Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Do You See in the Mirror?-part 2

It seems that this issue really hits a chord with women. I am so glad that many of you were encouraged by my summary of Chip Ingram's study on this topic. I will finish up where I left on last week.

But just knowing the truth about how God sees us isn’t enough and doesn’t change your life.


Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see.”

Can you imagine what would happen if you believe it is true?

Three things to help us believe:

1) Faith is built on God’s word

Hebrews 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

When you expose yourself to the Word of God, faith grows.

2) Faith grows when you renew your mind.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We must be conscious of how we spend our time. We can waste so much time on worldly endeavors. Instead, spend that time learning God’s view of you through Bible study and memorizing scripture and you’ll be transformed.

There are 168 hours in every week.
1 hour of church vs 167 hours of the world’s impact
Which is going to influence you more?

Develop a plan to remove the distorted mirrors in your life and replace them with the mirrors of God’s word. Affirmations from God’s Word & praying God’s Word.

Ways we can celebrate the unique person God has made us to be:
1) Unwrap your spiritual gift
I Corinthians 12:4-10
Every believer has at least one. It is incredible to see what happens when God uses those gifts to touch lives.

2) Use Your God-given Talents
Exodus 31:3
“I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in a all kinds of craftsmanship.

Different talents
- Many of you bury them.
- Sometimes you don’t see it as a talent, but it is unique and somebody needs it.
- Just make them available.

3) Leverage Your Past Experience
Romans 8:28
“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.

Parenting. Divorce. Cancer. Sexual abuse. Miscarriage. Etc.
God doesn’t waste pain.

II Corinthians 1: 26-31 -- The comfort and grace God gave you through your pain,
He wants you to use that for others.

God usually works in our weaknesses. Do we most often respond to someone who says, “Hey, I can’t help you with this” or someone who has experienced it and shares from personal experience?

Let’s move beyond our gates of safety and give it away. Get focused on others. Ministry is how God makes what’s true of us, true in us.

Loving others is the key.
Gallop poll:
Only 10% of laymen in churches are using their gifts in church.
50% have no interest in doing so.

So in brief review:
Your plan:
1) Refuse to believe you are inferior.
2) Fill your mind with how God sees you (Scripture).
3) Jump in and give to others.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Miss Suzy Has Captured Our Hearts

I am joining Elise at A Path Made Straight again today for Children's Book Monday. My Mondays will be easy to fill for a long time to come--there are so many wonderful books out there to talk about!

One of my favorite, most memorable books growing up was Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and illustrated by Arnold Lobel of "Frog and Toad" fame. This charming book was written over 40 years ago, and was out of print for awhile. It was re-published in 2004 and I snatched it up as fast as I could!

Miss Suzy is the story of an adorable brown squirrel driven from her simple, but cozy tree home by a group of bully squirrels. She seeks refuge in the attic of a nearby house and makes a new home in a dollhouse there, while also making some new friends. Even so, she still longs for her tree home. The ending of the tale brings in themes of friendship, bravery, and contentment.

This book now is one of my children's favorites--its appeal seems to reach across generations. This is one of the most requested books in our home, and I certainly love to read it, since it is one of my favorites. Don't miss out on this simple story with beautiful illustrations!

Friday, February 23, 2007

What Do You See in the Mirror?

Our culture is obsessed with appearances-of all kinds. Image seems to be all that matters, and it is so frustrating for parents seeking to teach daughters (and sons) about the true source of their worth. It has gotten so bad that even secular studies are showing the harm that these images cause girls.

Lately, my five-year-old daughter has become increasingly aware of what she looks like and what she wears. She has become concerned at points on what other people will say about her appearance. I can't believe she is already starting to think about those things. At five, I was clueless--of course, most of the clothing sold for girls now would have alarmed most parents when I was a child. Inch by inch, standards have eroded, and over time the effect on young girls growing up has been devastating. Parenting and teaching in this area must be very purposeful to help our daughters fight these terrible lies that Satan uses to debilitate women.

I was reminded of a study I participated by Chip Ingram on self-image, and thought I would share some great application for this topic.

It is important to realize that self-image, how we view ourselves, is important. A study of 5- and 6-yr-olds showed how they viewed themselves was a higher determinant of success than IQ. How each of us views ourselves is pivotal in the quality of our lives and the quality of of our ability to serve the Lord. We all struggle with questions such as:
Who I am?
Where do I belong?
Am I significant?
Am I ok?
What do people think of me?

