Archive: October, 2010

This Little Light…

God has brought you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done, (1 Peter 2:9, cev).

Little droplets of fire float down and kiss the earth.

Sparks dance across the dark sky like poetic magic.

Fairy dust seems to shoot behind them.

They breathe light into darkness.

Mayonnaise jar and top in hand, I catch the luminescent lightening bugs.

After capturing them, I feel as if I own a little piece of the moon.

The jar full of blinking bugs is now a shimmering lantern.

Without them, the sky isn’t quite so bright.

The bugs are dazzling as they buzz around each other in the jar.

However, the rest of the sky is empty without them.

Their beauty is no longer visible to the rest of the world.

Just like the lightening bugs, we must release our light back into the dark corners of a society that is suffocating without Jesus.

We must fly away from the familiar and swarm around the unfamiliar.

We must move beyond the church steps and into the blackness of an unbelieving world.

That’s where the light of Jesus shines the brightest.

I open the jar and free the lightening bugs underneath a shadowy sky.

I realize God does the same with us.

He twists the top and sets us free.

He releases us back into a cold world.

They too need the warming glow of a Savior.

There, we can share the light of Jesus with those who remain in the dark.

How can you share the light of Jesus with someone today?

Written for you with love,

Live in His Presence

Do you ever cry out, “God where are you?” or beg Him, “Please Lord, let me feel your presence!” And, do you sometimes feel like He doesn’t answer?

It can make you feel wearily disconnected. Alone. Disillusioned. Wondering why He doesn’t hear you. Questioning what you might have done… or not done. You might think He has withdrawn from you or worse… that He was never actually with you at all.

I’m learning something very important about our God. Something really powerful. Something that’s changing the way I think about Him…

Requesting His presence is unnecessary.

Every second, every minute, every hour of our every day and in every single circumstance we have the delight and privilege of experiencing His presence.

Do you believe me?

It’s true! I know it because His word says so…

Psalm 139:7 says “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!”

Philippians 4:4b tells us that “The Lord is near” His Spirit is dwelling within us always.

And, Revelation 3:20 says “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.” That’s at the door of our hearts!

So, why at times do we “feel” separated from Him? It’s simple. Yet complex. We just miss it. We don’t understand. It’s a Spiritual awareness that we lack. Don’t get me wrong, we can have it; there’s no Spiritual secret to accessing it. It only requires that we open our minds to understand that God is everywhere in His creation. Now, hear me… He is not “part” of His creation, but because He is the Creator His presence universally exists among it.

We are His creation. His Spirit dwells within us. Moves among us. At home. At work. In our conversations. In our minds and our hearts. Prompting us. To pray. To do. To go. To notice Him.

He can not be any nearer to us. He is always knocking. And, the real questions we need to consider are “Do we hear?” and “Are we truly acknowledging that He is indeed right here?” Hearing means carefully listening for His still small voice constantly. And, acknowledging means searching expectantly for His active work in and around us. It demands an unrelenting surrender of our will, our ways and a deliberate acceptance of wherever He takes us. It means contentment for our anxiousness. It offers free flowing peace for our worries. It embraces us with His comfort and all His consuming love in every distinct aspect of our lives.

It’s incredibly powerful and beautifully mind-bending to fathom that we can not escape Him. We can rest calmly in that. We can fear Him reverently for that. We can trust Him explicitly because of that.

We are in His presence right now. You can’t leave Him in your car when you go into work. You can’t hang Him on the coat rack when you get home. And you can’t tuck Him into your shelved bible when you go on vacation. Where you go, He goes. If you’re looking for Him realize that He was knocking first. Confidently seek Him. Recognize Him. He is here. Always.

Live in His Presence.

"I Will Wait For You"

“Take a number!” the DMV lady boldly instructs. “Then you’ll need to stand over there,” she points with an over-caffeinated finger. You’ll take another number and then you’ll wait some more. Two hours and three lines later, I have my license renewed.

