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Saturday, December 31, 2011

God's Best for 2012

There are too many things I want to say. Too many directions I want to go. 
Looking back. 
Looking ahead. 
I hope to corral these thoughts into something meaningful and encouraging for you. 
For now though it seems I will have to simply wish you God's best in 2012. I pray you will know him better and will be walking more fully in his plans for you. I pray I will be, too.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Random Thoughts

I have these ideas I want to record, write about, share.

Usually I write them down with hopes of getting them written up and fleshed out just perfect. However, I see that right now getting written down is impressive so I am going to post them as I jotted them down and hope to get back to them someday :)

God is big enough to start over with me whenever I chose to let him. My past can only hold me back if I hold onto it.

I cannot be denied when I am standing on God's Word, pursuing his promise and his presence.

Year of rest. It can only be a year of rest if I actually rest.

People's adverse reactions to our love or us does not mean we've done anything wrong. Look at Jesus!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

River of Living Water

I had a picture of someone sitting in a river, water washing over them. The river is the River of Life. They are sitting in the river crying. As the living water washes over them the tears are transformed into treasures.

The water is the Kingdom, the Word, promises, power, and blessing. Sitting on the bank one can see the Kingdom, the power, the blessings, the richness. However sitting on the bank one cannot fully participate in the Kingdom. Manifestation of the Kingdom in each life depends on how fully immersed in the river that life is, at the moment and over time. It takes time in the river to be washed of old habits and wrong thinking. As the washing takes place there is more room for living water inside as well as around. Since it is Living Water fully submersed is the safest place to be.

I realized in many ways I have been watching the river flow by. I long to be part of it, yet I stand at the edge with just my toes in the water. I need to walk out to the middle, sit down and be fully submersed. I need the washing, refreshing, empowering. I need it 24/7.

I tend to be kind of extreme so I think I would love to have a life of solitude with only God and his Word. However God has not placed me in a season of life where I can do anything like that. I have a family and responsibilities. It would be an easy out anyway because it's easy to love people who aren't around to annoy you.

 I will read his Word more. I will meditate on it through the day. I will think his thoughts over my own. Right now we are taking a break from our lessons so I think I will listen as much as I can right now as well.

Are you in the River?
How do you stay in the Living Water in the midst of your busy life?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Joining Gabby Moms in 2012

I am honored to be part of Gabby Moms 2012. Never heard of Gabby Moms? Here's how they say it:

We are wives.

We are moms.

We are homemakers.

And most importantly, we are followers of Jesus, seeking to follow His word in creating our homes and shaping our families for Him!

The Gabby Moms are a group of mom bloggers who review products for Eternal Encouragement Magazine (formerly TEACH Magazine).
(Click here for more about Gabby Moms)

Every month there will be a review of a product that will help you as a wife, mom, homemaker and especially a follower of Jesus. Lorrie Flem of Eternal Encouragement Magazine has a wonderful ministry and heart for mentoring women. I so look forward to what I will learn from the other Gabby Moms this year.

Will I Ever Get This Right? features my first review for Gabby Moms.
If you have found me because of Gabby Moms allow me to introduce myself. I live in Alaska with my high school sweetheart and our three children. The oldest is 12 and we have educated them at home since birth :) My youngest awaits us in heaven. We have farmed and been in business for ourselves. We are now transitioning into my husband having a regular job. Along with being a  wife, mom, homemaker and follower of Jesus I am an author. My first book, Christmas is About Jesus was released in 2009 and Easter is About Jesus will be released in 2012. Both are devotional books for families.

If you're a Gabby Mom please say "Hi" and leave your contact information.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Interview with Author Sherry Riffle

 After reading Sherry's book Where did Mommy Go? I wanted to know more about her and her book. I invited Sherry to share her thoughts here.

Tell us about yourself

I am just a small town girl who loves Christ. He is my EVERYTHING! I was born and raised in a rural area in southeast Ohio situated along the beautiful Ohio River. I married my high school sweetheart and have been happily married for 20 years. I have 5 children in which we have adopted 4. I am a HUGE advocate for adoption through foster care. Every child deserves a loving home!

What is the story behind Where Did Mommy Go?

On June 3, 1999, I awoke to news that my only sister had been killed in a car accident. At the young age of 23, she left behind a very scared and confused little boy. He was only 6 years old.

