Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cracked Mirror


Christmas is almost here. Wow! The birthday celebration of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He truly is (forgive the cliche') the REASON FOR THE SEASON.

I've been so blessed this Holiday Season. My job has provided a number of free tickets to incredible productions like, The Nutcracker, Narnia, and Big Little Things. My daughter and I have flitted from one play to the next, enjoying dancing, music, and drama, three things that delight and entertain us. I've never experienced such a wonderful taste of the arts in Portland. I am impressed. Big time.

One thing I noticed, always, while in the lovely restrooms at these events, was the amount of time women stood looking in the mirror. In fact, I remember reading somewhere (I wish I could remember where and when) that women look in the mirror, or windows, OR anything with a reflection, hundreds of times daily.

What are we looking for? Sure we check our lipstick, smooth down that out-of-place hair, and even wash the lunch crumbs away ... but, I think there just might be something more to our fascination with our own reflections.

Remember the evil queen in Snow White? She had a mirror that continually fed her a lie. For she was most certainly not the fairest in the land even before Ms. Snow White showed her pretty face on the scene. The Queen's mirror had a nasty fibbing streak, didn't it? Leading his wicked ruler to become disillusioned with her reality.

On another level, apart from movie magic, we all have a "mirror," something inside us that reflects back everything good, bad, and in between that has happened in our lifetime. Words spoken, actions taken, mistakes made by us and against us. If we stare into our mirror long enough, we can be certain to see something we don't like. For most of us, our mirrors are cracked. They don't reflect the truth about who we are and who we belong to.

We hear a lot about self-esteem and self-image these days. To often we spend untold amounts of money and time on improving our so-called image. We work hard to fix the outside when the blemishes we are really trying to cover are the ones on the inside. Focusing on our self-image can leave us empty or even shallow. I'm not saying we shouldn't be positive and work on improving ourselves. Not even close! But what I am suggesting is that we spend less time in the mirror and more time in The Word focusing on our God-image. That's right. We are made in God's image. In other words, parts of Him reside in us. If we'd take the time to know who He is and what He has to say about us, we'd feel less concerned about some old cracked mirror.

The funny thing is, when we embrace our God-image our self-image improves. Ladies, we are royalty, Princess Warriors, children of the most high God. We are worthy women of God. Listen to what He has to say about us:

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalm 139:17-18
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

Let's spend less time listening to lies and looking in the mirror, and more time looking to God for our worth. After all, our identity is found in Him.

God loves you. He treasures you. He has adopted you. You are created in His image to do great and marvelous things. Don't believe anything or anyone that tells you otherwise, even the mirror in your mind. Replace the the negative with God's truth and start reigning real right now!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Secret Sins Saturating Society



Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. —Proverbs 28:13

The old cliche' "You're only as sick as your secrets," has more merit than you might believe.

You need only glance at the face of a child who is hiding something ... Scrunched features. Mumbling. No eye contact. Cocked head. Silly smile. They each have their own cues that inform us that they have a secret that needs sharing.

Just this evening, I was watching an evening television show with my daughter. It was absolutely fascinating. Ask me the name of the program and I won't be able to tell you. Sorry! Anyway, it was all about a group of seasoned law enforcement and military personnel whose jobs included using specialized interrogation techniques and getting a person to confess his or her crime.

They showcased taped interrogations and provided commentary while the conversations were taking place. For those who ended up confessing, their whole demeanor and body language shifted once the truth was out on the table. Suddenly, all their protective strategies were discarded and the tension left their bodies. They actually appeared to be relieved despite the fact that a life in prison, or, in one case, the death penalty were the rewards for their disclosures. Apparently, though, confessing their crimes provided relief from some of their guilt. I think we all know that pretending takes a lot of energy. It's stressful to keep a secret.

What led me to this challenging topic? The recent Internet stories about Tiger Woods and his alleged affairs. He has admitted to hurting his family with his actions. The truth is out now. Unfortunately, for his family, the whole world knows about his secrets.

The Bible explains in clear language that if we chose to conceal our transgressions we will not prosper. But, thankfully, for believers, we have something (Someone) the rest of the world doesn't -- complete forgiveness available through Christ Jesus.

We all fall short and sin. We all make mistakes. We've all kept secrets. God doesn't want us bound up by lies and secrecy. He wants us free to be all we can as His Princess Warriors. It's more than a little difficult to reign real when we're covering our faces in shame. Secrets cause shame. And I've discovered over the years, no matter how hard we try to keep something hidden it eventually gets found. After all, whatever goes on in the dark is eventually illuminated by the Light.

God is already well aware of our secret sins. We live in a society riddled with wounded women who are cowering away from confession, afraid to reveal their secret thoughts, actions, or words. I know when I was a young wild child, I used to get confused because I couldn't quite keep track of all my secrets. I considered myself a pretty adept liar. I know. Something to be proud of ... not even! Today, I've invited the Holy Spirit into my life and have asked that He shine the light of truth brightly on any secret sins I might be concealing. His conviction leads to confession, which leads to freedom.

Are you burdened by a secret sin? Is it time for you to turn to Jesus for forgiveness? I love the explanation of this process written by Dr. Robert Luginbill:

Cleansing from Sin: As believers, we have already been "washed" clean of our sins, that is, forgiven and pronounced holy by Christ's work when we accept that work by faith (Eph.2:5-9). But although we are clean and pure "in Christ" (1Cor.6:11), it is still possible for our feet to pick up a bit of dirt as we walk about in the devil's world. God has given us the status of "holy people", but we are still imperfect and still capable of sin.

We must therefore be alert to the fact that as long as we sojourn on this earth we shall always be vulnerable to personal sin, and we must be ready to confess it whenever we become entangled in the "sin which so easily besets us" (Heb.12:1). This is the point Jesus made when He washed the disciples' feet before the last supper (Jn.13:1-17).

Peter was unwilling to allow Jesus to wash his feet along with the other disciples. But when Jesus told him that without the washing of his feet, Peter could have "no share" in Him, Peter demanded that the Lord wash his body also. Jesus replied, "One who has had a bath needs only to have his feet washed, otherwise he is completely clean" (v.10). Our Lord was telling us that we are in need of only one release from the bondage of sin which has held all mankind under condemnation since Adam, and that this release or "redemption" was provided by His death in our place and appropriated by us through our faith in Him (Col.2:13-14).

This is the "bath" or cleansing from sin which has already been accomplished and need never be repeated. We do, however, continue to commit acts of personal sin as believers, and when we do, we are in need of "foot washing", that is, of the forgiveness and restoration which comes to us when we confess our sins to God. We need to be washed from sin only once. We need to cleansed of our sins as often as we commit them.

I hope this entry has prompted you to stay current on confession. God isn't here to interrogate us, but to love and forgive us. Why don't we let Him?


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Vampires, Werewolves, teenage love … oh my!

Hello all! Long time (again) since I’ve blogged. That’s all about to change. It’s time for this Princess Warrior for Christ to start encouraging and challenging other Princess Warriors to be all they can be as daughters of the King. When I challenge you, guess what? I end up challenging myself to live life for Christ on a deeper level. It kind of works like that doesn’t it? We tend to teach what we need to be taught, or we get to share about things we’ve overcome by the grace of God.

So, the new format will be as follows.

At first, you may get a little update about my personal life.

Secondly, I will pick a topic or theme related to Christian living, an attribute or behavior that brings God glory, and expound on that. I may also feature a theme that relates to something we might be better off avoiding, if you know what I mean.

