Please join with me in this Bible Study....

I am so excited to invite you to join me in a 5 week Bible study

In this age of extreme make-overs, we transform everything from our appearance to our homes. Let's explore a different kind of makeover- A MakeOver of the Heart! Come experience a complete heart transplant, allowing God to take out your old heart full of its selfish desires and replace it with a new heart ...

Delightful Heart

Healed Heart

Committed Heart

Prayerful Heart

Head over to the Internet Cafe to download the complete study on a PDF. You may choose to work at your own pace or come back here on Tuesdays and Thursdays in March to fellowship and learn from one another.

A Heart Transplant
Our make-over begins with a complete heart transplant. Allow God to take out your old heart full of its selfish desires and replace it with a new heart, delighting in Him. Take a glimpse into the hearts of Jabez and King David, and learn what it means to truly “delight yourself in the Lord.”

A Healed Heart
So many hearts today are crying out for love and are carrying wounds of the past that so desperately need to be healed. Allow God to reveal your hidden pain, to heal your broken heart, and replace sorrow with joy by trusting Him. Surrender to His amazing love, accept His forgiveness, and release those who have hurt you.

A Committed Heart
God wants our hearts to be fully devoted to Him. Learn how He has given us power, through the Holy Spirit, over sin, temptation, and the desires of the world to live as free women completely committed to Christ.

A Prayerful Heart

God wants a natural, living, breathing relationship with you and prayer is the way to that relationship. He also wants us to slow our lives down so that we can be still and listen! Learn practical ideas to incorporate prayer into your daily routine, including praying Scripture into your life.

Join me on Tuesday to learn together in this Word-filled journey towards a renewed and transformed heart for God. Again, feel free to download the PDF and work at your own pace!

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

Cafe Chat

Welcome to another week at the Cafe Chat! OH, KIM!!!!
This girl has us pondering STRONGHOLDS this week...a subject, I sadly admit to NOT being a stranger to....
She says:

Fill in the Blank. My biggest struggle/stronghold is _____________.

How would my life look if I no longer struggled with _______? What if I was
completely free from ______ through Christ’s power…(Put your struggle/stronghold in the blank) *Try to give some very specific ways your life would be different if you no longer struggled with your above named stronghold*

Well, my stronghold is FOOD! I hate to admit it because I have struggled with it, been set free and walked in the Promised Land....and have wandered back to Egypt. I hate it! Hate it! HATE IT!!!!!

I hate that anything would have "power" over me...that I would be in bondage to anything....


I am sure this topic is just for me this I have been avoiding this. I have been pretending that this food issue hasn't crept back in...but it has!

There was a time in my life that food had absolutely NO PULL over me! There could be sweets, cakes, cookies, anything near me.....and if I wasn't hungry, I wouldn't even eat a bite. I wasn't being LEGALISTIC...I just didn't' have the desire....

We went on vacation and I didn't care about didn't matter if I wasn't going to "see" a particular food again.....I didn't care about it! would my life look if I were completely free from the bondage of food....I look SKINNY! DUH!

Seriously, there are times that I feel like a "hypocrite" because how can I preach the Word and Freedom in Christ if I am not walking in it...experiencing it?

And, I have friends who tell me that my struggle keeps me real...helps me be relate-able with women.. I know that God wants me to be FREE! It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!

So, I am so glad that Kim has again reminded me of this. I have decided to again lay it at His feet and break free from these chains that bind me! Christ came to set the captives free!

If you would like to read more about my struggles and victory see here and here.


To be honest, I have spent much of my life feeling “not quite good enough”, not quite measuring up. We can have these feelings of inadequacy in many different areas of our lives. For some of us, it IS trying to reach that outward perfection that the world claims we must reach in order to be worthy. For others of us, we have felt inadequate, not quite “good enough” in other areas of our lives. I’m not a good enough mother-daughter-wife. I’m not good enough because I don’t have a husband… And, for many of us, seeking our self worth in these areas has led us into bondage, robbing us of joy and peace and confidence.

Well, as a Princess to the King, I know this is NOT my heritage! I am a daughter to the King of Kings, chosen, adopted, accepted in the Beloved, precious in His sight. He sees me as beautiful! These are HIS Words, not mine! But, I had to come to a place to receive this. I knew these truths in my HEAD, but I was not living them out, truly believing. I was not walking in joy, in freedom and victory. He began to reveal to me that my concern with my appearance and feelings of inadequacy had been a stronghold in my life, and He wanted to release me. He doesn’t want ANYTHING to keep us from experiencing all He has for us.

I wish I could say that this is the first stronghold I needed to be delivered from, but the truth is that since childhood I had gone to other things in my life, worldly pursuits, for comfort and security and satisfaction. I had not yet learned to depend on Christ, to cling to Him, to allow Him to fill me, heal me, and deliver me from the trials and tragedies of life.

Like every little girl I dreamed of being a beautiful princess, but, like so many others, my childhood wasn’t a fairy tale. My father died in a boating accident when I was a baby. My stepfather was an alcoholic and abusive to us. As a child and adolescent, I felt broken and scared, so, I hid myself. I turned to food. It became my safe place. Whenever I felt scared, sad, unloved, overwhelmed, or vulnerable, I would go to food for my escape and my comfort. Usually I would grab something sweet, and hide myself away, either watching TV or reading. I never talked about how I felt, but just buried myself, denying my feelings and losing myself in stories of other people- either in TV or books. I wouldn’t overeat in front of my friends. Only in secret.

I would “steal” a package of Oreos, lay on the couch by myself and zone out. And, that is what the enemy encourage us to do- hide. He deceives us into keeping our secrets hidden in the dark. But, ladies, we can never be healed until we expose these things to God’s light, which heals and restores.

So, food gave me comfort- for a little while, and then when the feeling was gone, I would go and get more. As you can imagine, this took its toll on my body and I soon became an overweight child. This led to more pain. Kids at school made fun of me. All I wanted to be was invisible, but my weight drew unwelcome attention.

By the time I hit junior high, I did not want to be overweight anymore. I wanted boys to like me. I did not want to be teased. So the summer before 8th grade, I stopped eating. I began walking or riding my bike everywhere I went. My weight dropped quickly and dramatically. And, I began to notice the attention I received with my new found body. Everyone commented on how good I looked. Boys began to notice me. I loved this new attention I was receiving because of how I looked. I found something new to fill this emptiness inside of me- the attention and the praise I received. I craved compliments and enjoyed flirting with guys. It was like a high, and the more I received, the more I wanted.

So, now my safe place became my appearance. As long as I was skinny and looked good on the outside, I felt like I was OK. Exercise soon became another stronghold. I needed it to maintain the thin body.

