Make a Wish

Make a

Guess what.  Today (Monday, 3/19) is my birthday.  Yup, in the wee hours of the morning, I turned 41 years old.  That's still young, right?  (And for those of you who may be wondering, yes, I have chocolate cake, and yes, it's very good!)

Anyway, as I thought and prayed about what to write this morning, I settled on a variation of an idea that I've had for a while.  I've been putting it off because it's one of "those" posts.  You know, the kind that comes across a bit negative and needy.  I don't like those, but I do feel this is what the Lord wants me to share today, so who am I to argue?

It is customary to make a wish before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake.  So, I thought you might want to know what I wished for.  It is, in fact, something I've been praying about for a few years now, and I admit, on the surface, it sounds selfish, but if you'll hear me out, I think you'll understand where I'm coming from.

My wish/prayer request is that I could make enough money through my writing and speaking that Jason (my husband) could stay home full-time.  What would that accomplish?  For starters, it would allow me to have MUCH more time to invest in the ministry.  More time to study.  More time to write.  More time to grow the ministry and add on other areas, like bringing back weekly videos and such.  Of course, more time means more material in the forms of devotions, books, videos, Bible studies and the like.  More material would lead to reaching more people and encouraging more lives around the globe.  On the personal side, with Jason home, he could take care of the day-to-day needs of the household such as cooking (which he loves to do), cleaning (which he could do more thoroughly because my health issues hinder me), maintenance (which he actually enjoys most of the time), errands, dog training/walking, and more.  Not to mention, he is willing and interested in becoming my video editor, which would take another load off my mind and another task off my plate.

Currently, my time is divided between housework, cooking, errands, bill management, dog training and walking, church obligations (as both pianist and Sunday School teacher), and ministry demands.  And trying to accomplish all of this each week with my chronic health issues definitely takes a toll on my body, mind, and spirit.  I've tried to cut back, but the truth is, when it comes to ministering to others, I don't want to cut back.  I want to give more.  But the only way that will be possible is if I can have more time and energy to devote to it.  Hence, my wish/prayer for Jason to "work" from home.  (And, in case you're wondering, Jason loves the idea and is praying for it just as fervently as I am.)

Why did I tell you all of this?  Because you can help make my wish come true.  How?  I'll tell you, but first, let me share with you a popular account from the Bible.

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 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. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 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. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
— Exodus 17:8-13

You're familiar with the story, right?  As long as Moses held his staff in the air, Israel prevailed.  But after hours of battle, Moses grew weary.  Who wouldn't?  So, Aaron and Hur hatched a plan.  They stood on either side of Moses and held up his hands for him.  Notice, they didn't hold the staff.  They didn't take turns holding it.  No, Moses had to be the one holding the staff, but they were called to aid him.

Now, I don't claim to be Moses, but I am trying to hold up a staff, so to speak, and at times, it's wearying.  You may not be able to write, speak, or teach, but you can do like Aaron and Hur and support those who can.  You don't have to do the work yourself.  That may not be your gift or calling, but everyone can lend a helping hand from time to time, right?

So, how can you be an Aaron or Hur for this ministry?  How can you support the work I'm trying to do?  What part can you play in making sure this ministry prevails despite opposition from the world and other hindrances?  I'm glad you asked.

  1. Donate financially. - You've heard the saying it takes money to make money.  Well, the truth is, it takes money to do just about anything these days, and reaching souls is no different.  Through this ministry, I offer a lot of free services such as daily devotions, Bible study videos and more, but I assure you, it costs money and time to create each of these things.  There are web fees, production costs, shipping fees and so much more.  You can help offset some of these costs by making a one-time donation or becoming a monthly patron.  Visit my website page here for more details.
  2. Purchase my products. - I have books and Bible studies available for purchase on my website, as well as in online bookstores such as Amazon.  If you're not a reader, maybe you know someone who is and you could buy a book as a gift for them.  Not only do purchases earn me money, but they also increase my rankings and visibility online, which means more people will have the opportunity to see what I have to offer.
  3. Share with others. - In this age of social media and online efficiency, we have the opportunity to influence others by what we share.  You can bring visibility to my ministry by sharing my daily devotions via social media or email.  You can increase sales and help someone in need by pointing them to or gifting them one of my books. (For example, if you know someone suffering from anxiety or depression, point them to my website, Word of mouth is still the best advertising!
  4. Pray. - Last, but certainly not least, you can pray for me and the ministry.  Pray that God would give me the health to do what needs to be done.  Pray that He would give me the wisdom to discern His will for each area of the ministry.  Pray that He would use the words He gives me to comfort hearts and draw others closer to Him.  Pray that the ministry would expand to reach more and more souls for Him.  Pray that God would provide the funds for my wish to come true if it is His will.  Just pray.  It doesn't have to be long or eloquent.  God knows the need, but powerful things happen when we pray.  And this is something anyone can do, right?

