Happy Arbor Day....At the Well!

Today is Arbor Day!
Trees need to be attached to their root system to LIVE and THRIVE and produce FRUIT. I am At the Well today sharing about how important it is for us, like trees to stay connected to our Source of Life! Hope you can stop over!

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he mediates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither

Whatever he does prospers..-Psalm 1:1-3

Have you ever seen trees planted by the water? This image is the Mississippi River. We cross the Mighty Mississippi when we travel "home" to Illinois from Iowa to visit family. I love soaking in the beautiful sight of the Mississippi, especially in the Spring and Fall. It isn't the water the captures my attention as much as the BEAUTIFUL trees lining both sides of the river. They are bigger, greener, and more beautiful than trees anywhere else. They are LUSH...
When reading this psalm for the first time, I immediately visualized those beautiful trees. They are near the life-giving, refreshing, nutrient-filled water. When we fill up on God's Word, as this psalm reminds us, we, too will flourish like these trees. We will yield fruit (notice it says "in due season"- that is for a whole other post!) and WHOSE LEAF DOES NOT WITHER!
I do not want my "leaves" to whither! I want to be refreshed, lush, green...not DRY!
If you are feeling dry today....go to His Word.
Fill up on it.
Be refreshed.
Soak it in.
Let it do its work in you!
....and "everything you do will prosper."

What are YOU Learning....about the power of your words?

It's been a few weeks since I have joined my friend Gina at Chats with an Old Lady for "What are YOU Learning." I am so glad to be joining in today!

I have been studying the Gospel of Luke the past few weeks and have been enjoying it so much! Our wonderful God has given us such a gift....His Word. I LOVE the Old Testament as well as the New. But, when I read the Gospels, I am inspired and refreshed and encouraged like nothing else! It is amazing to watch our incredible Lord perform miracles, teach such pearls of wisdom, and speak such beautiful words. And, as I have been reading Luke, I have found there is so MUCH to learn! Each chapter....each passage....each verse is filled with so much! Thank You, Lord!

Father, I pray that You will give us deep insight into Your Word today. Thank You, God for a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may know You better!

I am just going to share on one very small part of Luke...chapter 1...BEFORE the birth of Jesus. First of all, let's get to know Luke a bit. He wasn't one of the 12 disciples...but he was a follower of Jesus. He says, "...I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning. It seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you..." He was a doctor. That brings so much revelation right there! He will "see" things a little differently than a fisherman or a tax collector! He will notice details and have an understanding of some things that someone who hasn't studied biology wouldn't.

He doesn't begin his Gospel with a genealogy (although he includes one in chapter 3). Instead, he sets the stage with the birth of John the Baptist. He begins by telling us about John's parents- Elizabeth and Zechariah. He says "both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly." BUT there was one BIG problem with this couple- they hadn't had any children AND they were "well along in years."

If there is one thing I have seen in scripture- it is that it is NOT a good thing to be barren in Bible times! There is a stigma and SHAME that goes along with it.

Now, Zechariah was a priest. I have read that in those times, the priests would take turns doing different duties. But, it was a rare thing to actually be the priest to go into the temple to burn incense before the Lord. THIS is a HUGE thing! We don't always understand it because we have the privilege here in American to go into church anytime and as Christians, we enter into the Lord's presence anywhere. But, for Zechariah, this was the TOP honor in his duties in priesthood. I also have read that this honor was only once in a lifetime.

So, Zechariah's "division" was on duty and he was "serving as priest before God." Then, it was time to choose by lot who would go INTO the temple of the Lord. Drum roll please.....yep. Zechariah's lot was chosen. What a coincidence! NOT! I just LOVE reading about God's sovereignty! Let's draw straws to see who goes in today. Looks like you, Zechariah.

"All the assembled worshippers were praying outside the temple." I know that everything in the Bible is important, so I don't want to just slide past this without noticing. God's people were praying.

Meanwhile, inside, Zechariah is burning incense and Gabriel, the angel appears to him!

The Bible says he is "gripped with fear." But, the angel tells him not to be afraid. He then goes on to tell this man of God that he and Elizabeth, despite their old age will have a son. The angel tells him to name the son JOHN. And, then, listen to this! The angel says, "He will be a joy and delight to you..." What parent doesn't long to hear that???? This child will be a JOY and DELIGHT to them. Gabriel goes on, "and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth (or from the womb). Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. "

WHEW! Don't we all have great aspirations for our children? But, WOW...to know our child will save the Lost and be a source of great joy to many people! Isn't that thrilling????

Then, Gabriel goes on to say, "And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

This is amazing! Elijah is VERY important to the people of Israel and the angel tells Zechariah that his son will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah!

I was reading in Malachi, the prophet, and found this. "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."Malachi 4:5-6

Since Zechariah was a priest and the Bible says he observed all the Lord's commands. I know he had to study. He surely would have recognized these words from the prophet!

So, here he is, in the temple of the LORD with an angel before him speaking words of the prophet, telling him about a miracle that God will perform through him and Elizabeth, taking part in an amazing plan of God....bringing many people back to the Lord! THRILLING!

So, how does Zechariah react? Does he jump for joy? Fall down on his knees? Raise his hands to worship the LORD?

Zechariah doubts. He questions the angel, "How can this be??? I'm old. Elizabeth is old." What is unspoken is "This can't happen. Nope. Impossible."
Never mind that Abraham and Sarah had Isaac when they were 100! Never mind that God parted the Red Sea. Never mind that He put every star in place....the sun...the moon. Never mind that He created every living thing, made the mountains. Never mind that He keeps the oceans in storehouses. Never mind that He brings the rain, the wind....
Gabriel doesn't take this lightly. He says, "I'm Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." He then tells Zechariah that he will be SILENT and not be able to speak "until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
I believe that there is POWER in our words. The Bible says that there is the power of life and death in our tongue. I believe that God did not want Zechariah to speak doubt and negativity over Elizabeth and this miracle. God would not ALLOW Zechariah to speak this over the situation. God doesn't let Zechariah even whisper this doubt to Elizabeth. Before Zechariah leaves the temple he is not able to speak.
This shows me for my own life, that I need to have faith, trusting in God's promises, no matter how WILD they may seem....AND I need to watch my words. If I am believing for a miracle, I can NOT speak doubt over it. I need to remember that with God, "all things are possible!"
Two other things I love about this story:
1. Elizabeth says, "In these days He (God) has shown His favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." Having a baby took away her disgrace. I love that God takes away our shame!
2. Zechariah's faith is restored. Remember the angel told him to name his son JOHN? Well, this was unusual because there weren't any "Johns" in his family and it was custom to name children a family name. Zechariah still can't speak (and he is the head of the household) so when it is time to circumcise the baby and name him, the people were going to name the baby after Zechariah's father. Elizabeth spoke up and said, "NO! He is to be called John." They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name."
Then, it was Zechariah that WRITES, "His name is John."
We know that he believes! He could have named the baby anything, but he obeys what Gabriel had told him and names the baby John. Zechariah doesn't name the baby like everyone expects.
Guess what?
Zechariah's voice comes back! It was Zechariah's act of FAITH that brings his voice back. And, then when it returns, Zechariah uses it to PRAISE GOD with a beautiful song and prophesy.
Lord, fill my mouth with words of faith! In Jesus' Name I pray! Amen!

Thankful Thursday

Welcome to a day devoted to praising our amazing, beautiful, wonderful Lord! Please visit Laurie at Women Taking a Stand to link to others who are joining in this adoration.

I am so thankful for an awesome day last Saturday fellowshipping with my sisters, laughing uncontrollably with Liz Curtis Higgs. She is hilarious!

I am so thankful that God saves us! Listening to her story, I am so thankful that our gracious God so loves to take the LOST-messed up, screwed up- and totally turn lives around. God truly turns our messes into miracles! He makes all things NEW! What once was dead is ALIVE. We are a NEW CREATION!