This continued through high school and college. My personal worth was directly related to my outward appearance. And, being on a large campus with an emphasis on partying, I lived on the attention I received at parties. I was living an MTV lifestyle. All of my “hang-ups” could be attributed to my childhood. And I could put the blame on my broken childhood, absence of father, abuse by a stepfather, the desperate feelings of needing to find that male affection and attention. These things created a longing in me, but instead of turning to God I turned to them to fill me. Instead of filling me up and giving me a satisfaction, it only created more of longing, a deeper hole to be filled. That is how it always is when we look to the world to fill us up. We may feel temporary satisfaction, but the need, desire, and longing comes back fiercer than before.

Well, with this deeper hole needing to be filled, I found another passion to make me feel accepted- working hard and achieving success. I began seeking approval of my professors by striving for academic perfection. I began receiving recognition through my work and my accomplishments. This continued even after college when I became a teacher. I needed to be the best. I needed to be perfect. I continually compared myself to everyone around me. I had this competitive spirit, striving to be better than everyone around me, to be the best, always with this underlying feeling that I wasn’t good enough.

By this time, I was married to my wonderful husband, Brian. He was right out of college, too, so we were both workaholics, spending every night working together.
Well, I went on like that for some time. We had our first child, Andrew, and we were expecting our second when we moved from Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was lonely, moving to new place far from home. And, I found a new thing to try to fill the longing of my heart… activities. I jumped right in, joining every club, organization, and play group. I will never forget one morning when Andrew stood crying at the door, saying, “Mommy, can we just stay home today?”

I was so busy with activities, trying to fill the emptiness in my soul.

Wow! I had set up such strongholds in my life. I didn’t think there was anything wrong. In fact, I probably thought I had it all together! Even though I would have considered myself a Christian, I DID NOT have an intimate relationship with the Lord. I prayed every night before bed and we went to church. Instead of feeding on God, hungering after Him and pursuing Him, I was feeding on these worldly pursuits. I was looking for my self worth in all of these things, but never quite measuring up. I never felt complete.

After Ashley was born, I could not take off my pregnancy weight, and I was feeling so depressed. Now, remember, for years, I had sought my worth in my outward appearance, and to have all this extra weight on me, I literally did not want to go out of the house! None of my clothes fit. Ashley was 6 months old, and I could only wear my husband’s pants or maternity clothes! I was desperate.

I heard about a bible study that helped you lose weight, and was so interested. So, I began facilitating it in my home. Wow! Did God open my eyes through that bible study!
It taught about strongholds and filling up on other things instead of a relationship with God. God began setting me free from these areas of bondage by filling up on Him! I had never experienced this RELATIONSHIP with the living God before! Yes, I had gone to church and prayed, but to make Him the Lord of my life, my strength, my redeemer, my deliverer, my very best friend, and my 1st love was completely new to me! To experience His presence daily, to be intimate with Him, to commune with Him daily… Whew! It changed my life forever!

I learned that I needed to seek a relationship with Jesus, instead of filling my heart with all of these worldly pursuits. He wants our hearts to be totally devoted to Him, so He will help us to work these things out, setting us free to be the women He created us to be! It is only in this relationship with my Precious Savior that I find my true worth. I have a longing, a desire to be loved, to feel safe, to be the princess… It
is ONLY Jesus that can satisfy these longings and desires.

So over the past 7 years, God has continued to reveal to me strongholds in my life, areas of bondage that were keeping me from living in victory- keeping me from living the abundant life God had already given to me! He helped work through the process of being totally set free, living in complete liberty and joy! Thankfully, it has been a process and He slowly has revealed each area He wants to refine. God had so much work to do in my heart, that if He showed me everything at once, I probably would have had a breakdown! So, He would heal an area and I would be like “Whew! That’s done!” And then, He would reveal another area that He was going to refine.

So, last summer, God began working on this last area of bondage. He has freed me from has been the need to “beautiful” according to the world’s standards, and defining who I am in that, instead of believing who I am in Christ.

And, honestly, talking about this area of bondage is not easy. I mean, come on, I’m a Christian woman! I shouldn’t be worried about how I look- that is so shallow, so vain. So, for a long time I had been denying I even had this stronghold. I stuffed all of it down and refused to deal with it. But, when there is something deep down, God will bring it to the surface for us to deal with it. And, that is what He did.

God began showing me that I cared too much about how I looked through a few very HUMBLING experiences. He continued to prod at my heart, He continued to turn up the heat, so to speak. There was one point I would not look at my reflection in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I saw myself as flawed, as disgusting. My circumstances seemed to be getting worse and worse. I finally cried out to God. What He showed me was that was NOT how HE saw me. I am His beautiful creation. I had bought into the enemy’s lies and deception, and the world’s illusions. But, my precious God wanted me to see myself as He sees me- His princess, lovely, precious, beautiful. I am beautiful because Jesus is beautiful.

It is only in a relationship with my precious Savior that I will feel truly worthy. I have a longing, a desire to be loved, to feel safe, to be the princess… It is ONLY Jesus that can satisfy these longings and desires.

Because of my relationship with the only One who can fill me, Jesus Christ, I can see myself as lovely, precious, beautiful. I believe He was preparing me then to speak to YOU now. He laid on my heart, “Speak Truth to the brokenhearted. Tell them I see them as beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the world has told them, or other people. He says, ‘you are beautiful to me.”

“Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5)
Hear His precious words to you-
“The King is enthralled with your beauty.” (Psalm 45:11)
He says to you, “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.”
(Song of Songs 1:15, 2:14 )

He loves us more than we could ever know or imagine.

Do you want to know my Jesus? Do you want to experience this love only our True Prince can give to us? Do you want to see yourself as He sees you, Princess?

Please pray with me. Father, I know there are women in this room right now who have never taken that step of accepting You as Lord and Savior. There is a dear one who wants to open her heart and surrender to Your love. Sisters, if you want to know this Jesus, to accept Him as Your Lord and Savior, pray, “God, I know I need You. I want You. I want to know You. I confess I have tried living without You, going my own way. I confess I am a sinner needing the redeeming blood of Jesus to set me free from sin and death. Lord, I make You my Lord and Savior. I ask You to come into my heart.”

Father, I know others in this room know You, but have not come into an intimate relationship with You. Sister, if this is you, and you so want an intimate relationship with Him, cry out to Him. Tell Him You want to know Him more. Tell Him you want Him to be your life, your stronghold, your source, your King, your sweet prince.

Father, in the name of Jesus, and by the power and authority we have through His blood, I pray for all of these women. I pray they would see themselves the way You see them. I pray that would grasp how wide, how long, how deep is the love of Christ, and I pray that they would KNOW this love, and that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We praise You, Father! We praise You, Jesus!

Please visit the Cafe for more great chat!

