Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas is not for complaining; it's for Celebrating!

Ever listen to mainstream radio? Sometimes I do in the car on the way home. I can admit that I like some of today's pop tunes and yesterday's rock. Occasionally, I end up on a station that has one of those talk programs. In fact, they provide interesting subject matters and discussion ... but not always.

One of those "not always" times happened recently as I made my way home from another long day at work. This particular time the radio host was inviting listeners to call in and name their biggest complaint, or pet peeve. Unable to turn the dial, I found myself riveted to complaints of the callers. I hate to admit I found myself nodding my head in agreement and laughing out loud. I could relate. Actually, I was relating a little too much.

Then it hit me like a snowball in the face -- splat! This was a program featuring people complaining about EVERYTHING. Tis the Season to moan and groan. I stopped chuckling and hit the off button silencing the next storyteller half way through his tirade.

I occurred to me, once again, how easy it is to complain rather than rejoice and celebrate. We live in a world that easily embraces the negative often ignoring the positive. Granted, there's a ton of not-so-nice stuff happening everyday. Yet, there is an array of awesome happenings if we open our eyes enough to notice them. It's so easy to complain. Talking about what annoys us feels natural. Some call it a good "bitching session." But these so-called sessions have nothing in common with our King's calling.

God instructs us to think about those things that are positive, uplifting, and good. We are to fill our minds with His Word. NOWHERE are we told to have a time of unrelenting complaining. Quite the opposite. We are reminded to give thanks in all things and celebrate the glory of our mighty King. Christmas is when we celebrate the Prince of Peace's arrival, a time to love and share good cheer. Yet, I was instead listening to a popular radio station enlisting people to complain, and enjoying it. Shame on me!

What if instead that same station had invited folks to call in and share one positive, amazing, or miraculous event that had transpired in their lives? What if listeners were instructed to share something positive that happened? What if we were encouraged to list what we were grateful for? What a difference (for the better) the answers to those questions would make.

There's more than enough negativity in our world today. We certainly don't need special public sessions to complain about it. Rather, let us proclaim the goodness of God and celebrate the successes and surprises we are privy to everyday if we look with our "God glasses." Seeing the world through His grace and glory, knowing there is a future far better than our greatest moment on this earth, is more than enough to cause celebration and sing His praises.

Like the princess in the picture above, we can keep our eyes focused on the eternal destiny that will someday be our home, and we can find plenty of reasons to celebrate right now. Tomorrow is the greatest reason of all, the biggest birthday bash of all time ...

Why complain when the Savior Reigns? He is the Ultimate Gift. Let us unwrap His love and live like we know the Greatest King of All. Because we do.

Merry Christmas Princess Warriors.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tis the Season ... for Chaos or Christ?

Tis The Season ...

Over the past few weeks, I've seen my fair share of kooky commercials advertising everything from socks to sauce pans, tools to Tshirts. One add series has really caught my attention, and not because I enjoy them. In fact, they bug me, a lot! Anyway,these particular TV spots feature a woman who I call The Target Lady. Yes, are Target ads. If you've seen it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, let me give you a little description:

Target Lady is counting down the days to the holiday big sales. She is racing down the isles of the store (Target, of course) pushing a cart as she attempts to get in shape for the BIG DAY. In another add she says she hasn't slept in days. She's standing by mini-model of Target that she's apparently created on her kitchen table. In every commercial she appears overly animated, with eyes bugging, and a maniacal grin stretched across her face. She is a bundle of nervous energy as she waits for her day of shopping frenzy. Her life-purpose is to shop at Target.

Nothing against Target, or any retailer. I just find these commercials very eye opening. In all their exaggerated glory, there are some major parallels to the chaos that can easily reign in everyday life during the Christmas Season.

As Princess Warriors for Christ, we are reigning real for Christ, fighting the good fight, which actually involves spreading peace. Fighting with peace? Contradictory? No. Part of the armor are The Sandals of the Gospel of Peace. Wearing these sandals demonstrates our readiness to enter the world, as chaotic as it can be, and share the Good News -- Christ's Gospel of Peace. He gives us His peace. (See more info on wearing the sandals)

I don't know about you, but I don't always feel "peaceful" during this hectic time of year. Waiting in long lines and traffic jams aren't typically peaceful scenarios. I don't respond well to drivers crawling up on my car's bumper or grumpy people in line. Yet, as a Princess Warrior, I am supposed to bring peace to the world, and that means instead of yelling at that angry driver who speeds by fist (or finger) raised, I need to pray for him and remember there really is a Reason for the Season and it isn't hitting the best super sales, but hitting my knees in worship of the One who saved me from a life of sin and death. A Savior born in a filthy stable who now sits at the right hand of God in the heavenlies.

I guess if I'm honest with myself, I can admit that I've felt a bit like the Target Lady at times. Not about grabbing gifts, necessarily, but about all that needs (or, I think needs) to be done in order to make Christmas just right for my family and friends. When what truly is most important is celebrating the birth of the Christ and the freedom and peace He provides.

Granted, our world is not at peace, but peace can still live in our hearts. God give us the ability to walk in the world without being part of its chaos. And there are things we can do to keep focused on the real reason for The Season, and our existence, any time of year:

Please consider the Three steps to experiencing God's Peace (adapted from my Pastor, Dave Pauli's sermon last night, titled: Experience God's Peace this Christmas.

1. Learn to walk in the light of the Lord.

a. In His presence - Give God your day. Before your feet hit the ground, acknowledge His lordship over your life. Most of us wake up to worrying thoughts. Our daily to-do list is foremost in our minds. Instead, turn your attention to God, allow Him to direct your daily path right from the start.

b. Choose obedience - It's impossible to experience total peace while clinging to sin. The old saying: If you want the Bible's blessings live the Bible's Way-make a whole lot of sense. 1 John 5:3 (CEV) We show our love for God by obeying His commands, and they are not hard to follow.

2. Become a student of His Ways - Psalm 119:165 (NCV) Those who love your teachings will find true peace ... Spending time with God and learning to "live" His Word provides peace and a ton of other blessings.

3. Let go of conflict - Ephesians 4:3 (NIV) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (NIV) ... live in peace with each other. Colossians 3:12 (NIV) As God's chose people, hold and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

I wish I could share all the stories and examples found in this simple yet highly practical teaching, but I can say one thing, peace involves choices. Choices we as Princess Warriors must make. We must choose to take steps that allow God's peace to reign in our hearts so we can spread it around in our world. Amen! We are, after all, Christ's hands extended to a hurting and often chaotic world.

Together, let's say no to being like the Target Lady and yes to experiencing and spreading the peace of our Lord this Christmas Season and the rest of the year.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

When a Princess feels like a Pauper ...

Precious Princess Warriors, it feels so good to be sharing my heart again, at last. For someone who spends a majority of of her life encouraging others, I have allowed myself to be overcome by discouragment, fear, and my faith has been lackluster (to say the least). Granted, I've experienced physical illness, injury, pain, loss, hard stuff -- difficult life stuff. But Paul reminds us we can find contentment in any situation with Christ as our King.