At least one scripture will be referenced and I will include a real life story or anecdote that helps us better embrace the topic, OR I’ll write a fiction scenario to depict what we’re exploring. If there is a resource or book that might help us in relation to the topic, I’ll make sure to share it with all of you. With that in mind …

Why wait? Let’s start, shall we?

My personal note: It is Thanksgiving evening. I am thankful for so many things … my relationship with God, my family, and friends. My job. My home. My ministry. I really, for the most part, like my life. Despite the financial challenges (and they’re big ones) and issues with my kids, I am still grateful.

When I had the swine flu something happened spiritually speaking. My misery drew me closer to God, the only place I could find even a smidgen of comfort. I did a lot of silent praying and God in His perfect wisdom responded in ways that continue to astound me. I’m getting ready to head out of town with my daughter. We were invited to travel with a dear friend and her daughter who is the same age as mine. Road trip! Tomorrow, bright and early, we’ll be on our way to Klamath Falls, Oregon. We’ve heard there may be some of that cold white stuff covering the ground. Just the potential of snow has the girls in a tizzy. Personally, I’m okay with a book, fire in the fireplace, and the gorgeous view we get to soak in. That’s my new news in the condensed format.

I’m sure some of you are bemoaning your over-stuffed bellies and wondering what vampires and werewolves have to do with our Christian walk. Add teenage love to that and it sounds like I’ve lost my mind. Stay with me.

None of us can fully avoid the latest phenomenon that’s running rampant in the media – Twilight, New Moon, the Cullen family of vampires, and a pack of handsome young werewolves, are on the minds of more than a few gals – both young and older. Much older! I’ll admit that I, too, have seen the movie and read the books.

When you have a preteen who is eager to embrace what society is spitting out, you tend to take it upon yourself to investigate. After reading, I’m not so worried about the war between vampires and werewolves. I think most of us are pretty clear that that particular battle won’t be happening anywhere but on the Big Screen or in the pages of the nation’s bestselling book series. Seriously, I’m not bothered by all that. What concerns me, big time, and more so with the latest movie installment – New Moon – is the addictive, codependent nature of Bella’s (the heroine) and Edward’s (vampire love interest) relationship.

Do I need to give background? I doubt it. I suspect if you haven’t see the movie or read the books, you know enough about the storyline to follow along.

For some reason, I really noticed the problematic theme to their relationship in this newest movie. They’ve been dating now for some time. She is human. He is a vampire. Good girl. Bad boy. We all know that story. There’s just something that seems to be engrained in most women that leads us to desire (secretly for the most part) that “bad boy” image. That’s a topic I don’t even have time to start on.

Anyway, what I noticed as I sat through the first half of New Moon was the pathetic, anguished, never-joyful love Edward and Bella shared. Geeze! If it hurt so much why bother? That’s the problem, though, isn’t it? From soap operas, to nighttime dramas, romance novels, and the Big Screen movies, we’ve been conditioned to think that being in love mean being in pain. Even when Edward and Bella kiss they look like they need a strong pain killer. Where’s the joy? Maybe a big smile now and then might be nice.

I know. I know. Some of you are saying, but Carol they don’t have sex and teenaged love is mushy, after all. That’s great. I can appreciate those points. However, when Edward leaves, we are forced to watch Bella dive into a depression so deep she can barely keep from drowning. And I don’t mean for a few weeks, or even a month, but for months and months and months. She becomes the walking dead. Her whole existence is wrapped up in her feelings for her vampire beau. She even starts to do crazy, dangerous stunts so she can hallucinate about him, and people find that romantic. Scary, huh?

Granted, she’s not the only one looking gloomy. Edward apparently can’t function either. In fact, he plans to kill himself when he believes that she is dead. This whole Romeo/Juliet love thing, with suicide as an option, is just plain evil. When we put a person and relationship ahead of God, we’re in big trouble.

This movie sends a very specific message to young girls everywhere. When you’re in love, nothing else matters but the object of your affection. You can’t possibly survive without that person. Love is supposed be filled with pain, heartache, and anguish, along with strong doses of insecurity and fear.

Am I making too much of a teenage love story? I don’t think so.
God’s Word says specifically:
“Do not worship any other gods besides me.” Exodus 20:3 NLT

When our world revolves another person, place, or thing, we are quite simply said: worshipping that person, place, or thing. Some people worship their wealth, others their careers, and some their cars, the list could go on for miles. For many women, men and relationships are the focus of their worship. If we feel that we cannot survive without a certain someone or something, we just might be in trouble.

I’m not downplaying real love. Godly love is a beautiful thing. Godly love is good for you, though. Consider the following words about addictive love versus what the author calls authentic love:

ADDICTIVE LOVE SAYS:

1. I can’t live without you. You give my life meaning.
2. You make me feel valuable. When I am with you, I am somebody.
3. I can’t make it on my own. I’m helpless without you.
4. I want you to be a total part of my life, and I want to be a total part of yours.
5. All of the hard times are worth the good times. I will be here forever, no matter what happens, no matter how terrible or harmful you are for me.
6. I can’t bear to think of you sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone else. You are the only one who has ever understood me.
7. You should be sensitive to all my needs. I have feelings you should take into consideration before you do anything.
8. If you really care, you will treat me the way I want. Your job is to make me feel good.

AUTHENTIC LOVE SAYS:

1. I can live without you, but I chose not to.
2. I am a valuable person, and you affirm that value to me.
3. I can make it on my own. Having you as part of my life makes it easier, or more fulfilling.
4. We are two separate people with two individual lives to lead. I encourage you to pursue interests, and I will pursue mine. This kind of space and diversity is good for us.
5. I believe love should seek another’s highest good. To the best of my ability, I will do that for you, even if sometimes I fail.
6. We are richer for sharing our lives with other people. I encourage you to have other friendships.
7. Mutuality is the glue that holds us together. I enjoy you, and in that enjoyment, I find that many of my needs for importance, belonging, and intimacy are met.
8. I will accept the way you show me you care about me. Sometimes I may have to ask you about your actions, but generally, I will take at face value what you say and do.

I wish I could give credit to someone for coming up with those descriptions, but I can’t for the life of me recall where it came from. It makes some very valuable points that both non-Christians and Christians can both easily relate to.


The Bottom line remains: As Princess Warriors for Christ, our love and attention, first and foremost should be on our Heavenly King – Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate Source of real, authentic love. We can never think too much about Him. When we’re filled with His love we are better equipped to truly love those around us. He will also give us the strength to continue when we lose someone we love deeply.


My final thought: If you plan to watch the Twilight saga with a younger woman or teenager, why not discuss the nature of true, healthy love and where it ultimately comes from – an intimate relationship with Christ. In addition, point out that being in love isn’t supposed to be filled with excruciating, gut-wrenching pain. Our special person should lift us up, bring us joy, and most importantly draw us closer to God.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comfortable in the Common

Life. It's so full of ups and downs and all-arounds. We can get pulled in a million directions at once and run ourselves ragged. As you know, in my case, a certain oinky flu slowed me down for a few weeks. In fact, I'm still not quite 100%. However, thankfully, I have truly discovered some major benefits in the midst of this season of sickness.

I have been spending a ton of "down time." Basically, I just do the basics. I go to work. Care for my family. Relax and rest. It's as if being sick has allowed me the freedom to slow my hectic pace down and feel okay about it. I didn't realize how much time I spent "doing" rather than simply "being." I teach on this subject a lot, but, apparently, I wasn't heeding my own advice. (Big surprise!)