Pray for our Nation..

I have updated this prayer. The original one that was sent via email was not actually from Billy Graham, but another minister addressing his state legislature. It was also very convicting! But, this prayer was given at the inauguration of Richard Nixon.

A prayer from Billy Graham:

Our Father and our God, Thou hast said, "Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord." We recognize on this historic occasion that we are "a nation under God." We thank Thee for this torch of faith handed to us by our forefathers. May we never let it be extinguished. Thou alone hast given us our prosperity, our freedom and our power. This faith in God is our heritage and our foundation! Thou hast warned us in the Scriptures, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" As George Washington reminded us in his farewell address, morality and faith are the pillars of our society. We confess these pillars are being eroded in an increasingly materialistic and permissive society. The whole world is watching to see if the faith of our fathers will stand the trials and tests of the hour.

Too long we have neglected Thy word and ignored Thy laws. Too long we have tried to solve our problems without reference to Thee. Too long we have tried to live by bread alone. We have sown to the wind and are now reaping a whirlwind of crime, division, and rebellion. And now with the wages of our sins staring us in the face, we remember Thy words, "If my people who are called by my Name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." Help us this day to turn from our sins and to turn by simple faith to the One who said, "Ye must be born again." So we pray, O God, as we enter a new era, that we as a nation may experience a moral and spiritual restoration. Thou hast said, "Promotion comes not from the east nor from the west, but from Thee."

We acknowledge Thy divine help in the selection of our leadership each four years. We recognize, O Lord, that in Thy sovereignty Thou has permitted Richard Nixon(LET'S CHANGE THIS TO BARACK OBAMA) to lead us at this momentous hour of our history. We beseech Thee that he will have Thy divine guidance and power daily. Help him as Thou didst help Thy servants of old. Our Father, we know his burdens and responsibilities will be overwhelming. He will hold in his hands the destiny of more people than any man in history. O God, our new President needs Thee as no man ever needed Thee in leading a people! There will be times when he will be overwhelmed by the problems at home and abroad that have been building up to the breaking point for many years. Protect him from physical danger. And in the lonely moments of decision grant him an uncompromising courage to do what is morally right. Give him a cool head and a warm heart. Give him a compassion for those in physical, moral, and spiritual need. We pray that Thou wilt so guide Richard Nixon (BARACK OBAMA) in handling the affairs of state that the whole world will marvel and glorify Thee. O God, we consecrate Richard Milhous Nixon (BARACK OBAMA) to the Presidency of these United States with the assurance that from this hour on, as he and his family move into the White House, they will have the presence and the power of Thy Son who said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." What we pray for President Nixon (P. Obama and J. Biden) we pray for Vice President Agnew and members of the Cabinet. May they be given a wisdom and a courage that is beyond their own. Bless them as a team to lead America to the dawning of a new day with renewed trust in God that will lead to peace, justice, and prosperity. We pray this humbly in the Name of the Prince of Peace who shed His blood on the Cross that men might have eternal life. Amen

What are YOU learning?

One of my "life passages" is Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

This is my "ministry", helping women to see beyond the "here and now", entangled with this world's temptations and entanglements, and to live for God.

One of my favorite books is 1Peter where Peter writes a letter to a group of Christians suffering for their faith. He repeatedly tells them to live as aliens and strangers here on earth....holy and set apart for the Lord.

I love these passages! I understand these passages because I have experienced such a "love affair" with the world! I understand firsthand how important it is to "keep on top" of purposely live transformed in my thinking- NOT CONFORMED to the world's attitudes.
These are issues I have battled and overcome.

So, when those "old feelings" surface again, it can be surprising and disarming!
Let me explain what happened.

I joined FACEBOOK. ('nuff said?)
As I looked around at many of my FB friends, I saw perfect bodies, perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect lives....
Many of these people I have not seen since high school...I don't know if they know the Lord...
One precious woman wrote that she was excited because the designer stiletto shoes she had been waiting for arrived.
I didn't even know the who the designer was!
Life on FB seemed glamorous....
living in Chicago, working in glamorous lives, looking glamorous....
I felt overwhelmed with a "I don't measure up" feeling.
I battled the same feelings a few years ago when I walked into a going away party for a friend. I was just dropping off a gift and didn't stay.
I had been gardening, so had on my shorts and t-shirt. I walked into party where the women were DRESSED for a party and dressed "to the nines."
I hadn't been prepared for the ultra expensive home, decorated like a magazine...
As I looked around, I felt inadequate...
Being a woman's speaker, I thought, "What could these women want from me? What do I have to offer them? They have it all! Why would they want to listen to what I have to say?"
This was the same feeling that came over me when I began exploring FB...
Of course, my BRAIN could make all of the correct arguments....
If these women don't have Jesus, then all of the material and worldly things won't make them happy... having a relationship with the Lord is more than anything here on earth.
I am not dependent on who I am in the world, but who I am in Christ.
I KNOW all these things in my head...
it didn't change how I felt.
I had to go back to the Word (and to my Spiritual Mama!).
I called Donna and cried on her shoulder, telling her all of this.
And, she said something so wise.
She said, "Tracy, it is natural that you feel 'left out.' This is how we are SUPPOSED to feel as Christians...left out with ways of the world."
I hadn't thought of it that way before.
I am so familiar with 1Peter and "being strangers and aliens in the world." I know this world is not my home. The message translation says, "don't become cozy in it." But, I hadn't thought about "feeling left" out before.
Yes, it is hard at times to make Godly choices. And, sometimes I do feel "out of it" when I can't join the conversation because I haven't seen "that" movie...
or listen to secular music...
or watch popular (to the world) TV programs.
I am sure this is even harder for our daughters...
not watching MTV
or dressing MTV
or talking MTV
or staying pure, unlike MTV....
The NKJ translation says we are PECULIAR people! We SHOULD feel peculiar...
But, sometimes, it FEELS peculiar to be peculiar...
I guess that is why Paul says in Romans 12:1 to "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." It will be a sacrifice at times to not conform to the world. At times it will feel uncomfortable to not conform to the world.
1Peter 2:113-16: So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. (I lived such a worldly life before Christ. God tells me to NOT slip back to that old way of living!) But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
3:1- 12: So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, (if Jesus was rejected by the world, why would I be surprised by feeling uncomfortable in it?) but He was chosen by God for great honor.
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.
Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him,
“The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”

And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.

9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.”

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. (there will be a battle...these desires war against my soul!) 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.

Please visit Gina at Chats with an Old Lady for more What are YOU learning!

I am a Christian

A friend just emailed me this...

She didn't know the author.

When I say… ‘I am a Christian…I’m not shouting I’m clean livin’, I’m whispering ‘I was lost, now I’m found and forgiven.’

When I say…’I’m a Christian’I don’t speak with pride. I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... ‘I’m a Christian’I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say…’I’m a Christian’I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say…’I’m a Christian’Im not claiming I’m perfect, my flaws are far too visible but God believes I am worth it.

When I say…’I’m a Christian’I still feel the sting of pain… I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say…’I’m a Christian’I’m not holier than thou, I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace, somehow!

It is all about God’s grace and I’m grateful He has chosen to lavish it upon me.

I'm ABIDING in Laced with Grace Today

Would you like to know the difference between these two flowers?
Then please visit me at Laced with Grace today!

Thankful Thursday

O, Lord, as we begin this season of Lent....

I am so thankful for Jesus.

Thank You, Lord for what You have done for me.

There are no words adequate to express what You've done.

Please scroll down for "Ash Wednesday" and "Word-Filled Wednesday" posts.....I have written more there....

Word-filled Wednesday

Today is "Ash Wednesday" or the beginning of the Lenten season in the Christian church. It marks the 40 days before Easter when we prepare our hearts for the Passion and the Resurrection of our Christ. At our church, we receive ashes on our forehead to remind us that we came from dust and to dust we will return....but we need a Savior to redeem us. The ashes are used from the preceding year's palm branches from Palm Sunday.

It has been a tradition in churches to "give up" something for act of sacrifice to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus endured.

Like chocolate or TV or smoking could ever compare to the painful, torturous, humiliation Jesus endured for us. That He became sin. That for a moment He was separated from Father.

But, it is a way to deny our act of willful dying to self. A time to set our hearts and minds on Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus dying on the cross is NOT the end...but the beginning. The "story" doesn't end with His death. If that was it, that was all....there would hope.

But Jesus did not stay dead. He was resurrected. He is the Resurrection. He can bring to life any dead thing in your life. Dead relationships. Dead hopes. Dead dreams.

Please join me for this 40 day journey...making a commitment to get to know this beautiful Jesus. Consider fasting. But always remember Jesus is the ONLY answer.

Please visit Amydeanne for more WFW.

In Other Words..

“Is it possible we could experience the joy of our salvation if we mourned [over our sin] as if someone had died? We cannot experience joy without mourning.”
by Pastor Robert Morris,from Sermon: “Those who mourn are happy”

I needed some input to write about this, so I went to the actual sermon by Pastor Morris. I would recommend you take the time (28 minutes) to watch it. It is great!

How can I be thankful for my redemption if I don't realize the full cost of my redemption? How can I be thankful (and joyful for my salvation) if I don't see my sin for what it is?

One of my favorite psalms, Psalm 51, written by David after he FINALLY sees his sin with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, says this so beautifully:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.......Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me......The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. verses 1-2, 10-12, 17

Lord, how I have said to You, break me, Lord. I want to be broken before You. I think of Isaiah in Isaiah 6, "Woe to me! I am undone! I am ruined!". Isaiah sees God's glory and how much HE falls short and cries out to God.

How can I be sorry, truly SORROWFUL, truly repentant if I don't honestly SEE myself?

Do I say "sorry" because I am truly repentant, or that I don't want to be punished?

I think of my kids.....when they are bickering and mom makes them apologize...are they really "sorry?" If not, I know we will be dealing with the SAME BEHAVIOR again.

When I am "caught", do I come to God, confessing and asking for forgiveness because I am full of SORROW, or that I don't want to deal with consequences for my sin?

Is it just a flippant "sor-rrrrry"???????

It made me think of the woman in Luke 7. She is so full of PRAISE and THANKSGIVING for her forgiveness BECAUSE she sees the depth of her sin.

I wrote about this in one of my talks, "FREEDOM IN CHRIST":

There is another story of Jesus meeting a sinful woman that begins in Luke 7:36. The story says that Jesus was having dinner at a Pharisee’s house named Simon. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume to Him.

Now, we may not understand the significance of this, but it is really important. When a woman would become of marrying age, as part of her dowry, her family would purchase a marble, or alabaster box or jar. It would be filled with expensive perfume, sometimes costing as much as one year’s wages. This would be the woman’s most precious possession, a priceless treasure. When a man came to ask for her in marriage, she would break the jar at his feet, anointing him with the expensive oil as a sign of great honor.

So, this woman brings her alabaster box, her most precious possession intended for her earthly bridegroom, to the house where Jesus is.

Can you imagine what everyone all around is saying?

"What is she doing here, and with her alabaster box?! What is she going to do? WHO would marry HER?"

She walks in and stands behind Jesus. Notice her body language. She is standing BEHIND Jesus, maybe ashamed to look into his face. She is weeping at His feet. She wipes His feet with her hair. She kisses His feet, anointing them with her perfume. We don’t know what her sin was, but we know how thankful she was feeling- she was washing Jesus’ feet with her hair and her tears.

Maybe you understand her shame all too well- maybe you feel like because of what you have done, or because what has been done to you, you could never come to Jesus. You feel unworthy of His forgiveness.

Ladies, whatever her sin was, however dirty or terrible it was, it led her to Jesus. There she is with her most precious possession, her alabaster jar, reserved to pour out honor upon a bridegroom, pouring it out upon Jesus, mixing the expensive perfume with her tears, washing the feet of Jesus. Her heart, completely abandoned to Him, not caring about what others thought, only there full of praise and thankfulness for her Savior.

I wonder if words similar to Psalm 30 were on her lips? “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit.” No matter how "bad" her sin had been, it brought her to Jesus.

But, of course, there is always someone there to judge us. And, in this story, it is Simon the Pharisee. He says to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of a woman she is.”

But, ladies, that is just it- Jesus does know who is touching Him, who we are and what "kind" of women we are and IT DOESN’T MATTER.

Jesus answers Simon with a parable. He says, “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One man owed him 500 denari and the other 50 denari. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now, which of them will love the man more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had a bigger debt canceled.”

Jesus agrees. And, while He is still speaking to Simon, Jesus turns and looks at the woman. Even though He is talking to Simon, Jesus turns to look full in her face. He says, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You didn’t give me any water for my feet, but SHE wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins are forgiven, so she has shown much love.” Jesus tells the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Ladies, those of us who have sinned much are forgiven much! Jesus wants us to come to Him, no matter how great our sin, to be forgiven. He wants us to go in PEACE. He wants us to experience the peace that passes all understanding. He wants us to not worry about what others will think of us, but to be completely abandoned, head over heals in love with Him, pouring out on Him all the things of our alabaster jar which we think are so precious. To come,
so thankful, full of praise to our Savior, pouring out on His feet all of our sins, all of the things we have felt guilt and shame over, to pour on Him. He will turn our sadness to joy, our mourning to gladness, our ashes to beauty.

Dear, sweet sisters, come now to the feet of Jesus where you will find mercy and forgiveness. Whatever you have kept in your alabaster jar, pour out on His feet. If you have sinned much, you have been forgiven much. Don’t worry about what others will think of you, but instead give Him everything you have. Fall head over heals in love with your Savior. Pour out your praises on Him, He who forgives and loves and offers peace.

Lord, may I come to You honestly, seeking TRUE forgiveness. It is when I am truly sorry, truly repentant, truly full of Godly sorrow that I can experience the JOY of being forgiven...the JOY of Your salvation. Lord, give me eyes to see my sin the way You see it. May I never look a blind eye to it. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You, Jesus.

Please visit Michelle to participate in more In Other Words...

Motherly Mothers Gathering at the Well...

Gathering At the Well

This week at the Gathering, we are talking about the Transformation to "Motherly":

The discussion questions are:

Are there areas of hardness and coldness in my life?
What are the roots of these? Do I need to release someone who has hurt me in my past? Do I need to confess and release myself from the bondage of sinful patterns in my own life?What are some ways that I can turn the conversation around when other women begin to gripe and complain about their children?

Name some creative ways we can create warmer, more inviting
environments for our children.

Hmmmm....Whenever I watch "Leave It To Beaver," I
always so amazed at how

"perfect" June Cleaver is. She is everything I want to be..








She doesn't lose her temper.

She doesn't say things to her boys that she regrets.

She doesn't yell.

One of my favorite scripture passages is 1Peter 3:3-4

Wives, your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair
and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of
your inner self, the unfading beauty of a GENTLE and QUIET spirit, which is of
great worth in God's sight.

The Amplified says, "But let the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God."

Oh, how I want the hidden person of my heart to be gentle and sweet. How I want to be a Light shining the gentleness and love of Jesus.

One area where I struggle is having a critical spirit. I have high expectations for myself. I am "hard on myself." I tend to get mad at myself if I don't "perform" to my standards. I have struggled with feelings of being a failure when I don't do what I think I need to do. times, I project that on my husband...and kids. When my husband is sick, for example, I will think, "when I AM sick, I keep going. Why can't he???"

And....I can be critical with my kids....put too high of expectations on them.


Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do
not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and
discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4


This is something God has revealed to me (THANKFULLY!) and something (only through God) that I have improved upon tremendously. When I allow the Holy Spirit to guide me, I don't have to say the first thought that pops into my mind (like, "HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU......")

But not without consequences.

My 12 year old often will be critical of his younger siblings.

So, it is training in the counsel of the Lord. For both of us!

Washing ourselves in the Word transforms our thinking and our negative responses.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is
helping building others up (encouraging) according to THEIR needs, that it may
benefit those who listen. Ephesians 2:29


Clothe yourselves (this means I must make the choice- just as I
put on physical clothing, I must CLOTHE myself spiritually) with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other (I should bear
with my own children!) and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on
love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Above all things have an intense and unfailing love for one another, for love
covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].
1Peter 4:8

It is a "fine line" that we walk as parents. We must teach our children how to live blameless and pure, seeking God and His ways. I have to teach my children the difference between right and wrong. I must discipline them. There must be consequences for bad behavior.

But, one thing that God has whispered to me repeatedly, especially with Aly, my most sensitive child is "Be careful. Don't beat her up. Don't beat down her spirit."

I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit's guidance. And, when I make mistakes, I must go to my kids and apologize and ask for their forgiveness.

One of my favorite quotes is:

One of the best books I have read on PRACTICAL ideas of how to be motherly (and wifely and Godly!) is "A Woman After God's Own Heart." Elizabeth George gives practical ideas such as celebrating when your kids come home from school. This has such an impact on my kids when I make the time to do it! I have our fancy dishes out to give them a snack and sit down to talk about their day. It is a celebration that they are returning home. I loved this idea and they do as well!

I think the most important thing about being a motherly mother is being there for them....talking with them....sharing time and secrets with them....being THERE- mentally and physically. My kids love to watch movies together. But, they don't like if I am on the laptop when we are. They want my whole attention (even if we are giving our attention to the TV screen!). If we are in a conversation and the phone rings, I don't want them to think that the person on the phone is more important than them. I tell them I will call back.

God has blessed me with the most important ministry a person can ever have- being a mother. It is more important than speaking and writing. It is more important than teaching Sunday School. It is more important than leading a small group women's bible study. It is more important than volunteering in the community.

How I long to be that Proverbs 31 woman whose "children arise and call her blessed."

Please visit the Gathering at the Well for more motherly insight!

What are YOU learning?

WELCOME BACK to another week of "What are YOU Learning?" hosted by Gina at Chats with an Old Lady.

This week, I am going to begin a "study" under the theme of "Does it REALLY matter????"

At my small group Bible Study we have been discussing eternity and life here on earth. We listened to a great song, Motions, by Matthew West that prompted a question, "Does it matter if we just 'go through the motions'? Does it matter if I live passionately for God, or can I just blend in with the world...doing what 'everybody else is doing'? Why does it matter how we live? IF we're saved, then we're all going to Heaven, so what's the difference?"

Whew! As you can imagine, there is so much to much scripture to apply! So, I am going to take the next few weeks and look at a different aspect and different scriptures.

Why does it seem like the ungodly or unbelievers have it "great"? Or even some Believers who rebelliously live in sin- and "get away with it"? Why does it seem like some Believers have a tough time while ungodly neighbors or friends seem "blessed"- everything is going well for them?

My friend reminded me of one of my favorite Psalms- Psalm 37.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (verses 1- 7)
God doesn't want us to "fret" or worry about this! When WE delight ourselves in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts...when WE trust in Him and DO GOOD, we will enjoy God's safety, when we COMMIT our lives to Him, He will make our righteousness shine.
But, Tracy, this is what we just said, I look around and this is NOT HAPPENING!
Verse 7 says to WAIT patiently for God. We may not SEE the fulfillment of this until eternity. We have to remember that THIS EARTH is not our home.
Look at the first verse. God says "like the grass they will soon wither, like GREEN plants they will soon die away." Grass is lush and green in the Spring and in the Summer...but it eventually turns brown and withers. Think of green plants. I love tulips. They have beautiful green leaves. But, eventually the leaves turn brown.
Think of John 15. Jesus says that He is the true vine. We are the branches. God, the Gardener cuts away every dead branch. We have to be connected to THE VINE to thrive.
We had a live Christmas tree. It was a beautiful spruce....fragrant, green, lush. A week after New Year's, I took the tree down, put away the ornaments and put the tree out to the curb to be taken away, cut up and used as mulch. When it was out at the curb, the kids asked if we could just put it in the ground. Could we just plant it in dirt?
No. It had been cut away from the vine, the roots.
Even though it still looked green, it was dead. There was no life.
The "evil men" are connected to the True Vine. They will wither. They will die. But, they may be green for a while...
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret- it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off,
but those who hope in the LORD
will inherit the land.
I am reminded again that because I TRUST in HIM, not myself, not the world, not the "wisdom" of the world, I will inherit the land! I have an inheritance in Him! I have an eternal future. In this world, I may endure suffering, but there will be a day when "He wipes away every tear."
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy great PEACE. (10-11)
I will enjoy great peace!
And, in case you think that God doesn't notice:
The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them;but the LORD laughs at the wicked,for He knows their day is coming. (12-13)
God is a righteous, Holy God. He doesn't excuse the behavior of the wicked. It is so important to ponder a few things. First, it is NOT GOD'S DESIRE that the wicked perish. It is His will that no one would perish! But, He gave us free will and allows us to make our own choice. He doesn't force us to choose Him. He doesn't force us to love Him. And, secondly, we don't have to fight our own battles. WE don't have to "worry" or "fret" about what is right, what is wrong, why are the "wicked" getting away "with it"! Leave it to God. Keep YOUR EYES on delight in Him....
And, He is watching that as well....
Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked;for the power of the wicked will be broken,but the LORD upholds the righteous.The days of the blameless are known to the LORD, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither;in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. (16-19)
"...the days of the blameless are known to the LORD..." God is watching. He is "keeping track" of the good things you are doing. Your inheritance will endure forever. Your passion, your "walking blameless" follows you forever into eternity- it endures FOREVER! I WILL NOT WITHER!!!! I am attached to the True Vine....I get my life from Him.
But the wicked will perish:
The LORD's enemies will be like the beauty of the fields, they
will vanish- vanish like smoke.
Again, God gives us a visual. The wicked will perish. But, first, they will be beautiful. Think of a field of wildflowers or tulips. Imagine its beauty. The wicked will have a time where you look at them and it seems great...beautiful, successful, everything going their way, "the universe is blessing them". But, look what happens. It vanishes like smoke. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke is ugly, choking, can't breathe, can't see, then it is gone.
If the LORD delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm;
though he STUMBLE, he will not FALL, for the LORD upholds him with His
hand.I was young and now I am old; yet I have never seen the
righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.
Turn from evil and do good;
then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake His faithful ones.
They will be protected forever,
but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
the righteous will inherit the land and dwell forever.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is
their stronghold in times of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them form the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in Him. (39-40)
Father, thank You that You are always watching over me. When I read this Psalm, I am again reminded that I must tell others about You! You don't want one to perish. You forgive a person, no matter how "wicked" they have been. You have forgiven me in my wickedness! I am the chiefest of sinners! Help me to shine Your Light to everyone around me. Lord, help me to not fret or worry when life doesn't seem fair. I purpose to keep my eyes off of the "wicked" wondering why they have it so "easy," and keep my eyes on You! I remember, Lord, that I have an ETERNAL inheritance. When I walk blameless, keeping my eyes on You, You remember. It follows me into eternity. Lord, thank You for Your Word. I love You, Lord.
Please visit Gina at "Chat with an Old Lady" to what she is learning! do we pay the bill? Spend LESS or spend MORE and TAX 'em!

I was listening to Glenn Beck yesterday. I began listening to him during the campaign and election 2008, but have continued since. I am learning SO MUCH! Glenn calls himself "self-educated." He is a Believer, a HUGE homeschool advocate and a father of a special needs child. Check him out on his website, where you can listen to all of his talk radio spots if you can't find him on the radio or on Fox News at 5PM EST.

ANYWAY....I was listening yesterday....He was talking about the California economy. He compared California and Alaska. This made so much sense! So, I thought I would copy the transcript here for you to read for yourself. Makes sense. This was copied directly from his website.

GLENN: Can anybody see that this stuff doesn't work? I mean, do we need to look past California? Can we stop and just look at California for a second? The entire state is near a shutdown. Lawmakers now can't come to an agreement on how to patch the gigantic hole in the budget. They are one short, one vote short to pass the budget. The state is poised to start laying off as many as 20,000 government workers. So you have some concept, the hole is so big, if they fired all employees, all state employees, they would only have half of what they need. If they shut down all prisons, that's only an extra 25%. They would still be 25% short.
But what I don't understand is how come California doesn't use Obamanomics? I mean, I really don't understand how come California just doesn't spend more. If they would just spend more, they could create more jobs.

How is this being portrayed in the media? Quote: Ideological Republicans won't adapt and are blocking progress. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican and he helped negotiate this budget. Ideological Republicans won't help it pass. Of course in reality they're just saying, you know, the Republicans, "We can't cure our obesity by another year at Pizza Hut. Maybe we should hit Saladworks. Let's give that a whirl."

Well, there are some cuts in the budget, $15 billion worth, not insignificant. If you haven't believed me before when I say this is a crisis that is growing out of control, what else do you think would get Californians to cut their budget by $15 billion? And the reason why they are having a hard time passing it is because there's $14 billion of "Temporary tax increases," and when I say temporary taxes, I say it with one of the biggest air quotes you've ever seen. In fact, my fingers hurt. My arms are tired from holding up those gigantic air quotes when I use "Temporary taxes." And that's not all. When you're billions of dollars in debt and you're facing a $30-billion plus shortfall, you just, what you have to do is make sure that you borrow an additional $11 billion. And while all of this is happening, there's another story that the media is spinning.

The headline? Here it is, quote: Falling oil prices put a chink in Sarah Palin's armor.
Now, I've looked at this and I searched the article. I haven't been able to find out what the chink is and I don't mean to say the attacks are wrong. I just can't tell what the attack is. The closest I think find to a chink in the article is this: One, since oil prices are down, she might not be able to travel as much which could hurt her national profile. But I don't think that's the attack. I mean, that was in there, that she's not going to be able to travel, so it's going to hurt her national -- is that the chink in her armor? You've got to be kidding me. I don't think she really cares about her travel plans. The other is the state will have less money because of oil prices, which could make her -- which could make her job tougher. Is that the big chink in her armor? Where did they get this idea? Sarah Palin. So it's a chink in her armor that she says, "Well, things are going to be a little tougher because oil prices are down." Are either of those a chink in the armor? They haven't even happened yet and one of them was proposed by Sarah Palin herself.

But buried in the story that, of course, would never be the headline is the lesson for everybody: The media, California, Washington, my house, your house, and here's the lesson. When oil prices were high and the state was bringing in a ton of cash, the State of Alaska didn't spend all the money on new unsustainable programs. They didn't, you know, try to give everybody on the planet free healthcare. They didn't search everywhere for places to dump money while claiming, you know, they were the wealthiest country on Earth, they are the wealthiest state in the land, this will go on forever. They didn't do it. What they did is they saved.

So what does this mean? It means that while Sarah Palin's job's going to get a little harder because they don't have all the money rolling in, they are better positioned to make it through the economic crisis than anyone else. From the article, remember this is the article about the chink in Palin's armor. "The state currently has $6.6 billion in its constitutional budget reserve fund." $6.6 billion in their constitutional budget reserve fund," that it could tap into. A few billion more is also available from other pockets said Juneau economist said Gregg Erickson, a long time Alaska budget watcher. Given Alaska's robust reserves, the state is well prepared to weather the next two years, says Erickson. As to how long reserves will last after that, there are too many factors involved to say for sure.

This is the article that the oil reserve, the oil money not rolling in as fast is providing a chink in Sarah Palin's armor! Now, I just want to make sure I understand this horrible problem that they face. They can unquestionably get through the next two years and for some undetermined amount of time after that, but California can't make it through the next two minutes. Oh, yeah, and I forgot to mention this. The State of Alaska has socked away $1 billion in an education fund for the next school year, and education officials say there's another billion that's expected to go into the fund this year. So their two years of survival includes putting away a billion dollars for future school expenses, and Sarah Palin's reaction to all of this, she's calling for another $268 million to be cut out of the budget. Reductions. She has at least $7.6 billion in a bank account that she could be spending on moose museums named after Sarah Palin. But she's still cutting the fat.

Now let's just compare this for a second. Alaska, I mean, does this remind anybody of the Three Little Pigs? Alaska has taken their financial situation seriously over a long period of time. They've been able to put themselves in a position that they can withstand a global economic storm. California was having brownouts and almost going bankrupt when times were good. Now they have basically no chance. They are the American consumer who bought too much house and now can't make the mortgage payments. Maybe Alaska, that greedy oil-rich Alaska (sarcasm) should bail California out.

Well, they are. Alaskans are sending their money to Washington and Washington is sending it to California! Alaska, the person who saved the money, made a hefty down payment on their house, didn't get an interest-only loan. Now perfectly positioned to handle a lost job or an unexpected medical bill, oh, that greedy Alaska with all their money. (sarcasm) Yeah, all that oil money that Alaska has that California could have. They have chosen in California not to tap their own resources, ignoring all the harm that they have done to their state and to our country. If they tap their own oil resources, they could pay for all of the budget problems that they have. They could cover the budget deficits if they tap their own oil resources. But they don't. They chose not to make money on their own resources. They chose to spend the money that they wanted to spend on things they didn't need but wanted to have. They decided that they were going to socialize their state and they're asking the only people who recognize it to ignore how they got into this mess and vote for an additional $25 billion in tax hikes and borrowing. They were asking the only people who are drawing a line in the sand and saying, "This is insanity!" They are blaming it on them and saying, "You just won't let us fix this problem."

That's like having the arsonist stand outside of the house and the arsonist pointing to the fireman saying, "He won't give me any more gasoline. I can stop this fire!"

Alaska tapped their natural resources. They didn't spend their cash when times were good. Now they can handle whatever comes their way and they're still putting more away and giving a share of oil revenues back to the people all at the same time. California won't even give their tax refunds back, money that Californians paid in taxes, overpaid, California's sending them an IOU. And yet the media and many Americans look at California as sophisticated and progressive and smart, and Sarah Palin, well, she's crazy. She's stupid. She doesn't know what she's doing. Alaskans? They're just, they're moose people. You know they're killing all the wolves now, and did you hear? Their governor had a bad interview with Katie Couric. I mean, who can't handle Katie Couric? (sarcasm)

When you really think about it, is there any wonder how we got into the middle of this mess? Is there any outrage, is there any outrage that states who played by the rules, states that are made fun of, states who lived within their means are now being forced to pay for the states that could cripple us all, pay for the states that wanted to live their own way. They didn't even want to really help with national defense. "Oh, you can't have -- I'm sorry, you can't have that recruiting office here. I'm sorry. You can't have any ROTC on campuses. I'm sorry, we're not going to obey that federal law. No, this is a sanctuary city."

Why should I spend a single dollar on tax money? Why should I send my taxes to Washington so they can go and be sent to California? Why? Why? California, you want to fix your problem, you find ways to make money. By the way, there are other ways -- and I know this is hard for you to comprehend -- there are other ways for you to make money other than just taxing the bat snot out of people. Because you know what happens there? What's going to happen to Portland, Oregon? What's going to happen in Oregon? They are raising the taxes on beer manufacturing. Well, why are the people making these microbreweries in Oregon? Because they had the lowest taxes in the country! So when you raise the taxes, what is it, like 1900%? When you raise the taxes on these microbreweries by 1900%, do you think maybe they might go, "You know what? This no longer is a good state for us because we have to pay 1900% higher taxes."

There's other ways, California, to make money and that is encourage businesses to move into your state, not move out. Use your own natural resources. I know, I know you don't want to go to the beach and look at those oil rigs. I know it's tough, but sometimes you have to do the tough thing because I'm getting sick of carrying your water.

Father God, help this country! Have mercy on us, Lord! Give us a spirit of wisdom and discernment. Lord, I pray "Your people will humble themselves and pray."

Gathering at the Well...with friends

Gathering At the Well

Friendship in Your Family

The discussion questions are:

What is your definition of friendship?
Did you follow the belief that we should not be friends with our children?
Has that changed?
In what ways can we befriend our husbands and children?
What can we do to teach those skills to someone else?

Boy! This was a "tough" subject at our house two years ago, when Andrew was in 5th grade!

I guess my "definition" of friendship would be a relationship with two people who care for one another, love one another, give grace to each other, forgiving and overlooking each other's faults. I know I could ask my friends for help any time and they would sacrifice to help me.

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Colossians 3:12-15

I, of course, have very close friends and casual friends, or "acquaintances"- people I may chat with but not CONFIDE in...

I guess, pondering what I have just said, I would have to say that my best friends ARE my family members....Brian IS my best friend. He knows me completely. I can share everything with him.

And, we like to spend time together as a family. We like to play together, watch movies together, have fun together. We joke and laugh. I would do anything for my kids and husband- sacrifice anything to help them. My family can confide in me and I can trust them not share our "secrets." This happened recently when Andrew confided in me a problem he was having with his friend. It was everything I could do to NOT call this boy's mom and let her know what was going on! But, if I did, I would lose Andrew's trust, something I wasn't willing to do! We continued to pray about it together. God gave Andrew wisdom and the boys eventually worked it out.

With Brian, my husband, it is "easy" to have this friendship relationship. We are companions, confidants, best friends...