Chip points out that many times we see ourselves as if we are looking through those distorted mirrors at carnivals and county fairs. Three specific distorted mirrors he describes are:
“my value depends on how I look”
“my value depends on what I can do”
“my value depends on what people think of me”

Until we see ourselves as God sees us, we are destined to feel inferior.

Until we can get away from basing our value on how we look, how good we are, and what others think of us, we are destined to feel inferior. We must see myself as God sees us. We don’t have to be in bondage to the distorted mirrors of our world. Chip describes how we can learn to see ourselves through God's eyes.

How do we see ourselves in the way God sees us?

See God’s view of you- His perspective.

a. You are UNIQUE!
Genesis 1:27 “God created man in His own image

Psalm 139:13-14 “For You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb, I praise you because I am
Fearfully and wonderfully made.”

You one in 6 billion
Your DNA is different from everyone else on this earth

An artist paints an original piece of art and then prints are made.
God didn’t make prints.
You are an original!

b. You are LOVED!

Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness”.

I have to accept God’s love all the time, knowing that He knows everything about me and still loves me

No one can make me accept it; it is a step of faith.

c. You are VALUABLE!

1 Corinthians 6:20 “ you are not you own; you were bought with a price”

We are all slaves—slaves to sin-- destined to eternity without God
But were bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ

d. You are SECURE!

Ephesians 1:13 “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, your were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can be secure for eternity if we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

When buying a house, you have to put down “earnest money” or a deposit to secure the house-
Jesus was our earnest money for all eternity.


Ephesians 4: 11-13 (different gifts)

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”

God has a plan to touch people in this world and YOU are the one to do it!

You are important and have a special assignment on this earth-and it doesn’t depend on how smart or how beautiful you are.

But just knowing the truth isn’t enough and doesn’t change your life.
I will continue these thoughts next time, as this post is getting rather long!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Never

I have been tagged by Kim at Mercy Days for this unique meme. Please feel free to join in and learn some little known facts about your blog friends!

1. Which dramatic role have I never had?
a. Rumpelstiltskin, title role, 4th grade skit
b. Amaryllis, piano lesson girl in "The Music Man", 6th grade, community musical
c Fairy in "Dance of the Swan" , 3rd grade ballet
d. Emily in "Our Town," high school

Well, I have never had any of these roles, but was quite involved in community theater from the ages of 10-16, in plays like Annie, Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. I developed this dramatic interest after being cast in The River, a movie with Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek, when I was in the fifth grade.

2. On which athletic team did I never compete?
a. softball
b. field hockey
c. tennis
d. swimming

I have never competed in field hockey (we don't do field hockey in the south) or swimming, and just softball and tennis recreationally. I played volleyball and basketball growing up and went on to play volleyball in college. I love volleyball!

3. What kind of lessons have I never taken?
a. piano
b. riding
c. tap dance
d. etiquette

I have never taken riding lessons, but need to. I always seem to get the wild horses on trail rides!

4. Which type of vehicle have I never driven?
a. stick shift car
b. dirt bike
c. pickup truck
d. ATV

I have never ridden a dirt bike, but am guessing that is in my future. My husband grew up riding them and is itching to buy one for our son (and himself!)

5. What is my favorite genre of literature?
a. historical fiction
b. science fiction
c. romantic fiction
d. nonfiction

This is tough! I would say it is a close call between historical fiction and nonfiction. Since college, I have read a lot more nonfiction, but am re-discovering the enjoyment of great fiction.

Have a wonderful weekend ladies!

The Sandpaper Strategy

Do you have those people in your life that are just tough to love and deal with? I certainly do! I struggle at times ministering to many of the college students that I work with, and even at times, my family and friends. It is hard to practice patience and kindness to those challenging people in our lives. It can be easy to try to insulate ourselves from these people and surround ourselves with people we enjoy - usually people that make us feel good.

In my study this week in Living Beyond Yourself, God really challenged me through one of my favorite passages of scripture in James 1. God's word teaches us that trials and difficulties refine us and produce steadfastness or patience which helps complete what is lacking in us.

Beth Moore describes those tough relationships like sandpaper rubbing together. It is uncomfortable and rough, but with time and consistent contact, will smooth out. God uses that friction in our lives to grow us. My first reaction is to avoid that discomfort, but God is revealing to me that I am called to connect with those frustrating people He places in my path for their growth, as well as mine.

