Sunday, November 30, 2008
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.
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:
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.
Monday, November 24, 2008
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.
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
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.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
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
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
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
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!