I have spent the last year, it seems, maybe longer, going up and down, allowing the waves of life to pull me under when I know there is a strong hand always open for me to reach for, a hand more than able to pull me from the depths. Sure, there were times I felt on top of the world, but those times were short lived, and I continued to allow my fickle feelings to toss me to and fro in the waves, becoming like the person the Bible calls -- double minded.

Thankfully, my foundation is stronger than I thought. God is bigger than I remembered. And His Word never fails to revive the heart. He has called me to encourage others through both the written and spoken word. He has given me a purpose to challenge other princess warriors to be all they can be in Christ ... one step (and a prayer) at a time. I haven't been doing a very good job of that. And I was again reminded ...

When we fail to move in the purpose he has given us, as I have, lately, things become pretty bleak. We can go through our days, "doing" our daily lives, not doing anything horribly wrong, but not really pressing to do what's right. But, as you may know, God isn't a big fan of fence straddling or middle of the road living. He wants every part of us -- body, mind, spirit. Luke warm love and living isn't enough for Him, nor is it enough for His Princess Warriors. It certainly wasn't enough for me.

Far too often, we believe that in order to stray from God's best we have to do the absolute worst. Some atrocious sin that causes hell to cheer. It's easy to forget that losing our faith on some level and living a life of mediocracy can reap as much havoc as one blatant act of sin. Both keep us from our princess purposes. The enemy wants us to feel separate from God. He doesn't care if we drown in our own self pity or if we go out with a big bang. All he cares is that we fail to fulfill our calling. One less warrior fighting the good fight gives him reason to gloat. Because he knows when we are broken, it breaks God's heart.

Aren't you glad that failure is an event or series of events and not a person? That's right. Failure is an event, not a person. You. Me. Our Christian brothers and sisters. We are not failures in Christ. We may fail to do something or not do something, but we are still loved and forgiven. If we're still breathing, we can move forward and upward, choosing again to embrace God's best and trust in Him for everything. We can stop straddling the fence and leap into the arms of the One who promises to catch us.

Maybe you too have experienced lukewarm faith and have drifted from your princess purpose. Maybe you don't "feel" good enough. Or maybe you've wasted precious days, weeks, months, even years, letting the waves of doubt and fear rock your life, keeping you from reaching solid shore.

Are you still breathing?

Then you can reach for God and let Him lift you from the swirling surf.

After all, Princess Warriors, we have work to do! Good work for our King. Please, don't waste time looking back, bemoaning your mistakes. Move forward. Push on. As Stormie Omartian says: He provides just enough light for the step you're on. We just need to get steppin. Ready, set, step!

More messages, stories, and scriptures about faith and hope coming soon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Good Medicine from God

Blessings Precious Princess Warriors! Before I continue, I want to give credit for this photo, but can't as I found it on an image search for "laughing princess." I loved it. This lovely princess is literally bent over with laughter. It can't get any better than that. Too often, we're stopped over in pain and heartache. A good laugh can bring some major physical blessings and a sore tummy (good sore tummy, though).

When is the last time you laughed so hard your belly ached? If you can't remember, it's been too long!

I spend a great deal of time on this BLOG talking about the challenges that face us in a fallen world. Today, I'm going to suggest we take some time out to fully experience the "joy of the Lord." He's given us the capacity for great joy, laughter, and fun times. I believe we face so many difficult situations in life that we can forget to have fun. We fail to laugh, and forget to smile. Well, let's put a stop to that, right now, shall we?

We are God's girls and we have reason to celebrate.

Recently, I was asked to prepare a presentation on the benefits of laughter. This was a work project and listing scriptures on the subject wasn't an option. However, I was able to find some very interesting information on the topic. This article made a compelling case for the many unique benefits of laughter. Take a peek and hurry back!

God gave us an all-natural "medicine" to boost our emotional, physical, and social health -- laughter. I've been on a quest lately to add huge doses of laughter to my life whenever possible.

So, go on; read the following CHURCH NOTICES. If you've seen them before, no problem, they're still funny! And remember these sentences actually appeared in printed church bulletins or were announced in church services. Ready, set, laugh!

1. Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight at Calvary Methodist. Come hear Berth Belch all the way from Africa.

2. Announcement in the church bulletin for a national PRAYER & FASTING Conference. "The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals."

Are you chuckling yet? I am.

3. The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

4. "Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands."

5. The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.

6. Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.

7. Don't let worry kill you off -- let the Church help.

8. For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs. (the misplacement of one coma ...)

9. Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

10. Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

11. Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days. (uh oh!)

12. At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

13. Please put your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

14. The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon. (Okay; I'm laughing.)

15. Low Self-Esteem Group will meet Thursday at 7:00 PM. Please use the backdoor.

Last but not least: This evening at 7:00 PM there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin. (Gotta love it!)

I hope you had as much fun reading those as I did. What a hoot.

Here's the challenge Princess Warriors: Today, let's show the world just how much fun it is being daughters of the King. Let's smile. Laugh. And share joy whenever and wherever we can. We truly can make someones day better and brighter, while experiencing new levels of joy in the process.

Please feel free to make comments on this post, including any clean, funny, jokes you might have. I'd love to share them. God bless you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hunt for Him

Seeking God is more than having a casual interest in Him. It's similar to going on a hunt, and the place for us to start is in God's Word, where He reveals Himself to us.
- Ellen Banks Elwell

A hunt. Hunting for Him -- for God. Is that your priority? Let's come back to that question later.

I don't know about you, but I've been known to hunt hard for that certain pair of shoes, a specific music CD, a highly recommended restaurant, a ... well, you get the picture. We ladies know how to hunt for what we want, don't we?

I bet if I could see you (and you were being completely honest) I'd see more than a few hands raised in response to that question. Actually, before heading to the mall for a day of shopping, we could simply announce: "A hunting we will go," and our families would know exactly what we meant. Granted, we'd be leaving armed with coupons, credit cards, and checkbooks, rather than firearms. But still ... we can be dangerous.

I've seen exactly how dangerous after working my younger years in retail sales. Stampeding women the day after Thanksgiving are hard to miss. I never realized how important buy one get one free socks could be. Thankfully, that's one hunt I've learned to avoid.

Please, understand, I'm not trying to shame the avid shoppers reading this, but am only demonstrating that when we are eager to find a certain something or someone, we will indeed hunt, as well as, make the time and effort to ensure a successful hunting exhibition.

Several months ago, when Sundae, the fattest gerbil I've ever seen, was alive and well, I was treated to a true hunting exhibition right here in my bedroom. I was sitting in the exact same place where I'm seated this very moment, typing away on my keyboard, when I felt a whoosh of fur blast by my feet. I knew it was one of our feline friends chasing after something. Surprised by the intensity of the chase, I turned around to take a better look.

What I saw gave a whole new meaning to stalking. After that initial sprint under my desk, Patches, our patch-colored cat, crouched low to the ground, scooted forward every few seconds, her eyes trained on the over-fed (really fat) rodent scurrying (rather slowly) a few feet ahead.