Anyway, I've spent more time recently in God's Word, doing Bible study, devotionals, reading for pleasure, and just visiting with my family. In addition, I've been resting and sleeping more without the guilt. And let me tell you, the benefits are plenty. I'm feeling more stable, God-centered, content, well-rested, peaceful, calm, the list could go on. These are some pretty nifty goodies from God. Before I felt over-burdened, busy, bossy, and more than a little bratty if we're sticking to "B" words. I'll leave one "B" word off the list, but I'm sure you can use your imagination. I was biting at people (especially) my family. Snarling some too. Not a pretty sight for a Princess Warrior (or anyone) for that matter.

Growing up, I was addicted to chaos. I had to be caught up in a whirlwind of craziness to even feel alive. I was on the constant search for something or someone unusual or different to to add excitement to my life. For those of you who know my story, that included drugs, partying with rock stars, having a multitude of dysfunctional relationships, and living on the edge in everything I did. Being home alone, relaxing and reading ... major boring back in those days.

Granted, as I've grown up in Christ, I've become far more content with my life regardless of the circumstances. My quest for happiness and cheap thrills has changed dramatically, yet, I was still rushing around and busy doing. Getting sick brought my life to a screeching halt; I can still see the skid marks. Needless to say, going from doing everything to nothing in the blink of any eye had a major impact, an impact that I'm only beginning to understand.

God uses every experience as a learning one, if we let Him. He has allowed me to find such joy in the common everyday things. Sometimes we need to slow down. We need to give ourselves permission to rest and relax. Life is overflowing with stressors. Why would we want to add more stress to the pile? The crazy thing, we often keep doing the very things that cause us frustration and we avoid what will help us feel better.

I found out that God can slow me down anyway He so chooses. I'm not saying He caused me to get the flu, but He has certainly used that experience to get me refocused on Him and what's important.

Is is time for your to refuel? Fill up your spirit? Get some rest? Do you, like so many of us, find it difficult to give yourself permission to take a day off from the rat race?

Well, consider this your personal permission slip to slow down and get comfortable in the common things. What you'll discover is a whole lot more of what's uncommon in our world -- peace. You don't have to be bed ridden with swine flu to slow your pace, you can do it right now. Put your own brakes on and reach for that cup of tea, a journal, your Bible, and a good book. Or, stop what you're doing and go to bed! Yes, you heard me right. Get a good night's sleep or a nap. Your body will thank you.

This encouragement, friends, is coming from a woman who has written articles about Ministry Madness ... yep, I wrote about that topic more than once. I didn't feel spiritual unless I was doing something for God. For the first time, I truly think I understand what it means to simply be with God. Now that I've slowed down enough, I just might find out what I'm actually supposed to be doing for His Kingdom.

Go ahead, Princess Warrior, relax, rejuvenate, and renew.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In Sickness and in Health

Here I am. My first official Blog entry since the dreaded H1N1 Swine flu hit our home with the vengeance of a hurricane. Only now, two weeks from that first day of sickness, do I feel halfway sane and capable of writing more than a sentence or two. Talk about faith tested. I've never been so dreadfully sick in my life.

One day I had a headache, the next I was totally and completely out of it. My son, daughter, and mother were all hit hard as well. For some reason, though, this thing got me the worst of all. I had just returned home from speaking at a women's conference in Coos Bay. Which, by the way, was a fantastic weekend. Next thing I knew, I was bedridden. I could barely breath, couldn't talk, couldn't sleep, couldn't stop coughing, and was wracked with body aches and fever. Bless my mom, who didn't get as sick as the rest of us, managed to hold the household together by a thread.

I have a whole new understanding of what it means to "stay spiritual" or not, in the midst of illness. I had some rather un-spiritual moments. No wonder marriage vows include "in sickness and in health." I cannot imagine the level of commitment, care, and love required to take care of someone who is unable to care for themselves for an extended period of time. I couldn't even stand myself during this flu, let alone my family members. I can see why they call it swine flu, it's like you're rolling in a pen of mud and misery, squealing in agony. Not a very glamorous picture for a princess warrior.

As a Princess Warrior, what did I learn during my illness? That truly God is the Only Thing I could cling to and keep a smidgen of hope in. Because, of course, being sick wasn't the only negative thing happening. Let's just say financial matters continued to harass and I had no power to deal with anything. (Is it ever just "one thing?")

I literally had to be in the moment, trusting God, and taking care of my body. When you're that sick, trying to figure things out just isn't happening. A fever-ridden brain without sleep is not able to make decisions, especially logical ones. So, basically, I had to surrender to getting better and riding the waves of misery, trusting there would be light and ultimately better health on the far side of the sickness-sea. Two weeks later, I'm far from 100%, but I'm so much better. Thank you, Lord.

Since I couldn't talk due to being so out of breath, I did a lot of silent praying. A lot of breathing in God and breathing out sickness. I had to be still and know God is God. I could hardly make it to the restroom, if you know what I mean ... I felt helpless, hopeless, and toward the end of it all, a little hostile. At one point, I actually considered that I might die from this flu. I'm so very thankful that wasn't the end result. Yet, in a weird sort of way, when you feel that ill, you make peace with life/death/whatever. When it's just you and your fever-induced thoughts, a whole lot of strange thinking goes on. I was so grateful that I had scriptures memorized and God's promises stored in my mind. When my head hurt too bad to read, I was able to call upon His truth for comfort and encouragement. He always provided just enough light.

I'm sharing this whole flu fiasco because I suspect, as always, I won't be the only one who experiences the nightmare. I want to encourage you to hang on. It will get better. I actually had to go to the doctor twice for help; thankfully, they provided assistance as they could. I also stumbled to my computer to send out short health updates on facebook, and, thankfully, kind people, friends like you, sent encouraging words and prayed for my family. I really wasn't alone -- ever -- regardless how I felt.

I guess my message is simple in a way. Let God and others love you and care for you when you can't. Sometimes reigning real includes knowing when to be still and let God work His healing magic in your heart, health, and home. Let us join together and pray for health as we move into the Holiday Season. It is a time to celebrate the goodness and glory of our King. After all, it is by His Stripes we are healed.

Lord, it's been the strangest, hardest, sickest two weeks in my life. My family has been riddled with illness, yet you sustained us and are healing us. There are many people alone and sick, who are afraid. Please bring hope and health to everyone who is sick. Reveal Yourself to each of them, for with You as our Lord, we are never alone. No matter how sick we are, or how difficult life may be, You are our hope and salvation. You can carry us through. Remind us to band together in prayer. We pray for holy health and healing, bring rapid resolution to families suffering with the flu. Keep health care professionals healthy, give them strength and courage to serve others who are sick. Instead of allowing this flu to tear people apart in fear, draw us together with love and encouragement. Let us help where we can and pray without ceasing. Amen.

Hints to help:

Bring a meal to a sick family. Offer to transport children or un-sick family members. Send a card, email, or make a quick phone call of support. Understand that the person may be unable to talk, but simply knowing someone cares will mean a great deal. Ask if you can go to the store for juice, milk, or other supplies. Check in with people. Let's be a Christian community that cares.

In Sickness and in Health, we can continue to reign real. Loving others as God loves us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Princess of the Day

I find it amazing that so many women yearn for a title of royalty. To be a princess ... is the one dream most girls share at some point in their young lives. Tiaras. Glittery gowns. Glass slippers. Shiny scepters. Sharp swords. Wait a minute! Sharp swords and sabers... not something most princess-dreams include. Yet for us, as daughters of the King of Kings, a sword is one accessory never to be left behind. In fact, God's Word, also known as the Sword of the Spirit, is more than an accessory, it's the the one thing we dare not leave home without. It's our foundation, our King's love letters to us, our guide book, our history, our plan, our future, and our hope.