I am also SO THANKFUL for God's Word! I am so thankful for the Gospel of Luke. I have been reading studying it the last few weeks (come back tomorrow to read what God is showing me in it!). Oh....HOW I LOVE HIS WORD! It truly is alive and works within us.

And, finally...I am so thankful for Jesus Christ. Through Him all things are possible!

Have a BLESSED Thankful Thursday!

Are you BUSY?



You know them....

These sisters both dearly loved Jesus, and were dearly loved by Jesus. He came often to visit and teach them. As the story goes, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha was preparing a meal for them.

In fact, the Bible says, “Martha was distracted by her many tasks.”

Ever been distracted with your MANY TASKS?

You know, I’m sure Jesus would have been happy with peanut butter and jelly, but Martha must have been putting out quite a spread.

I’m the same way- when company’s coming, I dust the lampshades, clean out the closets, prepare at least 12 different appetizers, put out the matching napkins and plates.

Well, there is our Martha, “distracted by her many tasks,” and getting irritated at her sister.

Can’t you picture her in the kitchen, having a “pity party,” talking to herself, listing all of the things she is doing WITHOUT any help? As she is working, she is getting madder and madder that she is the only one doing these tasks. I picture her slamming the cabinet doors, banging the dishes down. Sighing loudly, you know, the “Huhhhhhhhhh,” thinking that if Mary and Jesus hear, maybe they will get the point?

Finally, Martha explodes!

She comes to Jesus, whining, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Now, take a step back, and look at what Martha is doing- she is making a meal for JESUS.

She is serving the Lord.

She is doing a “good” thing. Like, Martha, I can fill my life with so many distractions- sometimes very “good” things, and like Martha, I get overwhelmed and frustrated, and I begin feeling sorry for myself, and I, too, usually explode. “Don’t You care, Lord? I’m doing this all by myself! Make Brian help me.”

What does Jesus tell Martha?

He says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.”

How many times when I am banging doors, slamming dishes, and sighing loudly, having my own pity party, feeling sorry for myself, complaining that life is not fair, do I hear my Lord whisper to me, “Tracy, Tracy, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.”

The ONE thing that is needed is getting to feet of Jesus, like Mary. It is putting everything else aside and spending this close, intimate time with Him. ONE thing, only one thing!

You see, when you are at the feet of Jesus, you hear his voice. You are still and quiet and listening. You are in a posture of looking up.

He will whisper to you what is important, what His will is. You may find that His priorities for you are much different than your own. You begin to hear and understand, and begin to ask, “In light of eternity, what really matters? What is really important?”

And, notice what Jesus says, “Mary has chosen what is better, AND IT WON’T BE TAKEN FROM HER.”

Don’t skip that message from Jesus. You see, Satan loves to attack us in this area. He tries to make us feel guilty for being unproductive. We think, “We got to get up and get some work done! There is laundry, there are dishes, there are bills to pay!” But, Jesus is telling us to not be distracted by these things, that it is better to sit at His feet, and when we chose to, it won’t be taken from us.

Ladies, look how busy Jesus was! He spent His days healing crowds of people, teaching, and ministering. But, the Bible says that He got away often to be alone with the Father. Jesus made it a priority.

Serving Jesus, like Martha, was a good thing, but the best was sitting at His feet.

How do we get at the feet of Jesus? How do we deepen our relationship with God?

Just as in the same way we spend time with our loved ones- spouses, children, and friends- we need to seek out God to spend time with Him. Jeremiah says, “When you seek God, you will find Him, when you seek Him with all of your heart." And, James tells us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Prayer is our way to draw near to Him. And, what is "prayer"? Simply TALKING to God!

Through prayer and bible reading, we get to know God.

Oswald Chambers says our spiritual lives, which are nourished by prayer, will suffer if we don’t pray. He says, “When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished.”

Have you been fed lately?

In Other Words

This week Nina from Mama's Little Treasures has chosen a quote from one of my FAVORITE author/speakers- Joyce Meyer. Ponder this:

“Give yourself permission not to know and be satisfied knowing the One who does.”
~ by Joyce Meyer, “I Dare You


Are you ever plagued with having to be "in control?" Do you just have to KNOW how things are going to turn out? Do you find it hard just to TRUST??????

Why is it that some of us simply "put it in God's Hands"....trusting Him and resting in Him, full of peace....

while others of us WORRY.....FRET....and are definitely NOT satisfied with "not knowing."

Do you really believe that God is in control? Or....have you held on with white knuckles, refusing to relinquish CONTROL of your life?

"Give yourself permission not to know."

Part of the beautiful mystery of life is NOT KNOWING....

AND....I have found so many times what I THINK I KNOW turns out not to be best for me! If I would have "been in control", I would have messed things up BIG TIME. Often, it turns out the Creator of the Universe also knows how to weave together the fabric of the circumstances of my life for my good. My wonderful Father God knows the end from the beginning. He is NOT surprised about anything that is happening to me.

"Be satisfied knowing the One who does (know)."

I love that Joyce uses the word "satisfied." I want to be satisfied....experience SATISFACTION. When I am satisfied, I am CONTENT...resting in God. Full of PEACE.

"Knowing God" doesn't just mean that you know about God. It means that you have a relationship with God. When you have a relationship with the One who placed all of the stars in the sky, you can rest in His plan for your life.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for good and not evil." Jeremiah 29:11

Take some time to ponder this quote and join us in your words!

This looks AWESOME!

Writing Canvas blog is giving away a copy of this book, Shame Lifter: Replacing Your Fears and Tears with Forgiveness, Truth and Hope. Submissions end Sunday, April 26th and winner announced on Monday, April 27, 2009. Read about this life changing book and enter here.

This looks like an AWESOME book! I am hoping to win.....check it out!

I always thank my God when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a FULL understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints. Philemon 1:4-6

Lord, may I be "actice in sharing my faith"! AND...look what Paul says will happen: I will have a FULL understanding of every good thing in Christ! Amazing!

Recently, my friend, Donna and I were praying and she said something that has just STUCK with me. She said, may we, like the 5 wise bridesmaids who were ready for the bridegroom (Matthew 25), be ready for Jesus. May we be BUSY at the task of snatching souls from the enemy's hands. Oh, how that has left an imprint on me. May I be busy at the work of saving the Lost.....rescuing those who do not KNOW HIM. May I be busy at this most precious task!

Then, last week Joyce Meyer taught an awesome series on "Living the Blessed Life." She said something that hit me. She talked about many Christians being "pregnant" but not giving birth. We fill up and fill up and fill up on the Word, books, tapes, (blog devotions!), and it fills us, but we are not "giving birth" to it. We are not walking it out, sharing Christ's love, DOING it... We need to 1. Love God and 2. Love Others.

I am also reading a fantastic book right now by Bill Hybels, "Just Walk Across the Room." This is his daily prayer, which I have committed to making MY daily prayer:

"My life is in Your hands, God. Use me to point someone toward You today. I promise to cooperate in any way I can. If you want me to say a word for You today, I'll do that. If You want me to keep quiet but demonstrate love and servanthood, by Your Spirit's power I will. I'm FULLY available to You today, so guide me by Your Spirit."

As the days are getting shorter and the time draws nearer for the return of our precious Jesus, will you join me, too, being busy snatching souls for Jesus?

Where will YOU go?

Where will YOU go when you die?
Do you know?
I'll be talking about this at Laced with Grace today....please join me!

In Other Words....