We live in a fast-paced, get out of my way world where waiting is tangled up in our everyday lives. As the tips of our toes tap against the floor, we wait and we wait some more. We can be seen waiting at a doctor’s office, at an intersection, for an oven to pre-heat, for test results, and even to use the restroom.

Long ago, after being anointed with oil and proclaimed King, David the shepherd boy waits. He probably thinks to himself, “Why am I still leading these sheep when I ought to be leading God’s people?” While he waits to become King, he learns obedience, gains confidence, delivers messages, serves others, overcomes insecurities, depends on God and becomes a great warrior. This sounds like our everyday lives, don’t you think?

Think back on the last time God asked you to wait for something. Did you wait actively or passively?

David is a great example of someone who waits patiently on God. He resists the temptation to speed up the process. He is content with who he is and whose he is in that moment.

While David waits for God’s perfect timing he must have written Psalm 23.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want [to be King right away; help me to wait on you];

He makes me lie down in green pastures,[God, help me to wait on you as I rest in you];

He leads me beside quiet waters,[Lord, please help me to reflect on your great name];

He restores my soul [Lord, please bring restoration to my life];

He guides me in paths of righteousness,
for his name’s sake [God guide me down the path of right choices while I wait].

The next time we find ourselves waiting…

We must learn to be content where we are;

Learn to have inner peace in the season of life we are in;

Learn to recognize growth opportunities in our walk with Jesus;

Refuse to settle for our best when we can wait for God’s best;

Realize God’s developing our character in these moments.

I will wait for you, Jesus… however long it takes. While I wait please help me to be still and know you are God (Ps 46:10); help me to remember you alone are my hope (Ps 33:20); help me to praise your name and rejoice in you while I wait (Ps 33:21); and please renew my strength so I will be able to wait patiently on you (Isaiah 40:31).

The Image of Perfection

I just made my favorite raspberry & cream bread for a precious friend. It turned out great… well, mostly. I did make a mistake. I didn’t spray the pan. In my defense, it IS a Pampered Chef Stone pan and you’re not supposed to have to spray them. In fact, they specifically advise you not to. However, in this case I didn’t grease the pan and after it came out of the oven and cooled I ran a knife carefully around the edges, flipped the pan, tapped the bottom and out popped my bread… well, most of it. The bottom layer stuck mercilessly and left my beautiful loaf beat up and exposed.

I thoughtfully examined the bread trying to decide if I should start over. Delicately, I turned it top side up and from this angle it appeared nothing short of perfect. So, I wrapped it up and delivered it to my friend knowing that even if she discovered its broken shame concealed underneath, she probably wouldn’t care one bit.

We are a lot like that loaf bread.

Women especially.

We have a cleaned up, put-together outer image that often fools people into concluding that we’re faultless. Now, I’m not saying we’re “trying” to fool people because that is not what’s going on. We girls just like to feel “together,” so we go to some trouble to make sure we look “together.” But, sadly we also get an instant eyeful of each other at our very best and assume that everything is just perfect inside and out. But it’s not. And if we get close enough we soon find, just like that bread, hidden underneath a protective masquerade is every girls very own brokenness and shame. Her not-so-perfect-ness and vulnerable insides are unveiled.

Sweet friends, we need to stop these false and very destructive assumptions. You know that right after determining that someone has got it all together we do the worst things. We compare. We get green-eyed. We condemn ourselves. We resent. We suddenly strive for someone else’s perceived perfection and we get lost.

The hard truth is that when we do this an automatic shift takes place. Suddenly we lose sight of how God instructs us to look and that has nothing to do with what’s on the outside.

The bible says…

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:17 NIV)

If God is not looking at my appearance or yours then why do we? If God is only concerned about the condition of our hearts then why aren’t we? You know what gets dealt with when we focus on our heart? Our broken-ness. Our shame. Our healing. Our understanding of His ways. The real stuff. The things that really need attention. The very things that cause us to have an image that attempts to cover it all up.