Consider for a moment: The Bible -- a book made up of 66 individual books, written over a 1,500 year span of time, by at least 40 different authors, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages, with no proven historical errors or discrepancies, all with the same theme. The theme: We mess up (sin over and over), God pursues us and loves us and ultimately forgives us ... again and again. What are the odds of this happening?

That's right, go to the library, find 66 books, by 40 different authors (the majority who'd never even met one another), in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents, without any historical errors or discrepancies, and put it all together. Would it make any sense? Have the same underlying theme throughout? Of course not! Apart from the inspiration of a holy God this would have been impossible. Period. Then consider the opposition the Bible faced throughout the centuries. How many rulers attempted to wipe out its message once and for all. Yet, somehow, it has managed to stay the best selling book of all time. Its message has continued to spread despite relentless persecution.

Understanding the power of the Bible -- the Sword we wield -- is imperative in our quest to reign real as Princess Warriors for Christ.

This past weekend, I spoke at a women's conference on the Oregon Coast. Coos Bay to be exact. Wow! What a wonderful group of women. I attended the event planners' home church on Sunday morning, and Pastor Phil shared those amazing facts about the Bible. I was once again reminded of the compelling evidence that God has provided about His existence and His plan for our lives. If that wasn't enough, I was treated to His incredible creation everywhere I turned ...

A beautiful, scenic beach cove where we spent Saturday afternoon was evidence of His creativity. The "barking" sea lions lounging on the cliffs certainly showed off His sense of humor. The baby lion I cuddled and the little leopard that sat on my lap were two additional examples of his marvelous mind at work. The wonderful men and women who embraced my daughter and I were perfect examples of His love, grace, and kindness.

Yes, this past weekend, I felt like the "Princess of the Day." How could I not? And God is so good and gracious that my daughter felt like a treasured princess too. And the conference participants also expressed how God had personally touched them with His love.

That's right! We can all be Princesses and warriors at the same time. There are more than enough crowns and swords to go around. In God's Kingdom, we can all reign real and share in His glory. There's no need to fight amongst ourselves when we belong to such a generous Ruler. We can better spend our time celebrating our freedom and encouraging other wounded women to join us.

So often, we are pressed in by troubles on every side. The Bible tells us we will experience troubles, trials, and multiple tribulations. HOWEVER, with God, all things are possible. We can overcome and rise above the most terrible circumstances if we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. In Him, we truly can reign real and reap the rewards God has for us. Go on, be who He's called you to be. Be a Princess Warrior ... today, tomorrow -- always.

PS. Please pray for a little girl. I don't know her name, but a coworker of mine is donating his photography talents at her special party. Apparently, she is just four years old and facing imminent death due to cancer. She is having a "Princess Prom." I believe strongly that we are supposed to pray for her. God can and does heal. I'd like to ask Him for this precious princess' complete healing. Won't you join me? I'm also praying that she experiences the best Princess Prom any little girl could possibly have. Amen.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Allowing Change to Change you ... for the better


Change. It can arrive without warning and change, well, everything. I
I'm discovering that a ton of little changes can cause disruption to our lives leading to us feel overwhelmed. Or ... we can instead comit to trusting God, and allow the changes that come our way to change us for the better. Easier said than done.
Right now, at work, there is a lot of "rearranging" going on in my department. This means: redoing forms, working with new people (who do things differently), more meetings, more work ... etc. First, let me say that I am super grateful for my day job. I love it. HOWEVER, I'm learning that I still struggle with "being in control." I want things my way at work. (Big surprise! Not.)


Also, I find myself trying to prove my worth in the workplace. You know; making sure those newer employees know that I know what I'm doing. On a more positive note, I am encouraging and helping train these newcomers, and they're great. In fact, the people are in no way the issue. It's simply me having to change the way I do things that gets me flustered. I didn't realize I was such a creature of habit. Okay, I'll just say it: I'm not real flexible at work. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, but inside I'm growling about it. Grrrrrrrrr. Those inner growlings can turn into loud barks if I'm not careful. My eyes tend to flash my disapproval, making it easy for those around me to sense my discomfort.


As I was thinking about writing this, I was reminded of Disney Princess, Mia. Lovely Mia, dorky school girl transported into the role of pretty and purposeful princess. The changes that girl went through in a very short time (thanks to movie-magic, of course) were phenomenal. I can only imagine the inner stress someone would feel in that same situation, if true. Yikes!

Granted, the changes were positive, just like many of the changes on my job, yet, regardless, change can cause us to become uncomfortable, unwilling, and unrighteous. Yes, unrighteous. If we're not careful we can let our feelings about changes reap havoc on those around us, if we don't learn to embrace those changes with God's plan and purpose in mind.

No matter what change is happening, good, bad, or somewhere in between, God can and will use change to grow us up spiritually. God doesn't let us hangout in a comfort zone for long, does He? He's always stretching us spiritually, increasing out abilities to reign real as the princess warriors we were created to be.

Like Mia, we can wear our crowns with class, or throw temper tantrums along the way. If we belong to King Jesus, we can rest assured that He will help us through any changes and transitions in our lives, if we let Him.

So, in a practical sense, I'm planning to embrace these latest changes with enthusiasm and integrity, adding my creativity and experience to the process in such a way that I help everyone involved. No more whining, complaining, or shooting eye-daggers. After all, change is a fact of life that we can't hide from, and, truthfully, why would we hide? A stagnate body of water becomes stale, even foul. A rolling river moves forward, around bends and curves, always going forward. Sitting in a stale, sour puddle of water doesn't sound real appealing. Riding the rapids of a river may be scary at times, but how exhilarating!

So, ladies, what changes are happening in your world? Are you fighting them or partnering with God in the process? I want to challenge you to take a a risk, get in the raft, and head for the rapids. Although, we may fall out on occasion, God is sure to get us back to dry land.

God bless you!

PS. Readers, please pray for the women of Coos Bay, OR. I will be speaking at their upcoming women's conference in two weeks. I'm asking that God prepare their hearts for mighty change and renewed hope. Also, please pray for my family and finances. I recently lost a significant amount of my income when my position at Bethany House was ended. With the economy in shatters, and donations down, Bethany House had to let all employees, but the director go. Please pray for more people to come along side this vital, life-saving ministry so they can transition into a new program format for single women with children. Thank you!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fight the War with LOVE

Once again, it's been far too long since I've written. Much has happened in the gap. Rather than a lengthy explanation of events, here is a quick list: I've lost 20 lbs. focusing on God and the wonderful program of support that was put in my path called Take Shape for Life. I'm preparing to speak at an upcoming women's conference in Coos Bay, Oregon the end of September, theme: Dressed for Battle. It's a free event if you're in the area. My kids are gearing up for school. Both are going to brand new schools and are excited. One will be in sixth grade the other a senior in high school. My mom's health is lacking, making me very nervous and edgy. Work is great ... busy. Hum ... that will do it for my update summary. Now down to business. The message of the moment.


Old friends. People from the past. Sometimes they come across your path. With all the online social networking sites it's not to difficult to find yourself "face to face" with past acquaintances. In fact, searching out old school chums and such can be rather fun. I don't do it often, but I decided to check on a long-lost friend from my groupie-girl, rock star chasing, drug taking days. About five or six years ago, this old friend found me via one of my blogs or a website and fired off an email my direction. I responded. And to make a long story short, she decided that my Christianity made me stupid, bigoted, judgemental ... well, you get the picture. As a self-proclaimed "pagan" she quickly put me in a box and determined what I'd be like without even knowing me.


