Archive: August, 2010

"Peace" by Heidi Avery

Have you ever worried about something? You know one of those “things” that may or may not be worth worrying about. I have. I have spent much time letting potentially life changing scenarios play out vividly in my mind. I’ve lost needed sleep dwelling on what “might” happen and how my world “could” be affected.
Recently, I went in to have a suspicious looking mole removed from my arm. The doctor said it did look concerning and that in two weeks we would get the results. He said it could be a problem or it could be just fine, a 50-50 chance.

I prayed Lord, give me peace to endure the waiting without worry.
Honestly, I did not think of it (much) the entire two weeks, but when they came to an end I called the doctors office for the results. The nurse said that the results did come back, but the doctor sent it out again for a second opinion. She said she would call me with the results in the next two days.
Again, I prayed that anxious feelings would not overtake me.
The two days went by and I did not hear from the nurse. The next day was a Friday and I decided to call only to find that the office is closed on Fridays.
Lord, you have brought me this far and given me peace, I can wait the weekend.
Today, I called the office for the results and was told to wait for the nurse to call me back again… more waiting. Finally, the phone rings this afternoon and she says what I want to hear “the results are normal.”
Jesus, thank you.
This is a victory for me. So often in situations like this I am overwhelmed with worry. My fear and apprehension carry me away from the Lord instead of into His protective cover. But, this time was different I left my concerns with Him as I am instructed to do and my soul waited in quiet tranquility. I trusted Him, believing that know matter what the results He would still be in control. He would still have a plan for me. He would still take care of me and because of those truths I had peace.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

Praying for Your Family, Kelli Zaniel

We need to pray with our families as a family. I am sure that many families rarely participate in activities together, but rather focus their time on TV, or the Computer or even agendas that are different than each other. When we forfeit this privilege to pray with our families for our families, both parents and children lack unity from God through prayer.
As a family, we should pray more than at a meal or bedtime. When your child is disobedient or rebellious, it is a perfect time to pray with them asking God to help them to be faithful to His word in honoring you, their parent.
Or if you have sinned in your anger, it is completely okay to ask them to pray with you as you confess your sin against them or a spouse so they can see your true humility (I’ve already done this today). This is when children truly see prayer as a part of faith and not just a ritual done at dinner time or bedtime, it will also encourage them when they see that you are in need of God’s help for obedience.

Be sure to teach the families to pray all together – father, mother and children. For the family that prays together stays together, and if they stay together they will love one another as Jesus loves each one of them…I will be praying that the Lord will bring peace into the world through the love of fathers for their families… Mother Teresa

John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

And the Winner of the two Beth Moore Tickets is…

Stephanie Rico!

But we appreciate you Christa, Deborah, Dori and Dawna for commenting on our blog so much that you will each get one free ticket! I will send an email to each of you today to find out how to collect your tickets!

HAPPY FRIDAY!

"Jean" by Heidi Avery

Right away my eyes fall on her. I saw her just two days earlier sitting unaccompanied in almost the very same way, but in front of another building nearby.

Tonight, during my 9pm grocery run I find her settled on the cold, black metal bench in front of my store. I pull into my parking space, but before getting out I take a moment to observe her from afar and to ask God to lead me.

She is small and appears well dressed in a long, thin, black, leather coat. I can see a wispy white scarf peaking out from beneath her jacket collar. Her hair, a perfect match for the scarf is very neatly pulled up and back revealing her 60 something features. Beside her sits a large piece of luggage with several bags hanging from it.

I get out and walk slowly towards her, trying to meet her eyes, but she does not look my direction. She sits so very still, completely unmoved by the world passing her by. She is not waiting, she merely exists and what I sense more than that is her trying desperately to fade, unnoticed into the red-brick walled background behind her.

I walk past.

My shopping is supernaturally interrupted with thoughts of this lonely woman and I know I must speak to her. Gathering my last few items I race to checkout and pray that she’ll still be there. I push – shove my cart of groceries and peer outside the door to find her right where I left her as if frozen in time. With only confidence sent from God I say hello and introduce myself.

She tells me her name is Jean.

After a few moments I comfortably take the seat next to her and fix on her bright, blue eyes I listen as she shares a piece of her life story. And, in the end, I ask Jean if she knows the Lord and sadly she does not.

I’ll be honest… I fumbled it… I should have told her that God loves her and he knows her name, but I did not. I told her I would pray, gave her all the money in my purse and left.

Discouraged, I drive away and promptly ask God for a divine “do-over” and then I am reminded…

5 years ago, I would not have even noticed Jean.

2 years ago I would have noticed her, but done nothing.

Today… I see her, sit with her, hear her and show her the Love of Jesus.

And, I praise His name for progress.

