Friday, December 29, 2017

Word of the Week: Inventory

As 2017 closes:


I look back to evaluate the Connections of this year.

I look forward to what I hear God speaking for 2018.

And I look around to enjoy the present moment.


Eliana's bouncing curls as she laughs.

Raphael’s grunts and sweet new baby smell.

Daily chats with Spencer and Meesha.


Playing with our granddaughter,

snuggling with our newly born grandson,

reconnecting with our son and daughter-in-love.


Priceless precious moments.
Joy filled connections.
Treasures to ponder!


Life was good this past year,
life promises good for next year,
and life is good in this very moment!


This video is from 2015 and yet the three simple questions are timeless.
I pray that you can use them, as I have,
to take inventory on your year in preparation for 2018!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Word of the Week: JOY

Joy. Pure joy!

She ran, skipped, and jumped along the path through the ‘jungle’.

The spark of joy revealed in her eyes at the sight of the flower-strewn path was absolutely priceless.

I could feel her excitement as clearly as I could see it on her face. If the essence of pure joy were to ever be bottled, I think it would contain energy dispersed by two year old children at play!


The third candle of advent is JOY.

I’ve anticipated this holiday trip that we are currently on for many months. I counted down the weeks and days with excitement. Each moment of the 27 hours that we spent journeying to Australia from Belize was worth every second. Our time of traveling brought us to a place of hugs, laughter, smiles, story times, climbing towers, pushing swings, dressing stuffed animals, and baking cookies.

The trip was long, the wait was hard, but the joy we felt upon arrival erased the aches and pains of all the miles that separate us from family.


Many years ago, before our children were born, Tom’s grandmother Sharp baked Christmas cookies for us.

Tom’s mother picked up the tradition for our kids, and now it’s my turn with our son’s children.

Our children are 30 and 27. Our youngest was home with us for Christmas for the last time in 2012. We have only put up a tree once in the last five years. It’s been hard to find joy in an empty nest at Christmas.

Here, with our granddaughter, the joy is infectious. My heart swells with anticipation as we awaken each morning to discover what songs and stories she will enlighten us with for the day. I relax as my heart rises above the emotional hardships and the years of longing to grandparent in real life.

Joy creeps in as I marvel at the wonder in her eyes and cherish the hope born from her laughter.

I understand why a candle of JOY is needed as we countdown the days until the celebration of Christ's birth. Light cannot be overcome by darkness and the light of His joy is powerful enough to penetrate the human spirit.

I am grateful for my encounter with joy as my husband and I wait with our son and his family for the birth of their second child!

May God also fill your eyes with wonder and light up every corner of your life with His joy as you await the celebration of our King!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Word of the Week: LOVE

Love: A complex word comprised of four letters.

The second week of Advent is about LOVE.

Today, December 13, 2017, my husband and I celebrate 36 years of marriage.

As we spend our day traveling I can rest by his side and enjoy our time away together. The past few weeks were a chaotic whirlwind for us. I’d been rehearsing for our Belizean Christmas concert, preparing for speaking engagements, working in the counseling office, and promoting the concert on radio and tv. Between early morning commitments and late night practices I noticed it was getting hard to spend time soaking in God’s loving presence.

As the day of the concert drew near I felt like I was running on empty. With tear stained eyes I reached for my keys to head out the door once again. I stopped to cry for a moment on Tom’s shoulder. My body was wracked with pain as I stood there telling him how tired I was. He comforted me with soothing, understanding, and encouraging words. And then he sent me out the door with the emotional strength to do the next thing on my long list of to-do’s.

I’m grateful for those occasions when I can see, feel, and hear the loving voice of God speaking through my caring husband.

I’m grateful that though my husband's love in action I have seen God's unfailing love each and every day.

I’m grateful that Christ came to earth in human form to reveal to us what real love is.

I’m grateful for this Advent season, for this time of solitude, and for the depth of prayer that Jesus continually offers on our behalf before the Father.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of ‘doing’ that we can miss out on ‘being’.


Slow down, lean in, and listen for His loving voice. That’s what I’m doing today...won’t you join me?! I wrote this song during a time of leaning in closely to listen to His voice.

Watch, sing along, and share it with someone who needs to take time out to seek God and worship Him!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Word of the Week: HOPE

Tom and I are eagerly awaiting time with our family in Australia.

It's been two years since we've seen our son, daughter in love, and granddaughter.


This year our hopeful hearts await the birth of our second grandchild, creating priceless memories with our granddaughter, and treasuring moments with Spencer and Meesha.