By the way, chubby gerbils have difficulty reaching and maintaining high speeds. Sundae was sort of speed-waddling away from the fierce predator bent on his destruction. No one (not even a super-sized rodent) wants to become dinner for something bigger, badder, and faster. Patches on the other hand, was fixated on her prey. With predatory perfection, she wiggled her backside and prepared to pounce.

You might be thinking: "Geese, Carol! You just sat and watched your kitty munch on (mutilate) your daughter's helpless gerbil. What's wrong with you?"

I promise, I did not do nothing. In fact, from the first gerbil sighting, I'd attempted (unsuccessfully) to lure Patches away. I cooed, called, and eventually threatened. Granted, all this was happening really, really fast. When it was apparent that Patches had no intention of stopping her hunt, I stepped in and rescued Sundae before he became the equivalent of a gerbil sundae. (See, I'm not some animal hater!)

One definition of hunting is: to pursue or search for something. Hunting seems to be a process of sorts. Consider human hunters. They spend a great deal of time preparing for their hunting trips. They pack, prepare, and plan their schedules carefully. They spend hours tracking their prey. The enjoy the whole process of "the hunt." Ultimately, at some point, on one of their hunts, they are rewarded with a trophy buck, duck, of for fishermen/women -- a prized fishy. They've invested time, energy, research, and money to make they're hunting experience more enjoyable and fruitful.

So, what about us and our hunt for God? I bet you wondered when I'd get back to that.

Do we eagerly look forward to our time seeking Him in the Word, learning more about how to best approach Him, hunting for those special nuggets of truth He has just for us? If I'm honest with myself, I have to, and hate to, admit that I've spent more effort and energy hunting for a certain book or mascara than I have hunting for God on some days. At times, I hurry into His presence and my mind wanders a million different directions. I promise you, when Patches was after Sundae the Gerbil, she was 110% focused on the hunt, and enjoying every minute of it.

To often, we take our relationship with God casually. We think, I've been on this hunt before. I've read that verse a million times; I've studied that chapter ten times before. I've searched and found all there is to find. Oh, precious princess warriors, how wrong we are when we adapt that frivolous attitude about the King of Kings -- our King and Savior -- our Redeemer and Deliverer. We can never know all there is to know about an all-encompassing God big enough to create our universe and everything in it. How can we be bored with such a mighty God? Why would we want to stop hunting for everything He has for us? It is with Him, after all, we will spend eternity.

Doesn't a bride eagerly hunt for the truth about her future mate? She explores his past, his present, and his future dreams. She wants to know what he likes, dislikes, and believes. The bride will spend countless hours searching for the most intimate information about her betrothed. She never grows tired of the hunt. She wants to know everything possible about the object of her affections. Yet, we may find ourselves tired of our time with God, no longer excited about learning more.

I want to deny that I've ever felt that way. That, sisters, would be a lie. Thankfully, after reading the above quote, I am preparing to recommit on a whole new level to the heavenly hunt. I want to know my King more tomorrow than I do today. Don't you?

Go on. Get your Bible. Grab a pen, a journal, and a cup of tea. Curl up at the feet of the One who made you, the One you will spend forever with. He promises if we search (hunt) for Him, He will be found. When we find ourselves immersed in His love, those other worldly hunts will no longer hold the same appeal. For Christ has all we need today, tomorrow, and always.

Happy hunting!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When your world crumbles ... maybe?

Being a Princess Warrior for Christ is an amazing thing. Yet even royalty can experience trauma, trials, and tribulation. God's Word tell us we will indeed experience troubles in this fallen world. Life happens. Sometimes hard stuff comes from our enemy, other times, it's the consequences of our sin, and oftentimes it is simply life as life happens. Ultimately, the solution is the same: Cling to Christ.

Recently, I promised you another entry about the Alice in Wonderland movie, however, this was not what I'd planned to post, but I believe God knows what He is doing and exactly what I'm supposed to share. So ...

One thing that I am very clear about when speaking, counseling, and sharing with others is the importance of being honest and transparent. In other words, we need to "tell on ourselves" and allow what's real to be seen. Hiding never solves anything. Faith and friendship does.

I have been informed that there is a 50/50 chance that I will no longer have a job after June. My "day job" is funded by a grant, which means without the funding, I am off the payroll (to put it plainly). I love this job. I love helping others find success and hope. To top things off, this job has great insurance and benefits, something not easy to find anymore. Second issue -- my family is unable to afford our home and will likely be moving. Finally, my precious mother, who lives with us, has been experiencing health challenges. She is my best friend. I cannot imagine my life without her. I've been worried, depressed, and struggling this past month.

Do I think my problems are greater than anyone else's? Absolutely not. I share them with the hope you will pray for our King's favor and provision for my family. But, more importantly, so we can examine the importance of faith during trying times. Times when tears come easily and fears run rampant. Times when the future seems bleak and it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Times when God is moving on our behalf, in unexpected ways, behind the scenes, but when He seems so far away.

Alice, in Alice in Wonderland, experienced a major crisis of faith. She ended up in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar inhabitants, some that wanted to help her, others who wished to destroy her. The helpful ones were a bit odd, to say the least. Her greatest support came from a hatter gone mad. Through most of the story, our dear Alice was not only lacking faith in herself, but had little faith in those around her.

Through a series of insane events, Alice slowly learns to trust The Hatter and his unruly group of misfits. Even though the enemy seems much bigger and badder, Alice finally embraces her calling and has faith that she will prevail. Moving forward is no longer an option; it is her destiny.

We, too, can end up facing circumstances that are beyond our control. Bad things happen. Life happens. We can end up frightened, fumbling, and freaked out. Believe me. I know. I've been there a lot lately. Like Alice, we can choose to fight or we can run, hide, and hope it will all just "go away." I hate to admit that I've done some hiding and hoping I'll wake up and everything will be okay in the morning.

Unfortunately, life usually doesn't work like that. We have to act. We have to believe. We have to keep dreaming. And, most importantly, we have to trust and have faith in God. He promises to give us a hope and a future, and as Carrie Underwood's latest song so perfectly states: This is our TEMPORARY HOME. We can rest in the knowledge that there is a whole new world that awaits us. This is a temporary place, an eternal home with Christ is our ultimate destiny.

I've discovered several practical steps that are helping me walk through this process of change.

1. Speak God's truth. Speak Scripture aloud, proclaiming God's promises. This works great when the negative thinking and fearful thoughts become overwhelming.
2. Pray. Continue to talk to God about everything. He says we can approach Him with freedom and confidence. King David talked to God about everything, good and bad. We can too.
3. Worship. That's right. Keep praising Jesus. This is the hardest step for me. I feel phony singing praises when I'm quite frankly a little mad at God and my circumstances. But when I do it, well, it works. I am encouraged and find just enough faith to continue on.
4. Enlist others. Thankfully, I have people in my life that will listen to me vent and who understand my fears. Dealing with life alone isn't what God wants for us. Healthy relationships are crucial in a crisis. In fact, they're key to a successful life.
5. Take action. Do little things that help your situation. For example, talk to a financial counselor if you're struggling with making ends meet. Start looking for a new job before the current one is history. Continue to take care of the basics like good self-care. Get enough sleep, eat right, and exercise. (I haven't been as diligent with "the take care of self" part) But now that I've "told on myself," I better get busy!