Well, you know how God is, He keeps bringing certain people to mind. This woman has popped into my thoughts on more than a few occasions. With the advent of facebook, I found her easily and sent my own "friendship inquiry," which she responded saying that friendship with a hateful Christian like myself wouldn't be in her best interest. Ouch!

I'll admit, after receiving her response, I felt a bit hateful. I wanted to tell her a thing or two about her own judgemental attitude. Okay, so I did mention it (just a little). Later, I realized that more than likely, someone in her life, in the name of Christianity, said or did something to her that was very un-Christian. Maybe she was hurt, badly, by someone. The point is - I have no idea how she developed this belief system, as faulty as it might be. On the other hand, I have to admit, there are individuals in our world who do some pretty atrocious things in the name of God. Sadly, people watch people. They don't always read a Bible to learn about God. Instead, they watch those of us who say we know Him. This should be a good thing, right? Should be, but it doesn't always work that way.

Every night I've been praying for my old friend. Asking God to soften her heart and open her mind. I've also, for the umpteenth time been evaluating the "face" that I present to the world around me. Am I a warrior that uses the Sword of Truth to cut off heads, or do I wield love as my weapon of warfare?

I wish I could say that I'm always a loving example of Christ. I'm not.

Again, that old saying: "You might be the only Bible that someone reads," comes to mind. What will they read if I'm their book? Unfortunately, it depends on the day, the hour, the moment. Am I PMS? Frustrated? Too hot? Freezing cold? I mean, shoot, we can let the weather dictate our emotions. How do I respond to difficult situations? Do I panic? Freak out?

I know the answers to the above questions aren't always the ones that I'd choose; which means that should someone be watching me on the wrong day of the month, I just might be a bad example of the Christian faith. Not good. Certainly not how I want to represent my royal heritage as a daughter of the Most High God.

So, ask yourself, is there a place where people are paying close attention to your Christian walk? A certain person that has her eyes trained on you? Maybe you're not even sure. But, the bottom line is, we are to be the "light on the hill" for all to see. Right now, with so much darkness in the world, shining brightly has become even more critical. God wants to use us in BIG, BIG ways for His Kingdom glory. The question is, and always will be -- are we willing to let Him use us?

I know I want to be a better example to those individuals that find Christians to be sour. I want to be sweet. After someone has contact with me, I want them to be better for the experience. I want them to want what I have - a relationship with Christ.

So, Princess Warriors, are you up for the challenge. Ready to reign real in world filled with confused people lost in the lies the enemy has so successfully concocted ...

Let's ask God for our marching orders, and head into battle with strength, courage, and most importantly love.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Following the Right Leader


So, which direction are you riding today? What leader are you following? Maybe those questions sound silly, but think again. I know I've had to.

Lately, it seems I find myself galloping ahead of God like an untamed horse. I get way ahead of God then look back to see if He has approved my travel plans. Unfortunately, I often find that I've taken the wrong route. It's so easy to to do what we want without first consulting our Leader -- the Right Leader -- Jesus Christ. Then, down the road, we wish we'd slowed down enough to pray, seek wise council, and examine what His Word tells us.
Thankfully, my decisions haven't been humongous, life-changing ones, but, still. I sometimes forget to invite God to be the Leader in every area of my life. Do you know what I mean? -- God, I'll handle this one, okay? Thank you very much. Ouch!

For example, I find myself making quick decisions for my kids without first consulting my Commander and Chief. It's kind of like an army marching ahead without their marching orders. Without guidance they might end up fighting the wrong war, or stumbling into enemy territory. It's imperative that they follow the leadership of their superiors, those who have the intelligence and technology needed to foresee the future more clearly. Thankfully, God is far more accurate in assessing the future than the best military commander. After all, He is the Author of the future (and the past and present too). There is no better leader to be found.

So, why do we decide what to buy, where to go, and how to spend our time without first consulting with our wise and loving leader? Because we are used to running the show, making quick decisions, and ultimately, doing what we want.


I don't know about you, but I want to invite God into every part of my life. I want to faithfully follow in His footsteps. My desire is for Him to be on my mind all the time. Sadly, I often find my mind cluttered and crammed with thoughts that aren't in alignment with God's. Worry has been a unfaithful companion of mine these past few months as I've fretted over finances, my children's life challenges, work, life in general. I find myself seeking to solve all my problems by my own limited power with my own lacking human resources.

I bet you already know what happens. I end up following the wrong leader -- me, the world, other people, a fad, my desires, and if I'm not careful, even the devil, who loves to get our sinful nature in the driver's seat.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is continually reminding us to give it all to the One who can handle everything. Why then would we want to take on so much gunk? We have a Savior who offers to lighten our load and guide our steps. It makes sense to let Him lead. Amen!

So what do you have planned for tomorrow, an hour from now? Is God in on your plans? Have you consulted Him? If not, call out to Him right now and ask that He lead the way. You'll be amazed how much better the journey is. God bless you princess warriors.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, You are the best of the best Leaders. You are our Creator and know each of us intimately. Because You know everything about us, You understand exactly what steps we should take and what roads we should travel. Please, help us keep our eyes focussed on You, for You have our best interests in mind and can clearly see our futures. Your Word says that You have plans to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. May each of us trust in Your goodness and grace and turn to you throughout our days, allowing you to direct our next steps. Help us make decisions that are glorifying to You and that benefit others. Give us wisdom to make choices that honor You and edify those around us. What a relief it is to turn our will over to Your capable hands. In Jesus' Name, amen
.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leave the stones behind

Wow! Where has the time gone? Have you noticed that I've started my last three posts off with a similar explanation?

It's time, finally, to refocus and push the re-start button. Baseball season (my son's) is over. Once again, I have found myself in a place I don't like. Too focused on his abilities and talents and all that that encompasses and less focused on what really matters: Loving God and Loving Others. Big no-no! When we do this; we end up feeling empty, icky, and too far from Him -- Jesus Christ.

Yes, we can make ANYTHING an idol, even our children and their activities. I wonder when I'll learn the lesson and cease repeating the pattern. I can pray and prepare to do much better next time around. God is like that, you know. he will give us the "opportunity" to do things the better way until we are able to do so.

Today, (and many days this summer) God has spoken to me about loving and encouraging words vs. not-so-nice and even downright mean words. Seriously, I find it so much easier to encourage my clients, other women, audiences I speak to ... the list goes on, than it is to encourage my own children. I've even earned the title "crazy mom" this summer, from not just one child, but two. That's not a good statistic when 100% in question agree.

Seriously, sometimes I'm so quick to point out the "truth" that I use some pretty mean methods with little thought to the damage and destruction my form of "motivation" is reaping in their lives. Also, they both have been getting under my skin with some of their own issues. My responses haven't helped matters. At church this morning, I was reminded quite clearly, again, about the importance of speaking truth, not lying, and not using our tongue as a wounding whip. When we practice loving words and loving actions we become incredible testimonies for our Heavenly King. We can try harder to speak better; read tons of self-help books: go to seminars and classes; ultimately, though, only God can change the way we speak by changing what's in our hearts.

Consider for a moment how so many fires get started during the summer months. You only have to drive through a national forest to notice the signs marked either: green, yellow, or red. It's evident what season we're in right now. Fires are devastating. They can cause miles of damage, destroy homes, property, and even lives. Sometimes fires rage for days, weeks, even months during fire season. Yet these raging infernos are often started by one tiny spark. Someone carelessly throws a match down and before they realize what's happened it's burst into frightening flames of fury. Even worse, there are those -- we call them arsonists -- who purposefully start fiery destruction regardless of the future damage.