My husband and I took him into our home and tried to help slowly patch the broken pieces of his life back together. Each time that he would ask questions, I added to his confusion by giving him half-truths. In the mist of my own grief, I realized that he was so innocent about death. I was the one that was uncomfortable talking about it. I knew he needed answers but I didn’t know how to answer him. 

One evening I sat down and wrote this story for him. I believe this story to be divinely given to help him understand and heal. I wanted a story where he would be able to associate without being associated. I wrote it to be real with Sarah speaking as a child would speak with broken and improper English. He loved it! It answered many of his unanswered questions and helped him to move on with life.

This story sat in my basement for approximately 10 years then I felt a push to send it to a publisher. This past spring, my story was released to the public. Little did I know that God would take this tragedy and turn it into a tool to help not only my new son but other children as well.

What has been helpful to your family in times of loss?

Prayer has been essential to getting us through our time of grief. I feel at times that we weren't in control but Christ cradled and carried us through those overwhelming times. He sheltered us when it was too much to bear and then gave us peace. Christ is with us always!

How do you teach children to accept comfort from Jesus?

I believe that if you teach children to pray then they will open themselves up to an intimate relationship with Christ. He is always there for us and prayer is a direct way to communicate with him. Something so simple yet so powerful!

Have you written other books?

I have written a total of five children’s books. Each one was created with a specific purpose in mind and has morals woven into the story. Where Did Mommy Go was my second story and the only one that has been submitted and published. I have started a biography about adopting through foster care in the US. At this time, it is several months from being finished. 

Can you tell me more about your passion for adoption through foster care?

We knew when Christ placed adoption on our hearts that we wanted the kids that "no one wanted"...the so called "damaged kids". All kids deserve a home! I would hear people talk about wanting to adopt from other countries. That is great but we can't forget God's babies that are here. All they want is for someone to spend some time with them and love them.

Every step of getting set up for adoption through foster care was so easy. God walked with us in every step. After we received our homestudy, we submitted for our daughter. Within a couple months, we received word from her case worker of our match. God worked so fast! That was the first of our four adoptions. We probably would have adopted more but we ran out of room in our house and car.

If I ever have a hand at leading one person in the direction of adoption through foster care, I know that I have done the will of my Savior. I will rejoice because a family is a special gift. If God has placed it on your heart to adopt, please contact your local Department of Job and Family Services to take your first step in adopting through foster care.

How do people get Where Did Mommy Go? Where Did Mommy Go is available at numerous websites including www.wheredidmommygo.com , www.Amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61739-720-2

Contact Sherry: wheredidmommygo@yahoo.com

My post about Where Did Mommy Go?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where Did Mommy Go? Book Review

Where Did Mommy Go? 
by Sherry L. Riffle

After reading the book with my children I asked what they thought. They said:
I like it because it talks about heaven in a way kids can understand. I like the pictures. It teaches to not be just sad when someone dies because they are going to heaven. It’s okay to be happy. I liked the illustrations. I could relate to the little girl because I lost my Grampa.
Death is a hard concept for children to understand. To make matters worse the adults in their life are often too busy or so involved in their own grief they don’t take the time to find out what the children’s questions are.

This summer my children lost their Grandfather. We lost a mentor and friend.  It’s hard to deal with the emotions. The ups and downs.

Where Did Mommy Go? is a good reminder to slow down and get my children’s perspective on what has happened and what they are struggling with.
Sherry Riffle shares wonderfully how the things adults say make no sense to children. In trying to get ourselves off the hook with tough questions we can cause more confusion for our children.

Jesus is always our comfort. Loss is a time to model and teach our children to find comfort in him.

My one caution would be to be very sure your children understand God requires us to accept his gift of salvation. People do not simply go to heaven when they die, no matter what. For young ones this can be as simple as ABC. Admit we are sinners in need of a Savior. Believe Jesus did all that was required for us to be right with God. Confess Jesus as Lord.

If, or when, your family goes through loss Where Did Mommy Go? may be a helpful reminder and discussion starter for you.  

