Friday, August 18, 2017

What To Expect When You Are Expecting

So, you send up your prayer to God - what do you do next?  Do you continue to worry and stress?  Or do you believe and look around for the blessings that God brings you everyday?

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."  Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

David knew what to do.  He sent his prayers up and then went about the day expecting great things to happen.  Maybe it wouldn't be exactly what he was praying for but he went around expecting God's best - which is usually better than our request anyway!  

So what are you expecting?   Are you expecting awesome, big things in your life?  Or are you expecting the same thing as always?  God wants to give you His best, but He also wants you to expect the best from Him.  When you pray for something, but don't really believe it will happen, you are saying that you don't believe God will do it.  If your son/daughter asked you to do something and then went around speaking it as though it was, you would want to do it for them.  But if your son/daughter asked you to do something and then went around being negative and complaining, you might be less inclined to do it.  Well, that is how God is with His children.

"But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."  James 1:6-7 (NIV)

One of my many mantras is "Believe and you shall receive."  I started this when my daughter first started not believing in Santa.  I told her that if she didn't believe, she wouldn't receive.  Now, of course, this was all about the stuff we get at Christmas time, but I found this to be true in my walk with God.  If I pray for things, but somewhere in the back of my mind I'm thinking "I'll never have/get that.", there is a good chance I won't, simply because I doubted.

So, I'll ask again - what are you expecting?  When you pray, expect the best - expect God's best.  Sometimes, God's best is not what we want, but it is what is best for us.  Believe God's promise when He says, "For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to  harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)  Walk around everyday like David, knowing God's love and living in it.  Expect the unexpected!

Have a blessed week!  Love to you all!! ~Debbi

Sunday, August 13, 2017

F2F - Fear to Faith

What do you do when your circumstances are unbearable?  What if you received a diagnosis that was life changing or even worse life threatening?  What if your spouse suddenly left you?  What if you suddenly lost your job?

"I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights."  Habakkuk 3:16-19 (NLT)

The prophet Habakkuk found himself in a terrible situation that was out of his control and in the natural brought fear.  In the midst of his catastrophe, however, Habakkuk decided - made an on purpose choice - to turn to God and release his fear to Him.  This can actually be a very challenging thing for me.  To be honest, I have been struggling with this for a few weeks now.  We have a situation that has the potential to not end well.  However, truthfully, there is really nothing I can do about it.  And that is extremely hard for me as I tend to have a controlling personality.  I spend hours trying to figure out how to change it or fix it, but every time God speaks to me and tells me I can't.  It is truly out of my control.  And when I try to control it, I end up hurting myself by stressing, hurting my relationships by not being the loving wife, mother and friend I should be and hurting God because I am not giving it to Him.  Cast you care! 

When you find yourself in a situation like Habakkuk where everything around you seems to be falling apart, do what he did - rejoice in the Lord.  Remember that God wants only the best for you and if for some reason your problem does have a bad outcome, know that God has something better for you if you just put your trust in Him.  God loves you.  He never, ever leaves you or forsakes you.  So even in the midst of your circumstances, praise Him, thank Him and give Him your situation.  The Lord is your strength - stop turning to everyone else for the strength you need and look up!  God has got you - now and forever!

"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Seeing Is Believing

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."  Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

I can tell you all day long that the picture above is a sheep.  But no matter what I tell you, you are going to see a duck.  That is the way Christianity is.  You can tell people all day long that you are a Christian but they are going to go by what they see.  You can have all the cross jewelry, bumper stickers and highlighted Bibles you want - it doesn't make you a Christian.  You can go to church every time the doors are open, but that doesn't make you a godly person.  Saying you are a Christian isn't enough; you must show people.

God knows that we are not perfect which is why this verse says "make every effort"; however, it also says that without holiness, no one will see God.  The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to live a godly life.  Living a godly life encompasses too many things to list them all, but I wanted to share a few that I see on a daily basis:

  • Tone - Do you know that how you say something is as important as what you say?  Your words really won't matter if your tone is rude or hateful.  In today's world, more people are offended by how we say things than what we are actually saying.  You can speak the truth in love - Jesus did. 
  • Gossip - In my book, this is the number one sin among Christians today and they don't even realize it.  And we excuse it by prefacing what we are saying with "I'm telling you so you can pray for them" or "I say this out of love" or my favorite "I'm not judging, but..."  A friend of mine is experiencing a shake up within her church and all I've ever heard her do is gossip about it with others.  I never hear any solutions of how to solve the problem.  Stop talking to each other about the problems and start talking to God.
  • Actions - Are you tailgating someone all the way to church and shaking your hands at them all the way?  Are you leaving your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot for someone else to deal with?  Your actions are how people see God.  Make sure that everything you do you do with excellence.  If you knew God was watching, would you do it?  Guess what, He is.  When someone says something to me that I know isn't the complete truth, I say "You know God can hear you right?"  He can also see you. 
  • Judging - You can call it whatever you want but when you have an opinion about something that doesn't involve you, you are judging.  You are forming a opinion about something you don't have all the facts about.  The main reason that God tells us not to judge is because He is the only one that knows someone's heart.  "I can't believe they are wearing that."  Maybe it is all they have.  Maybe they haven't had any good role models in their life to teach them.  Maybe it is their taste and it is their favorite outfit.  The truth is it isn't any of your business.  God tells us 3 times in the Bible to mind our own business.  Focus more on what you are showing the world and less on what others are doing.
These are just a few of the things I observe Christians doing on a daily basis that is in opposition to the example God wants us to be.  In today's verse, God instructs us to live a holy life so that God can be seen through you.  Part of living a holy, godly life is living at peace with others.  And today's verse focuses on this one thing.  And notice is also says everyone.  We don't get to pick and choose who we are at peace with; we are instructed to be at peace with everyone.  This will lead to a more holy life and living a holy life will lead to others seeing God in you.  And seeing is believing!

Have a blessed week! 

Love ~Debbi

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Just Call Me Daddy

Today is the day set aside every year to celebrate fathers.  And like all the other holidays, it is something we should celebrate every day not just one day a year. And like some other holidays, today is a hard day for many.  I have been blessed with an awesome father and I am thankful for him everyday.  But I also know what it is like to be rejected by your father.  My birth father deserted my birth mother and if I chose to focus on that, I could really feel rejected and unwanted.  But I choose to focus on the father (and mother) who chose me when I was just one month old and have loved on me ever since.  This love has shown me that blood isn't what relationships are about.

Many of you, I know, have grown up in loving homes where your fathers were always there for you and were a role model of how to be a man and what to look for in a spouse.  But I also know that just as many of you have grown up without that love and example - even when the father was in your life.  To those people, I say it's okay.  We all have a father that we can depend on - a daddy who never leaves us and is always there for us no matter what we have done or how many times we have done it.  Honestly, He knows us and loves us in a way that our earthly fathers can't.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in His holy dwelling.”  Psalms 68:5

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

I hope that as you celebrate your fathers today that you will not forget to include your heavenly father who loves you more than you will ever understand.  And for those of you who aren't celebrating - maybe because your earthly father deserted you or maybe you don't even know who your earthly father is - know this.  You always have a daddy who loves you, who you can turn to in the good and the bad, and who will never leave you no matter what you do.  Find comfort and joy in that today and everyday.

Happy Father's Day to everyone who has a mentoring role in someone's life - you are special, you have a unique job and special role that only you can fulfill!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Last Man Standing

After six seasons on the air, the television hit show "Last Man Standing" was cancelled abruptly.  I've seen many reasons for this decision, but one of them caught my attention.  One article stated that the hit series was cancelled due to it's religious content.  As a person of faith, I loved this show and of course, it didn't bother me when they referred to church or God.  However, I know that there are people out there that would not be comfortable with a show like this.  To those people I would simply say change the channel.

"Make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you.  Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."  Colossians 3:13 (NLT)

The people who wanted this show cancelled based it on the fact that they were "offended".  I believe the actual reason was because they were uncomfortable.  As people of faith, we are instructed to make allowance for other people.  We are also instructed to forgive anyone who offends us.  Did you know that being offended is a choice?  I can say the exact same thing to a group of people and some will be offended and some won't.  The difference is in the thinking. 

Only God knows our hearts.  Therefore, when someone says something, we don't always know why they are saying it.  Maybe they had a bad day, maybe they truly don't realize how it sounds, and maybe they just don't care.  But we don't know - this is why God instructs us to not be offended.  God showed me this in a very clear way several years ago.  I had someone in my life that loved me, but many times their words were like venom.  I was constantly being hurt by them and it was making me very upset and causing a wedge in our relationship.  Then one day, God showed me what I am telling you today.  Now, when that person speaks with venom, I hurt for a moment and then release it - not because it is easy, or even because I believe they didn't mean it - I do it simply because it is what God has instructed me to do.

You can go through your life being offended all the time - by television shows, by comments that people make, by the opinions of others - there are countless ways.  Or you can choose to obey God and release the offense and forgive the person.  The choice is yours!  And in the case of the television show "Last Man Standing" (or the news or anything else on TV), you can simple change the channel. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Blood Is Not Thicker Than Love

"Instead of shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance."  Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

I have learned one extremely important lesson in life and that is it doesn't matter how you enter the world - you are God's child and he will always take care of you.  My story began with a 14 year old young lady and an 18 year old young man.  When my birth mother found out she was pregnant with me, she was obviously scared and didn't know what to do.  After a lot of bad guidance from her mother, the state stepped in and put the process in motion for me to be adopted immediately.  At the same time that this was happening (I'm sure something she considered a bad thing), there was a couple who was unable to have children, but wanted a child very much (another bad thing).  And over the course of a few months, God brought the two bad scenarios together to form a perfect one. 

I will always love my birth mother for not aborting me and for giving me a chance at an awesome life with two of the best parents ever.  But as I got a little older - 3-4 years old - I began to feel like something else was missing.  I was an only child, which can be super awesome at times, but it can also be very lonely at times.  Around this time, we moved to a new neighborhood, but there wasn't a lot of kids around.  But after about six months, a wonderful thing happened.  A family moved in next door - parents, 4 girls and a boy.  And as I would learn later, as they drove to their new home, I was playing in the yard and they were happy to see me.  From then on, my life has never been the same.  They became my second family - two wonderful Godparents, 4 awesome sisters and one very loving brother - God finally gave me my siblings.  And anytime I was introduced and our story told, if someone said "So you are the girl next door", my godmother would always say "No, she's mine".  I will never forget that.  When I was a teenager, I was talking to my sisters about how sad I was that when I have children they won't have any aunts and uncles.  My one sister chimed in and said "That's not true - they will have 5.  We will be their aunts and uncles."  God not only gave me double - he gave me nine times over.

It was a blessing enough to have my parents.  They are the light of my life and I think God for them everyday and I try to honor them in every way I can.  And I know that I would have had a very blessed life if God had stopped there.  But He didn't.  And if He didn't with me, He won't with you.  You may not see the double right away like I did.  I know many people who have to wait 20-30 years to see their double.  But God never breaks a promise - even if for some reason you don't see it here on earth, you will receive it in Heaven.  God will always take you through whatever you are dealing with and in the end you will receive double for your trouble - or maybe even more like me.  😍

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Have a blessed day!  We love you!!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fasting - It's Not Just For Food Anymore

When you hear the word fasting, you automatically think of food, don't you?  Fasting goes back thousands of years as a way to show God you were serious about something.  We see examples of this all throughout the Bible.  For example, in Daniel 9:3, Daniel is preparing to pray a prayer of confession and petition. 

"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes."  NIV

But in today's world with so many distractions, fasting other things besides food can be just as important in our journey to grow closer to God and know Him better. 

This morning, I am sitting in my local Chick-fil-A writing this because I have been a victim of distractions for too long.  God has called me to do certain things and the devil has used my weaknesses to distract me from my best.  Last week I was reading this passage in Daniel and in that moment God laid on my heart my need to fast - not food, but other things.  For me, it is television, social media and other things using my electronic devices.  Now, don't misunderstand - God wasn't asking me to get rid of these completely, but simply to fast during certain times and focus on Him.

As many of you know, I work from home and my house if full of distractions.  I would wake up in the morning, ready to attack the day and I would look back at the end of day and I hadn't accomplished anything.  Not even the simple stuff.  This has been going on way too long and God knew my heart.  He knew I really wanted to accomplish it, but the devil was messing with me and winning.  I would find myself watching television even though it was a show I had seen hundreds of times.  I would get caught up in my book and read all day long (fiction - fun not learning).  I would even set boundaries - just 2 games - and end up playing 10.  But not today!

I couldn't handle the distractions in my own strength; therefore, I removed them completely.  And what I have found in removing them is a lessening desire to do them. 

God showed me that fasting isn't just about food - it is about anything that gets in the way of spending time with Him and doing what He has called you to do.  Maybe you think my distractions are silly - I should be able to turn off the television and just do my work.  But we all have weaknesses.  We all have something that the devil uses to distract us from God.  I know someone who's distraction is housework.  She cleans her house obsessively over 8 hours a day.  I love a clean house and my house is clean, but the devil uses her perfection desire to take her away from her time with God. 

I challenge you today to look at your day and see what the devil might be using to take you away from God.  It can be something as simple as television, social media, your phone or tablet, but it also might be your kids, your spouse, your job, or even your clean house.  God isn't asking you to get rid of all of these things - however, He is asking you to put Him first and the rest will fall right into place.

Have a blessed day and an awesome week!  We love you!!

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Day

Love Day is everyday!

... is everyday!

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

This week on the calendar is known as "Love Week" culminating around Valentine's Day.  It is a day that society has set aside to love your significant other.  But in the Bible, God tells us that we are to love everyday, not just one day a year.  He even went one step further - He told us exactly what love looks like in the verses above.

5 years ago, I was blessed to marry the man of my dreams.  And on my wedding day, I was blessed even further by having all 4 of my sisters and my brother attend.  As part of the ceremony, I asked my sisters to read the verses above - not for others to hear, but for my husband and I to hear.  We had both had unsuccessful marriages before and we wanted this marriage to be a 100% godly marriage.  So it seemed fitting that these verses be our guide on how to love each other when the human part of us creeps in. 

But these verses aren't just for couples.  These verses are for Christians.  They represent how we are to love one another each and every day - just as Jesus commanded us to do.  It can be challenging to love everyone all the time because truth be told there are some people who are just hard to love.  But God didn't say to only love the lovable - He said to love everyone with the same love He has for us.

God's love for us is what is reflected in the verses above.  It is unconditional.  It is not dependent on our lovability or on God's mood that day or even on what we have done.  It is always and forever.  Love day is everyday!  Whether it be your spouse, your children or a stranger.  It is okay to step it up a notch on February 14th, but make sure that that is not the only day you show your love.  Show it everyday just as God does to us!

"Love never fails."  1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)

Have a blessed week!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Victor or Victim

We all, for the most part, fall into one of two categories - we are either victors or victims.  You probably assume that if you are a Christian you are automatically a victor, but this is simply not the case.  Sadly, there are many Christians with a victim mentality.

"When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long."  Psalm 32:3 (NIV)

How we communicate each and every day is a dead giveaway as to whether we are victors or victims - not only with our words but also with our body language.  Victims complain all the time - they can only see the negative in a situation.  A victim Christian will complain and then follow it with "...but I'm so thankful for what God has done."  With a victor, there is no "but".  A victor talks mostly about the victories - the blessings even in the trials.  You see, we are all going to go through something as we go through this thing we call life.  But it is how we respond that makes us a victor or a victim. 

I know too many people that are great people but they are victims in their lives.  They focus on the bad, things are always someone else's fault, they believe nothing good will come to them.  These people, as much as I love them, can be very draining.  We are born for greatness.  And if you know God, there should be no excuse for being a victim.  All Christians should be victors as we have the one and only God in our corner every minute of every day.  This means that if you are having a bad day, it's okay because God is going to bring good out of the bad.  It says so right in the Bible and God never breaks a promise. 

Make it your goal each and every day to be a victor.  Speak positive and bring any negative you may have to God.  Begin to look at life not through the glass half empty/half full analogy but knowing that the glass can be filled any time by our awesome God.  Negative things are going to happen - everyone has something - but how we handle them says everything about what we truly believe.  Have the faith today that God is in control and with that you are a victor!

"But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

Prayer:  God, thank you for everything in my life - the good and the bad as I know they both serve a purpose.  I thank you that you are in control and that you will bring me through any situation that you allow in my life.  Help me to always be a victor and no longer a victim.  Thank you God!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

No Exceptions!

This past Friday we swore in our 45th President of the United States. And it seems like every time we get a new President there is more controversy than the last.  It is okay to have different opinions and different ways of dealing with things - that is the foundation of our country - but when that difference of opinion spills over into anger and disrespect we have a problem.

"A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another."  John 13:34

If I asked you if you were a loving person, you would probably answer yes.  You love your family, your spouse, your children and the people you are close to.  You even love a stranger when they are in need.  But do you really love everyone?  And do you love them with the love of Jesus?

That is the one that got me.  You see, I am from the south.  We are the epitome of  love or at least the appearance of love.  We say "Bless your heart" when sometimes we really mean just the opposite.  We give a head nod to a stranger in the grocery store when sometimes we are really thinking "get out of my way."  I now live in the north where everyone is very straight forward even to the point of being rude.  But where we need to land is somewhere in the middle.  We need to be honest about how we feel, but make sure that our feelings and actions are rooted in love.  And not just any love, but the love of Jesus.

Have you ever studied Jesus - I mean really studied Jesus.  This is what it will take to really understand what he means when he says "As I have loved you..."  Jesus didn't just talk and be kind to Christians and the "good" people or even just the people who agreed with him.  He loved everyone - Christians, sinners, prostitutes, criminals, thieves.  He loved everyone - no exceptions.  And this is what he is commanding us to do.  One of my most used phrases is "We will have to agree to disagree."  I don't have to agree with you to love you.  I don't even have to be your friend to be kind to you when I see you.  I simply need to love you with the same love that Jesus loves me with.  That's all.  No exceptions.

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24 NLT

Be kind to everyone - whether they dress like you, belong to the same political party as you, pull for the same football team as you; whether they are mean to you, talk rudely to you, believe something you don't.  We are all unique; we are all God's children; and we have been instructed by Jesus himself to love one another with the same love he gives to us.  No exceptions!

Have a blessed week and we love you!