“God’s promises are never affected by our failures. He can use us at any age. ”
by Michael Youssef from Leading the Way

Thank goodness that God's promises are not affected by my FAILURES!
I fail in so many ways, so many days!
But, He promises that I am forgiven.
He promises that His mercies are new each morning.
He promises that I am a NEW CREATION in Christ!
God can use my failures to bring good.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
God can turn my messes into miracles......
And, I have complete confidence that Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith is changing me from glory to glory.....He who began a good work in me WILL bring it to completion.
When I do mess up, it is an opportunity to again turn to Jesus, throwing myself on His mercy, washing myself in His grace, confident that I am becoming a display of His splendor.
Please join KAREN on her blog, In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus. She is hosting “In ‘Other’ Words” this week. Be sure to visit her site and the links to the other women who have shared on this quote. Blessings!

Happy Resurrection MONDAY!

Oh, Lord! You have RISEN!

It is MONDAY.....

The church service is over.

The songs have been sung.

I do not want to "lose" the power of Sunday! I do not want to let MONDAY be "just another day." I do not want to forget the power of what You did, precious Lord!

It has been an emotional week....with celebrating the Passover and Last Supper on Thursday, remembering Your sacrifice and grieving over Your pain on Friday....waiting on Saturday, and celebrating on Resurrection Sunday!

But, it is NOT over!

I am FREE.

Lord, help me to understand, "get a hold of" the POWER I have in a Risen Christ. Help me to see WHO I AM in Christ! Help me to walk in the victory that is already MINE through You!

I am blessed in the heavenly realms with ALL spiritual blessings in Christ. Not only that, I am CHOSEN, ADOPTED, REDEEMED, INCLUDED, MARKED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT! (Ephesians 1)

I am a NEW CREATION! (2Corinthians 6:17)

I am more than a CONQUEROR, more than an OVERCOMER! (Romans 8:37)

Lord, where I am weak, You are strong! And, I have spirit of POWER through You! (2Timothy)

Lord, You have done so much for me. I don't want to take Your sacrifice and glorious Victory for granted. I want to walk in the victory You have given me.

Yes, "Easter" may be over for another year....but Resurrection Day lives in me forever.

He has risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Many blessings to you today on this incredible Resurrection Day!!

A MakeOver of the Heart Bible Study

Welcome to the last day of our heart makeover! What an amazing day to finish....Maundy Thursday...the day our Lord Jesus celebrated Passover with His followers. The night that Jesus went into the garden to pray. As I ponder this, I realize that Jesus fell on His face in prayer, crying out to the Father....how much more do I NEED TO DO THE SAME?
Our last week focuses on prayer. Today's study is again very long, so feel free to read a little over the next few days.....preparing your heart for Easter. We will talk about suffering as Christians in this lesson. What a powerful time to ponder this topic...as we remember the suffering that Jesus endured for us on Good Friday. Please come back to leave your comments. Also, take a few minutes to pray for your sisters who have been participating with you in this study. I can't wait to hear the ways God has been changing your hearts!
We were talking about prayer:
So, what if we don’t ask? What if I don’t pray for God’s help and leading? James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” Jesus tells us “Ask and it will be given to you.” And also, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

You may be thinking right now, “Well, if all I have to do is ASK, then why didn’t I win the lottery? Or, more seriously, “Then, why did my husband lose his job?” Or, “Why then is my mother dying of cancer?”
You may be frustrated or disappointed because you feel your prayers are not being answered. We feel our prayer is a “good” prayer and worthy of the answer we want. Or, we think WE have been good, so we should earn the answer we desire.

We have to remember, God always, always answers our prayers, but not always the way we want or understand. Sometimes, when God answers, the answer is “No.” Sometimes the answer is “not yet.” And it may not seem “right” or fair to us. We have to remember two important things- God’s ways are not our ways and God’s timing is not our timing. But, God’s ways are perfect and His timing is perfect. We can’t see things the way God can. God has your WHOLE life planned, not just this season of it. Remember, life on earth is just a snapshot of our eternal life. God sees the end from the beginning.

God is your FATHER. He has a plan for you. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. He created you. He has counted the number of hairs on your head. He takes care of you, better than you ever could. Again, He knows what is best for you, or how you will grow from your life experiences. He can see “the big picture of your life.”.

Let’s step back, and think this through very simply. If you are a parent, think about your own children at different stages of maturity. Or, think about yourself as a child, a teenager, and an adult, and how your parents loved you through your stages of life. As a parent, do you always say “yes” to your children, giving them everything their hearts desire?

“Mommy can I have a cookie before dinner?”
“Mom, can I jump off the counter like Superman?”
“Mom can I go swimming in this 50’ weather?”
“Can I borrow the car?”
“Can I just blow off that appointment?”
“But, Mom, everyone else is going.”
“Can I go on that unsupervised overnight trip?”

Like, God, we cannot always say yes to our children BECAUSE we love them, because we know the consequences of those choices, because we can see, even when our children can’t the hidden dangers of those request, because we want the best for our children, because we want them to grow into mature, responsible, good people. Our children can’t always see the “big picture” when we can. So, we stand our ground, sometimes against tantrums, tears, the “silent treatment” and sometimes even the angry words “I hate you!”

When I was growing up, I often heard the word “no.” I would usually follow with “please.” My mother would repeat her “no.” I would then ask again with a more irritating “please.” That would be followed by “no,” which would be followed with “please”… Finally, in frustration, I would whine, BUT WHY? And often, my mom would say, “Because I love you. You don’t understand now, but when you grow up, you will understand and you’ll thank me.” Well, as an adult I do understand, and I do thank her. I can see the “big picture” and am grateful she said no. Like a good parent, God has to say no at times because he loves me.

We must trust that God is in control of our lives. At times, it may seem like we are suffering and struggling and that God is silent and that He is not answering our prayers. We get frustrated and angry that we have to endure this pain. But James tells us “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Once we have persevered, then we become mature and complete. We will not be complete until we have persevered under trials.

And Peter says, “Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Peter tells us the trials have come into our lives for a purpose. He says that our faith may be proved genuine. We are not proving the genuineness of our faith to God, for He already knows our hearts. God is revealing our faith to our own hearts. The verse also says “our faith is worth more than gold”- it is priceless. Then, the passage goes on to talk about gold being refined by fire. When gold is heated to that degree in which it melts, the impurities come up to the surface so that they may be removed. When we are “refined” by our trials, our impurities and imperfections surface so that they may be removed. Our trials make us more beautiful, more priceless.

Peter goes on to say later in the letter, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Our trials should never surprise us. We live in a fallen world. Because of sin, because of the presence of evil, life will never be perfect. It’s not that Peter is saying rejoice about this bad thing that is happening to you. No, he is saying rejoice, praise God, worship the Lord during this trial.

So many times we pray that we “want to be like Jesus.” What did Jesus come to earth to do? He came to suffer, to die to His flesh, to sacrifice Himself. When we “offer our bodies as living sacrifices,” when we are obedient to God, and when we rejoice in the midst of trials, we are becoming more like Jesus. We are “participating in the sufferings of Christ” as Peter explains it.

I grew up with a mother who instilled in me the belief that “everything happens for a reason.” Many times WE don’t know why, but we have to trust God, and know that HE knows why.” She repeated that saying constantly through my life and she has truly lived her whole life believing it with her heart. Has she ever cried out in pain and grief, wondering “why?” I’m sure she has. Has her faith ever been shaken? I’m sure it has. But, it has been this belief and trust in a GOOD God who is faithful that has gotten her through these painful trials. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” It doesn’t say in all good things, in only pleasant things, or in happy times, but in “ALL things, God works for the good.” And, again, it may not be the “good” that we would choose, but how God chooses.

My mother’s faith is so remarkable, considering all the trials she has had in her life. I have already shared the suffering she endured with Bob. Even before she lived through that nightmare, she had also endured many other trials. She had polio as a young child. The doctors told my grandma that my mom would never walk without braces. When they came to fit her for them, she was riding her bicycle in the driveway. She quit school after 8th grade to work and help her family. She met and married my father, the love of her life. As a young mother, she lost a 3 -day old baby daughter. Several years later, my father and my 13- yr. old brother were killed in a boating accident. My mother was devastated.