Aren't our words the same? One nasty little comment. An untruth. A rumor. Even a truthful comment spoken in angry haste can lead to a bonfire of burning hearts.

I have to admit I've become rather obsessive with telling my children what they should do. After all, I'm the mother, right? I spend more time searching for the stones in their lives and pointing them out than I do enjoying the diamonds that they seek to share with me. I don't want to be known as the "nagging mother." No one likes a nag. I don't. Do you?

So why do we end up becoming that which we can't stand? Because by our own power we cannot control our sin nature. We may seem "tame" but then someone or somethings pushes our buttons and we can quickly create an inferno of words better left unsaid.

Imagine a lion. Our pastor shared about a tape he had watched where tourists got their pictures taken with one huge "tamed" lion. All went well until on unsuspecting visitor stepped on the tamed lion's paw. That tame lion nearly mauled the man to death. His true nature came through under pain, under pressure. Granted, we aren't animals with inbred instincts, but we are human beings with inbred sin. It is only by God's power and grace that we can truly find hope for our dilemma. Without the power of the Holy Spirit helping us restrain our sin nature, we will continue to start fires.

So, what can we do? How can we tame our tongues? These are the tips my pastor shared:

1. Realize that ONLY GOD can change the way you speak

2. Respond to the Holy Spirit's promptings. (Have you ever felt that nudge or prompting that tells you to shut your big mouth? It behooves us to heed these promptings.)

3. Be accountable. (Let others know of your struggle. When you blow it, which we all do at some point, have others around you that will pray for you and give them permission to point out your sin in love.)

4. Cry out to God for help. (Psalm 19: 14 is great for this. "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

I know I've touched on this topic more than a few times. I'm guessing it's something we need reminders about. I know I do.

As we start our weeks, let us look for the diamonds and stop seeking the stones. If we've started a fire or fires, let us do our best to put them out and help clean up the damage our fires might have caused. Let's reach out to God and others for help in becoming the Princess Warriors for Christ we were called and created to be. After all, when there's a house fire, a truck with a team of firefighters come to douse the flames, a remodeling company helps restore the home ... it's a team effort.

Bottom line let's ask God to continue renewing our minds and softening our hearts. For as our hearts soften our words will not be as hard.

God bless you sisters.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Holding on to Heaven


Where has the time gone?
Do you ever find yourself asking that same question? I suppose we all do from time to time.

For me, the past few months have roared by like a train barreling down the track.
On several occasions, my faith-train almost derailed causing me to plummet from the safety of the tracks. Thankfully, though, with God, "almost" becoming derailed is not the same as actually experiencing a fatal crash. For, thankfully, in Him love reigns. As His Princess Warriors, we never lose His love.

As mentioned in previous posts, my recent struggles have been the result of numerous hardships, tests, and challenges, both large and small. Not to mention, now in my mid-forties, my hormones are doing a whole new gymnastics routine that I haven't quite learned how to execute the right way. I easily become grumpy and/or weepy. These mood swings only serve to make things more interesting. (That's a nice way of putting it!)

Yet, in spite of it all, I've managed to hold on to the Hope of Heaven found through Jesus Christ my Savior and King, who has gently pressed me to resume my calling to encourage others through writing.

I find it amusing (sort of) that one of the things that I most enjoy (writing) was one thing I casually placed to the side of my life. It's all so backwards. When we're down, we often stop doing the very activities that help keep us positive, and if the devil can get us to cease walking in our calling, he wins ... temporarily. Thank goodness, with Christ on our side the score can quickly change back to our advantage, but we have to get in the game and start participating again.

Honestly, the truth remains: No matter what's going on around us or in us, we can still experience the hope available in Christ. Faith in Him and His love make all things possible.

When I found the following story, I was embarrassed just thinking about the things I've allowed to overwhelm me. This little guy, with his BIG, BIG faith, reminded me that it's all about our belief in who Christ is. If we believe that He does all things out of His unfathomable love for us, we can endure anything. If we believe that He can work what was met for evil for His ultimate good and glory, then we can experience unrestrained hope.

Consider the following story of one boy's faith and courage through a very difficult time in his life. I know I'd do well to remember it when I feel down on my life and myself. Maybe you'll feel the same.

David, a two year old with Leukemia, was taken by his mother, Deborah, to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, to see Dr. John Truman who specializes in treating children with cancer and various blood diseases. Dr. Truman's prognosis was devastating: "He has a 50-50 chance."

The countless clinic visits, the blood tests, the intravenous drugs, the fear and pain -- the mother's ordeal can be almost as bad as the child's because she has to stand by, unable to bear the pain herself. David never cried in the waiting room, and although his friend's in the clinic had to hurt him and stick needles in him, he hustled in ahead of his mother with a smile, sure of the warm welcome he always got.

When he was three, David had to have a spinal tap -- a painful procedure at any age. It was explained to him that because he was sick, Dr. Truman had to do something to make him better. "If it hurts, remember it's because he loves you," Deborah said.

The procedure was horrendous. It took three nurses to hold David still, while he yelled and sobbed and struggled. When it was almost over, the tiny boy, soaked in sweat and tears, looked up at the doctor and gasped, "Thank you, Dr. Tooman for my hurting."

(Monica Dickens, Miracles of Courage, 1985)

Wow! Do we thank God for our hurting? It's not something I eagerly do on a regular basis.

Do we trust that God's love may involve the pain necessary to heal our hearts? After all, we will face things that hurt and seem to hinder us. However, God is God and He knows exactly what remedy will ensure our best spiritual health. He is the Great Physician dedicated to our ultimate well-being.

We tend to forget that the well-being and health He is most concerned about is the health of our hearts, of our spirits. If pain prompts us to embrace change, he may allow that pain out of love, for a season.

We need only look at the Apostle Paul to know that sometimes we carry a "thorn" that hurts and harasses. Although, Paul asked for that thorn to be removed more than once, he ultimately accepted God's perfect plan and purpose for him, even with the thorn still lodged in his side.

I pray that we, too, will readily submit to our King's care. That we would slow down and experience his goodness and grace, and that in spite of our circumstances, good or bad, that we would praise God for EVERYTHING. As one popular worship chorus goes: If you have breath praise the Lord!

God bless you Princess Warriors.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

O ye of little faith ... that's been me

Precious Sisters in Christ,

I have been the woman of little faith. This past month, I've allowed the enemy to get the best of me and found myself lowering my shield several times too many.

Just as I prepared to write about the Armor of God, I failed to keep mine in place. When we lose our faith, even for a minute, it's a minute too long. That seemingly insignificant amount of time opens the window of opportunity for the devil. He is sure to strike. His arrows pierce and wound. Thank goodness, THANK GOD, that God is there to heal our wounds, pull us out of the water, and soothe the raging seas around us.

The following scriptures demonstrate so perfectly how Jesus is our Rescuer in times of trouble and the Restorer of our faith. I'm reminded that I'm not the first warrior to lay down her weapons, and I won't be the last. Sadly, centuries ago, the men and women who walked with the Savior in their very midst, struggled with faith. Please, read the following:


Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Luke 12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?


Matthew 8:25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
Matthew 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Matthew 14:30 But when he [Peter] saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?


I'm guessing the question you might be asking right about now has to do with my current status. Is my shield raised and ready? It's in my hand (that's an improvement) and I'm raising it higher each day.