Like Alice, in her Wonderland adventure, we must suit up and show up for our lives, even when our world is crumbling beneath our feet. Who knows? Maybe it's not really crumbling at all. Maybe God is going to take us to a whole new level of living. Maybe it will actually end up better.

No matter, as followers of Christ, and Princess Warriors, we can rest assured that in the end, it will be for our benefit. God knows what's best for His children. Let us continue to Cling to Christ, one step and a prayer at a time.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Afraid to fight? Do it anyway.

Blessings Princess Warriors. I'm so excited to share my latest blog entry. I hope that you too will feel encouraged, blessed, even challenged, by the following message.

First, I'll admit I'm a big Johnny Depp fan, and, in most cases, I go to all the movies he stars in. I think he's a fabulous actor. Okay. Okay. I think he's quite (incredibly) good looking as well. (That's my big confession!)

Anyway ... I recently took my daughter to the new Alice in Wonderland, starring none other than Mr. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

We both enjoyed the movie and its amazing 3D effects. But later, back home, I found myself rewinding and reviewing the movie over and over in my head. One scene in particular kept coming to mind. (Beware! This contains some tiny spoilers, although, I doubt reading will ruin your movie experience.)

Let me just mention that through a majority of the movie, Alice refused to accept her identity and her destiny. She simply could not grasp that she had a great calling on her life and that the inhabitants of Wonderland saw her as a savior of sorts. Even when she actually embraced the truth, she wouldn't accept her mission. She was afraid. But, who wouldn't be? Her task wasn't simple, nor was it typical for a young woman.

Alice was asked to trade her frilly dress for a coat of armor and a sword. Her destiny required her to slay a monstrous beast that struck unparalleled terror in the hearts and minds of Wonderland's many strange creatures. Frightened of the possible outcome, Alice fled from the hopeful onlookers, torrents of tears cascading down her pretty, young face.

After sharing her concerns with one very wise and very ancient caterpillar, and listening to his thoughtful council, she returns dressed in full armor, fierce determination etched across her face, the tears long gone.

I won't tell you how it all turns out, but our movie heroine's acceptance of her God-given identity and her daring destiny, serve as powerful reminders of our own destinies as daughters of the King.

We, too, may feel less than perfect and unprepared (that's okay; we are). We may be afraid of what God is asking us to do (no problem; we can do "it" afraid). And we might not be sure what to do (no worries; God and the people He selects to guide us will know). Like Alice, we, too, have our own armor and sword, for God provides spiritual armor for His warriors to wear. That means us! In other words, He gives us everything we need to meet the challenges we face.

We can be who we're created to be and do what we're called to do. Amen!

Right now, simply be reminded of who you are in Christ, and know you can accomplish any mission, no matter how scary it might at first appear. God keeps His promises. It's up to us to take Him at His Word.

For encouragement, why not read about how Moses, scared and argumentative, was initially too frightened to be who he was and do what God required him to do. Or consider Ruth -- a woman in mourning. A woman who was willing to become a princess warrior and walk boldly forward with Naomi to a whole new land, and, ultimately, an unexpected, history-altering destiny. Can anyone say lineage of Christ? Or ... maybe it's time to reread the story of Mary, a peasant girl who became a princess warrior and gave birth to our Savior.

God's love letters give us one example after another of men and women who were unsure who they were and what they were supposed to do. They were afraid, angry, confused, and sinful. Yet, God used them to change the world -- forever.

We can change our world too. Sometimes we wear our princess gowns and other times we need to armor up. Will we be afraid as Alice was? Absolutely! But, like Alice, we can conquer our fear and raise our swords, expecting victory in Christ.

I'm sure you remember that old Nike slogan: "Just do it!" Sometimes we will make a very significant statement by our actions. That's right. We may be fearful, but with God's help, we'll feel the fear and move forward anyway. We'll Just Do It.

Psalm 27:1 says: "The LORD is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?" (NIV)

Isaiah 41:13: "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (NIV)

God bless you, sisters. Let us Armor Up and become battle ready. For with our King, nothing is impossible.

Check back soon, because I'm not yet finished with this whole Alice in Wonderland comparison. There's just so much "good stuff" from the movie that relates to our growth as Princess Warriors for Christ.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Heaven Hunger"

Greetings to all God's girls! I have an exciting and challenging message to share with you. I hope you are as touched as I was when God revealed this simple phrase to me in a parking lot outside The Mall. Yes, the shopping mall that I was visiting in Vancouver, Washington, this weekend with my daughter. The phrase is: Heaven Hunger.

First, a little background. I am always drawn to what we now refer to as "bling." Yes, bling-bling, anything shiny, glittery, gleaming, colorful, vibrant, breathtaking, both natural and not.

A beautiful landscape and a pair of rhinestone earrings both have the capacity to dazzle me. I also have to admit that I have a soft spot for STUFF. Yes, stuff. Things. Items. Pretties. Bobbles. STUFF. Too much of the time the stuff that I'm drawn to costs money. Not necessarily a lot, but money that I don't really need to be spending.

Okay, you say, that makes sense, Carol, you're a woman. We like to shop. Most of us anyway. Pretty things catch our attention. Nothing strange with that, right? Well, I guess it depends how you look at it. And why you want the stuff to begin with.

First, let me be very open. I won't go into details, but I have not always been wise with my finances. In fact, I'm working to get out of debt. I like to buy things for you, me, and everybody. This is not a good habit when it conflicts with God's goals for your life, not to mention, puts a major dent in your pocketbook. I think there is something deeper than a shopping addition going on, not that overspending can't be a serious enough issue in itself.

But, consider this: God created us with our senses. Sight. Smell. Hearing. Touch. Taste.

Stay with me! I promise this will be more than a summary of our senses.

For starters, this weekend I spent money on the following things/activities/stuff. Money that could have been used to pay bills and help others. But I was on a quest. Here's my list:

1. Purchased deliciously fragrant lotion, bodywash, and spray from the place where I can't comfortably fit into their underwear anymore. Did you figure it out? Victoria's Secret. I didn't care about the lacy undergarments anyway. I was lost in the tantalizing fragrances and succumbed to my desire to have those yummy smells with me at home and on my body. Fed my sense of smell.

2. Me and my daughter (both with weight challenges) shared a huge peppermint marshmallow creamy sundae thingy at Boppin Bobs. The taste and textures were so enticing and enjoyable that I continued to indulge far after my actual body hunger had past. Fed my sense of taste.

3. At another retailer, I was bombarded by glittery, rhinestone, costume jewelry. I'm talking some major bling. I couldn't seem to resist a giant ring full of shiny glittery stones. In fact, even while driving home, I couldn't stop staring at my ring finger. Of course, I cut the tag right off and wore my purchase home so I could enjoy the shimmery sensations. Fed my sense of sight.

4. Went, like half of America, to see Alice in Wonderland 3D (Good movie by the way). Fed my desire for incredible sights and images and sounds.

I'm not going to list everything I did, but are you getting the picture here? There were also plenty of things that I was drawn to and ignored. I did say NO! a lot, but, obviously, not to everything. It seemed as if I was hungry for for certain things. I was ravenous for these beautifully created items, tasty treats, exciting images... are you with me, ladies?

