Archive: August, 2010

He Loves Me, by Heidi Avery

At a much too early age I carefully select and unearth the truth telling daisy; I anxiously pluck its hope-filled petals to determine true love. I recall that first daisy, its resultant heartbreak and the many consecutive broken hearts that follow.

As I get older I stop consulting daisies and begin testing the source. Questioning. Measuring. Assessing. I need undeniable proof that I am loved. Situations naturally play themselves out in my relationships revealing questions and tell all answers.

If I cry and run off will he chase after me (he loves me) or will he just let me go? (he loves me not)

If I call for help will he charge in on his white horse and rescue me (he loves me) or will I be ignored? (he loves me not)

If I am hurt will he embrace and comfort me (he loves me) or will he not care at all? (he loves me not)

If I am judged and condemned will he stand valiantly up for me (he loves me) or will he reject me? (he loves me not)

The unfortunate time and energy spent on such desperate efforts is just woefully sad to me now. Not because I tried so hard and failed so mercilessly, but because I had not a single notion of what real love even looked like.

Yet, now from where I sit comfortably grounded in Christ I see and experience genuine love at its very best. There is no need for destroying daisies or getting out the microscope to analyze relationships. It’s written plainly and beautifully in God’s word for me to seek out and claim as my own. I find my pursuer there; my hero; my comforter; and my redeemer. (He loves me)

And, though that is more than enough He has blessed me abundantly with a loving husband who readily reflects every one of those godly characteristics. God, in His great loving kindness appointed my husband to be my personal defender; my protector, my preserver; and my friend. (He loves me indeed)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-21

Yard Sale-No Junk, By Kelli Zaniel

Yard Sale- No Junk; that’s how the ad reads. Treasured trinkets are pulled off shelves, thrown into boxes and arranged into piles. You name it, we got it. This yard sale has everything–household items, furniture, clothes, electronics, toys, purses, and shoes. The cluttered garage is standing room only. The driveway is smothered in a second hand mess. Let the sale begin!

Once 7:00 a.m. arrives so do the people. Treasure hunters are picking, pulling and pricing items. Adults and children alike grab wads of bills from their pockets in exchange for their prizes. Sacks of stuff are packaged up and hauled out. Old gifts are introduced to new homes.

Isn’t it funny how last weeks “best gift ever,” now qualifies for a yard sale? Once upon a time, my girls couldn’t live without Barbie’s new overpriced powder blue Camaro. Now, the outdated, barely used vehicle is being auctioned off for a dollar.

As I look over the mounds of loot I think, “Our lives are like an ongoing yard sale.” There are busy times and slow times. There are times that require sitting and times we need to move around. There are times we feel short-changed and times we get everything we hope for. There are times we feel like a big fat mess and times we are well-organized.

Like the unwanted items for sale, sometimes…we are broken and just need a little mending; we need someone to see our best side and realize we are actually useful; we need to shake off the dust so others can see the sparkling prize underneath; we pretend to be one thing when in reality we are something completely different; and sometimes we try to be like Barbie (with the right hair, right clothes and perfect body) because we think that’s the only way someone will love us.

When Jesus walks into the yard sale of our lives, He sees us as more than just a second hand mess. He sees us as his precious treasure. He thinks we are worth dying for. He heals us when we are broken. He powers us up when we have no juice left. He uses us when we feel unusable. He qualifies us when we are unqualified. He shields us from inclement weather. He is there in the beginning and helps clean up afterwards.

Jesus takes our dollar store life and turns it into a priceless inheritance.

“He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession,” James 1:18 (NLT).

Little Idols, Big Distractions, Kelli Zaniel

We are tempted by little gods everyday. They are attractive; alluring; captivating; and present. They are around every corner. They are a dime a dozen. They provide temporary satisfaction in a “get it quick” world.

Little gods are big distractions. They can be in the form of relationships, food, money and other material possessions. They are any person, place or thing that lures us away from an Almighty God. Sometimes, we even put our trust in them instead of our Heavenly Father.

When we serve God, we deny ourselves. When we serve idols (or “things”) we affirm ourselves.

“They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen,” (Rom. 1:25 NLT). In the Garden of Eden Satan spits out falsehoods about God. The King of Deception succeeds in persuading Eve she can serve the creation instead of the Creator. Her little god in that moment was food. Satan lures us in the same way. “This little god (whatever that is for you) will satisfy all your needs. You don’t need God. You are better off on your own,” the adversary taunts. How many times have we fallen for that one? What are little gods in your life right now?

Our God is a jealous God. He wants our complete attention. He wants our best, not our leftovers. He doesn’t want anything to distract us from relationship with Him. What could be distracting you from His presence today?

“Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God,” (Lev. 19:4 NLT).

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods,” (Deut. 5:8-11 NLT.