Let’s be challenged together. To compare ourselves with the only measuring stick that counts, Jesus. To live by His standards. His ways. He is the only image of perfection worth striving for. Holy. Matchless. Faithful. Lover of our souls. Our Savior.

Honestly, why would we want anything else?

Do You Think You Are Worthy? By Kelli Zaniel

I will announce the winner of “Unfashionable” at the end of this post!

Sometimes, we allow unworthiness to pull us by the hair, drag us through the mud, and smear our reputation. Unworthiness demands our attention. It craves center stage in our lives. Its aggressive nature steals the spotlight away from God—making everything we do all about us, not about God.

When we concentrate on personal frailties and imperfections, we scoot the reality that God alone is worthy to the back of our minds. Our focus shifts as we wade in waters of “unworthiness.” Consequently, it isn’t long before we begin seeking self-gratification rather than God-glorification.

We all have a tendency to focus on our unworthiness rather than His worthiness
. Being worthy is God’s nature. Living worthy is what we’re called to do.

“To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling…” (2 Thessalonians 1:11,12 NASB); therefore, “Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God,” (Ephesians 4:1, NLT).
How does this apply to our everyday lives? How do we live worthy? Ephesians 4:3 reveals the answer –“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” As long as we are united in the Spirit and our eyes remain fixed on the character of God, we will live worthy.
We strive to be a godly woman—because God is worthy;
We possess a spirit that worships His—because God is worthy;
We make the desires of God’s heart the desires of our heart—because God is worthy;
We give to the poor—because God is worthy;
We share the gospel and make disciples—because God is worthy.
God replaces our unworthiness with His worthiness. When this is our focal point, we are God-centered instead of self-centered. He alone is worthy of our sacrifice, our praise, our worship, our devotion, our complete surrender and our unashamed love.

“You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased,” (Revelation 4:11, NLT).
The winner of “Unfashionable” is Melanie! Please email me your address and I’ll send you the book! Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading each one of them!

The Truth About Happiness by, Heidi Avery

I did not grow up in the happiest of homes. There were some happy times of course, but overall we did not rank high on the happy-meter. I discovered at a young age that my dad was not my biological father which at the very least explained the rocky relationship that he and I sustained. My parents struggled terribly in their marriage as well. Some of their troubles were due to the strained relationship between me and my dad. I have no memory of them being happy… no holding hands, no kissing or loving each other in any way. I do remember the bitterness that lived in my mom’s aflicted face and the hurt and hate that echoed through my dad’s words. Eventually their marriage came to a very sad and ugly end. Our family of four split right down the middle; my sister staying loyally behind with my dad and I eagerly escaped with my mom.

Needless to say, I grew up with some strong misconceptions about happiness. I thought I deserved it. I wanted it for myself and I knew it wasn’t going to just envelope my life without some work on my part. So, as a young adult I set out to get all the happy that I had coming to me. A personalized happiness checklist began to mentally take shape…

Job P
Friends P
Husband P
Baby P
But with each new phase of life that I encountered another make-me-happy-task would mysteriously write itself on the list…
Home owner P
Stay-at-home mom P
Travel P
Another baby P
It never seemed to stop and with all that I thought I ever wanted or needed and much more it still did not = happiness.

Happy times… yes, but happiness… no.

Even though I was a newly saved person and God was on my happy little check list I just kept moving ahead with my plans and my unhappiness just kept resurfacing. I couldn’t figure it out and as rifled through all the reasons why I thought I should be happy I became more and more frustrated. I began to pray. And as I searched His Word for answers I divinely collided with the hard truth about happiness.
Much like love or any other fiery emotion it manifests itself as an aggressive feeling. Something triggers it to go off and as long as whatever set it off maintains itself the feeling of happiness lives on. But when your trigger is an earthly thing or a worldly status it will faithfully leave you stranded and wanting more.
Galatians 2:20 says…