I've spoken a lot about how we all have hungry hearts that hunger and thirst for the One Thing that will sustain them -- Jesus Christ. I also realized as I was driving away from the mall, we have another hunger that is built into us, tied into the One Thing.

Feeling a little guilty about what I did purchase, I was talking to God, and the two words I heard were: Heaven Hunger.

I explained to my daughter what I was thinking. How we are drawn to beauty, both those things in nature and that are created. Things that sparkle, shine, and smell good. Flowers, a baby's cheeks, a flashy handbag, a colorful painting, a lovely throw rug, pristine sandy beaches, white snow-covered mountains, puppies and baby kitty cats. And that's just the eye candy stuff, I didn't even highlight the sound of crashing waves, cry of a seagull, strings in a symphony, or, the wonderful feeling of a rabbit's fur, a puppy's tongue licking your cheek, a hug from a loved one. I could go on and on and on.

Why? Well, I believe that God was reminding me that this isn't my home. Not my permanent one anyway. I have a strong "heaven hunger" that desires the incredible, supernatural, awesomeness of Heaven.

Think about it.

The Bible talks about streets of gold, and beautifully blinding jewels that we've never laid eyes on. A new Heaven and a New Earth. As if sunsets and diamonds aren't already glorious enough.

What will make this heavenly home so beautiful is God Himself. His glory will be beyond our now limited imaginings. Our senses will be flooded with His glory and highly inventive creations. I believe we long for this place of ultimate beauty. For there, we will finally find the fulfilment that we never quite experienced here on this fallen and imperfect planet.

Even as Christians, who taste God's goodness now, we will be absolutely stunned by the avalanche of His greatness featured in everything we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear.

Get this! According to His Word, we will feast on fine foods (without gaining weight) have rooms in our very own mansions, and walk down streets of gold so pure it's like walking on glass! They'll even be gates of pearls. I can't wait to see this jasper stone that John mentions in the Book of Revelation. My point: I'm hungry for heaven. God loves to create and surround Himself with beauty. We, princess warriors, are royalty created in His image. Why wouldn't we want the same?

Now, before you think I'm giving approval for us to race off on a quest to gather all the beautiful STUFF we can, let's think again.

I need to tell you something huge. Something you have more than likely experienced yourselves. After my day of seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and hearing of this world, I was left even more hungry for His home. That's right. No matter how shiny the ring, how cute the baby, how lovely the seashore, how tasty the Thanksgiving turkey or hot fudge sundae, NONE OF IT IS LASTING or ETERNAL. It is but a substitute of what awaits us in our future heavenly home.

We're back again to the "real deal" stuff. Reigning real as princess warriors, we must understand that everything here, right now, is but a dim substitute of what is yet to come.

If we expect an old black and white film to have the same degree of technical definition as Avatar in 3D, we will be sorely disappointed. So it is with this temporary place we call home.

Once again, I'm brought back to the fact that nothing or no one will every satisfy me here and now except my Heavenly King. My yearnings for Heaven are real and expected, but I am wasting my time and money if I think I can buy a piece of that heavenly real-estate now.

So, what are we to do? Continue to keep our eyes focused on the Author and Perfector of our Faith -- Jesus Christ. Spend our time collecting the heavenly rewards that we can enjoy forever in Heaven.

Just like when we're far from home, we yearn for it. I suspect that we will continue to long for Heaven until that moment in time when Jesus takes us in His arms and says, "Welcome home, good and faithful servant. Enter your reward."

Please, don't you dare stop enjoying sunsets, sundaes, and sapphires, just remember there is far more to come. This is but a taste of the true treasure. Stay focused on the real prize, princesses. With our eyes on Jesus we are surely headed the right direction.

God bless you all.

For some great reading about our heavenly home, consider:

Heaven by Randy Alcorn
Heaven by Joni Earechson Toda
The best option: The Bible by God

As the Revelation of John describes Heaven:

It shown with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal. Revelation 21:11 NIV

This woman, Diane, has taken time on her site to list a ton of scriptures related to Heaven and the afterlife. You may want to visit.

Until next time ...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Friends who bite your back -- Leave Teeth Marks

Hello ... Princess Warriors!

Before I get started on our topic of the day, I wanted to take a moment and invite you to listen to my recent radio guest appearance. This past Saturday, February 20 to be exact, I had the privilege of discussing Princess Warriors for Christ on the radio program: Let's Talk with Stacy and Hutch, on WORD FM 101.5 Pittsburgh -- a long way from Oregon. They were three hours ahead, so sleepy-head-me had to be up and kicking at 6:00 AM my time to take the call from the studio producer. Ugh! Thankfully, with God all things truly are possible. Me up early on a Saturday is indeed a major miracle.

To listen, go directly to the Let's Talk Radio Show's previously recorded messages, that will of course include the Princess Warrior segment, Click here:

When you arrive on the page, you will see the blurb for the radio show. Below that are the dates and topics. Just added, at the top of the list, are the links for the Princess Warrior show. It is not yet titled, but the date is clearly marked. And, off to the right side, you will see a column that says -- LISTEN -- my portion of the show is Part B.

If you click the link you will hear our Princess Warrior Discussion. (please note that the hosts talk briefly following a commercial break before I'm actually on the air) And if you have time, I highly recommend listening to the program (there are several parts with different guests) in its entirety, and then, when time allows, check out their other weekly topics. Great Themes! They deal with real life "stuff" for those of us who are fighting to reign real. Just what we need! Amen!?


On a much different note (a terribly sad one) is the current major headline about a Killer Whale named Tillicum (meaning friend) who pulled his longtime trainer and human friend into his tank at Sea World, killing her in the process.

Now this isn't a blog entry to discuss how we feel about animals in captivity. There are plenty out there for that. I'm actually using this tragic story to segway into another tragedy that can be deadly in its own unique way. Though not likely to kill your physical being, the issue we're exploring can certainly play a significant roll in killing your trust, your relationships, and your faith in others, even God.

I want to believe that Tillicum didn't intend to kill his trainer of ten years when he pulled her into the water. Although, I can't possibly know what goes on in the head of anyone or anything. Only God knows that. Sadly, though, whatever the reason, lives were forever altered. Not only was the woman's family, friends, and coworkers impacted by this horrific event, but also the men, women, and children in the stands were deeply traumatized by what they witnessed. Surely, their lives will be changed forever after seeing such tragedy unfold before them. It was definitely not what they expected. Dawn, his trainer, most certainly didn't expect it as she stroked and played with the familiar animal.

When I read this story, I started thinking about an issue that has caused problems for many women -- both believer and non-believer alike. No one is immune. Only by the grace of God can we rise above this problem. So, what am I talking about? Maybe some of you have already figured it out. The picture above gives a clue. It shows two princesses on either side of a road, a road that leads to one castle. Two princesses, one castle. Hum? Are they a team? Sisters? Maybe friends? For our purposes today, I'm going to say friends. They are both daughters of the King and are traveling the same narrow road to reach their future heavenly home.