But, through all of this, she has never turned from God and given up on Him. I have never heard her accuse God of not answering her prayers. She has kept the creed that everything happens for a reason and we need to trust in God’s plan. She surrendered her life to the Lord and taught me as a young child to completely put my trust in God. All through her life, she went to God in prayer. Again, it is important to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and that His timing is not our timing.


What trials have you faced in life?

How have you dealt with them? After reading this, how would you change your reactions to these trials?

Father, help me to pray. “May the meditations of my heart and the words of my heart be pleasing to You, O God.” You know my heart and my needs and desires. Give me a heart, Lord that hungers and thirsts for You. Bring me into a deep relationship with You. I know the best way to do that is through prayer. Help me to pray. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Let’s go back to our key verse, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” For me, that is the hardest part of prayer- being STILL and waiting for Him patiently. It’s hard for me to be still for anything. And PATIENTLY WAIT? I NEED MY ANSWERS NOW! But, if we are always are talking and never listening, God can’t speak and be heard BY us.

One way that God talks to us is through his Word, the Bible. We must search out his will for our lives by reading it. If you want to pray, but don’t know where to start, take heart. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints (that means you and me), in accordance with God’s will.”

There are times when I feel lonely or sad or depressed. I’m not sure why, or even if there is something wrong. Those are the times that I continually go back to that scripture and ask the Spirit to intercede for me, to pray for me because God knows my heart better than I know my heart. He created my heart. God knows what I need and what I desire, even before I do. The Spirit will search your heart and reveal to you what you need to pray.

There are often times that God calls to us. He wants US to seek Him out- to go to Him. He wants a relationship with us. We are programmed at birth to need him. God has placed eternity in our hearts and we have a space within our hearts that only God can fill. I am reminded of college life when I would get so lonely and homesick at times I would call home just to hear the sound of my mom’s voice. I physically felt a longing, a yearning. That is how we are with God because we are His creation. Our souls yearn for God and there is a yearning inside of us to grow close to our Creator. David says in Psalm 63, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Unfortunately, in today’s “me-centered” impatient society, we tend to fill this desire, this longing, with a “quick fix,” a chocolate brownie, a shopping spree, a margarita, TV shows, or gossiping on the phone. We think these worldly pursuits will fill us up, make us feel better, and quench the thirst we are experiencing. These invitations look so appealing. The world claims we will experience fulfillment and satisfaction. And, we want instant gratification. We don’t want to wait for God. We don’t want to be still and be patient. We want to control our lives, to take care of ourselves, and pamper ourselves. We don’t like this uncomfortable feeling of denying ourselves and allowing our spirits to feel pain, longing, or loneliness. We think it is WRONG if we are feeling any pain or sorrow, and we try to fix it immediately with our own ways. So, instead of going to God, opening the Bible, going to the Lord in prayer, we try to fill ourselves- this yearning, this need by ourselves- or with the world’s methods. These methods will always leave us feeling dissatisfied, longing for more.

Jesus offers us such a better way! While talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), Jesus talks about “living water.” He points out the “world’s water”- the water of the well, and says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again.”
Isn’t that true of our “water?” Food, exercise, TV, possessions, or praise from man never satisfies us. We continually want more and more until our desire becomes insatiable, sometimes consuming us. Jesus tells the woman at the well, “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The spring is inside you waiting to be tapped into. In order to fill up on this water, we have to get quit before the Lord in prayer. That is the hard part- being still!

But, we don’t want to be still. We can’t get off of our cell phones long enough to be still. Have you ever stood in line at Blockbuster or Target, just watching and listening? People everywhere in caught up in their own private conversation on cell phones. We are so afraid of being alone and being still, we can’t even grocery shop without talking on the phone! The Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We must patiently wait for the Lord. We need to give ourselves to the Lord, be still, and quietly wait for him.

In Hosea, God says, “Therefore, I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” God is talking to you! He wants to speak tenderly to you. But, why does He need to lead us to the desert before He can speak to us? We are so distracted and caught up in the world. God needs to get us alone, away from telephones and commitments, away from the busyness of life. Then, He can speak and be heard.

We need to be still before the Lord so that we can hear Him! God wants YOU. He wants a relationship, a living, breathing, relationship with you and prayer is the way to that relationship. Does this seem too hard? Deuteronomy 30:11 tells us how easy having that relationship is, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into Heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we obey it?’ No, the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.”

You may think that you have to be a minister or this magnificent person to pray. You may think you have to use lofty, eloquent words. You may not quite be sure HOW God wants you to pray. You may think there is a set of rules or a magic formula to prayer. You cry out,

Father, should I pray in the morning or in the night?
Should I pray in the darkness or in the light?
Should my eyes be open or should they be closed?
Should my prayers be spontaneous, or they should be posed?
Can I sit? Or should I be on my knees?
Which is the way in which you would be pleased?
And He said, ‘My child, I love you. This is true.
It does not matter how, just that you do.
Come before me and be still, with heart open wide,
Ready to listen and be by my side.”

Praying is just a relationship with God- loving Him and going to Him for everything. God is our Abba, Father, our God, our Creator. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way to pray. We need a natural relationship with God. Praying shouldn't’ be difficult. It shouldn’t be something we only do for a few minutes on Sunday morning. It shouldn’t be a chore or an inconvenience. Prayer should be a JOY- we are communicating with The Most High God! We GET this opportunity to grow closer to our Father, to develop a relationship with our Creator.

If you need help getting started, start by reading the book of Psalms in the Old Testament in the Bible. These are beautiful songs and prayers, many written by David, “a man after God’s own heart.” They are full of praise and thanksgiving. Psalm 66 sings, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies cringe before You. All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing praise to Your name.” Psalm 89 praises, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You established Your faithfulness in Heaven itself.” And, I love to pray Psalm 100, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

In many psalms, David is suffering. Sometimes he is innocently being chased and other times experiencing pain after sinning. He says to God, “You lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the muck and mire.” Who hasn’t felt that? When we aren’t sure what words to pray, Psalms offers so many cries to the Lord. Psalm 102 laments, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me when I am in distress. Turn Your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.” Human emotion hasn’t changed over time. We can relate to the authors of the Bible. We feel what they have felt. Praying scripture is so powerful and so helpful when we are at a loss of what to say in our prayers. Scripture can help us “get a handle” on the words to pray.

There are times we feel betrayed, persecute, or unfairly accused. David felt this as he ran away from King Saul for many years. Often, he would have to run for his life, hiding in caves. Sometimes, we also feel persecuted or harassed unjustly. Psalms offers prayers for these emotions, too. David cries out in Psalm 109, “O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.” David finishes his prayer twenty verses later by again praising the Lord. He prays, “With my mouth I greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise Him. For He stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.”

In Psalm 140, David prays, “Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence.” Even when David was hiding in a cave, he put His trust in the Lord, saying in Psalm 142, “I cry out to You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.’ Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need.” David goes to the Lord in times of need, in times of sadness, in times of desperation, in times of joy and jubilation. David always praises the Lord, no matter what trial he is facing. His prayers begin and end with praising the Lord. They are great examples for us during our own personal prayer time.

And I love Psalm 104, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the Lord.”