Adventures in Car Washing, Kelli Zaniel

I suppose a drive-through car wash is the “new lazy,” but for a mom it works. It is a win- win situation; a crowd pleaser. It serves as 3 minutes of pure joy for kids. For moms, it is 3 minutes we don’t have to worry about scrubbing dried cheerios off the floor or who’s coloring a new mural on the dining room wall. We can hit the pause button on our day, even if it is for a few short minutes.

On this particular day, this stressed out mom enters a car wash.

I hear the car lightly humming;

Brushes swooshing;

Soap bubbling; and

Water spraying.

The wheels of my car roll onto the ramp as I switch gears from drive to neutral. I take a deep breath, stretch out my legs, and lean back for a much needed break.

The conveyor device then moves the car along at an even pace. The overhead tubes sputter and spray watery soap over the car as it begins to move. Foamy bubbles smear themselves across the windshield making it impossible to see. The next several feet are uncertain. I know I am moving but my view is distorted. I hear the robotic arms cleaning and swishing but I cannot see them.

In the midst of a hair-pulling, stressed out day, God speaks. The Creator of Universe puts me into neutral for 3 precious moments. Everything else seems to fade away as I listen for His words.

God whispers, “I am in control, not you. You need to trust me.” He reminds me that when I try and control my circumstances, my circumstances usually end up controlling me. When I forget God is in control, things fall apart. I fall apart.

God is like the conveyor belt. He moves me safely through life’s obstacles even when I can’t see two feet in front of me. He controls the pace. He controls where my journey begins, where it ends and all the times in between.

When soapy bubbles block our view, will we trust God? When it’s our turn to pull forward onto the conveyor device, will we zip around it in our own strength instead? Or will we park our cars in neutral, take our hands off the wheel, and let God move us?

“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today,” Exodus 14:13 (NLT).

"The New, The Old and The Truth" by Heidi Avery

I get really excited about nearly anything “new.” And, this week I’m bubbling completely over with all kinds of new…

new crisp curriculum,

new anticipated school year,

new do-able routine,

new innovative methods (for said new routine),

and a brand spank’n new attitude!

Needless to say, I could hardly wait to dive right on into all of that shiny newness this morning. The day did not disappoint either, we all thoroughly enjoyed our first day of school and I do believe all that “new” will splash right on over into tomorrow and onto the rest of the week as well.

The only hard thing about all things new is that they eventually lose their luster and often much quicker than I like. Old, invariably inches away, slyly moves in and on a collision course heads straight for my new.

Ah, as with all new things in life the old marches in and a destined slow down in momentum results. I become a tired, weary mom short on patience and high on an attitude of the most unfavorable kind.

So, at the end of this unspoiled day I find myself pondering, what is and what is to be and how I might extend the sparkle on all this day-old “new” that I’ve got going on.

Ya know the reality of it is I can’t stop things from getting old. I also can’t keep from feeling tapped out, worn out and burned out. It’s going to happen and when it does I have a tendency to get discouraged, trip right over my own feet and fall head first, into the slimy pit of despair.

I hate the slimy pit of despair.

It stinks down there and my mind reels with negative, spirit crushing, failure reeking thoughts. I also hate that Satan is claiming victory over me while I’m in that dark abyss. He knows right where to poke me with that little fiery-pitch fork of his and it seems to work every time.

So, the question I must consider is not necessarily how to keep the “new” feeling new, but moreover how to best deal with the old when it comes around, as it surely will. I can counter the inevitable with some God-filled truths IF they are kept close to me at all times…

  • I am God’s girl (John 1:12)
  • My weaknesses = His strength (2 Cor. 12:9)
  • His loving kindness is new each day (Lam. 3:22,23)
  • My heart is guarded by His peace (Phil. 4:7)
  • His Word provides endurance, encouragement and eternal hope for me (Rom.15:4)

Father, maintain me, keep me new and alive with your truth coursing through me. I can handle anything because I am yours and you love me. My race is after you and my pace set by you. Let me not forget that this place is fleeting and know my desire above all things new is to magnify you in my every thought and in my every action. May you be glorified through me God.

"Date Night," by Kelli Zaniel

Fighting. Hair-pulling. Refereeing. Disciplining. That is the topic of conversation during date night. My husband and I sit Indian style around our leather ottoman a/k/a supper table. Chopsticks in hand, I describe the difficulty of my stay-at-home mom day. My husband says, “You need a little more patience.” Well girls I admit that statement went over like a lead balloon.

“More patient?” I scowl. By 4:00 p.m. patience is long gone never to be seen again until 8:00 a.m. the next morning.

My eyebrows crinkle together and my eyes squint. I convince myself I am a force to be reckoned with. I feel my heart beating and my blood pumping as frustration builds. I shout, “What do you mean, impatient? I have plenty of patience!” I storm away huffing and puffing cancelling date night indefinitely.

The next morning the word impatient slaps me awake like a bucket of cold water. That word stings. It hurts. It’s sort of true. My patience does run thin most days.