What happens when one princess turns on the other? It may not be obvious at first, maybe they've ended up on opposite sides of the road because there is a division between them. Maybe the "G" word got in the way.

Ladies, there is a "G" word -- GOSSIP -- that can reap havoc on our relationships. It is especially painful when the back biting takes place between two friends. When we take our words, and use them like a sword to stab our sisters where it hurts most -- in the back and through the heart, we not only harm ourselves and our friend, we can end up traumatizing those around us.

Gossip, lies, backstabbing all seem to grow. The impact is felt like the aftershocks of an earthquake. People take sides, and battle lines are drawn. Instead of fighting together against our common enemy, we end up fighting amongst ourselves.

The devil just stands back and cheers. He doesn't have to lift a finger. We're the ones raising weapons to wound other warriors.

As Christians, we can even use the Bible, God's truth, as a tool of destruction.

I have a feeling you know what I mean. For example, Julie confessed to her good friend, Jonie, that she has been yelling at her children. She admits to letting the sun go down on her anger, a lot. She requests prayer from Jonie and shares about her struggles in confidence. Jonie, who has struggled with similar problems, suddenly feels a little better about herself as she has improved in this area. For some reason, she is compelled to tell another friend about Julie's confession. Jonie reasons that she is gathering prayer support and really needs advice on how to best support Julie. Get the picture. So the cycle continues. Pretty soon, Julie uncovers the knife in her back, which is now piercing her heart. She becomes disillusioned with her Christian friends, who are all discussing her issues, and she stops attending church. After all, she came to The Church to find true friends, people she could trust. Instead, it's exactly the same gossiping mess she experiences in the world.

And we wonder why so many people avoid Christians, referring to us as judgemental, hypocritical, and worse. Sadly, sometimes we are those very things. I know I've been that and more. I've also been on the receiving end of such treatment. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that it doesn't feel good to be gossipped about.

Friends, we are daughters of the King of Kings. We are to be an example to a hurting and lost world. We are to be set apart, not the same, but different -- holy.

Loyalty to others is a quality every Princess Warrior should exhibit. I know I need to. And not just sometimes, with some people, but all the time, with all people. Granted, alone, this is simply too much for our frail human nature to master on its own. We need heavenly help and earthly support. We need the power of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of safe and trusted friends to hold us accountable.

Won't you take the Stomp out Gossip Challenge with me? Let's try it for a day and then build on that. Wake up and ask the Holy Spirit to put a supernatural block on your tongue. A block that acts as an alarm before negative words and comments are spoken. Once words are out, they stay out. There is no giant eraser that can vanquish our cruel comments. Don't I wish! Rather than say something negative about someone to another person, find a quiet place and talk to God. We can complain to Him. He tells us we can come to Him with any concern. He won't gossip.

That's it; one day without speaking negative words to anyone -- about anyone. Can you do it?

That also means when you're in the grocery store parking lot, and some rather rude woman cuts you off for a highly coveted parking spot, you do not turn to your passenger and complain about her. Keep the mouth shut! We can do this. So, what do you say? Are you with me?

I've said this before, and (forgive the cliche') but I'll likely say it again ... and again. We serve a God of relationship. We, as the body of Christ, are to be Christ's hands extended. We are examples of grace; lights in an often dark world. We need one another! So let's stop wounding our comrades, because as the title so simply states: Back biting leaves teeth marks. Worse yet, it hurts the heart.

What does God's Word have to say about gossiping?

Proverbs 16:28 NIV tells us:

"A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends."

What about 1 Timothy 5:12-13 NIV?

"Thus they bring judgement on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides they get in the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to."

Or Proverbs 20:19 ...

"A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man (or woman) who talks to much."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's Love Got to do with it?

Happy (almost) Valentines Day!

The day when we honor love is drawing near. Men and women everywhere will run around searching for those just-right tokens of appreciation to give their loved ones this Sunday. Some will have somehow forgotten the special day and will find themselves stopping at one of those corner flower stands created with the Valentine "Forgetter" in mind. After all, giving a gift shows we love that special person, doesn't it?

Before I answer that question, I want to share about a young woman I know who loves her boyfriend. True story with the names changed, of course, as this tale isn't your typical love story, well, actually, it's far too typical these days. It's a story that I remember well from my own distant past.

We'll call this precious princess, Sally. Since I personally don't know any Sally's, except my daughter's friend's horse, Sallie, we should be okay honoring the privacy of "Sally."

This particular Sally is a single mother who has had to fight hard in order to break free from a number of torturous enemies. Primarily drugs and dysfunctional men. She has worked diligently to change her life -- for the better. Unfortunately, she has never been able to fully grasp her identity as a Princess Warrior who belongs to the ultimate King of the Universe. She's always felt unloved and lives in regret of her past despite the many people encouraging her and cheering her own. Sally has remained hungry for love.

A few months ago, she met a charismatic and handsome guy. He made her feel good. He made her laugh. He brought excitement into her life. All was good -- for a while.

Then the horror began. Suddenly, Sally became a captive to a twisted and dangerous form of false love. This new man-of-her-dreams took control of her life. He wouldn't allow her to answer her own phone or leave the house without him. He threatened and berated her. He became violent, even vengeful, and she was terrified. Things finally got so bad that she was scared for her life. This man told her the reason that he did these things to her was because: He loved her.

Some of you might be wondering why she didn't just get the you-know-what out of dodge. Or why she stayed. Why she continued to endanger herself and her son. Though, I also believe many of you can relate on a very personal level to Sally's misguided "love" relationship. We all know someone, if not ourselves, who has experienced a destructive form of love on some level. Maybe we haven't endured what Sally is enduring, but we understand. We need only turn on an evening drama or daily soap opera to see this type of relationship showcased to some degree. We are being programmed to think this type of insanity is a passionate and intense relationship. Some believe that fighting, at the very least, can liven things up. In actuality, it's destroying us.

My heart breaks knowing that many precious sisters will spend Valentines Day held captive by not only false forms of love, but also by relationships that have turned dangerous, even deadly.

I was so happy a few weeks ago, when Sally came to tell me how she had escaped the relationship, yet I could sense that she had lost almost all hope and that her idea of love had become skewed and distorted. She knew in her head that she didn't deserve such abuse, but by the things she said, I just knew she'd be returning to the hell in her home.

In my job, I see situations like this daily. I watch families torn to shreds by violence, addiction, and lies. I see wounded women accepting despicable treatment in the name of love. I was once one of those women. Thankfully, my story is one of victory not tragedy. I want all the "Sally's" to find healing and hope in Christ. Don't you?

Ladies, those of you who will celebrate this special holiday with a wonderful husband, fiance, or boyfriend -- rejoice. Remember to thank God for your relationship. For love is an incredible gift. And while your rejoicing, please remember those wounded women who are literally dying for love. Don't judge. Love.

We live in a world that perverts the meaning of love. Completely understanding the kind of love that God has for us, is truly beyond our comprehension. We get glimpses of it. We taste the sweetness of it. And someday, when we finally stand face-to-face with the Ultimate Lover of our Souls, only then we will fully embrace the grace, love, and mercy that we've been shown through Jesus Christ.