“I tell you the truth whatever you have done for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it for Me.” Matthew 25:40

"Itsy Bitsy Spider" Kelli Zaniel

It is 5:00 a.m. when I hear the commotion from across the house. I hear a thud, footsteps and a high-pitched shriek that could wake a neighborhood. Panic filters through the air. I spring out from underneath the covers and race to the next room in under five seconds flat. Wiping Mr. Sandman away from the corner of my eye I say in a very groggy voice, “What’s wrong?” “Has someone broken in?” Sheer panic grips my five year olds face as she points out the assailant.

My eyes begin to focus and I see it. There it is in all its glory. The trouble-maker, the robber of my sleep, eight hairy legs and all. I spot it lounging on a pink and white gingham bean bag. Seemingly, the spider is calm and obviously not in any hurry. He appears to enjoy the mayhem he is causing.

The showdown begins. Toilet paper in hand, I creep in closer. I move to the right. He crawls left. I dive left. He darts right. He prevails and is now under the bed hiding behind a naked, headless Barbie. He escapes his first (and most certainly not the last) close call of the day.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (MSG).

Little creepy crawly spiders dart into my life every day. They might not look like your average neighborhood spider but they cause distress and mayhem in the same way. They may interrupt our day, rob us of much deserved rest and steal our spiritual joy all in one fail webby swoop. However, our reaction will determine if WE are the ones scurrying underneath the bed or them.

These inconvenient creatures spin a web of distraction around me pushing me off balance. For me these creatures look like…


plunging a toilet bowl for the tenth time in one day,
wiping poo poo off the bottom of a brand new shoe,
not fitting into a pair of pants you wore two weeks ago that weren’t even tight at all, or
pulling bubble gum out of your favorite hair brush.

When the creepy crawlies find their way into the wide open spaces of your day, remember that God is ahead of you, beside you, above you and behind you. He is going ahead of you to rid your path of the big bad spiders that may have destruction on their mind. If we can’t be courageous in the small things, then how can we ever be brave in the big ones?

"In the Darkness" by Heidi Avery

When my husband travels for work my feeling of safety promptly packs its bags and goes right along with him. Nighttime thrusts me into the wanting arms of despair where I find myself acutely aware of my alone-ness and in complete fear of the darkness.

Did you know that the amount of time that passes from the moment the bottom of the sun kisses the horizon until the top of the sun bids its daytime farewell is less than 5 short minutes?

It is in that time that I am awakened to the opportunities for elusively lurking evil, lingering and waiting in the hidden corners made available by the moon-lit night.

I shrink in the darkness.

When the kids are tucked away in their beds, the TV is off and the lights are out I cannot keep from foreboding what trouble may lie ahead in the coming hours of the night.

The quiet of my room is faithfully interrupted by distant, yet eerily close sounds from unknown origins. As my eyes adjust from pitch black to subtle shades of grays I cannot avoid the mysterious movement of shadows dancing randomly, yet methodically against the crevices of my bedroom windows and walls.

My heart pounds loudly and painfully at my chest as if to escape me in an effort to avoid the on-coming thoughts of the source behind the dancing shadows.

I expect evil in the darkness.

My mind enters the threshold of dark spiritual and worldly possibilities and it sometimes stays there a bit too long.

However, the Holy Spirit, even more faithful than the rising and setting sun, ushers my mind into a super-natural light, fueled by truth that comforts my shaken soul. It sweetly plays the song of Psalm 23:4 on my heart…

 “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.”

I find Him in the darkness.

Conviction overtakes me as I recall the demon-possessed boy’s father in Mark 9. I am like that father, in my fear asking Jesus to have mercy on me and to help me if He can.

He questions me in this desperate moment… “if I can?” He reminds me… “Anything is possible for him who believes!” And I cry out just like that father… again and again… “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

Though dark valleys do call, at night or by passing trial,

I sense your protection, your comfort and your presence with me all the while.

Satan’s fortune is that my distress would deplete and devour me, But my anguish elicits Your being and evil claims no victory.

I trust you my Father, I beg you… increase my faith,

I do believe, you know my heart, cure me, no… save me from my unbelief!

 

"Did God Really Say That?" Kelli Zaniel

Why is a lie so much easier to believe than the truth? Why do I fall victim to the slippery, slithering hisses of the devil? Dishonesty, unreliability and uncertainty are his weapons of choice.

Eve knows a little something about deception. The devil slithers into her life and chokes her with the first lie ever told. “Did God really say that?” he taunts. At this pivotal moment in the Garden of Eden, the King of Deception twists God’s words around in order to cast doubt on God’s goodness (see Genesis 3). The lie looks, tastes and smells too good for a girl to pass up.

“You won’t really die if you eat this fruit,” the devil says. The subtle whispers of temptation into Eve’s unsuspecting ear, gives the devil room to strike. He then capitalizes on Eve’s uncertainty by diverting her attention to the prize instead of the penalty. She is convinced. She is lured in by temporary satisfaction. She is deceived into believing the worst about God.
I am ordinary. I am just like Eve. Why would I think I am immune to the devil’s venomous sprays of poison into my own life? Do you see patterns in your life where the cunning snake suffocates you?