I decide to make a minor adjustment to the word. I only add an apostrophe but it changes everything!

Impatient; I’m-patient! That sounds better, don’t you think? This week I am committed to turning my impatient into I’m-patient!

Power Verses:

“They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience,” Titus 2:2 (NLT).
“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need,” Col. 1:11 (NLT).
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Gal. 5:22 (NLT).

Please go to author and speaker Mary Demuth’s website and read “Learn it Looking Backwards.”

"Believe," By Kelli Zaniel

When your storm is raging,
Believe Jesus will calm it.
When you feel lost,
Believe He knows where to find you.
When you can’t see in front of you,
Believe He has prepared a way for you.
When you feel alone,
Believe God is with you wherever you go.
If you think He has forgotten you,
Believe He never could.
When you feel like giving in,
Believe He will never give up.
When you can’t breathe,
Believe He will give you breath.
When you turn your back on Him,
Believe you can always return to Him.
When tears bubble over and stream down your face,
Believe He will wipe them away.
When you feel as if you have no friends,
Believe you will always have one in Jesus.
When you seek Him,
Believe you will find Him.
When you feel weak,
Believe He will make you strong.
When you feel insignificant,
Believe He makes you significant.
When you feel you have no strength left,
Believe the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to you.
When you rewind the past,
Believe He wants you to forget the former things.
When you feel cast aside,
Believe you are hand-picked by God.

"Your Trash for His Treasure" by Kelli Zaniel

Let me introduce you to a scruffy little thing I like to call guilt. As the letters roll off my tongue and over my lips, I can hear a courtroom judge shouting with authority, “Guilty as charged!” as the gavel explodes across the desk.

Guilt pulls the rug out from under us. It is not a friend but a foe. It masks its cruel intentions with an angel-like smile. It is an invisible abductor that never seems to loosen its grip.

Guilt wants a piggy back ride into our lives. It hops on our shoulders and kicks its legs until it shoves us to the ground begging for mercy. Guilt has no mercy. The extra weight is overwhelming. Sometimes, it weighs us down so much that we don’t get back up.

Slung over my back I have a sack full of regret that has been stuffed and overstuffed through the years. It overflows with so much guilt (from abusive relationships, divorce and attempted suicide) that it rips and tears until the bottom is so vulnerable it cannot withstand the pressure. I keep pushing and shoving the trash downward to make room for more.

I drag this sack soaked with sin around for years until one day I loosen and untie it. Once the bag opens and the stink releases, I lay it at the foot of the cross. I don’t just lay my sin there. I lay all of me there. I deny myself there.

I am tired of me. I want more of Him. I realize I must lay down more of “ME” in order to pick up more of “HIM.”

I look up. As tears burst onto my face, I can finally see my sin dangling from that old rugged cross. Sin that was forgiven the minute the nails pierced through the hands and feet of my Jesus. Sin that will forever stick to the blood stained beams. Sin that will be set free because of what Jesus did at Calvary.

There is nothing you or I could ever do to make the Creator of the Universe stop loving us.

There is no spot that can’t be scrubbed clean by the blood of Jesus. He is enough. His grace is sufficient. His strength makes us stronger.

So unpack your overstuffed bag girls and leave it at the foot of the cross. Jesus is ready to take out your trash and replace it with His treasure.
He is worth it; and He thinks we are too!

He took our sin away by nailing them it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

"She," by Kelli Zaniel

She stands in the shadows. Her dark sky is now a different shade of gray. She stands alone as nighttime swirls around her. It snaps back at her. She hears chains of guilt rattling behind her.

Shame befriends her. It smudges itself on her. It fans the flames around her.

She feels as if the word “GUILTY” is glued to her pink t-shirt. It is one-size fits all.

A gigantic letter “G” positions itself front and center, visible to everyone. People on the street, as well as people in the pews, point their judgmental fingers at her shaking them from side to side as if they know better. It sticks like tar and doesn’t rub off. Seemingly, it fits well.

This cardboard sign of shame is unattractive. It makes her feel dirty. It makes her feel vulnerable.

Is this sticky label of guilt strung around her neck to serve as an excruciating reminder of all the things she did wrong? Things she didn’t do? Things she should have done?

An empty world brands her with permanent tattoos that sting. She is labeled as, less than; not good enough; worthless; expendable; and insignificant.

Does “She” sound familiar? Have you ever been She?”

She is a woman just like you and me. She is a woman learning how to choose faith instead of fear. She is allowing God to change a painful past into a promising future. She is becoming the woman God designed her to be.

In the midst of her pain, she doesn’t give up. She allows Jesus to flip over her ordinary cardboard label tied with her ordinary string. Jesus turns her “G” for guilty, into a “G” for grace. He turns her mess-up into a do-over. She is no longer typical but rare.

She is now secure, stink-free, forgiven and significant in the eyes of her maker.
She is redeemed.
She is set free.
She is a member of God’s precious girl’s club forever.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NLT).

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