I know this might seem like a depressing topic for this holiday, but I believe God wants to remind His Princess Warriors that as women, created for loving relationships, too often we accept substitutes when it comes to love. Even when we are blessed with a fantastic, godly relationship, overflowing with God's love, we cannot expect that one person or relationship to fully satisfy our soul. There is only One who can ever quench our thirst for love -- God Himself.

In honor of the Maker of Love -- Make sure to spend some time in His presence this weekend. Give God the gift of your time, treasure, and talents. Worship Him and adore Him. After all, He is the Giver of the wonderful relationships you have. Maybe even design your own special Valentine's card for Him. Write a poem. Sing Him a song. It's not silly; it's simply a tangible way to show God how much you love and appreciate Him.

If you're in doubt about what real love "looks like," you'll want to reacquaint yourself with the following scripture:

From the New Living Translation:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor. 13:4-7

Do you remember that question I asked at the beginning of this post? Does giving a gift show we love that special person? Yes and no. Yes, certainly, a gift is a token or reminder of love. But even the most heartless abuser my give a gift, so indeed we could also answer no. So ...

to be sure you are demonstrating love, refer to the above scripture verses and act accordingly. Then you will be loving the way God tells us to love. After all, the greatest gift of love given us wasn't a bouquet of flowers to display, or a box of candies to snack on -- God's gift was a life -- His own Son's. Jesus died. He rose. And, we, because of this amazing gift, get the most amazing gift of love imaginable -- an everlasting life in the presence of God All Mighty.

Now, ladies, that's what I call love.

Please, take a moment and join me in praying for anyone suffering this Valentine's Day in the name of love:

Dear Lord,

So many women, men too, are experiencing horrible, even life-threatening treatment in the name of love. We don't know exactly why they're in this situation, but, You do. And regardless of the circumstances, You care. You love. Your desire is that we all experience real love that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You know and understand that letting go of a person or relationship can be heart wrenching, despite any abuse or poor treatment. We can become trapped, entrapped. Our lives can become endangered. You want to set us free in every way to experience Your love, Your hope, and Your future for us.

If someone reading this prayer is currently in an abusive relationship, please show that person Your love. Provide her with an escape plan. Place people in her life that can help. Guide her to the right resources and protect her and her children in the process. You have a plan and purpose for everyone reading these words. Please, give us all a glimpse of that purpose and plan.

Others may have no experience or understanding of the abuse process. Please give those sisters the desire to pray as the warriors they are for their wounded sisters. Give us all hearts of mercy, words of encouragement and hope, and the strength to pray often for the precious princesses still held captive.

This Valentine's Day we celebrate the Author of real love -- You! You, Lord, are the Lover of our Souls. We thank you for Your undying, never-changing love. Please help us show love to those you place on our paths today and everyday. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Together we can!

Greetings Princess Warriors!

I pray that all is well and that God's favor continues to shine upon you, bringing joy, regardless of your circumstances. May God fill you with His strength as you fight your daily battles. May He bring you victory after victory! Amen! I just had to pray a blessing over you. We just can't get enough blessings, can we?

So ...

The other day, I was finally able to visit the "Re-Gifting Store" near my place of employment in Vancouver, WA. I've driven past this unique business for the past couple of months but never seem to have enough time to explore the treasures waiting just beyond the cheerfully painted windows.

I don't know about you, but I like a bargain. I'd already heard this was a great place to find good deals, and that it was operated by good people, people who were helping people in the community make ends meet. Needless to say, I had a great shopping experience while listening to great Christian music. Yes ... this is a Christian owned and operated business that I highly recommend. I plan to do some volunteer work in the near future.

Anyway, as I was preparing to leave, I attempted (being the strong, capable, do-it-yourself kind of woman that I am) to carry all my purchases out to my car all alone. I had a grocery-sized bag of books, including plenty of hardbacks. (They let you fill up a bag of any books for five bucks!) I'd also grabbed a kitty-cat painting for my daughter and a super-cool leather bag.

Me with the bad knee and extra pounds was going to lug this all out without asking for help, thank you very much nice Christian people. Well, thankfully, those nice Christian people were having none of my self-sufficiency. A generous and highly capable volunteer lifted my load and helped me get settled. I was very grateful for the support. I couldn't possibly have made it on my own without breaking something, at the very least a nail.

Silly, wasn't it? Me almost breaking my back trying to accomplish something by my own not-so-super strength.

Seriously, though, how often do we try to do things on our own? How often do we get discouraged fighting battles alone, attempting to wield our swords when our arms are ready to collapse under the weight? Probably more often than we care to admit.

For me, it's especially hard to ask for help when I've made a mistake, when I've sinned or fallen short. I find that I'm ashamed and afraid to let others see me at my worst. Forget about God's grace, it doesn't apply in this situation, I falsely tell myself. Or, I'm facing a huge battle of some kind and I'm out on the battlefield all alone, too tired to lift my weapon and face my enemy. Not a good position to be in -- ever.

I'm so, so glad that this dismal picture can be completely re-adjusted with a little help from my friends.

Think for a moment about Moses. He was one powerful man of God when he allowed God to work powerfully though him. But even Moses didn't fight all by himself. In one of his many adventures, he and the Israelites faced yet another formible enemy -- the Amalekites. Moses stood on top of a hill with his staff raised high. When he kept the staff up, his army was victorious. When he lowered it, well, the results were not so good. Eventually, his arms got tired. I mean can you imagine holding up a huge staff, over your head, for hours on end? I couldn't even hold a bag of books for three minutes!

Thankfully, God had stratigically provided Moses with helpers. Listen to the story:

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Exodus 17: 10-12

These two men literaly lifted up their friend's arms. Moses didn't say, "Go away! I can manage by myself." Thank goodness for the Israelites that he was willing to share his burden.

Ladies, we, too, need others to share our burdens and to help us lighten our loads, and whatever those things weighting us down might be, God provides a way lessen our yokes, if we'll let Him. Our walk with Christ is a journey meant to be taken with other Christian travelers. And the battles we fight are meant to be won with friends by our side.

I understand how difficult it can be to humble yourself and seek help. We live in a world that tells us to pull up our bootstraps and hide our tears. But, in reality, what we all need is a person or persons that can hold up our arms when they become to weary to stay raised. Please, precious princess, just because you're a warrior doesn't imply you must stand and fight alone.

Moses, one of the greatest, godliest leaders of all time needed support. Why shouldn't we?

If your armor has become too heavy to put on, reach out. There is an armor bearer standing somewhere nearby who will help prepare you for battle. God doesn't want us to spend our lives struggling alone, oh no! He tells us where two or more are gathered He is in their midst. When God is in our midst, we can expect a victory. Lift us up, Lord. Lift us up!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Let Him Lead

Blessings, Princess Warriors! The New Year is well underway and already there's so much to share. First, I must acknowledge the tragedy in Haiti. I trust your prayers are with the precious people of that broken country. Miraculously, as with any tragic event, God is bringing light into a very dark situation. I'm not going to debate the "why it happened" questions, but, only say: God loves people. God can and does use horrendous circumstances to change lives, families, even nations. I will continue to pray for His provision and purpose in Haiti. I'd like to play a more personal role in the aftermath, unfortunately, that is simply not feasible unless God does some major rearranging and providing in my own life.