Constricts you?

Misleads you?

Lies to you?

Tricks you? Into believing you are under his spell?

When insecurity brushes my face, uncertainty snaps its fingers and insignificance beats on my door, I WILL remember God’s Words. I will reach for MY weapons of choice. What are your weapons of choice going to be the next time the adversary comes slithering by you?

If we spot Satan sliding across our alarm clock when it is time to wake up with Jesus, lurking around our T.V. set when there’s a program on we shouldn’t watch, switching to strike pose when we are tempted to scream at the child using a toilet plunger as a cup, there are two things we must say. “No thank you snake, I refuse to acknowledge you today.” “I will not be bitten or defeated by you so please just go away.”

So, Armor up girls because today maybe hard. There might be some unexpected bumps in your daily routine. The serpant may slither in through a door of opportunity when you least expect it. When you feel overwhelmed, insecure or hurt, just remember Satan is just a legless lizard that has no power over you!

“I am redeemed” (Col. 1:14); God never forgets about me because My name is written on the palm of His hand (see Is. 49:16); He knows me because He calls me by name (see Is. 43:1); I am God’s girl (see John 1:12); I am the servant girl God turned into a princess.

"Living it Outloud," Kelli Zaniel

Are we really living God’s Word out loud? James 1:22 tells us, “Don’t just listen to God’s Word, but do what it says.” I want to use words if only necessary. I want my actions to speak louder than words. I want my reactions to be reflective of Jesus in my life.

Living the Bible out loud illustrates a life that is defined by the love and power of a Holy God. It is a testimony of God’s river of love flowing through us and splashing out onto others close enough to be touched by it. It shows the ordinary passerby that God’s word is not only hidden in our hearts but overflowing from our hearts.

I heard one of the most inspirational stories last night. My mother-in-law’s sprinkler system required immediate attention and repair. A Christian man came to her home and replaced the damaged sprinkler heads. As he turned to leave, she asked, “How much will that cost?” The godly man replied, I never charge widows for services rendered.” Scratching her head in amazement she graciously thanked him as he drove away.

Two awesome verses come to mind.

•“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27) and

•“Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God” (1 Timothy 5:3-4).

These books of the Bible are two of my favorite. They give practical advice for living the Christian life. They are convicting. They are hard. They are transforming.

God pauses for us as we turn the pages of our Bible. He pauses long enough to interrupt the wealth of worldly wisdom we have tangled in our hearts. He then rearranges and replaces it with His godly wisdom, peace and perspective.

This story is an awesome example of one man who faithfully read God’s Word, allowed it to saturate his life and followed through by doing what it instructed.

How perfect that God would reveal himself in the midst of a mundane task such as changing sprinkler heads for a stranger. Whether a gentle whisper, claps of thunder or just an ordinary man living the Bible out loud– God speaks.
God, I want to be more like you. I want your desires to be mine. Please give me the boldness to live your transforming Words out loud. Amen.
(Elaine, I see Jesus in you. Love you.)

"Misplaced," By Kelli Zaniel

Recently, I misplaced a child. My mischievous two yr. old and her counterpart, Biscuit the dog, charged the fence and managed to escape into the front yard. I trembled as I spotted the two leaping from grass to pavement. My screams from the backyard put a wrench in their plans to travel the unknown.

I immediately felt fear, loss, disconnection, guilt and sorrow.

This feeling of misplacement with a child must be how God feels when we journey away from Him. One minute we are on our knees in relationship with Him and the next we are missing in action. One minute we are seeing Him and the next we are blind to Him. One minute we are holding on to Him and the next we have fallen out of His arms.

Fear;

Loss;

Disconnection;

Guilt; and

Sorrow– are all feelings we should experience when we leave our first love, Jesus. He does not want us to wander away from intimacy with Him. He wants to know where we are at all times; and He wants us to know where He is at all times.

He pursues us. He does not want us to miss out on a vibrant love-relationship with Him.

“Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies,” Malachi 3:7 (New Living Translation).

"Notice Me" by Kelli Zaniel

Do you ever feel invisible? Have you ever asked the question, “Does anyone ever notice me?”

Sorting laundry;

Wiping noses;

Unclogging drains; and

Wal-Mart trips.

Is all my hard work in vain? Does anyone notice? Yes, sweet sisters, God notices you.

He notices our patience when someone brakes in line. He notices when we want to yell but instead keep our mouths closed. He notices when we want to give up but keep going instead.

He notices the days we might not feel like being God’s girls. He notices when we turn off a T.V. show to spend time with Him. He notices when we lay down our baggage and pick up our cross.

God is mindful. God is near. God cares about you.

He pays attention. He sees when we are living for Him. He notices when we are standing at a distance. He knows when we need a little discipline.

He knows what we need when we need it.
The Creator of the Universe is head over heels in love with you. He is armored up and ready to defend you. He is personally involved in his perfect creation.

GOD, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
(Psalm 139:1-3, The Message Translation)

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