I share not only my victories, but also my struggles with you, because I believe it's important as Princess Warriors for Christ to be vulnerable, transparent, and open with our sisters and other believers. During tough times, the devil does everything in his power to convince us to hide. Just as Adam and Eve headed for the fig leaves, we often shut ourselves away from the world and the people that love us. I've done just that. My pride, yes, pride, has kept me from really seeking help. Maybe, you'll recognize this deceitful message: "Goodness, Carol, you're in ministry, a speaker, writer, leader (blah, blah, blah) what would people think of your current lack of faith? You're an encourager. You must keep that smile on. Remember the "Happy all the Time" Mask? Yep, that's the one.

I remember not to long ago reading the following quotes about Mother Teresa from her personal journals:

"I have no Faith - I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart - & make me suffer untold agony," she wrote in an undated letter.

In 1956, she wrote: "Such deep longing for God and ... repulsed empty no faith no love no zeal. ... Heaven means nothing pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything."

Mother Teresa acknowledged the apparent contradiction with per public persona, describing her ever-present smile as "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything."

Friends, we all struggle. We all doubt. We all lose faith at times. Thankfully, God tells us all we need is a mustard seed to move mountains. Although I grew weary of wielding my shield, I was able to carry that tiny mustard seed in my heart. It was just enough to keep me going; just enough to remind me that God is real and He cares not only about me, but also about you.

If you, too, are in a dark time, wondering where your passionate faith has gone, don't despair! The One who saved you reaches his nail scarred hands toward you, eager to pull you into His embrace. Let us humble ourselves and admit our lack so He can fill us up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Protection Made Perfect: The Belt of Truth


Stand therefore, having girded your waist with the truth


Thank you Lord for Your truth as described in your Bible. You are truth and You alone set me free from sin and lies. Today, I choose to believe Your truth and about who You are and who I am as Your child. Holy Spirit, lead and guide my thoughts in Your path of truth. Help me to make wise decisions today based on Your Word. Help me to speak the truth in love to myself and others. Let Your truth prevail in all things. Jamee Rae, sharefaith writer

So the belt goes first? Why?

I've discovered that God provides clear directions, including the order of the armor. Putting on the Belt of Truth must come first because all the other pieces are quite useless if we don't believe The Truth. Should we doubt, for any reason, who God is and in what He says, why would we choose to put our faith in Him? Would we dare to raise the Sword of the Spirit without understanding the power of truth?

God's Truth is foundational to our walk as Christian women. The Bible clearly defines our enemy, satan, as the father of lies. Being the exact opposite of God, satan represents everything we must turn from.

Lately, God has been challenging me (again) about the importance of absolute truth. Meaning I can't simply ignore the fact that there are times when I lie by ommission, and other situations where I've been known to fib. See how I want to minimize by using fib rather than lie? Maybe you can relate.

Picture our dear sister in Christ, Maria (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) who is terrified of hurting other people's feelings. That belief seems noble enough. She doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. She cares about people and wants them to feel good about themselves. But is that the whole truth? Actually, Maria really wants people to feel good about her. She's deeply uncomfortable with the idea of others not approving of her. (We've all been Maria a time or two) Her friend continually asks her to babysit. She really wants to attend a weekly Bible study and believes that God has called her to join this particular group. Her husband has encouraged her to take time to fill up on God's Word with other supportive women.

You can probably see where this is going. If Maria tells her friend she needs a day off from babysitting she might inconvenience her friend and earn her disaproval. So rather than being faithful to God, herself, and honoring her husband's wishes, she continues to lie (yes, lie) when her friend asks if she can babysit. The conversation goes something like this.

"Hey, Maria. I really appreciate you babysitting. I've got a ton of errands this week, do you mind keeping the kids again?"

Maria's guts are churning. She is becoming resentful by her friend's ongoing requests and mad at herself for choosing "man" over God and His plan for her. She replies dutifully, "Of course, I'll do it. I love babysitting your children." Lie. Lie. Lie. Maria is completely disnhonest about her feelings and desires.

Next time her friend asks the same question, still to scared to speak the truth, she tries another dishonest route. "I'm so sorry. I can't do it this week, my mom's coming to stay with us and I have so much to do." Lie. Lie. Lie. She makes up an excuse rather than letting her yes's be yes and her no's be no.

Let's rewind the clock and watch Maria stand on the Truth with love.

"I'm not going to be able to babysit on Tuesdays anymore. I'm starting a new Bible study."

That's it. Plain and simple.

I'm so blessed be in a friendship where we don't feel the need to explain ourselves. What freedom! I can call her and she can say, "Can't talk now. Can I call you back?" No explanation or drawn out reason. Simply: I can't talk now. The even better part -- I can do the same with her. We have faith in God and in each other. There is no need to seek approval from each other by being dishonest. We can rest in Christ and the truth that we love and care for each other no matter what.

The reason I'm focussing on these seemingly "little untruths" is that I've heard countless women share their fears in relation to simple truth telling. My concern is how can we possibly stand against the BIG BIG lies of this world, if we are unable to tell the truth in basic daily life with family, friends, coworkers, and even other Christians?

Ladies, as princess warriors, we're not in a popularity contest. Granted we want to be grace-filled, loving, kind, and encouraging, but if we're tossing the Belt of Truth aside so we can lie, we're missing the mark.

Today, when you put on the Belt of Truth, take a minute to focuss on God's amazing truths found in His Word. Then, ask the Holy Spirit to nudge you (in my case maybe shove) when you start to speak an untruth. Ask God to fill you with His truth in every situation and relationship. Ask Him for the courage to seek His approval before the approval of others. After all, it's His approval that truly matters.



Saturday, April 11, 2009

Angels in Action

Hello precious princess warriors! It's been far too long. Once again, my life has taken on a life of its own, and I've been beyond busy. Not good -- at all. It's time to slow down, reevaluate my schedule, confirming that what I'm doing is in line what God wants me doing. Although, this time of year, every year, tends to take off at a very rapid pace due to my son's extensive baseball schedule. His games add three evenings of "baseball watching" to my already over-stuffed schedule. But I can't tear myself away from his games. Win or lose, they're always worth watching. And, yes, I like baseball.

Be assured, my Armor of God series will start soon. I promise. Tonight, however, I wanted to tell you about what I believe just might have been an angelic encounter. Really.

First, consider this fascinating scripture -- Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Heb. 13:2

I've always been awed by the possibility of an angel in my midst. Knowing that God cares enough about us to send supernatural helpers from heaven is more than a little exciting, and definitely thought provoking.

Anyway ... here's just a little background explaining why this encounter was so perfectly timed.

My daughter has been in the middle of a very uncomfortable situation with a friendship turned sour. The mother of the other girl has exhibited some frightening and erratic behavior, now focused on yet another mother who chose to stand for truth rather than being manipulated by an evil, cruel agenda. Of course, the ones suffering the most from the situation are the girls. They want to be friends and work things out, but, unfortunately, this one particular mom is not open to that possibility. Needless to say, it has been difficult for everyone involved. My daughter's dear friend, who is celebrating her birthday today, was extremely upset by some very hurtful comments this other mom made to her mother. She was tearful, confused, and unhappy. I don't blame her. The situation has been hard for me to deal with in a godly manner. Believe me, I'm praying -- a lot. More details aren't important, what's important is that God cares about our children. He cares about us.

I took my daughter and the birthday girl to a movie this evening. They were thrilled to go; yet a thin layer of grief, for changing friendships, seemed to cover the joy, diminishing its glow. As we took our seats, I noticed that my daughter's friend was carrying a large, rolled up, movie poster. It was one of those super fancy ones. You know, the actual movie poster, with glittered lettering to boot. Photographs covered both the front and back side making it an obvious collector's item.