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

That says I live by “faith” not by happiness. In Christ I will be satisfied. It’s not happiness, it’s Joy. And it’s not an emotional feeling; it’s a lovely by product of my increasing faith in God. It can only truly come from the hope that I have in Him. The bible never says that we deserve happiness. What we deserve is nothing. What we deserve is death. But because of what Jesus did we have life. Isn’t that enough?
Psalm 16:11 says…
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
I trust Him. When I put my faith in Jesus He will lead my every step and the result for me is the Joy of His presence along the way. He is my Pleasure and my Hope and there is nothing sweeter than His love for me.
Now, will He bless me with circumstances and things here in this world that will bring me happiness? Of course! But I must never forget that they are fleeting and that they are nothing compared to the Joy I have in Jesus… it lasts forever.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
Isaiah 40:8

This post was written in response to Bonnie Gray’s Faith Barista Jam. Would you like to take the Thursday Faith Barista Challenge? Click here and find out what it’s all about!

Celebrating A Special FriendBy: Kelli Zaniel

If you are visiting from Rachel Olsen’s blog carnival…Welcome! This post is written in response to the blog carnival on the topic of friendship.

My mom is a y’all using, cookie baking, tear wiping, soap opera watching, fun loving girlfriend. She isn’t just a friend, she is also my momma. She loves hard, hugs hard and spanks pretty hard too.
Many years ago, I’m a sassy, headstrong tomboy who requires a lot of discipline. She’s famous for pulling switches off the local tree branch to discipline my misbehaving self. Christian sisters, please don’t judge. This is how we “train up a child” in the South.

Mom does all the things little girls depend on—
Back rubs,

Eskimo kisses,

Window shopping,

French braids,

Neighborhood walks, and

Late night talks.

It’s a year of princesses and pirate ships; however, I prefer Star Wars action figures. Chewbacca piloting the Millennium Falcon through galaxies far, far away is definitely my favorite. Mom shakes her head but always encourages me to follow my heart.

My stir-up pants come second to my football pants. I wear them a lot. Seemingly, they go with just about any shirt. Mom lets me know when I’m too old to play tackle football with the boys down the street. Only a real friend will tell you the truth even when it stings.

She lets me wear her High School cheerleading uniform and prom queen crown for Halloween. She pokes holes in my pickle jar so I can capture lightening bugs. We shoot hoops on our driveway after school. She calls the Avon lady and lets her do my colors. Despite the cosmetic guru’s opinion that red is not in my color pallet, mom says it always looks good on me.

At seven years old she introduces me to Jesus. She holds my sweaty, little girl palm as we sashay down the aisle together. “Accepting Jesus is the best decision you’ll ever make,” she says. “He is the ultimate friend.” She is absolutely right.

“Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you,”(John 15:15, NIV).

I am older now. I experience physical abuse at the hand of my (ex)husband. She, being both mom and friend, worries. She rushes to the hospital each time it happens.
When things don’t work out, she wipes away rivers of hurt that flood my face. She doesn’t say, “I told you so.” Instead she weeps alongside me. She reassures me that God loves me even when I think He doesn’t.
Friends catch us when we fall.
They help nurse old wounds.
They never leave us and they don’t give up. They love unconditionally and are always just a phone call away.
They pinky swear never to reveal our deepest hurts unless we ask them to.

Godly girls are good listeners, laugh at our jokes, encourage us in Jesus’ name, never let us attend pity parties alone, and always pick our side no matter how crazy we may seem.
My mom is a friend, a confidant, and a woman who reveres the Lord. She reflects the light of Jesus in everything she does. She is a truth teller; a Jesus follower; a gospel spreader; and the ultimate grace girl.
God knew what He was doing the day He handpicked her to be my mom and my friend.
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense,” (Proverbs 27:9, NIV).

Godly Girlfriends, by Heidi Avery

Godly girlfriends are by far one of the sweetest gifts that God bestows upon us. Every girl needs a friend and it’s not just something we selfishly want for ourselves; it is a critical need for us to relate and connect with other like minded women. However, as Christians it’s not just about receiving the gift of friendship, it’s also a responsibility… more than that a wonderful opportunity for us to…

show His unconditional love and acceptance when she needs it the most.

extend His fount of mercy and compassion when it seems to have run dry.

speak His life-giving truth and encouragement into her discouraged heart.

offer His unfailing forgiveness when she doesn’t think she deserves it.

seek His cover and protection over her life through prayer and support..