I wrote my first Christmas song two years ago. And the very first line is, "Hope was born in a manger".


Today is the first Sunday of Advent. In many churches around the world the candle of Hope would have been lit today.


Is there any hope in your heart this year?

If so, then where are you placing your hope?


Eve had hope when the serpent told her that she could be like God. Her misplaced hope led to expulsion from the Garden of Eden. We must be careful about where we place our hope. Misplaced hope can have eternal consequences.


I have hopes and dreams for my granddaughter and the grandbaby that is on the way but the true Hope of the world was born over 2000 years ago.


Jesus Christ is our Hope! And our hope in Him will never disappoint.

May this be a season for the God of Hope to fill each one of us with His presence.

May this be a season of hope in our hearts, our homes, and our communities.

May this be a season of celebrating the birth of the God of all Hope!

You can listen to that first Christmas song here!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Word of the Week: Understanding


As I was out for my walk this morning I meditated on the word ‘Courage”.

As I got close to a house that is under construction I could see that I would have to walk between two cars and several groups of men.

I thought, "now is the time to practice being courageous!"



A narrow path in the middle of the road was all that was left between the two parked cars.



Taking a deep cleansing breath I braced myself for whatever comments these men might make and determined in my mind to ignore whatever they said to me.



After successfully passing through that gauntlet of men suddenly, 8 highly agitated workers were running toward me, alternating between covering their heads and waving their arms, and screaming, “Abejas! Abejas!”



I know a bit of Spanish but not enough to know what they were shouting about. I slowed down somewhat but kept advancing forward in my effort to get home in time to shower and get to bible study.



In the distance I can see a neighbor heading home with six dogs on leashes. I thought maybe the men were afraid of dogs. His dogs have never bothered me so I continue walking, ignoring the men’s frantic cries.

One of them comes closer waving his arms yelling, “SeƱora, abejas!” Three of them are now in front of me yelling, “Abejas” and I yell back, “I don’t understand! No entiendo!”  



My lack of understanding collides with the fervency of their efforts and slowly increases my annoyance as I fight to remain calm.



One man turns the direction I’m headed and pointed at a tree up the road. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be seeing and I’m in a hurry so again I let them know that I don’t understand.



One of the workers held out his hand motioning me to stop,  looking exasperated and desperate to get his message across, he took his phone from his pocket as the English word finally came to him, and he shouted, “BEES!”



Now I get why they were frantically running, why they didn’t want me to walk any further, and why they were passionately trying to get me to understand.

The man with the phone makes a call and asks me to wait “for safety”.



A few minutes later a truck pulls up driven by a man dressed in protective clothing. I get into the vehicle and he drives me past the tree to the corner and I’m able to finish my walk from there.


My head and heart had prepared not to trust these men. I’ve become so accustomed to taunting whistles, crude comments, and uncomfortable stares from construction workers that initially I didn’t respect their genuine concern for my welfare. And I was so determined to practice being courageous that I was willing to ignore whatever they were saying and just keep on walking.


Psalm 119:34 says,
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.



I have lost count of the number of times I’ve ignored God’s warnings because I cannot see any danger ahead and I don’t understand what He is trying to tell me.


I’m grateful for the lessons that God brings into my life, the spiritual and the practical. This morning He mercifully showed His willingness to protect me by any means possible and as a bonus He taught me the Spanish word for bees!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Word of the Week: Truth

I've been preparing my notes to speak at Legacy this weekend and the word that I have had on my mind is Truth. So I decided to give you a sample of one of the devotionals from my ebook!


Truth

And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 NLT

Knowing the truth brings freedom from bondage, freedom from life altering lies, and freedom from despair.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He’s the freedom that we need to know. He’s the Truth that we must embrace.

He’s the Truth that will erase the lies we’ve carried in our heads. No falsehood or distortion can successfully stand in the light of Him.

His name is Truth, His character is truth, His word is truth. Truth bathed in the grace of God that has the power to transform us from the inside out.

Walking in truth places us on the path of righteous living. Washing our minds with the truth places us in the center of His will.

Waiting on truth to be revealed in our situation places us in the palm of His hand. His loving words are a balm for every battle-scarred soul. Cling to the God of all truth!

Prayer:
Precious Truth, our Savior, our Lord, guide us in the way of truth. Help us to listen for Your trustworthy voice and lay aside any whispers of darkness. Keep us steadfast and strong in the light. We praise You, we thank You, we love You. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.


