one word, spiritual

Surrender: A Year in Review

My word for 2016 was Surrender. I blogged about it earlier this year HERE. It wasn’t a word that I was thrilled about, but I knew that it was a word I needed. I knew the Lord would redeem the word and make it something that would be a blessing instead of something I dreaded and even ran from.

The first part of my surrender was to start up some women’s activities at church. You might say that is not surrendering, but for me it was.  You see, I had gotten into a bad habit of apathy. I used my day job as an excuse to not be active. Sure, I am exhausted from my job, but the Lord promises to give us the strength we need to do His work. So we began a monthly breakfast and a quarterly activity like a craft day, a Christmas tea, etc. We also started a Ladies Bible Study, which was by far the most rewarding thing. For such a small church, we have had a huge turnout. Women are hungry to share, grow, and be encouraged.

Another part of my surrender was the surrender of my time. As an empty-nester, I have a lot of time in the evenings. I tend to just watch Netflix and play games on my iPad (all part of that apathy and tiredness from my day job). I have tried to start writing again, but the surrender part was difficult, especially with outside circumstances got in the way. Which brings me to the last of my surrender.

It was a difficult year for my family. Just lots of stuff going on…some good, some bad. I really had to let my instinct to step in and help…aka be bossy and nosey….go and just surrender it all to the Lord. He can make good out of bad way better than I can. While it is not in His plan for bad things to happen, He can heal and bring good out of any situation.

There is a sense of fulfillment and peace in surrendering to the Lord. I know He wants the very best for me – I just need to surrender to Him and His will for me. Sure, there are bad times. We are never promised an easy life. But the journey we travel in this world develops our character and hearts to become the people He can use for His kingdom.

God knew I needed this word for this particular year. Surrender…a word redeemed.

p.s. I’m so excited about my word for 2017!

***Picture by markuso at***

Christmas, spiritual

A Sunday Christmas

Christmas 2016

I used to hate it when Christmas fell on a Sunday. We’d wake up early and open presents, dump out all the goodies in the stockings, then rush around to get ready for church, all the while glancing at our toys, wishing we could just stay home and play. I felt this way as an adult with children of my own, knowing that they too wished they could just stay home.

But I’ve learned that my focus was wrong. Sure, I would say that Jesus is the reason for the season, but they were just words. Those words really didn’t affect my heart.

When your heart focuses on the One and Only, Christmas becomes sacred. A day that is steeped in wonder and awe. It’s the miracle of the Creator God becoming a sacrificial lamb…a babe swaddled, lying in a cradle of hay.

This babe is Emmanuel…God with us.

Today Christians all over the world are gathering together to celebrate this coming King, this child on whom the weight of the world rests. Together we will raise our voices to praise Him who humbled himself to take on human form, becoming the servant of all, giving His life for each and every soul that ever was, is, and will be.

Today is special. Do you feel it? Do you hear the Spirit whisper into your soul, “Today is the day.” He is here. Because of His birth, death, and resurrection, he is here…living in you. Because of His first gasp of breath, He now breathes into you His presence.

Rejoice! Worship Him! For He is here….and He will come again to take us home.

“Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways – He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 (The Voice)

Merry  Christmas!

follower, Jesus, spiritual

Not Another Fan

Photo by Naypong

I don’t want to be just another fan.

There…I said it. I have been a fan of Jesus, but not always a true follower. Now I know that my friends and family would argue that, but if I truly search my heart, in some areas of my life I have been just another fan.

I saw on Facebook a book that my sister-in-law Elizabeth posted. They are starting up a study based on this book Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman and I was curious. I looked it up on Amazon and promptly ordered it. I started it this morning and am halfway through.

It’s not easy reading, as I have had to examine my heart and my motives against the challenges that Jesus set forth to his disciples and the crowds that followed Him. Yikes.

You see, a fan is excited about their team until the team begins to falter. When tough times comes, the fan becomes disillusioned and becomes a fan of the next great team.

A follower on the other hand doesn’t give up God when the going gets tough.

A follower counts the cost….and there will be a cost…and steps out in faith regardless.

A follower is excited about God and His mission in this world.

A follower is full of the Spirit, and is aware of His presence.

While I have been able to say yes at times to all of these, I have been lukewarm a good part of the time. I get weary. I become afraid of what others think. I get tired of Satan’s attacks and give up on my zeal for the Lord.

I want a close relationship with God. I want to fear God and give Him the honor, respect, and reverence He is due. I want to live a life of love for God and for others. I want to be used by Him. I want to surrender to Him completely…wholeheartedly…unashamedly.

Oh God, the cry of my heart is I want to follow You. 

I don’t want to be just another fan.

discouragement, spiritual

Trials, Faith, and Pushing Through

Photo by George Stojkovic at

You know it’s coming. It always does.

Things are going well and life seems to be rolling along with a smile on its face, but you know things are going to change. Good things can be happening…encouraging and uplifting things, and yet all it takes is one downer to make you lose sight of all the good and focus on that one depressing thing.

Discouragement hits you like a dump truck, piling the questions and doomsday
scenarios upon your head. Fear begins to leak into your soul and you wonder if you are really up for all this trouble again.

But Lord, I am following You. I’ve dedicated my life to being in Your service. Why does it have to be so hard?

You know the answer right? You’ve heard it preached. You’ve read it in the Bible. You’ve seen it played out in the lives of good people everywhere.

We are not promised an easy life. In fact, we are promised the opposite. Jesus says outright, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

Okay, so how do we deal with all this trouble?

We focus on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

We remember that these troubles develop our character and refine us to become more like Jesus. (Romans 5:3-5)

We recognize that these trials help grow our faith. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

We thank the Lord that He gives us the strength we need to endure. (Philippians 4:13)

Good things to remember, don’t you think?