1. What are distractions in your life that draw you away from God?

2. What has God taught you about prayer through this study?

3. What are THREE practical application you plan on using in your life?

Lord, let our meditations, our prayers, be pleasing to you. Allow us to abandon ourselves to you and your love. Please, take away our inhibitions and doubt, Father. Let us throw open our arms and embrace you, Lord. Let our hearts fall passionately in love with you. Let our souls rejoice in you, O God. Lord, help us to trust you, to delight in you, to commit our ways to you, and to be still and patiently wait for you. God, help us to be silent before You so that You may whisper to our hearts. Open Your Word to us Father, so that we may understand it and You more. Give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may know You better.
Father, I thank you for every woman reading this book. I praise you and thank you for each heart transformation. Help this woman let go of worldly pursuits, and instead seek Your kingdom. Help her to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let her run with perseverance the race marked out for her. Help her to “not lean on her own understanding, but to trust in You, so that You may make her path straight. Help her to “stand at the crossroads and look. Help her to ask for the ancient paths, the good ways, and walk in them, so she will find rest for her soul.” Remind her, “Above all else, to guard her heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Lord, Your Word says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Help her to put her hope in You, O God. I pray that she would have the fruit of the Spirit within her- love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Reader, I pray that God would “strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith.” I pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened. “And may my God meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus!” In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

MakeOver of the Heart Bible Study

Hello, ladies! I am so sorry- I am posting the study late today. I hope you are still able to join us either tonight or tomorrow.
This is the last week of the study..and Holy Week. This week's study focuses on PRAYER and my prayer for you is that it helps you prepare your heart for the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

A Prayerful Heart

Father God, we indeed give you our hearts today and everyday. Lord, we will love you with all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds, and all of our strength. We give you all praise, all glory, all honor! Lord, I again pray for this woman reading this book. Let her know that you are “a God that cares, a God that answers prayers.” Let her know that you are listening and caring for every need she has. Your word says, “If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord … For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you…” And Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “ Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.” Lord, you do desire for us to have prayerful hearts. And, I pray that we would have prayerful hearts, “seeking you in the morning, night, and noonday.” I pray for this woman, Father, that you will “give her a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that she would know you better.” In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

I am so excited to talk about prayerful hearts! I have to admit, I LOVE to pray! I love to talk (can you tell?) to God! I love to tell him everything! I love to pray for my family and friends. I love to pray for complete strangers that I walk by on the street. It’s so fun! They don’t even know I’ve said a prayer for them. It’s like a little secret God and I have together. As I grow closer to God, I have learned that what it is important is not just how to pray, but how to be quiet and still before the Lord, listening to Him.

Our key verse is Psalm 37:7, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”
Boy is that hard for ME!!!! I tend to be a bit impulsive, a bit impatient, and a bit controlling when it comes to my life’s decisions. I want to be in control of my life and in control of its timetable! But, listen to this verse again- “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” We are to be quiet, to be still before the Lord and wait. We must take away any distractions and wait. We need to get rid of any preconceived notions of how things should turn out and how quickly God should be working and wait.

This is an “instant gratification” world we live in. Not only do we have drive through windows, but now restaurants have double lines to speed us through. We don’t want our food fast, we want it faster! We don’t like to wait, do we? But, we especially do not like to wait for answers to life’s questions.

“Is this the right person for me?”
“Is this the right job, the right house, the right move, the right time to start a family?”
“Should I go back to work?”
“Do we need to put mom in a nursing home?”

Wait patiently for these answers? It seems impossible. So, where do we begin?

We begin with prayer.

For some of you, you may have never prayed before, so this whole concept seems
strange. You have never thought about going to God with your questions, let alone waiting for His answers.

But God’s word tells us to pray! Ephesians 6:18 says to “pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.Colossians 4:2 says “DEVOTE yourselves to prayer, being WATCHFUL and thankful.” 1Thessolonians 5:16-17 says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition present your requests to God.” And James 5:13-16 says, “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should pray. Let him sing songs of praise. Is anyone sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him.” And most importantly, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Notice Jesus said WHEN you pray, not IF you pray.

So, the Bible tells us to pray, but does God REALLY answer our prayers? Should we actually ASK God for “things” or help? I have an acquaintance that told me, “I don’t believe that God works in that way. I don’t believe God answers prayers. We’re wasting our time when we pray.” But the Bible says, “BEFORE they call, I will answer; while they are speaking I will hear.”

Another friend of mine only believes in praying for big things. She says God is too busy, and can’t be bothered with the little things, like finding lost car keys or a convenient parking space. But, think about this for a moment. Should we, as parents only expect our children to come to us for the big things? They can only ask us to help them with the “biggees”- like paying for college. We don’t want hear from them until then. Should we scoff at them when they ask us to find a lost toy, play a game with them, spell a word, or color a picture? Of course not! We are delighted to help our children with requests- little and big.

Our Abba Father, our loving, caring, wonderful Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him for EVERYTHING! Again, Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” This verse doesn’t say in big things, “important” things, life or death things, but in everything present your requests to God. The Amplified Bible says, “In every circumstance.”

This is how we get to know our Father- through prayers, both big and small. I have prayed for big things- my husband’s job change, moving, having babies, financial concerns and sick parents. But, I also pray for little things. My children often remind me to pray at times when it wouldn’t even cross my mind. Their simple, childlike faith points me to the example God wants. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Every day, God answers some kind of prayer, sometimes big and sometimes little, and I get to know my Father a little more. We are building relationships and I am developing trust for my Father. Over the past 5 years, I have had so many examples of God answering my “little” prayers. He has opened my eyes to lost keys and money. He’s been the best alarm clock, waking me up early. I have prayed that God would get me up at 5:30 AM, and my eyes have opened at that exact time.

WE are the children of the Most High God! He is delighted when we include him in every SECOND of our lives through prayer. 1Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” What does that mean? Does that mean we quit our jobs and join a monastery, not DOING any other activities all day except pray? Of course not! It does mean that we include God in everything, every moment of our day. Prayer is not just a before-bed activity or a ritual before I eat. I talk to God all day long about everything. He is the ever-present best friend that is always listening. I can ask Him His advice about which shoes look better. I ask for wisdom about disciplining a child. When I make my “to-do” list, I pray about it, asking God to prioritize my day. I sing love songs with the radio to Him throughout the day. I thank Him when He clears traffic from my path. I bask in His presence.

I’d like to share another example of answered prayer with you. I’ve already told you about my answered prayer with the birthday party dresses. This example centers around the birth of our 4th child, Aaron.

I tend to have very short deliveries with my babies. Our 2nd child, Ashley was born 50 minutes after we walked in the ER door. Aly, our 3rd baby, took a little longer- she was born 90 minutes after pulling into the hospital parking lot. Well, when I was close to Aaron’s due date- about 2 weeks away- my doctor and I started talking about my being induced early. You see, not only do I have quick labor and deliveries, but I also dilate early. So, I was dilated to 41/2cm, pregnant with my fourth child, had a history of quick deliveries, and this baby was already measuring about 8 lbs. The baby would continue to grow each day in the womb. My husband and I were worried about having a 10 lb baby on the bathroom floor at home.

I was feeling huge, suffering from varicose veins in places you do NOT want to have them, and was not sleeping at night. I thought being induced early sounded like a great idea! Our doctor scheduled to have the baby induced a few days later, 10 days before the due date. I felt relief and my husband was thankful to have it planned around his work schedule!

Then, I was overtaken by a spirit of fear. A very close, caring friend asked if I was sure I wanted to be induced. After all, the baby was 10 days early. Her simple question planted seeds of doubt. I started to question our decision. Were we “playing God?” Was I trying to take control of the situation? Was I only thinking of myself and my own discomfort, and not about the baby? What if the baby needed those extra days?

I became gripped with fear. I also strongly wanted to be walking in obedience to God’s will. By the 2nd night, the night before the scheduled induction, I could not sleep. I tossed and turned. I worried. I kept playing out several scenarios in my mind. Finally I got up. It was a little before 5:00 am, and it was just getting light outside. We were having very unseasonably warm weather. I felt like walking. Mornings are the time I love to walk and pray.