As for my own personal life, it was suggested that a dog might prove to be the perfect companion pet for my daughter. So, we are now the proud owners of a 10-month-old American Eskimo Dog. His name is Stryder and he looks like a fluffy, white, mini-husky. Too cute! All puppy. We've been watching dog training videos and my daughter is reading books from the library. The whole household is working to teach this precious pup how to be obedient. Well, let's just say, this process is not as simple as those video's make it seem. In fact, I feel like we have a toddler that moves really fast and barks. And although he's semi-house broken, he still has little "accidents." Despite these doggy challenges, we love our new baby. When he gazes up with those big dark eyes, you fall in love all over again.

However, one thing I've noticed is that he has great difficulty allowing us to lead him on a walk. If you're a dog owner, I'm sure you've experienced this at some point in your doggy- owning-career. Some dogs tug on the leash attempting to force their will on you. They don't want to follow, but would prefer to lead! If the dog is strong enough, it can drag you all over the place.

As I was observing this struggle between my daughter and her pup, I was reminded of how I react to God's directions at times. I, too, tug and pull, fighting to go the direction I want. Granted, our Heavenly King has power that we don't wield as human pet owners, but I think the similarities can serve our purpose of discussion.

God certainly doesn't drag us around with a leash, instead he extends his hand and asks us to follow him. He is the leader, we are His followers. He knows the best way to travel. He understands how far we can walk without overtiring. He is aware of dangers that we have no clue about. He cares for us and wants us to stay on the right path doing the right things, the things He has purposed and planned specifically for us individually, and as a body of believers.

Unfortunately, like Stryder (cute name, huh?) I have many ideas about what I think I should be doing. I want to go one way and God is leading me another. When I fail to follow his expert advise and guidance, I often end up face down in a puddle of muck. I waste time, energy, even money, and wish I'd adhered to my Master's leadership to start with. Ahhhhh ....! Can anyone relate?

Have you even seen one of those professional dog walkers? I'm amazed they manage to walk so many dogs at once. Good "walkers" actually keep their charges all going the same direction with minimal difficulties. They obey and heed their walker's direction. Imagine all the people God is leading, the major difference is that He doesn't leash us to lead us.

He offers His hand.

It's up to us to connect with Him and follow.

One of my ongoing challenges is to stop being like Stryder. Stop tugging, fighting, and attempting to do my "own thing" when it doesn't line up with God's best. God does know best -- always. My own best ideas have gotten me in a world of trouble of the years. When I slow down and listen to God through His Word, wise council, and prayer, I find the going a whole lot easier.

I suspect that when a dog struggles against its master's wishes, it can end up sore from its misguided efforts. I know when I choose to struggle against God's guidance, I can end up "sore" emotionally, spiritually, and possibly even physically. Taking the wrong trail can lead us places better left untraveled.

So, what do you say that we, as God's priceless princess warriors, spend less time on what we want and more time on what our All-knowing Father desires for our lives? We can truly trust His intentions and directions. Amen!?! Won't you take His hand? He's waiting.

His Word Says:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 ESV

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor. Proverbs 21:21 NIV

Come and follow me, Jesus said ... Mark 1:17a NIV

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year: A New Work

Happy New Year, Princess Warriors. I know. I know. I’ve fallen behind (again) on my blogging. And God has given me ample ideas to expound on.

So, staying true to the new format, my personal update is quite simple on the surface. We had a wonderful Christmas. I watched the glittery ball drop on New Year’s Eve, while screaming well-wishers and New York party-goers looked on with animated glee. I didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm as the revelers in Times Square, but with drooping eyelids, I was still able to muster a “Happy New Year” to my family, and felt the nostalgia of yet another year and another decade passing. More importantly, I felt that familiar expectancy and hope that comes with any new beginning.

I took note of the many things I’m grateful for, and set my sights on running the race before me.

Okay, so that’s partly true, but there’s more to the story. I am bombarded by worries, concerns, fears, and more often than I care to admit feel my relationship with Christ could be far deeper. I beat on myself mentally over the many areas I fall short in, forgetting the extent of God’s grace and love for me.

Thankfully, as always, God knows exactly what we need. He certainly knew what exactly this princess warrior needed: a major reminder of the most basic truths: God’s Grace is enough. His work accomplished it all. If I believe in Him, I will not perish but will have eternal life. Good stuff to remember all the time. Unfortunately, we too often read the words of John 3:16 and don’t allow the amazing, life-saving message to sink into our souls.

My friend gave me a gift basket for Christmas. It was filled with all sorts of goodies. One of those goodies was a copy of Max Lucado’s book, 3:16 The Numbers of Hope. I would recommend this book to anyone. Granted, I love Max. He has a way with words that get to the heart of the matter, making God’s grace evident to readers like me who need a fresh reminder of what’s real and what’s not.

John 3:16, the universal verse that many people, both Christian and non-Christian can recite. Shall we?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

As Max explains:

He loves.
He gave.
We believe.
We live.Bold

That’s REALLY, REALLY good news for those who believe. Unfortunately, we, like so many before us, tend to complicate what God’s saying. We want to add rules and regulations like the Pharisees of old. We don’t admit it, but we somehow believe that something more is required. How could God possibly love us that much?

When we sin, He so generously provides a way out. We don’t have walk barefooted across hot coals, or scourge our own bodies. We confess and trust that His sacrifice was enough if we will but believe and be born again.

We have, as Pastor Lucado so rightly points out, written our very own Bible verse: “God helps those who help themselves” (Popular Opinion 1:1) He goes on to say: “We’ll fix ourselves, thank you. We’ll make up for our mistakes with contributions, our guilt with busyness. We’ll overcome our failures with hard work. We’ll find salvation the old-fashioned way: we’ll earn it … Christ, in contrast, says to us … ‘Your part is to trust. Trust me to do what you can’t.’”

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I have spent time, way too much time and effort, trying to be “good enough” for God, when the Only One good enough is Jesus Christ. He did all the work that needs doing. We simply need to be believing.

This year, this new decade, is wide open before us. As daughters of the King we have yet another opportunity to reign real, brining hope to an often hopeless world, and love to people who feel unlovable. Unfortunately, if we are unable to except God’s gift of grace, and the new life it brings, we will be unable to share His Good News with those around us. When we waste time trying to “work off” sins that have already been forgiven, we discount God’s mercy and call Him a liar.
Strong words? Yes. True? You decide.

Maybe you, too, need a refresher course on God’s amazing grace. It’s so easy to get caught up in “being a good Christian.” We are busy, busy, busy, but are we busy for the right reasons?
Why not take a few hours and read this book. I know it reminded me why we need to celebrate. We really are free from sin and death. We truly have a hope and a future. We are children of a God who loves His family and was willing to sacrifice everything to gain our love.
So, if your Holiday Season wasn’t everything you hoped it would be, please, remember God is everything He promised to be. And that is something (Someone) you can place your trust in.