 I wrote this for me – to help me remember God is with me, loves me, and will never leave my side.

I feel better already.

What do you do to remind yourself of God’s presence in the midst of hardship?

Jesus, spiritual

The Creature’s New Clothes

Photo by isobelyf at

Did you ever think of Adam and Eve being the first fashion designers? They were. When they disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they became aware they were naked…and quickly made for themselves some little outfits out of fig leaves.

“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked them.

You see, before they ate of the tree forbidden them, Adam and Eve were naked and they felt no shame. They walked with God in the garden and there was no shame in that…naked before God. No hiding. No shame. No barriers to God.

And then they decided it would be nice if they could be like God and know everything, so they ate the fruit, and were banished from Eden…from God’s presence. Without God, they were naked, ashamed, and lacked His tangible presence.

Without God, mankind is stripped of their dignity and found to be naked before God.

We have tried to be our own god, but God had a plan to cover our nakedness before Him.

Jesus, God whispers to the world. Jesus is my plan…to clothe the world in his white robes and bring back their worthiness, their significance, their dignity.

Remember when the apostles were praying in the upper room when tongues of fire lit atop their heads? They were clothed with power from on high, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Through Jesus, we can be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. We can walk hand-in-hand with God with our head held high because we are clothed with the power of His Son and the power of His Spirit.

God is the ultimate fashion designer and you will never be better dressed than when you are clothed by His designs.

So what are you wearing today?

***Based on John Ketchersid’s sermon 9/11/2016

discipleship, spiritual

Is Discipleship Really About Being Like Jesus?

Photo by ntwowe at

The sermon Sunday was another installment in the series True or False with the statement: The goal of discipleship is to be like Jesus.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Matthew 23: 15

The Pharisees were vigilant in making converts and discipling them, but Jesus denounces their efforts. Why? What was false about what they were doing? They were getting people to follow their own way instead of God’s way. Tradition vs. grace. Rules vs. mercy.

This is a challenge for Christians today. What are we bringing people to? What does discipleship mean?

We aren’t here to shut others down. In Mark 9, the disciples were concerned about someone driving out demons in the name of Jesus because that person was not one of them. But Jesus says whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives a cup of water to someone in need will be rewarded.

We are not to be exclusive. The kingdom of God is inclusive, wanting all to come and participate in the grace of God.

Discipleship focuses on what God focuses on. In Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Discipleship is more that just saying we are following Christ. Discipleship is about doing the will of the God the Father and focusing on what God focuses on.

The Pharisees made the temple a marketplace, focusing on the correct sacrifice to bring to God rather than focusing on prayer. Jesus said that the temple was to be a house of prayer and yet the Pharisees had made it a den of robbers.

When you invest in legalism, you create more legalism in your discipleship. The focus is on what you do rather than on what you are becoming.

Focus on what God emphasizes. Ephesian 4 says:

“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, on baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

This is a central message of Jesus: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. This is what God focuses on and wants to emphasis.

So the answer to the True or False questions is this: True, the goal of discipleship is to be like Jesus, who lived a life worthy of the calling of God. He lived a life of love, focusing on what God focused on and followed the will of God.

Is my goal to be like Jesus? Do I daily set aside my own agenda to follow hard after him? 

***Based on the notes taken from John Ketchersid’s sermon 7-31-2016.

Fun Friday Five, personal

Fun Friday Five

It’s been crazy at my house, but here are a few of my obsessions this week.

Pokemon Go
Don’t judge me, but I jumped on the Pokemon Go bandwagon. I did it to spend time with my daughter and walk, but alas…I have been a little obsessed with it. I have found that the new is starting to wear off, so that’s good, but really….what a cool concept. I’ve walked more – even in the heat –  and I have talked to people I don’t know, which is really hard for me. I love that it helps me connect to the world around me and make connections I never would have before. It will be interesting to see what other games pop up like this one.

Compel Training (Writing)
So it’s been a long time but I have had the urge to pick up my pen and write. Not another novel, but I am feeling the call to write devotionals or articles on spirituality and the Christian walk. And it’s not even to get published. I want to offer something to the ladies at my church in some form or another. I’m not sure what I will do or how I will do it, but it is something that has been impressed on my heart for some reason and I need to make sure I follow through. (That is why I am stating it here so as to be accountable.) So I signed up for Compel Training through Proverbs 31 ministries. It is training for writers, especially non-fictions, and I am excited about all that I am learning.

Sumo Wrestling

Sumo Nation Rentals

I know what you are thinking….WHAT????? No, I am not sitting around watching Sumo wrestling. I just received 2 sumo wrestling suits…you know, the kind that blows up and you put it on and wrestle with someone? I’m sooooo excited! I rented them for 2 of my boys’ birthdays and we are going to have fun tomorrow night wrestling away. **Please note that these boys are 30 and 26. (Just wait for the pictures to come!)

I love pedicures. LOVE them. Almost as much as I love getting my hair cut, which is saying a lot. The thing is, I have been obsessing over getting a pedicure and I can’t go get one! In order to do the Compel Training for Writers, I had to give up something, and that was pedicures. Can I just say that when you see me next, do not look down at my feet? I do NOT do good pedicures. Just saying.

Ice Cream Shakes
I am obsessed with Sonic’s Peanut Butter Oreo shakes. It must be because I’m stressed at work and have been super busy every night with stuff, because all I want is one of those shakes. No, I don’t go get one every night, but I sure do want one. They are so creamy and yummy…sigh. Delicious. The best part are the huge chunks of Oreos are the bottom that you have to eat with a spoon. All-around-goodness, I tell you.

So that are the things on my mind this week. How about you? What are you obsessing over this week?