So, there you have it--my birthday wish.  I know many of you are already doing your part to strengthen me and advance the ministry.  Many of you are contributing both financially and prayerfully while also purchasing my products and sharing my work with others.  Let me say, I cannot thank you enough!  The ministry would not be where it is today without your valiant efforts.  As for the rest of you, I don't know what may be holding you back.  Perhaps you're afraid to get involved, or maybe you feel that your small donation wouldn't make a difference.  But, I ask you to remember this--Moses was only able to do what he did because people were willing to step up and assist him.  And all of Israel was affected, both when Moses succeeded and when he faltered.

This ministry is not about me.  It's about God.  It's about spreading the light of His Word into the far reaches of this cold, dark world.  It's about reaching souls for Christ and drawing believers into a closer relationship with the Lord.  It's about taking old truths and teaching others how those truths still apply to our lives today.  It's about hope, encouragement, and comfort.  I aim to continue this work for as long as the Lord will allow me.  All I'm asking is that you prayerfully consider what you could do to support this work.

Birthday cake, anyone?

Why Are You Here?

Why Are You Here?

In preparation for working on a new book, I've been doing some in-depth research into the lives of the Bethany siblings:  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  While the Bible doesn't give us a lot of information about these three, there is much we can glean from their encounters with Christ.

One of my favorite accounts is found in Luke 10.  The siblings invite Jesus to their home for dinner, but while Mary and Lazarus are sitting at Jesus' feet (at least, we assume Lazarus was there), Martha was busy in the kitchen.  You know the story.  Martha gets fed up with being the only one working and marches herself out to Jesus, demanding that He tell Mary to help her.  Oh, Martha!  Isn't it ironic how fussy and bossy we become when we feel we're being mistreated? But that's a lesson for another day.

Today, I want to focus on Mary.  According to Jesus, Mary had chosen the good part.  While Martha was busy serving (which is good), Mary was busy seeking.  While Martha was in a tizzy, Mary was at peace.  While Martha was spending time with her own bitter thoughts, Mary was spending time with her Lord and Savior.  The good part?  I'd say so.

But, I want you to notice specifically what Mary was doing.  Yes, she was spending time with Jesus, but it was more than that.  She was listening.  

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
— Luke 10:39

She heard His word.  She wasn't peppering Him with questions or requests.  She wasn't explaining to Him how He should answer her prayers or run the world.  She wasn't reciting a list of woes. From what we can tell from Scripture, she didn't say anything--not even to defend herself against her sister's angry outbursts.  Nope, she listened.  She took it all in.  She meditated on what the Lord was saying.

Do we do the same, or is our time with God mostly filled with our own voice?  Yes, God wants us to talk to Him.  Yes, He wants to hear our requests.  And yes, He even wants us to voice our complaints.  But that's where we often stop.  We have our say, then get up and start our day, wondering why we don't feel more spiritual and peaceful.  Is it any wonder?  We never gave the Lord an opportunity to speak to our hearts.  We never allowed Him the time to respond to our requests or complaints.  While we poured out our hearts, did we give Him the chance to pour out His?

As I thought about this principle this morning, I was convicted.  Many times, I turn my quiet time with God into a Mary/Martha hybrid.  I sit at His feet, but all the while, my Martha-brain is spinning and giving directions. . . even to God Himself.  Somehow I manage to merge the good part of spending time with God with the not-so-good spirit of bitterness and impatience.  I have my say and go on my way, failing to allow the Lord to speak to my heart and to truly work in me.  The only "quiet" during my quiet time is God because I don't stop talking long enough for Him to get a word in.

With this revelation, I am making a goal to speak less and listen more, especially in my still time with God.  After all, isn't what He has to say more important than what's on my mind?  Without a doubt.  

Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears!

Table For One

Table for

I despise eating alone.  Whether it be in a restaurant or even in my own home, there's something depressing to me about sitting at a table by myself.  Maybe that's why I eat in front of the television when I'm alone.  Jason is the same way, and from what I've heard, many others agree.

Isn't it odd, then, that some of us excel at throwing pity parties?  After all, a pity party is nothing less than a party for one where we sit in solitude and wallow in self-pity.  Nobody likes me.  Things aren't going my way.  Life is so hard.  Why me?  It's a sad scene.  Who wants to attend a party without balloons, streamers, presents or cake?  Furthermore, who, in their right mind, would want to be the sole guest at the party?  Nobody, right?  Yet, this is what we're doing when we allow our minds to wander down paths they have no business traveling.

Pity parties magnify our troubles by rehearsing them over and over again in our minds.  They seclude us from friends and family who are willing and able to lend a hand or give a hug.  They fool us into thinking no one cares and that we're walking this path all alone.  But worst of all, pity parties turn our eyes toward ourselves instead of our Savior, blinding us to the truths of His Word.

God never intended us to be alone.  In fact, we never are.  He is always with us, even when we fail to see Him.  He doesn't want us to face our struggles on our own, but rather He longs for us to call on Him, to lean on Him for strength and help.  