Before I went out, I cried out to the Lord for some reassurance and guidance of what I should do. I went to my Bible and asked God to speak to me, to help me. I opened my Bible, and this is what God gave to me, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”
Peace flooded my body and my spirit for I knew God was speaking to me. The morning, after such a terrible, restless night, was bringing me word of us unfailing love for me. I prayed, “God, I have put my trust in you. Please, Lord, show me the way I should go. What should I do this morning? Should I be induced, or should I wait for labor to happen ‘naturally’? I need a sign from you. I pray Lord that you will pour out your wisdom on to our doctor. I pray, Lord, that you will tell her what to do. I will voice my concerns to her, and I will let her ‘make the call.’ I trust you Lord and I love You and release this all to You.”

I felt so much better! Even though I didn’t have a clear yes/no answer about the scheduled induction, I knew God was directing my path. I knew He was working everything out “for the good.”

On the way to the hospital, I talked everything over with Brian, and he agreed we should let the doctor decide if the induction was the right choice. We were going to defer to her “expertise” as the professional. So, at 8:00 AM, I was at Mercy Hospital lying on the bed in the birth suite. I started to tell the doctor my fears as we were beginning the procedure of breaking my water. I wasn’t explaining what I was feeling very well. My doctor was examining me as we talked. I was nervous and my words sounded like I was just anxious about the procedure and the long, needle-like instrument. Before I knew it, she had broken my water. It happened so fast.

Well, I kept repeating the verse God had given to me that morning, and I reminded myself that I had released it to God, and had said I would put it in the doctor’s hands. God was in control.

By noon, regular contractions had started. By 1:00, Aaron Scott was born, weighing 9 POUNDS, 7 OUNCES! He was healthy and beautiful. Again, peace flooded my body. Immediately, my husband, Brian and I knew this had been God’s plan! Because my deliveries happen so quickly, there is not time for epiderals or pain killers. God knew that I could have not delivered a baby ON MY OWN, NATURALLY any bigger than 9 lbs., 7 oz. This was confirmed by the doctor the next morning when she came to examine me. We were able to talk about the delivery and how thankful we were that she had induced me early. She shared that she, too, had prayed, especially about inducing early, and that she had put it in God’s hands. She shared that she, too, doesn’t like to induce early unless necessary because she doesn’t want to “play God.”

God did answer my prayer! Not only did He answer my question about when Aaron should be born, but He controlled the circumstances. And, He reminded me of my prayer for wisdom for our doctor. The morning I walked, I had prayed for our doctor. What a blessing to know that my doctor went to the Lord in prayer and, that He answered her prayers. God gave me His word to help me through, His peace and His strength. God is so good!

I know lots of people would say that these are just nice little stories or coincidences. They would say God isn’t really working like this in my life. But I know that He is. I know that God leads me and guides me and gives me direction. I know He fills me with supernatural peace and patience. I know my faith is growing through prayer. I know that every time I surrender my will and my control and my “wisdom” to His, He honors it by drawing nearer to me. His Word says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” God loves it when we give it all up to Him! The God who parted the Red Sea, who healed the sick, who fed the hungry, and calmed the storm, is the same God who wants to lavish His awesomeness and power upon us. He loves to show up and show off!


1. How have you approached prayer before now? Have you gone to God in prayer? What has the Holy Spirit spoken to your heart concerning prayer?

2. Take a few moments and write down a list of prayer concerns. Present them to God, asking Him for His help. Keep this list and update it as God answers your prayers.

A Gathering of "older" Women....

Wow! Deb has really challenged us today at the well. She asks some "tough" questions and leads us to reflect how we are doing "living out" Titus 2. She says, "Like many of you, I believe that Titus 2 is not just words in a Holy Book...it's the way I completely believe that God wants me to live my life. I believe that it's the guidelines that God, Himself, set for us to live as Biblical wives...so to ignore it would be..well, sin."

How are you doing as an older woman?

Do you live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord?

How is your speech, your attitude?

Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit in your life?

God always knows how to teach me....He reveals areas of sin to me then drives home the point with a Joyce Meyer episode or a devotion on the radio or a great teaching on the fruit of the spirit, like Deb gave today at the well.

I am doing GREAT being an "older woman" to my small group bible study women, to women in the audience of speaking engagements, to online bloggers....

But, I feel like I am MESSING UP at home....where it matters most! .....the ones I want to teach and inspire and train the MOST......I don't want my children to think Christianity is hypocritical (I have a 12 year old who is very "in tune" with this!) and I want to "win over my husband without words but by my behavior." (1Peter 3:1-2). Although Brian is a Christian, I want to encourage him to "go deeper" in Christ (like me??!!!??).

I feel like this past weekend, I lost my temper, yelled at my kids, said things that were not ENCOURAGING! I reacted to THEIR behavior not in the gentle spirit I so long for, but my fleshly spirit that is quick tempered and a tongue that is even quicker. I did not walk in the Spirit, depending on Him, turning to Him, relying on Him. I was lacking patience, gentleness, and self-control. And, I KNOW these things! "I know better."

She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin. Proverbs 39:1

A wise man's heart guides his mouth and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, only words that
are useful in building others up according to their needs. Ephesians 4:29

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

Thankfully, I am forgiven by God and my sweet family forgives me as well!

As I prayed about this last night, I realized that I had let my spiritual "tank" get empty...like a gas tank, I had run out of "spiritual gas." So, when my kids acted in normal "kid" ways, I didn't have patience to teach, train, and instruct. Instead, "MONSTER MOM" reared her ugly head, with a biting tongue and absolutely NO PATIENCE.

And, how could my "tank" be empty? I had gone to a special prayer service Sat. night and we had an AWESOME service Sunday morning. You would think I would be FULL!

But, I have neglected to spend enough time in the past few days ONE on ONE with God. I hadn't filled my heart with Him to overflowing. I was drawing on Tracy strength....

Doesn't work!

I need His strength to be the kind of mom/wife I want to be and He wants me to be. So, I know today I MUST fill up on Him before I can give to others!

I need to listen to Him and slow down.

I need to sit awhile at His feet.

Please take a few minutes and visit the Gathering at the Well! Deb shares such an awesome teaching with us there this morning. And, you will see links to other women sharing in the conversation. Please join in the conversation as well! Ponder Deb's questions, write a post and link up at the well. Have a blessed day....full of the Living Water of the Well!

Been in a pit?

I wait patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my foot on a rock and gave me a
firm place to stand.
Psalm 40:1

Cafe Chat....with an HONEST friend!

I love the topic that Kim has chatting about today! It is about AUTHENTIC friendships, and boy do we need them as Christians! We need friends who will be honest with us and help keep us accountable.

Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

Kim says, "So today, I ask you to share a time when a friend may have wounded you by speaking hard words to you, and even though you were hurt you realized it was the best and most loving thing he/she could have done. (If you can share the specifics that would be great, but if not feel free to use generalities). "

I have one friend, Donna (my spiritual "mama") who will ALWAYS be honest with me! I call her because I WANT a friend to be honest. I have many friends that I could call when I want to whine and hear them say, "Poor Tracy." But not Donna.... She will tell me I need to apologize to Brian. She will tell me that I can't wallow in self-pity. She knows the Word and doesn't "tickle my ears", telling me what I would LIKE to hear! We need to be AUTHENTIC in friendships. I wrote about authenticity here and here. I wrote about Donna here.

What I would like to chat about though, is a time when God called ME to tell something to a friend that I didn't want to! I am not a person who easily tells people when they are doing something wrong (except for my hubby- OOPS! That would be another post!). I don't like conflict. Don't like debate. Don't like to argue. I certainly don't feel comfortable bringing up something UNCOMFORTABLE!

But sometimes God calls us to do just this! With Donna, we have an open agreement to tell each other these things. And usually, I am coming TO HER, asking her to help me through it. For instance, I already know that my heart is being selfish....I need to talk through it/pray about it. But, there are times God will call us to confront our sisters (or brothers) in Christ, "wounding them with sincere words." (Proverbs verse). Also see 1Corinthians 4 and 5.