Tomorrow I'll share an interview with Sherry.
Contact Sherry: wheredidmommygo@yahoo.com

Where Did Mommy Go is available at numerous websites including www.wheredidmommygo.com , www.Amazon.comwww.barnesandnoble.com and www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61739-720-2

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas is About Jesus: December 1 * SnowFlakes

I will be sharing daily thoughts, links and activities @ Christmas is About Jesus. I hope you will follow along :)
Christmas is About Jesus: December 1 * SnowFlakes: I praise you becuase you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. ...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one. One that included time of being truly thankful.

I am thankful hard times push me to my Savior.
I am thankful my children love and forgive me.
I am thankful God isn't finished with me yet.
I am thankful God's plans are good.
I am thankful it's the Christmas Season.

Soon I will put up my tree which draws me to sit quietly in it's light and meditate on the truth of my God. The wonder of the Creator sacrificing for the created. The season when my children will daily remind me to read our devotion and focus on Jesus.

How was your thanksgiving?
How are you preparing for Christmas?
How are you preparing for Jesus?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sure I’m Thankful

There are things I am not happy about, I wish were different, wish hadn’t happened.
I’m not complaining.
I’m thankful.
However I don’t know that anyone can tell I’m thankful because I’m not expressing gratitude.
Thankfulness has been hard this season. Don’t get me wrong. I know I am blessed beyond the majority of the population with the orphans, poverty and wars.
Getting this knowledge out of my lips or finger tips has not been happening.  Maybe this knowledge hasn’t really gotten to my heart.
I have not been giving my thanks, not praising, not expressing gratitude. 
I’ve meant to. 
I’ve tried to think of creative ways to record our thanks as a family as we have in the past. I guess I couldn’t force my kids to list things they were thankful for when I wasn’t doing it myself.
I have thought of things I’m thankful for. There are many. 
Over and over they are lost in my emotions instead of expressed or treasured.

So my challenge to you and to myself is to slow down and let the knowledge of God’s goodness penetrate my heart so deeply that it must flow out in endless praise.

Enjoy your family.

May you be blessed and be a blessing this Thanksgiving!

Do you ever struggle with being thankful?
How have you been thankful in spite of negative emotions? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Will I Ever Get This Right?

“You guys! Stop that!”

Unfortunately this was me, sounding just like I do not want my children to sound.

Raised voice, sarcasm and sharpness have been too frequent here lately. Life seems to have gotten the better of me and I find myself short of patience - grumpy, stressed and a bad example. 

I have grown and it happens less often, but I need a refresher on occasion. Yelling: The Cause, The Causalty, The Cure by Lorrie Flem came at such a time.

Slowing down to read Lorrie’s ebook I was reminded of many things I know, but forgot, like:

  • The difference prayer makes. – How can I forget my greatest resource? 
  • Taking time to train my children. – They are children. They don’t know everything even when they try to tell me otherwise! 
  • Prepare for our life – as it is – not as I want it. Being prepared and realistic saves so much stress, thus reducing the tendency to yell. 
  • Give myself grace. I’m a work in progress, just like my children. I will mess up. I will try again. 

I liked this specific, practical idea as well:

  • Schedule a funny movie. – I’m not very good at fun. I need to lighten up. 

If things are a less pleasant than you would like in your home right now pick up a copy of Lorrie’s book for some good reminders. She included a great list of verses on prayer and forgiveness, too.

I'm off with a new commitment to bathe myself, my children, and my day in prayer. I will never get it right, but I m loved by the One who already has.

Here's where to find it as well as Lorrie's many other helpful tools:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be Strong in Grace