To get your copy of my devotional ebook click on the title below:



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Word of the Week: Relearning


It was a bright cold day in April,
and the clocks were striking thirteen.
~George Orwell, 1984


Looking around the international airport in Moscow, Russia, I watched a clock strike 13.


Well, the clock didn’t literally strike, it was digital. Large red numbers proclaiming 13:00. Russia uses a 24 hour clock.


Instantly transporting me to my childhood and reminding me of my father’s military days, he would often use military time to tell me and my little brothers when something needed to be done.  


“Police your area by 0800 hours!”, he would command. In English that meant our rooms needed to be cleaned before 8 am.


When I saw that it was 13 o’clock I had to think for a minute or so until it came to me. It’s 1 o’clock in the afternoon.


Dread mixed with fear filled my stomach. Fighting back tears acknowledging that not only did I need to learn a new language but I also needed to learn how to tell time.


Everything I thought I knew would need to be relearned.


Gone were the days of grocery shopping with a list and coupons in Southern California. Needing a list remained but coupons were replaced by a Russian/English dictionary.


Something as simple as asking for 2 lbs of ground beef transformed to asking for a kilo of farsh. Numbers, weights, measures, time, words, sights, sounds, facial expressions...everything overwhelmed and yet excited me.


An adventure that began as words God whispered to my husband, evolved into a dream, and were brought to reality when the plane landed. Over the next five years our family would learn to navigate this new world.


I never expected to live among the adversary. Growing up in a military home on various Air Force bases in the eastern part of the US, Russia had been our cold war enemy for my entire childhood.


How was this a part of God’s plan? Needless to say my patriotic father, the career soldier, was not thrilled when we announced our plans to move to Russia. However, my mother’s comment, “You got your orders so you have to go.” was typical of a military wife.


God’s orders, His calling, took us on a life altering journey. And His guidance and strength continue to propel us in our ministry life.


I wish I could say that each day as a missionary is profoundly meaningful, filled with glorious insight, and bathed deeply with inner peace. Most days back in Russia and now here in Belize are fairly ordinary.


For every believer, each breath, each lesson, each and every tear, and each peal of shared laughter hold a touch of the divine.


It’s been many years since that clock at the airport awakened me to a new reality. I’ve realized that each stage of life requires learning a new skill no matter where you live in the world.


You don’t have to see 13 o’clock to catapult you into a new way of thinking. It could be something as simple as a wedding, the birth of a child, teenage drama, an empty nest, a new job, the loss of a parent, each experience- the good, the bad, and the grace-filled, all provoke change and growth.


With each stage of life everything I thought I knew needed to be relearned.

Have you had to face a time of relearning something you thought you knew? I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Word of the Week: Breathe



Breath.

There are times when I’m holding my breath and don’t realize it.

I need to let go, exhale the day’s stress, and inhale perfect peace infused with grace.

Here in Belize my husband and I counsel victims of abuse and exploitation and that work can take its toll on the heart and on the soul. Envisioning life abroad is often more romantic or adventurous than the reality of adapting to a new culture.

I was forced to undergo a ‘baptism’ of awakening to reality on a jungle walk with friends. We got too close to a mama howler monkey and she declared her outrage by throwing poo at us. She got me right in the middle of my forehead. I gave thanks that my mouth was closed when I looked up.

Ann Voskamp says, “Calm is a superpower. Ask Christ for it.” I stayed calm but decided that it would be best to move away from that mother protecting her babies.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Word of the Week: Exalt


 

Come let us tell of the LORD’s greatness;
let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:3 NLT


As we exalt the name of God together, we give honor to Who He is, What He has done, What He can do, and Why He cares for us.


I wrote this song to give honor and glory to the name of God.


As I penned each verse various names came to mind from the Word. When I finished the song I went back and counted the names of God that I had used.

I was astonished to discover 25 names of God in the song.

That means that there are:
25 ways to tell of His greatness.
25 ways ways to tell of Who He is.
25 ways to get to know Him more intimately.
25 ways to exalt Him!


Each time I sing this song, each time I talk about this song, my desire is to exalt Him. My desire is to know Him more deeply and make Him known.


How well do you know Him?


He is:


Yahweh
Creator
Sustainer
Deliverer
Almighty God
Marvelous
Way Maker
Counselor
King
Rock of Salvation
Amazing
Friend
Worthy
Foundation
Way
Truth
Strength
Alpha
Omega
Ancient of Days
Anointed One
Consuming Fire
Immanuel
High Priest
Lord of Lords

Let’s aim to know Him intimately and exalt His name together!