Are you weary today?  Has discouragement gotten you down?  If so, forget about the pity party.  It solves nothing and only leads to deeper despair.  Instead, go to God.  Speak His name.  Read His Word.  Claim His promises.  Not only will your spirit lift, but you'll finally recognize you're not alone.  And that, my friend, is better than party cake!

Table for one?  Not me.  I have Somebody with me all the way, every day.

And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
— Deuteronomy 31:8

Striving To Earn Favor

Striving To Earn
So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands.
— Psalm 78:72

I love this verse.  It speaks to my heart about the goodness and provision of God.  He feeds.  He guides.  Yes, that's my God.  But it's how He feeds and guides that makes this verse so special. 

He fed them according to the integrity of His heart.  Not the integrity of their hearts.  Not according to their faithfulness or obedience because, if that were the case, they would have starved.  God didn't feed them because they were good, holy or worthy.  He fed them because they were His people, and He watches out for His own.  After all, the very definition of "integrity" is "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles."  Moral.  Ethical.  Fair.  Right.  Because God is all of these things, the people never went hungry.

As if that weren't enough to give us glory bumps, the verse goes on to tell us that God guided them by the skilfulness of His hand.  Again, not the skilfulness of their hands.  It didn't matter what they did or didn't do for God.  He was faithful to guide them.  When they needed correction, He gave it, but not once did He leave them alone to find their own way.  He led.  He guided.  He directed.  He made sure they knew where they were going and how to get there.  Why?  Because God is good.

Sometimes, I think we, as Christians, seek to find favor with God based on our own integrity or skilfulness.  We seek His approval by our good works and our ongoing service to Him.  Whether we're trying to earn His love or simply prove ourselves to Him, I'm not sure, but we tend to view our relationship with Christ as one based on performance.  The truth is, when we received Christ as Lord of our lives, we were accepted.  God cannot love us any more or any less.  And while we may do or say things that please or displease our Father, we do not need to strive to earn His favor.  We have it!  Yes, God wants us to serve Him, but more than that, He wants us to love Him and spend time with Him.

He also wants us to remember that His faithfulness and provision are dependent on His nature, not ours.  He blesses us according to His integrity and skilfulness.  And when we rest in that, we're sure to find more peace and less striving for acceptance.  God loves us and will always work on our behalf.  There's no doubt about it!

We All Fall Down, But Then What?

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy_ when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me..jpg

Barnabas has a new favorite toy. It's a Kong, which is a food-dispensing toy designed to do three things:

  1. Make the dog work for his/her food, which instills a sense of pride and confidence.
  2. Slow down the dog's intake of food, which allows proper digestion.
  3. Engage the dog both mentally and physically.

At this point, Barnabas has three Kongs.  The first one is a long, narrow tube with a hole in one end.  Because of its design, there aren't many options to get creative with it, so we basically fill it with food and stick a treat in the end to block up the hole.  As soon as Barnabas gets it, he pulls the treat out and eats it.  Then, he has the Kong figured out and realizes all he has to do is hold the Kong at the proper angle, and the food falls out.  Smart dog!

The second Kong is a classic one, which means we can stuff it with a variety of foods and treats and can even freeze the contents to make the process trickier for the dog.  At first, this kept Barnabas busy for a while as he fought to free the food, but anymore, he's done within ten minutes.  Still, he loves the thing.

But his favorite is the newest addition to our Kong family--the Wobble Kong.  Shaped a bit like a bee-hive, this interactive food-dispenser is weighted on the bottom, which makes it unstable (hence the wobble).  The more Barnabas tries to dispense the food, the more the Kong dances about the room.  It wiggles.  It wobbles.  It falls down.  It rolls on its side.  And I've even noticed that sometimes it will fall and lie on its side for a while until Barnabas bats at it again, and suddenly, it bounces right back up again.  This new toy prolongs mealtime and usually exhausts Barnabas (a win-win for me!).  Not to mention, it's great fun to watch.

Sometimes I feel like that Wobble Kong, dancing about from here to there, not sure where I'll end up or even if I'll be upright once I arrive.  I, too, fall down repeatedly and often seem to lie there for long periods of time, wondering how I ended up here and what to do next.  I, too, have been swept away, batted and spun around to the point where I feared I'd never be able to get up again.  

But you know what?  Just like that Kong, somehow I always manage to regain my balance.  And when I say "somehow," I mean by God's grace.  Yes, even when I'm down, I'm not out.  Why?  Because God still has work for me to do.  He still has a plan for my life.  And being the loving Father and Friend He is, He cares enough about me to help me up when I don't have the strength to get up on my own.  He refuses to let me stay down!  And if you're His child, He refuses to allow you to stay down as well.  He's right there with you, offering His strength.  Let Him set you right with His steady hand.  Yes, you may fall down again, but praise God, no matter how many times you do, God will always be there to lift you up!

The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
— Psalm 145:14
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
— Proverbs 24:16
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
— Psalm 37:23-24
Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.
— Micah 7:8