I have a friend who had a baby out of wedlock and lives off/on with her boyfriend. We are close and she is a Christian. Right after she had her baby, God began laying on my heart to talk to her. I knew she knew that she was living in a sinful relationship. It was becoming hard to be around her because we weren't talking about it. It was like "the elephant in the room." It was like were just ignoring the obvious.

So, God, being relentless, not letting me stick my head in the sand, make sure I had NO PEACE until I "dealt with it."

So, after much PRAYER, I invited my friend over for lunch. Through tears, I shared with her how God laid this on my heart. I shared that God wanted so much more for her....how living together wasn't God's plan. We talked about sin. All these things she already "knew". We both CRIED and CRIED. I talked to her IN LOVE.

And, it made our friendship even stronger! She knew I cared about her enough to do something hard, even risking our friendship, for her greater good. I truly cared about HER. She knows that I will talk straight with her. There is no longer an uncomfortable "elephant in the room."

Please visit the Cafe to chat about friendships and loving our friends enough to be honest with them!

A MakeOver of the Heart Bible Study

Welcome back to our Bible Study!
I want to again thank all of you who are participating and leaving such amazing, authentic, and honest comments. My prayer is that God does a complete transformation in your heart. I pray that He heals hidden wounds, sets you free in all areas, brings conviction in any areas that need it, and that He draws you near, filling you with all grace in complete abundance.

I had a couple of ladies ask how to comment. Simply click on "# of thoughts shared" that appears under the post. A new window will open. Type your comment and click on publish your comment. Make sure you choose your identity- meaning you type in your username info. or anonymous. If you would like me/other participants to comment back, make sure to write your email within your comment. It is NOT IM.....sorry!

Today's lesson is very LONG.... If you need to take a few days to complete, that's fine! Comment on what you can do today, take a few days to finish reading/pondering/praying and feel free to come back and recomment. I am praying for all you!

Paul says in Romans 12, “(Sisters), 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 pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We are to “put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul tells us to set our hearts and minds on things above, not on things of this world. He says in Colossians 3 to “rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying”. He again says to “take off the old self with its practices and put on a new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Beloved, God has chosen you to be His daughter, His bride. It is not an accident or coincidence that you are reading this study. God has called you by name. He has placed this desire in your heart to know Him better. He has whispered in your ear. He wants to bring you out of a life of mediocrity and “make your righteousness shine like the dawn!” He doesn’t want you to sit on the fence. He wants you to commit to Him.

The world tells us that it is OK to be lukewarm in our faith. The world tells us that there are lots of “grey issues” within morality, society, and Christianity. The world says there are lots of things, even within the Word that are neither black nor white, neither right nor wrong. Society will tell us that we are changing and evolving and the Bible is no longer relevant.

But the Bible says in Joshua 24:14-15, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away your gods your forefathers worshipped and serve the Lord. But, if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” We need to choose WHAT we will believe. Will we believe His Truth, which tells us that it is eternal? Will we believe when the Word tells us that God is unchanging, the same yesterday, today, and forever? Will we OBEY the Word, looking at it as God’s Law instead of just a nice set of suggestions?

In Revelation, Jesus says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm- neither cold nor hot- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

The Lord wants our passion! And, He wants us to be passionate about Him! He wants us to stand up and stand for something. I heard a speaker say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!” God doesn’t want us to be wishy-washy about our faith. We need to choose. Don’t let the world, or the media or your neighbors tell you how you should think, or where you should stand on issues. When you need to make a choice, simply ask, “Is this for God or against Him? Does this give God glory? Would this make God smile, or would this make God sad?” There is no gray area- only black or white. Each choice either gives God glory, or it doesn’t.

When we start to make excuses for our choices, rationalize our behavior, reason things away, or justify our sins, it is because we really want to do it. We may say things like, “Maybe this isn’t so bad. Does God really care about this? But, it seems okay. All of my friends are doing it! I’ve been through so much.” These are the things you really want to do, but you don’t want God to tell you no. James says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." It is our own desires that tempt us.

But, take heart! The Spirit will help us and tell us “no” to sin. But, we need to cooperate with Him and fight back our own fleshly desires and sinful nature.

Sometimes our minds know what we want to do is wrong, but our hearts desire to do it anyway. Paul says in Romans 7:18, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” It is only the power of the Holy Spirit that can break the enticement. Paul continues, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” In the book, “The Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free,” Nancy DeMoss says, “Every time we choose to give into the flesh, rather than yielding to the Spirit of God, we allow sin to gain mastery over us. On the other hand, every time we say yes to the Spirit, we give Him greater control of our lives.”

Our battles are not new or unusual. We are not the only ones battling these temptations. The enemy would like for us to believe that we are weak and alone in our battle. Paul also struggled with sin at times, telling us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.” In fact, even Jesus can identify with our temptation. As a man, he too was tempted, but sinless. Hebrews tells us, “we have a high priest (Jesus) who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, tempted in every way; just as we are- yet was without sin.” God does sympathize, but doesn’t allow us to get stuck there. Corinthians tells us, “And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Paul learned that he must rely on the Holy Spirit to help him overcome, and so must we.

When you are confused and are not sure about your choices, go to God’s Word. When it seems possible to rationalize and reason away your ungodly choices, go back to the Bible. You need to fill your heart and mind with God’s Word so that you can discern what is right and true. The world, the media, and even your friends can confuse you with ideas different from God’s Word. You may think you are “tolerant” or “politically correct,” but are you biblically correct? The world’s “wisdom” may seem right or true, making you second guess God’s Word. The Bible says, “This is what we speak, not in words taught to us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” Paul warns us in Corinthians that God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world and the world’s “wisdom” is foolishness to God. Furthermore, Isaiah 55:89 tells us, “God’s ways are not our ways.” Finally, Paul shares words of wisdom when discerning our life choices, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

As “salt and light,” our lives, how we live them, the choices we make, the focus we have, either glorify God or they don’t. We can live surrendered to the Lord, allowing Him to work in us and through us, or we can choose to live for the world. We must have a fervent passion about serving and loving our God because WE ARE A CHOOSEN PEOPLE BELONGING TO GOD! Peter says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God- His very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” We have this incredible opportunity to shine God’s light to the world around us- our friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances.

And then, as a chosen people, we have a RESPONSIBILITY. The Bible says in Colossians 3 “therefore as a chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And, over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all in perfect unity.”

We need to be awesome role models of strong, empowered Christian women! The world’s view of the Christian woman can best be illustrated by Saturday Night Live’s “Church Lady,” an ugly looking and ugly acting, judgmental, hypocrite. That is NOT how I want to be seen, and it is not how I want my daughters to be seen in the generation to come. This is not what a Christian woman looks like. We have a beauty that is ours alone as Christian women, a beauty that can not be replicated by any cosmetics manufacturer. A beauty that comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit” walking in relationship with God.

BUT, Christian women MUST look different than the rest of the world. Peter tells us to live as “aliens and strangers in the world.” Another translation says we are to be a “peculiar” people. We are set apart from the world. He goes on to say, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits.” Our choices and lifestyles need to reflect the King, not the world. We are Christ’s ambassadors and representatives, and we should reflect His beauty and grace and light. I want the light of Jesus shining so brightly in me that everyone around stops and says, “I want what SHE has!” I want to “spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” (2Corinthians 2:14) I want my life to point the next generation to the Lord!

God wants our faith to be backed up by deeds. James tells us that faith without deeds is dead. Our lives need to reflect our faith. We need to LIVE OUT OUR LIVES THROUGH FAITH. Rick Warren says, “True friendship (with God) isn’t passive, it acts. When Jesus asks us to love others, help the needy, share our resources, keep our lives clean, offer forgiveness, and bring others to him, love motivates us to OBEY immediately.” He goes on to say, “We are often challenged to do great things for God. Actually, God is more pleased when we do small things for Him out of loving obedience. They may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and considers them acts of worship.” And I love what he says next, “Great opportunities may come once in a lifetime, but small opportunities surround us every day. Even through such simple acts as telling the truth, being kind, and encouraging others, we bring a smile to God’s face. God TREASURES simple acts of obedience.”