Godly girlfriends come together and inspire each other to love God more and to be better wives and mothers. We share our hopes and dreams and the pain of our trials. We love each other in the Lord and out of that love an intimacy is born that drives us to be real and vulnerable with each other.
We think He’s blessed us and for sure He has, but the reality is that godly friendships are a powerful platform by which His glory shines holy and magnified.
Isn’t it awesome to know that He uses us in that way? It is indeed. Now… go find a girlfriend and give her hug… praise Him for your godly friendship!
Father, I thank you for the godly girlfriends in my life (you all know who you are)… you have blessed us with a sweet intimacy that lingers long after we are together. You give us what we need Lord, the friendships yes, but ultimately we experience you through each other and it just brings us nearer to you. And, that’s what it’s really about Lord… that whatever we do wherever we go that we would just draw nearer and nearer to you.
This post was written in response to Rachel Olsen’s blog carnival on the topic of friendship.

Why Women Need A Savior By Kelli Zaniel


To teach her that her value as a woman is more than the way she looks.

To teach her how to become more than she thinks she is.

To know how it feels to be someone’s favorite.

Who softens her rough edges when they seem a little sharp.

To make her crooked paths straighter.

Who teaches her the importance of spending time together.

Who always welcomes her home, no matter how long she’s been gone.

To show her how He carried His cross just for her.

To provide footprints she can follow behind.

Who shows her what a true romance is supposed to look like.

To remind her that Jesus is her first love, when she forgets.

To teach her to be more concerned about His glory than her relief.

To remind her how it feels to be held when a mean world tosses her aside.

Who teaches her that she is His princess– a daughter of The King.

To be the shelter she can always run to.

Who shows her the joy in serving Him and others.

Who shows her she has at least one hero who will never let her down.

Yes sweet sister, I’m talking to you. God wants you to be His girl a “daddy’s girl,” no matter how old you get. You’ll never outgrow His love for you.

As you do that special thing you do today, He’s watching you, noticing you and loving you. So don’t forget to watch for Him, notice Him and love Him no matter how busy you get!

Psalm 18:32-36 (New International Version)

It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.

He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You give me your shield of victory,
and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.

You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.

Burdened, by Heidi Avery

Have you ever stared into the eyes of a desperate soul and for a single, solitary moment connected so deeply and intensely to their personal suffering that it left you profoundly burdened?

This troubled sense rapidly swarms in on you like a dense invisible fog of heaviness. The shock of it stuns you into a motionless lapse of time. You know when it happens because as the air lightens and you transport back to reality the only remaining evidence of it occurring is the overwhelming desire to do something.

At first glance you might confuse this aching with guilt because your life seems so blessed in comparison. But, an intentional push past “you” reveals that this experience is of the supernatural kind. Behind this impressionable affliction lies a calling… a divine awakening to address the needs of another.

I personally experience this with the homeless. I have a biting urge to talk to these people as if life was completely normal and an even stronger compulsion to reach out and physically place my hands on them. I need them to know that I don’t see dirty or lacking, but beautiful, accepted and totally deserving of common touch and conversation without judgment or condemnation. Along with their very basic needs for shelter and food is the longing to simply feel loved.

Isn’t it awesome how God has a way of forcibly invading us? He taps into our core, tinkers around and leaves behind a passionate burden within us to move. That’s the blessing you know…

–That He chooses us to go for Him at all.

–That we get a front row seat to His work in and around us.

–That we are an extension of His love for the lost.

–And, that we get a glimpse of Him in the eyes of the helpless.

His word commands us to…

Carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and to love one another. ( John 13:34)

Some things of God are a vast mystery, but others, such as these commands, He made crystal clear.

Following is another beautiful song by Matthew West called “My Little World.” I thought it made a nice ending to this post…

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