But, with our children, it is a little "stickier".

It's tough because we love our kids, enjoy playing with them, and we have lots of fun together. We are playful together, tickling, wrestling, laughing.... We play games together and enjoy spending time with one another.


We are MORE than our kids' "FRIEND."

This is what we struggled explaining to Andrew two years ago. He would get angry when we told him, "We're not your 'friend,' but your 'parent', Andrew." I think he heard it as "We're not friends. We don't like you." And, when he was little, we always called him "Little Buddy." We didn't want him to blur the lines of respect. At this crucial age, he was exploring the boundaries of authority. We wanted him to know we loved him MORE than a friend. We cared about the man he would grow up to be. We wanted him to know that our relationship was about MORE than just having fun. We were/are his teachers as well. We wanted him to understand the responsibility God had/has given us to "train up a child"- him.

We wanted him to understand that sometimes we would have to say "no" when it seems like "all the other parents" were saying "yes." We wanted him to understand that we weren't just thinking of today, but thinking of his future as well.

We wanted him to understand respect for authority and submission. We knew in order for him to understand this submission to an "invisible" God, he had to understand submission to visible parents. I found it difficult to live this out at times and had to really pray Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instructions of the Lord." I did not want to exasperate Andrew as I was trying to teach him!

He must manage his own family well and see that this children obey him with proper respect. 1Timothy 3:4

Boy, that year was tough as Andrew was growing and maturing. We worked through it and he understands the boundaries of respect. We ARE friends, but we are so much more.

Father God, help us live out this life with our families. Give us wisdom in teaching our children. Thank You for giving us grace when we make mistakes. Remind us to extend that same grace to our loved ones. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Please visit the Well today to gather more insight on friendships and family!

Miracle Monday

Welcome Back to another wonderful week of praising God for His amazing Hand in our lives! God's Word says to "tell of His wondrous works...telling them to the next generation." It is so important to share how God works in our lives. It is so important to tell of His glory.
It is so important to let people know that God is
For this week's miracle, I want to share a miracle that God performed on my behalf a few years ago. This is one of my most precious memories. I was thinking about it again when I spoke to a women's retreat and shared the story with them.
My prayer is that it blesses you!
Please don't think that I am "anything special." God wants to do things like this in YOUR life!
Not just in my life.
Not just in Joyce Meyer's life.
Not just in Beth Moore's life.
Not just in the New Testament church.
For you.
I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your
deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles: You display Your power among the
peoples.-Psalm 77:12-14
Several years ago, I owned a children’s birthday party business, Party Pros, in which I planned creative, themed birthday parties. I would “do” the entire party- the invitations, goody bags, entertainment, and even an elaborate cake. I had a Pirate Party, a Dinosaur Party, a Little Mermaid Party, and the ever popular Cinderella party. This party was so cute. Little girls dressed up, I did their hair and makeup, an invitation comes for the ball, the girls take a carriage ride, and we dance at the lovely ball. To make the girls into princesses, they make crowns and put on “gowns”- dresses cut from pink tablecloth. This party was every little girl’s “dream come true.”

Well, my business had gotten very popular and I had over extended what I could do. But, I loved doing these parties and could not turn down any parent. Summer months tended to be very busy, and one week I had a Thursday evening, Friday evening, and Saturday morning party scheduled. As you can imagine, the planning and preparation was time consuming for these parties, and I had committed to too many parties so close together. So, on Friday evening, after I finished a Pirate Party, and was very tired, I began finishing the preparations for the very large Cinderella party I had planned for the next MORNING. At 11:00 PM, I began cutting 18 dresses for the little girls. After about 7 dresses, I ran out of pink tablecloth.

What was I going to do now?
The pink gowns were a crucial part of the party. I knew Wal-Mart, which was open 24 hours didn’t have pink tablecloth. The party stores where I usually found the pink tablecloth didn’t open the next morning until 9:00 and I had to be at the party for set up by 9:00 at the other end of town.
The situation seemed hopeless. I cried out to the Lord, “God, I am so tired. I‘m so sorry- I confess, Lord, I procrastinated, and should have had this done before now. Please help me, God! I don’t know what to do! I really want the party to be perfect for this little girl. I want to do a good job for her. I know God that with You all things are possible. I trust You and know You will work this all out.”

I went to bed not knowing how God would help me, but feeling peace that He would. But, I still felt the need to control how God was going to help. So, I planned to leave early in the morning, stop at a drugstore on the way to the party to purchase ANY tablecloth, and arrive early enough to cut the remaining dresses. In my mind, I thought God’s plan would be to provide pink tablecloths at the drugstore, or some kind of tablecloth that wouldn’t disappoint the birthday girl. In the “natural,” I couldn’t see how God could help my predicament.
I wasn’t expecting a miracle!

In the morning, I continued to pray. I purchased tablecloth at the drugstore, which was the ugliest floral I had ever seen. It was either that or black. Thinking ugly floral was better than nothing, I grabbed it and hurried off to the party. I refused to lose faith, and continued to pray. I cried out again to God for his help. I said, “God, I have to give this to you! I know you will take care of me. I don’t know how, this seems so impossible.”
In my mind, I thought God would help me cut the ugly floral tablecloths before the party began, and that the birthday girl and her mom wouldn’t be disappointed in them. (Isn't funny how we can put God in a "box" and limit Him with our own ideas?) I continued praying on the way to the party.

When I arrived, the mom was waiting at the door. She had an idea for the party and was hoping I would use it. This mother had been a dancer and owned beautiful dance costumes that she had worn during her performances. She thought it would be very special if her daughter and her daughter’s friends would wear these costumes instead of my tablecloth gowns. She had wanted to ask me earlier, but didn’t want to offend me. Sheepishly, she asked, “Would you mind?”

Would I mind???? Hmmm.....beautiful sequined tablecloth. Which would you choose?
I was speechless. I knew this was the answer to my prayer! But, this was a large party, and I wondered if there would really be enough costumes for all 18 girls. The mother and I counted the dresses one by one and there were exactly 18 beautiful sequined glamorous gowns.
What an answered prayer- a miracle! I knew God was speaking directly to me, wooing me and whispering love songs in my ear. He was rescuing me! My prince in shining armor!

I have to tell you it was an awesome party and I wept and sang the whole way home. God took such care of me. He had given me the desires of my heart and saved me in such a way that I knew it could only have been him! I had limited God in my mind of what He could do, but He was so much bigger than any of my wildest dreams. Like God parting the Red Sea to reveal His glory, He had allowed the mother to delay requesting that I use her gowns so that I would understand the way His hand saved me. If I had planned on using them, I would not have heard His tender love song and see the way He is willing to save me.
Please visit Beth at A Mom's Life for more awesome miracles!