You may be thinking, “If I am supposed to be an enemy to the world, how can I show the world the love of Christ?” This has been the dilemma of our generation. But, sometimes, we swing to the other side. We have been so loving, so tolerant, so accepting of people, we have developed a fear of offending anyone. We have become desensitized to sin and have developed a tolerance for it. Look to Jesus as your perfect example. Jesus loved the sinner, but hated the sin. After healing the man at the pool, Jesus tells him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14) Of course, one of the best examples of this is the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8. The Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus for judgement. She was obviously guilty, caught in the very act. The Pharisees brought her to Jesus, demanding the consequences of the law, which would be to stone her to death. Jesus draws a line in the sand and says, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Of course, none are without sin, so none can condemn her. Only Jesus is without sin. Does He stone her, following the laws and consequences of Moses? No! He offers her forgiveness. He wipes her slate clean. Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.”

This is where so many of us fail to “get it.” Jesus is concerned for our best interest. He is not like the cruel teacher, watching and waiting for you to make a mistake so that He can say “Aha! I caught you! You lose!” Jesus already knows our mistakes. He already knows our hearts. He is waiting to give us absolution of our sins. Often, we want to hide from God when we have made mistakes. Do you remember Adam and Eve in the garden? Their first response was to hide in shame. But when we are broken, humiliated, defenseless, and guilty, God wants us to come to Him, not hide from Him. He then looks at us and says, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? Then, neither do I condemn you.”

But, Beloved, the story does not end there. Do not miss the most important verse of the passage. Jesus tells the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Go, and sin no more. Jesus tells us to leave our lives of sin. He tells us not to be in bondage to sin. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” And, then, Jesus tells us HOW in John 8:12. He says, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” When we follow Jesus, He empowers us to “Go, and sin no more.”


Are there any areas of bondage to sin you are dealing with? How, according to the Bible, do we overcome these areas of bondage?

What is the Holy Spirit teaching you about holiness, being set apart, and walking as a “chosen people”?

Father God, we praise You! We thank You for Your loving kindness, forgiveness, and mercy. We thank You for Your wisdom. Your Word says that the “wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” We pray for Your wisdom, Lord. The Bible also says that You give Your wisdom to anyone who asks, and that You give it generously.” Give us a holy wisdom, not of the world. Reader, “May the God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that “your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless. May the Lord strengthen your heart so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” Help us dear Father to stand firm and stand for You. Help us to live a life worthy of You. Break any chains of bondage to sin and help us live a life free from sin. Help us, Lord, to keep our eyes on You. Help us to not “lean on our own understanding (or the world’s), but to trust in You so that You may make our paths straight.” Help us, Lord, to go and sin no more. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

I’d love to share a story of a woman with you who committed her way to the Lord and the Lord made her righteousness shine like the dawn. She is a woman loved and respected for centuries – Mary, mother of Jesus. Dee Brestin says, “Mary, the mother of Jesus, was honored above all women.” Mary was completely obedient, totally surrendering to God. She surrendered her will and her life for the Will of the Father. She offered herself to God.

Can you imagine? Here she was a humble, young woman, not a queen or a person of power, but a simple young girl chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus! She was a virgin, not yet even married, but betrothed to Joseph when God asked her to surrender herself to His will. She loved the Lord and doesn’t hesitate to be his servant. You can tell she had been already walking with the Lord and that she had a loving relationship with him. Listen to how Gabriel, the angel, greets her, “Greetings, favored woman.” Then the angel says, “God has decided to bless you. You will become pregnant and have a son and he will be called Jesus, the Son of God!”

Does Mary even hesitate in her response? Does she argue with God, complain or start worrying? Does she say, “What will Joseph think? Our lives will be ruined.” Does she say, “Joseph won’t believe me or stand by me. What will my family say? My neighbors?” Remember, she and Joseph are not married yet. Mary could be stoned for being pregnant and not married. She is going to have to explain to Joseph that she is with child. Remember, she is a virgin. Obviously, she may have feared his reaction. She may have wondered how she would explain her pregnancy. How will Joseph feel? If he believes her, will he accept giving up the privilege of fathering Mary’s firstborn child? God is telling Mary that HE will be the father of her baby, not Joseph.

How does Mary react, what does she say? Does she start arguing with Gabriel, listing all of these very valid excuses of why she can not be obedient to God? In Luke 1:38, Mary says, “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” Wow! What a statement of faith! She doesn’t even hesitate in her obedience. Even though Mary knows she could be shamed by her family and her community, her reaction is immediate. She doesn’t tell the angel that she needs a few days to think it over. Luci Shaw says, “she staked shame against the will of God.” Mary was passionately obedient, completely abandoned to God and His will and purpose for her. She says, “I am willing to accept WHATEVER God wants. May everything you have said come true!”

Can you say the same? When God asks you to take a risk in your life, do you answer so faithfully, so completely committed to his will? When His will is not popular with today’s culture, and you risk your standing in society- your standing with your co-workers, your group of friends, with the other carpool moms- are you so willing to be the Lord’s servant? Are you willing to stake shame against the will of God?

Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth right after the angel’s visit. Is she starting to regret her decision? Is she second -guessing God? Is she starting to worry about what is going to happen to her? No. When Mary sees Elizabeth, she sings, “Oh how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One is holy and He has done great things for me.” And do generations call Mary blessed? Oh, yes! Did God make her righteousness shine like the dawn? Oh, yes! And will the same be true for you, if you commit your way to the Lord? Oh, yes!

But, how do you do this? How do you commit your way to the Lord and His will for you exactly? How do you even figure out WHAT God’s will is for your life?

What is God’s will?

Remember the words of Jesus in Mark 12 29-31. “The most important command is this- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Then, love your neighbor as yourself.” When you love God more than yourself, more than your desires and ambitions, you are following this command! When you put others’ needs before your own, you are being obedient to God’s will. When you choose God, when you become passionate for the Lord, when you commit yourself to Him, He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, your cause like the noonday sun.

Even though there is no “magic formula” or 12-step program in committing yourself to God, I have found a process which has been helpful to me.
SURRENDER- surrender your will, heart, situation over to God.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked the Father if there was another way other than
the cross. But, He then said, “But not as I will, but as You will.” We must have this
same heart attitude of not my will, God, but Yours.
Write a prayer surrendering your heart to God.

ASK- “God, are you pleased with this choice? Is ______ pleasing to You?

If you are unsure if a choice or decision is pleasing to God, ASK Him! Go to prayer and ask for His guidance. Go to His Word to see what He says. If you are asking if you should have an affair, then you don’t need to even prayer about it! He tells you in His Word that this is offensive to Him and a sin. Familiarize yourself with His Word. Find a Godly accountability partner who will honestly help you search God’s Truth.

OBEY- Actually follow-through!

It doesn’t make much difference if you are aware of Godly/ungodly choices, but don’t act
upon it. James says, “Faith without deeds is dead.” We need to ACT upon our belief.
Receive God’ forgiveness when you make mistakes. Remember, God is not looking for
PERFECTION. He is looking at your heart. “A broken and contrite heart, O God, You
will not despise.”

Father God, all praise and honor and glory to You! You are such an amazing God. We love You and trust You. Lord, help us flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Help us, God to commit our ways to You. Help us to live our lives for You. “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” Please, God help us to have a completely obedient heart as Mary did. Help us to say without hesitation, “I am the Lord’s servant and I am willing to accept whatever He wants. Help us God to be a light shining in the darkness for You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen