warrior. So, I had a hard day, actually, a hard couple of weeks, oh well. I have an eternity to look forward to in His presence.

Another thing that happened tonight was I made sure to keep all masks off. (You might want to review past entries about removing false faces) That's right. I was real about my less than perfect day. When people asked how I was, I was honest. No, I didn't vomit (sorry for the graphic word use, but it really gives a good visual) my emotions all over the place, I simply said that I'd had better days and that I was a little raw emotionally. The support and love I received was priceless. Talk about a gift! God gives us precious men and women of God to help lift our spirits when we are down. But we have to reach out, remove our masks, and push our pride aside.

A Princess Warrior for Christ can admit when things are less than perfect and she can ask for help. She can also rejoice in her King no matter how she feels. After all, we have received the best gift of all -- forgiveness for our sins -- past, present, and future. As well as, an eternity in the royalist of royal kingdoms ever.

Our hope must rest not on the temporary gifts and good feelings of this earth, but on our God and His incredible plans for us. So, sisters, let us rejoice and be glad for God is good all the time.

I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE FOLLOWING BIRTHDAY STORY:

A man told a story about the time his son’s sixth birthday was approaching. He had mentioned he wouldn’t mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked the dad asked him what he could get him. Bill expected a well-planned reply, such as "I’d like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys ‘R ‘Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a Parcheesi board; the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; it’s between the Pac Man and Pay Day."

But his son’s request was a bit different. He said, "Dad, I’d like a ball to play with for my birthday." Bill said "Great, what kind of ball?" "Oh, I want don’t know, either a football or a soccer ball." "Well, which would you want more?" He said, "Wellll," and thought about it. Then he said. "If you have some time to play ball with me this year, I’d really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard. But if you’re gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood." The dad thought about this and said, "Let me surprise you. How does that sound?" And the little boy smiled and said, "Oh that would be great Dad. I really love you."

Then Bill went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they agreed, their son was not so much interested in the gift. He was interested in the giver. (Autoillustrator.com, "WORSHIP")

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pampered Princess: Stop Judging Others!


Do you ever find yourself feeling a bit "better than" those other worldly people? After all, we're Christian royalty, right? Well, Christ is the "royalist" of all the royalty and he spends more time serving than being served. Unlike the religious teachers of His time, He was comfortable in the presence of everyone. Can we say the same? I know that often times I fall short in this area.

In relation to this topic, I found the following little illustration and wanted to share it with you. I hope it serves as good reminder to not judge a book by its cover. God is the only one who can see our hearts. As Princess Warriors for Christ, we best be loving rather than judging. Amen!?


"Judging Books! (10.20.05--That Person!--Esther 3:5-6) The other day, a Jehovah's’s witness came to my door. I’ve seen them many times in the past as they slowly travel down my driveway and descend upon my doorbell. I know what differentiates my faith from theirs and have learned stock answers to their statements that usually sends them packing in a matter of minutes.

But, this time it was different. When I opened the door I actually looked into the eyes of the middle-aged man who stood with a an open tract in his hands and saw not the enemy, but a man just like me. Maybe his car had broken down yesterday or perhaps he and his wife had had words that morning. I didn’t know. But I was compelled somehow to shake his hand and invite him in.

I had been thinking about the following story. A schoolteacher decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. No one seemed interested in helping. Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, “Please God, send me an angel, preferably one with mechanical experience.”

Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. He jumped off and went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.

The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, “Thanks so much.” Noticing her surprise, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared. (Larry D. Wright)

Judging books by their covers has become a national pastime of sorts for many. We put people not like us into a box and then shut the cover. They’re never able to crawl out because we aren’t willing to open the doors of our hearts. God’s Word teaches us that prejudice such as this grows out of personal pride (Esther 5:5-6). We put ourselves over others not because of what we know but because of what we don’t know.

I spent a good half an hour talking with that Jehovah’s witness that day. We shared stories of middle age and life. I let him touch my faith that day believing that it would never be the stock answers that turned him to faith in Christ but that it would be the love of Christ itself working in me. An open box gives God more room to work than one we have closed."


I hope this story reminded you like it did me that loving is better than judging. God bless you!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Down in the Dumps


Many years ago a young Midwestern lawyer suffered from such deep depression that his friends thought it best to keep all knives and razors out of his reach. He questioned his life’s calling and the prudence of even attempting to follow it through. During this time he wrote, "I am now the most miserable man living. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell. I awfully forebode I shall not." But somehow, from somewhere, Abraham Lincoln received the encouragement he needed, and the achievements of his life thoroughly vindicated his bout with discouragement.


Fellow princess warriors, do you ever get tired of fighting? Ever feel like you just can't take one more thing? You are not alone.


I usually try to be very encouraging on this blog. But, I'll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes it's me who needs to hear the encouraging words that I write. Talk about getting a message from God. It goes something like this ... "Carol, my precious daughter, remember, practice what you preach." He wants me to walk out His words, not just write them.


Just in case you thought I might "have it together" let me share the few THINGS that got me down in the dumps this past week or so.


1. Computer crashed
2. Car problems
3. Roof shingles falling off in wind
4. Me with the flu for over a week. Headache, body aches, stomach aches, lots of aches.
5. Frame around front door breaking off
6. Daughter displaying some major behavioral issues
7. Son home with the flu, too
8. A barrage of negative thoughts that were bombarding my mind because I didn't act very princess-like in response to my many inconveniences. A lot of broken stuff doesn't gel well when you are feeling your pocket book squeeze tight ... really, really tight


Ladies, although these "things" were /are not life threatening, they are frustrating. When they happen all at once. Well, they're at the very least, a threat to your sanity on some level.


Then this little ole princess warrior (that would be me again) gets hung up in her pride. Yep, me who preaches grace, forgiveness, reaching out to others ... etc. Is embarrassed to let people love her. Asking for help can be hard. It certainly is humbling when you suddenly realize that you've been plastering on the fake smile and pretending everything is f-i-n-e fine.

By yesterday, I was drowning down in the dumps. Today, thankfully, I'm feeling a tad bit better physically, but still not 100 percent. I was driving a long and my favorite worship song comes on. "My God is mighty to save, mighty to save ... He can move mountains, He's mighty to save, Jesus is mighty to save ...


I feel the Spirit starting to move and that ever-familiar feeling of gratitude and love for my King is growing and I'm starting to glow. Then out of the blue The Voice, you know the one, speaks into my thoughts with such force I almost believe it's audible.

"You don't deserve God. You shouldn't even be worshiping Him after your unbelief this week."

Right then, I'd had enough. Enough of the devil and his snide and tormenting comments. I yell (yes, I'm still driving) "ENOUGH! I belong to the King. I am forgiven. So, get lost!" Then the tears came and I was able to worship God with complete abandon. (As much abandon as you can have while semi-safely operating a vehicle during rush hour).


I share this little piece of me to ask for your prayers and to encourage you to hang in there if you, too, are feeling down in the dumps. That old saying: This too shall pass, is so very true. It was a long hard week, but, today, at last, I feel renewed. My God does move mountains and He is mighty to save. I still don't have enough money, things are still broken, but, hey, things could be so much worse.


Yes, I felt like throwing in the towel, whatever that might have entailed, but I didn't. Look at good ole Abe Lincoln. Apparently, he was down in the dumps and depressed, too. Thankfully, he didn't give up either and went on to make history.


We've got our own history to make, ladies. So, let's tell the devil to get lost and lift each other up in prayer, always remembering that Jesus is more than enough for us.

God bless you!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What side are you feeding? Battle Ready or not?

AN ESKIMO FISHERMAN CAME to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets.

On one Saturday the black dog would win; another Saturday, the white dog would win—but the fisherman always won! His friend began to ask him how he did it. He said, "I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he stronger."

This story about the two dogs is apt because it tells us something about the inner warfare that comes into the life of a person who is born again. We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us? It depends on which one we feed. If we feed our spiritual lives and allow the Holy Spirit to empower us, we will win. " (Billy Graham. The Holy Spirit. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 92-93).

Ladies, If we expect to stand strong in today's world, it is imperative that we feed our souls with what is good and from God. I can tell you that at times, I struggle with this. For example, reading a certain popular vampire series then finding myself hungry for an exciting otherworldly romance isn't feeding the "right" side. I just don't think that God would be cheering for that relationship (if it it was even possible) but you know what I mean.

Maybe you read romance novels, watch R-rated movies, spend time focussing on your angry side, obsessing over a relationship, you fill in the blank ... we could go on and on. My point: there is a ton of stuff in our world that we can think about and spend our time on. If this stuff does not glorify God, who does it glorify? I suspect you know the answer to that question. Satan.

I promise you, when you spend time, daily, with God, in His Word, singing His praises, and living a lifestyle that is in line with His commandments, you will have the needed strength to stand strong in the battles life (and the devil) brings. But, if you have wasted your time caught up on feeding your mind with soap operas, that certain TV series, those not-so-uplifting books, eventually, you will discover that you have drifted from your King and are lacking the supernatural power needed to face trials and tribulations.

So, what do you say, ladies? Shall we feed the right side? After all, as the above story so dramatically explains -- the side we feed is the side that wins.

Let's be winners for Christ.