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1

I will be strong, firmly set, grounded, anchored, established, entrenched in grace. Jesus has so fully accomplished and provided everything for my victory I am strong in his grace alone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I really wish I would follow my own advice. I really can be quite wise. I have stores of God’s truth and great teaching to draw from. However… lately I don’t realize it until I hear myself telling someone else. Frustrating!
Frustration is far too common an emotion for me, especially recently. We have had some big changes and losses this year as a family. Dealing with hard things in relationship is my largest weakness I think. 
My son and I often clash. This leads to frustration between us and toward ourselves. He is so much like me in his self talk. It really makes me wish I had done so much more growing before he was born, yet often I fail to do the work to grow now. More frustration. I have grown. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I have grown. Trouble is I can’t pinpoint what changed things for me. I can’t give my son the “fix” for his hurting heart. More frustration.  Worse yet, sometimes I’m still doing exactly the same thing! FRUSTRATION!
I know that living out my growth in front of him will be most helpful. He has to know how to turn to God – no, to abide in God. He will learn it best by seeing it lived out. So I will continue to learn to abide and to grow.
Yesterday I was looking at a personality profile for some reminders on what my son needs. I remembered thinking there was helpful information for my parenting when I had taken it a couple of years ago.  One of the charts shows typical irritations for each personality type. Sources of irritation for my son include: indecisiveness, lack of - discipline, plan, purpose, direction, authority, control, and challenge (this list describes my typical day if I’m not really on top of it!) Sources of irritation for me: incompetence, disorganization, foolishness, dishonesty, inaccuracy, wastefulness, inconsistency, false impressions (the things on this list I don’t do, he does) No wonder I’m frustrated. I do most of the things on my list of irritations! If you’ll look at the list you see that means I do most of the things on his list, too!  
His responses to pressure are also like hair triggers for me and mine for him. It’s helpful just to know, or be reminded. I realized when he was very young that God was going to use my son to shape me into who he wants me to be, who I need to be to fulfill my destiny. I lost sight of that though. All I was seeing was the conflict, the hurt, the suffering relationship. I’m not sure how to keep my focus, but I will learn.  I have to. My relationship with my son may not survive and certainly won’t thrive if I do not. Neither of us would be who God designed for us to be. He will strengthen me and I will soften him. Soften not crush.
Everyone needs tools to be successful, even in relationships. My tool box is far too empty. Even the good tools I’ve picked up over the years have been going unused. My children will only know how to use the tools I use. Lately that’s been yelling, ignoring and talking too much. So it’s time to go tool shopping. As I discover new tools or rediscover old ones I’ll share them here and I hope you will do the same.

What relational tools do you use?
What tools do you wish you knew how to use better?
Is there a need in a relationship you need a new tool for?
Personality information taken from Uniquely You Resources www.myuy.com

13 Random Things About Me

  1. My favorite number is 13. It's like rebelling against superstition I think.
  2. I have a weird perspective on wasting things like tape and aluminum foil.
  3. I think the only time in my life I lived in a finished house was when I roomed with a friends family for a semester in college.
  4. I have never met anyone else with my name, or even anyone who has ever heard of my name.
  5. I love my name :)
  6. I have 3 brothers.
  7. I love to sing. In a castle turned hotel in Germany the shower room had amazing acoustics. I didn't realize everyone in the yard could hear me as well :) I hope they enjoyed my singing at least half as much as I did!
  8. Places I have been around the world: Canada, East Germany, West Germany, Poland, England, Scotland, Hong Kong, China, and Mexico.
  9. States: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Louisiana, and Florida.
  10. Air Supply's Greatest Hits will always remind me of the Red Light District in Calgary, Alberta. We got lost driving through many years ago. I guess that was the tape we were playing.    
  11. I love dark chocolate cover cherries.
  12. I have a very hard time not being productive, though I sometimes get very distracted when I'm trying to be productive. 
  13. I like to create things. The medium really doesn't matter: paper, fabric, yarn, wood, paint, clay - anything to make a mess I guess!
Now you know a few things about me. I hope you enjoyed my list!

Do we share any of the same ramdom things? 

Have you ever done a similar post?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God of Patience and Consolation

 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.                   Romans 15:5-6 

What a challenging verse this has been for me this week. I keep getting stuck at "the God of patience and consolation". This is the God I need right now.

1. Comfort; alleviation of misery, or distress of mind; refreshment of mind or spirits; 
from Webster 1828 Dictionary

Thank you LORD for being a God of consolation.

3.The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge. 
 from Webster 1828 Dictionary

Thank you LORD for your patience with me. Thank you for the fruit of patience in my life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We Will be Hated, but Jesus Calls Us Friends

Pastor Phil
October 30, 2011
John 15:14-16:4
Jesus calls us friends in verses 14, 15

The world will hate us. Why? 
15:18-16:4 uses the word hate several times
word means: intense or passionate dislike
v 18 because the world hated Jesus. Having a Lord challenges the worlds pride, ideas, traditions. Asks the question who is number 1? Me or God?
v 19,20 because we are chosen and set apart. Believers stand out, they don’t go along with the world
v 21-23 because the world does not know Jesus, so it does not know God the Father either. I think this is key in looking at other faiths. Jesus clearly says that if they worship “God” but do not acknowledge him they do not really know the God of the Bible. Even the Jews who worship the God of the Bible do not really know him if they missed Jesus as Messiah.
You can often talk about God, Jesus is far more offensive to the world.

Jesus explained the hatred the world would have for us so that we could be prepared, not discouraged.

v 26,27 truth comes from God and we are called to testify to that truth
Being warned of danger or hard things allows us to prepare. Think of storm warnings, the purpose isn’t so everyone can be scared and miserable that a storm is coming. The purpose is so you can be prepared for yourself, your family, maybe even strangers. You can have peace if you have food, water, and a safe place. You can even share that peace with others.

Jesus warning of hardships is to prepare us in the same way. We know it is coming. We can be ready and have peace and resources to share with others.
We can’t walk away from God when it’s hard because there is nowhere else to go.

Christian and Christianity face challenges in the United State, mainly in free speech and discrimination.

Around the world Christians face far more.

www.persecution.com run by Voice of the Martyrs has much quality and disturbing information. It's sometimes hard to learn about because how can we know of others suffering and do nothing? We must all do something they are our body, our brothers and sisters.

So what can we do?
1.       Pray for strength for those being persecuted2.       Ask “Am I willing to be Jesus disciple?”3.       Be grounded in God, his word and his body.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Counsel of the LORD

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.
                                           Proverbs 19:21  

LORD, I submit every thought in my heart to you for only your plans will last.

In our schooling we do a verse every week. On Friday we draw what we learned, what the verse means, whatever God puts on our hearts. They are quick sketches of an idea.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What About Halloween?

Well, this may be more risky that saying we don’t do Santa Claus - yet here I go!

To begin I am sharing what I know, what I do and why. I am not telling anyone else what they should do.

The Short Version: Be sure people can see Jesus in whatever you choose to do or not do for Halloween. Ask about each activity: Does God receive glory for this?


The Longer Version:
Through years of Christian radio programs, Christian school and a great church youth group I have gleaned information about the roots of Halloween and the reality of the occult.I would love to include a bibliography, but I don't have one. Maybe by next year. We Kids has a helpful article with links to more information.

Wyatt's Mountain
Halloween is a very old festival rooted in superstition at best and pure evil at its worst. The traditions of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating were devised in an attempt to protect people from the evils they believed to be most active on October 31. Some traditions come from ancestor worship, some from various forms of Satanism and Wicca (witchcraft). The hideous costumes were to blend in and not being recognized by the evil spirits believed to be about. The treats were gifts to the dead or the evil spirits so they would be nice to the household, not play any bad tricks. What we know as a jack-o-lantern was also to ward off evil spirits. There is also a legend of someone making a deal with the devil and then wandering forever with their jack-o-lantern lit by a coal from hell. Some cultures observed Halloween as a night for mayhem, anything goes. For some it is a night of sacrifice- produce, animal and even human sacrifice – to appease the spirits and their gods.

In light of such dark beginnings it’s not too hard to see why some decide to have nothing at all to do with Halloween.

I am all for redeeming things, bringing light to something dark. I do not believe that everything can be redeemed. By Jesus blood everyone can, but not every event or activity.

Karissa's Monkey
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs is a wonderful example of redeeming something that once was dark. Using a pumpkin as an object lesson it teaches about Salvation. God chooses us, cleans us up and gives us his love to share with everyone we meet. We carve pumpkins some years. We refer to the parable while we work on our creations and we carve whatever we want, nothing scary or gross.

We have chosen to not dress up for Halloween. My children can and do dress up for theme parties and for fun.

We do not go to any Halloween parties or haunted houses. The idea of intentionally going to get scared is quite strange to me. Jesus died to give us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. He conquered fear. Why would I invite it back into my life? Or give it permission to enter my children? The enemy is already a thief trying to steal, kill and destroy me and my family. Why help him out?

Wyatt's face
We live in an area where people do not come out trick-or-treating; it’s too far out, too cold and too dark. It sort of defeats the purpose of a costume if it’s under your snow suit! I have never had to decide what to do with people coming to my door. If I lived where people came to my door I would not hide. What I would do I can’t say for sure. I think I would have treats, be kind and find a way to share Jesus. My house sometimes has fall decorations, sometimes cheery carved pumpkins but no spiders, witches, bones, ghosts, etc.

Centuries ago the church attempted to redeem Halloween by declaring All Saints Day on November 1. If people are going to celebrate give them something worth celebrating. Martin Luther chose October 31 to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the church. This challenge to the church’s teaching contributed to the Reformation. Some hold Reformation Day celebrations teaching church history in a festival type setting. There are churches and groups today that choose to provide a God honoring alternative to Halloween, often called Fall Festivals or Harvest Parties. Kids do think its fun to dress up and get candy. There are many fun things to do. I grew up in a church that hosted a “Harvest Party” complete with haunted house. Doing all the same activities as Halloween under a different name is not really redeeming anything.

Maciah's Design
I know there are those who say “It’s just for fun”. Remember Satan is a thief, opportunistic. He doesn’t care if you meant anything by participating in his traditions. He’ll take it. In a way I think the “fun” as well as all the very cute ghosts and witches help feed the cultural idea that Satan and evil aren’t really real. What better way for Satan to operate? How much opposition are you going to have from people who think you don’t exist or at least are not a threat? If dressing scary or haunted houses are “just for fun” what’s to say that séances or Ouija boards aren’t? Satan is real, and though defeated, he still has power in this world.

I am cautious of the “not wanting to be left out” attitude. “Everyone is doing” it is a poor argument in any situation. Is this a reasoning you want your children to live by? We are called to be different, set apart. We can’t do that by looking and acting like them. I want to be living a life that leaves the world feeling left out; in a way that draws them to my loving God. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Promised Land – Part 4

Following the story of Moses and the Israelites to their Promised Land.

God gave Moses and Aaron a favor with Pharaoh, yet not favor that meant immediate gratification (v1). He had chosen and prepared Moses and Aaron for their roles in his deliverance of Israel. He is preparing me. I may be the Aaron rather than the Moses; the assistant, not the leader. I can rest in whatever role he calls me to because I know he is the one doing the work through me and it’s all for my good (Phil 1:6 and Romans 8:28)

Exodus 7
(1)  And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

God tells Moses again that Pharaoh will not cooperate. God has bigger plans than getting his people out of Egypt (v3-5). Egypt will know there is a God more powerful than all of their gods. They could choose to follow him. He has bigger plans than getting me out of my uncomfortable places as well. I pray people can come to know him because of how I come out of hard places, how I behave in hard places, too.

 (3)  And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
(4)  But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
(5)  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Here is another place I get a glimpse of an idealistic, rosy, wrong spot in my worldview. If God tells me to do a miracle and I do and it works – that would be the end of it. “See how great my God is! Now do what he says!” The heathens would be impressed, my job would be over. Oh not so. God gives Moses and Aaron very clear instructions (v9). He knows what Pharaoh is going to say. He prepares them to deal with the challenge. Pharaoh will ask for a miracle. God will provide. Pharaoh’s magicians do the same “trick”! By Satan’s power and God’s allowance they turn their sticks into snakes as well (v12). This would be quite disheartening I think. However God’s miracle eats Satan’s trick. This I like. I haven’t studied it but I imagine the sorcerer’s staffs were quite important in their divination and now they were gone. They were showing off and lost their sticks!

 (9)  When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.
(10)  And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
(11)  Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
(12)  For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

Pharaoh hardens his heart and Moses and Aaron are instructed to do another miracle, this one a judgment on Egypt. All the water in Egypt is turned to blood (v20-21). All the water had turned to blood, killed the fish and made a huge mess. Apparently it had cleared up and is back to water. Or they had found water that could have been used for people and animals to drink. However, Pharaoh calls the sorcerers again and they do the same thing (v22)! This is craziness. Even if they could why would they turn the water into blood? People will do foolish things, even to their own hurt to try to keep God’s plan from happening. People will do foolish things because of their pride. They may be trying to prove it could happen without God hoping to discourage you from believing the promises and calling he has given you.

 (20)  And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
(21)  And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
(22)  And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

Knowing God’s plan, even following God directions does not mean smooth sailing. In the past I would have said I knew that to be true. However as I was studying the journey to the Promised Land, and am now living a hard time I see I didn’t truly believe it. If I did I wouldn’t be surprised when things don’t work the way I hope they will, or when someone comes against my plans, plans I thought were God’s. I would not be so shaken and the time would not be so hard. I am thankful though. Now I will know my God better and be more prepared for the future. He is what I hold to, not His plans. The plans I thoughts were everything were just preparation for my future.

What is your view of God in hard times?

Do you know him well enough to run to him?

Do you know him well enough to rest in hard times? 

Promised Land – Part 1

Promised Land – Part 2

Promised Land - Part 3

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Broken Yet Fruitful

First Posted on KovesCove on July 10, 2011

I walk. I sing. I pray. “Let me see things as You do.”

This flower is broken. Its design has been destroyed.
And yet it is fruitful. So much more fruitful now, after brokenness.

"Let me be as fruitful out my my brokenness."
Brokenness need not be an ending. It may be a new begining.

What a good God to design fruitfulness from brokenness. These fireweed grow one tall stalk of flowers, yet when it is removed they do not give up. They produce even more.

Jesus was also broken. The origional design had been destroyed by sin. Jesus is now the firstborn of many. When the church is persecuted it grows faster and stronger.

May I be fruitful after brokenness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas is About Jesus: Virtual Birthday Party Day 2

Christmas is About Jesus: Virtual Birthday Party Day 2: Welcome to the Christmas is About Jesus Virtual Birthday Party! Yesterday was great. Check out Elaine Littau to see what you missed! T...

Love like Jesus

Pastor Paul
John 15:1-13
October 16, 2011
Just a thought - Look for what God is doing and thank him for it. There is always something to be thankful for.

“Jesus talking is good medicine.” John 15:1-13 is Jesus talking.
v12 “love one another as I have loved you” raises the bar from comparing how we love to any other person. Jesus himself is the standard.
John 3:16 shows how God extravagantly loves the world
Church should be a place where people experience God’s extravagant love.
Keep dreaming of doing great things with God. “Nobody gets to stop dreamin’.” God still has big plans.

v13 love puts others first – live in unconditional commitment to others
This brings up the question/fear “Who’s going to take care of me?”
Jesus is the answer. He is the vine. Stay connected and you are taken care of. Jesus modeled how it worked he says “like I do with the Father.”

God’s love stays consistent regardless of the response. When he calls us to love all that matters is that we obey, not the persons response to our love.
Loving like God, loving the unlovable, the different ruins your reputation with religion and culture. It builds your reputation with God, it builds the Kingdom. ( examples - Jesus loving the woman who washed his feet with her tears and the Samaritan woman)
Love may not be culturally correct, even in your family or church.
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. changed a culture by calling people to love. “Love is higher than like.” MLK Jr. Agape is redemptive

Love is not a feel good environment. There must be hate for sin, evil, and fear in order for there to be love.
Fear can keep us from truly loving. We fear pain. Pain is an opportunity for God to reveal his goodness.
When we fear change we often stay passive which leads to anger which leads to being toxic to ourselves and those round us.
We sometimes fear success, the responsibility it may bring, the expectations.
Everywhere there is fear is an area not fully connected to the vine.

Romans 8:31 Anti-victim passage – there are no victims in the Kingdom of God – More on this in Danny Silk’s message.
Romans 8:32 God graciously gives us all things
Romans 8:34 Jesus is praying for me
Romans 8:37 I am more than a conqueror

Hard times, difficult things are training for future assignments. What have you been trained for? What might you be in training for now?
Enjoy the seasons of difficulty. God turns every disadvantage to an advantage and opportunity for blessing.

My thoughts from worship: 
The fact that nothing can stand against us does not mean that nothing will try.

I when I am discouraged I need longer vision, eternal perspective. Looking at me is discouraging. It is empowering to look at God as he truly is.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Encouragement from Scriptures

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled.                         Romans 15:4

When I feel hopeless Father it is because I have forgotten your scriptures, filled with your promises. I will remember your Scriptures, have hope and be encouraged while I patiently wait for them to come to pass. Thank you. Your promises are true and being fulfilled.

Virtual Birthday Party for Christmas is About Jesus starts today! Follow the link for all the details!

Friday, October 14, 2011

In the Dark

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him: he hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 145:19

During our devotions on Friday we asked God to show us what he wanted to say to us through this verse. I got this picture. I felt like my family was all inside a very dark room. It’s sad, lonely, heavy, and confused.  There is a blinding light shining through the crack of the door. The light is frightening. It hurts our eyes. Yet as we gaze we know everything we are longing for is in the light. Intense warmth and comfort. Enlightenment. Understanding. Peace.
Unfortunately the door stayed closed. I don’t know if that means we have not opened it or something else or nothing at all. For myself I think I have not opened the door. My head knows all I need and long for is in the light, but my heart is afraid. I will continue to rest in what I know is true. This too will be shaped by his loving hands for my good. I will learn to know him more and bask in his light.

Thinking on this yesterday I had some more insights I wanted to share.

Inside the room is my perspective. Out in the light is God’s perspective, not limited by walls.
Jesus stands at the door and knocks and he will come in. Having Jesus in me, in my circumstances, in my dark room is good. 

However, I have to leave the room, step out into God’s light to be in Jesus – to be abiding. This is where I am going – abiding. Abiding in him, in his light.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughts for Authors: On to Production:

Thoughts for Authors: On to Production: Just yesterday I received an email from my publisher notifying me that within the next 10 business days I would hear about the production ...

Visit my authors blog to keep up on the process of my next book.

Looking Around in Pruning

Pastor Paul’s message on pruning was a challenging one. 

It is hard to look up and see that I do not know God like I think I do, or want to. I do not know him like I need to for this pruning to be as effective as I long for it to be. What makes it harder is knowing he has been calling me to more time with him, the intimacy I long for, yet I’ve neglected him in the everyday busyness and tasks.

Looking back can be “If only” and “Why didn’t I?” The “Why didn’t I?” can be helpful if I gain insight into changes to make. If it stays in discouragement the pruning will have to continue.

Looking inside is such a mess! Up and down. Hope and confusion. Seeing God and losing all focus.

Looking forward is hard right now, too. Sometimes I can’t see what it looks like at all. Other times I can see things far too large and distant to be helpful. Sometimes I look too far forward and I am missing what I need to be doing now. 

Still processing and choosing God's word above my feelings, harder sometimes than others. More successful sometimes than others also.

Are you going through pruning? Have you taken a good look around?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Be Encouraged by Pruning

Pastor Paul October 9, 2011
John 15:1-13

Getting to know Jesus is the joy, not the results or circumstances.
We will never totally know him so there will always be joy in getting to know him.
Focusing on actions or requirements kills relationship.
Marriage is a shadow of the intimacy God wants to have with us.
Phil 1:6 – It is God doing the work. He is the initiator, the source, the caretaker.
Stay in the vine – submit to the sovereignty of God.
Pruning is for branches that are producing fruit. It increases productivity.

The pruning process gives us an opportunity to examine things.

1)      Look BackPruning gives perspective to the past.
                Who is God? What was he doing?
2)      Look InPruning gives us insight into ourselves.
                Who am I? Why did I do this or that? Do I see through God’s eyes? Do I act like Jesus?
3)      Look UpPruning causes us to evaluate how we see God.
                How do I see God? Do I choose to let God’s word trump my experiences? Why do I sin?
4)      Look Forward Pruning is a great place to ask God for his plans for your future.
                All promotion starts with demotion – look at Joseph, King David, Apostle Paul, even Jesus – death is a pretty big demotion, but then look at where he was promoted to for eternity!

 Understanding God and who I am cuts pruning time – Being in what feels like a prolonged time of pruning – this hurts. 
v 3 “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
Holiness is a response to God’s love – never because I have found the right spiritual discipline.
We come to church to remember things we know are true.

Luke 18:9-14
I give him worship. He gives me truth.
Be humble before him. It makes the pruning easier.
Religion misses the heart of God and teaches others to miss it as well.
“Don’t make sandwiches Jesus didn’t order.” (What Martha was doing while Mary was listening to Jesus)
Putting your orders on others does not bring life.

Abide in Christ – humility, friendship
Other people’s opinions should not matter much.
What emotional state do you find yourself in when crisis strikes? – This one hurts, too.
Abiding shifts the emotional state to peace, hope, and courage.
Stop trying to live a Christian life and connect with Jesus.