This little girl was beaming. She said, "Some guy came up to me when we were walking in and said happy birthday, and then handed the poster to me." My daughter confirmed this brief encounter. We hurried to thank the kind man. He had vanished -- completely.

We hadn't told anyone at the theater about her birthday. No one but my family and hers knew where we would be (they didn't do it; I checked). No one else there had a poster. The whole thing was just plain strange.

Suddenly, a light (finally) came on and I blurted out what I believe still to be true. "Girls, do you know that God just sent an angel to bless you. You've had a really hard day. You're mom is standing against unkind behavior and feeling attacked. God cares. He knows you're suffering. He knows it's your birthday and that you would love this poster. So, I think He sent an angel to deliver it to you." The moistness in my eyes must have been contagious because they looked teary, too. I quickly called her mom and shared the experience. She, too, cried, believing the gift to be a very tangible gesture of His love for her hurting girl. Wow! Wow! Praise God!

For a just-turned eleven year old this was the perfect gift. God's love touches each one of us in a very unique way that is perfect for our needs. He knows. He cares. He loves.

So, have you ever suspected angelic intervention? If so, please, share your story. I'd love to hear it and share it with my readers. And remember, that there are angels among us. We should be careful to treat each person with dignity and love. God bless you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events and God's Glory

Did you wonder if I fell overboard? Considering my series of "unfortunate events" that would have been a fitting conclusion. Anyway ...

Here's a summary:

Remember, I've been having financial struggles like the rest of the world. Also, I was preparing to speak at a women's event, topic: Dressed for Battle - Becoming a Princess Warrior for Christ. I don't think the devil likes it too much when we stand against him and proclaim God's goodness and glory. Anyway again ....

The list of unfortunate events:

The week prior to the retreat my son was recovering from the flu/coughing nightmare that's going around, my mom (who lives with me) got the stomach yuks -- big time, and was pretty much bedridden in between her trips to kneel at the porcelain throne, or sit upon it.

Then:

1. I got sick and was in bed not able to do my prep work for the retreat and missing important stuff at work.

2. The day of the retreat, still not feeling well, I was running late due to my son's baseball game. After the game, I followed that still small voice that told me to stop into Jiffy Lube to have my oil level and tires checked before heading out of town to Cannon Beach Retreat Center. There, I discovered my car was dry as a brittle bone - no oil. So I had to have some flushing thingie done to get my car oiled up, which was an unexpected cost. Not good with a limited budget. Next, the friendly service guy informed me that my left, rear tire was totally flat and balled. He said, "As a professional, I can't not warn you that this tire is ready to blow. Do not drive over the mountains on this tire. Get it fixed now."

3. Off to Les Schwab's Tire Center I go, already running waaaaaay late for my engagement. I have to wait and wait and wait to get my used tire on, which is more money I hadn't planned on spending. Big sigh.

RETREAT WAS AWESOME. INCREDIBLE. FANTASTIC. GOD IS GLORIFIED. GOD HEALS. GOD DOES MIGHTY THINGS FOR HIS PRECIOUS PRINCESS WARRIORS. I'M BLESSED. THE LADIES ARE BLESSED. ALL IS VERY GOOD. I return home ...

4. Back home exhausted, head to work Monday. Check my bank account and see that it's $200.00 overdrawn due to someone pulling out funds that were not approved to be pulled. I freak out. Cry. Cry. Wail. Finally pray and reach out.

5. Next day have to go to the bank and open a new account; close the old one etc. etc. Big hassle, but it works out. (thank you, God)

6. My daughter calls me later while I'm at work crying. Admits that she broke my flat screen computer monitor. I'm a writer with deadlines etc. I have no money to replace an expensive monitor right now. Try old monitors, none work. I'm frustrated, again.

All this stuff seems rather unfortunate, if you know what I mean. Unexpected. Unpleasing. I remember that I am supposed to praise God no matter what my circumstances. Paul, from a filthy Roman prison praised God. So must I. However, I feel tromped on. But I pray anyway, still grumbling a lot.

Phew! Now remember just a while back - my roof blew off, plumbing issues, major challenges with my daughter at school.

So? What to make of all this ... it's life in a fallen and imperfect world. I can choose to crumble beneath the weight of what feels overwhelming or turn to God for relief. He promises to lighten our load. Yet, He also says there will be trials and tribulations this side of heaven. As I write about this, I'm reminded that although life has been frustrating and inconvenient, He has made a way. I found a three-ton monitor from the year 20 BC that gives graphics a whole new meaning, but I can at least write and do my ministry work now. We have a new roof thanks to home owner's insurance. The toilet flushes (now). My daughter is doing better. We're all feeling healthier. There's hope. There's a promising future. We're saved by the blood of Christ.

If you've lived in this world for any length of time, you, too, understand that our lives can seem overwhelming at times. We wonder if we're wearing a big sign that says: "Go on! Hit me with your best shot." Thankfully, no matter what, if we belong to Christ, there's always hope for a better tomorrow. We have Someone to walk beside us. Someone who will carry us should it become necessary. Someone who died so we can look forward to a future with no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering. Thank you, Jesus!

My unfortunate events may seem to be mere annoyances to some, and looking back, in comparison to what others are facing, they are pretty insignificant. But, I have strange feeling that you can relate to just how VERY BIG those little things can seem at the time.

So, if you're facing trials, tribulations, or temptations, remember God is bigger than all of them. With Him all things truly are possible. We are victorious in Christ. We are overcomers. AMEN!

Watch for my upcoming entries on the Armor of God. After all, when we're dressed for battle, we can expect greater success. God bless you, Princess Warriors.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Celebrate the Sabbath


Peace. Tranquility. Serenity. Ahhhhhh ... calgon take me away. We all yearn for "time out" for rest, for peace. Sure a bubble bath with soothing music hits the spot. Curling up with a good book can be relaxing. Yet there is a commandment that God issued in the Old Testament that is just as applicable today. A commandment that in our hustle and bustle society is often ignored.

Leviticus 23:3 instructs: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; its the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings."

Hum. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That there are far too many times that you fail to obey God's direction. I know I'm guilty.

Thankfully, there are many Sabbaths that I have chosen to follow God's Word. Let me tell you, when I do, I'm blessed -- big time. When I don't, well, that's another story, actually a nightmare.

Taking time out from all our work and busyness to focus on God is far better than any spa retreat. Really. It's true. You might be wondering what exactly should you "do" on the Sabbath. I believe it's an individual/family decision, however, I can share my idea of great Sabbath.

For my family, we have the option of attending church on a Saturday evening, which a majority of the time we do. That way on Sunday we can sleep in and rest our bodies after a busy week. We get up with no agenda and relax as a family. I spend time reading the Bible, journaling prayers, and reading other uplifting Christian literature. We pray and give God thanks for everything. We don't run around, we simply stay home and allow God to renew us during our down time. Ta Da! That's it.

Let me tell you, when I stray from this routine, I start my week off stressed and unrested, feeling overwhelmed and wishing it was the weekend all over again.

I think it's awesome that we serve a King who loves us enough to require that we rest and enjoy His presence. He knows everything about us, including our needs for time with Him and rest for our bodies, minds, and spirits. We weren't created to work seven days a week, twelve hours a day. However, so often that's what we end up doing, and we can't fathom why we're so out of sorts.

Princess Warriors, why not make make time to celebrate the Sabbath? After all, without the Power Source, we will find ourselves powerless.