Join me in applying God's "sandpaper strategy" to your life. Can you think of that person God has placed in your life that is a big challenge for you? Do not run from this opportunity for you to be "made complete, lacking nothing."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Genius of Peter Spier

Following the lead from my new blog friend, Elise at A Path Made Straight, I will be posting on one of my favorite children's books each Monday. When I saw this on Elise's blog, I just loved the idea--and immediately asked if she would mind if I joined in. If you book lovers out there would like to join us, please do! I love discovering new books to share with my children, and enjoy myself! If you post, please let us know so we can visit.


My first Children's Book Monday selection comes from one of my *favorite* illustrators, Peter Spier. You can truly get lost in his pictures with the exquisite detail he is known for. The majority of his books are wordless--you can tell the story yourself, and I promise you will find new things you never noticed before each time you "read" his books

Noah's Ark won the 1978 Caldecott Medal, and it is easy to see why. I was lucky to find this book in hardback at an outlet store shortly after my son was born. It is been one of our favorites, especially since my son has been a huge animal fan since he was tiny. He pored over this book and loved using this book to draw his own animal pictures. It is also great because it remains faithful to scripture.

If you enjoy this book, don't stop there--check out his other books at amazon.com. Some are out of print, but you can find a used book seller to purchase from. I have bought three Peter Spier books this way.

Other selections we enjoy include:

We The People

There are others I have not gotten, but they are on my wish list! So enjoy your Monday and make sure a curl up with your children and a good book.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Thirteenth Tale

Last week I finished The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, a book that has received comparisons to the writings of the Bronte sisters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! For me a good fiction book brings me inside its pages so that when I put it down, I am a bit disoriented as to where I am after being so absorbed in the story. Also, a great book by my definition brings reflection. The Thirteenth Tale would definitely qualify on these points. I am no literary critic, but will share some reflections on this intriguing tale.

The story revolves around two women and their stories. Vida Winter is a world famous British author who has never revealed her true personal story, always chooses to tell a story when interviewed over the years. As she is growing older and failing in her health, she chooses an obscure biographer named Margaret Lea to pen her biography. Margaret lives and works in a small, bookstore specializing in old books, run by her father. Margaret is an avid, passionate reader, living a rather isolated existence with only her father and books to keep her company. I will not go into any more details--you need to read it for yourself! What follows, though, is the story of the growth of Vida and Margaret's relationship as Vida shares her haunting, often disturbing story. Both women have pasts they confront and truths they finally acknowledge.

My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a good story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.
--Vida Winter

"The Thirteenth Tale" came to represent to me Vida's truth--her true story. As stated in the quote above, Vida avoided the painful truth and chose instead to live in a world of stories that could be fashioned as she wished. The reality of this path is she could not change the truth of her past, it remained the same and was always with her. Crafted personal stories can bring a soothing comfort in the midst of pain, which may be beneficial at times. As a substitute for the truth, though, stories do not suffice.

This book made me think, "What will be my thirteenth tale, my true story?" At the end of my life, how will my story read? Am I living in truth, embracing my past, present, and future in the light of God's sovereignty in my life? I am striving to live in truth and without regrets. I pray that my thirteenth tale will be one of joy, in the struggles, as well as the blessings.

This book also reminded me of the deep pain that is suffered by so many people and how that scars and impacts their lives. I felt deeply convicted that I do not seek to minister to those people as I believe I am called to do. As Christians, we must not shrink from the ugliness that is in our world, but try to shine the healing light of Christ in those very difficult situations.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Palms Down or Palms Up

I don't know about everyone else, but I like to hold on to things. I like to have control over my life. I like stability and avoid uncertainty. I have found this to be true of most women--we tend to be nest-makers, while our men tend to be adventure-seekers. I believe that these desires are part of God's design, but like so many things can be manipulated by Satan to bring defeat into our lives.

I am reading The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges, which is proving to be an instrument that God is using to refine me and challenge me. I have been uniquely impacted by the concept of training in godliness. Coming from a rich athletic background, I have always been drawn to illustrations of physical training and how the same concepts apply to spiritual growth and training.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
--Hebrews 12:1-2
I want to run with endurance the race set before me, but I must first lay aside those things hold me back. This is so hard sometimes, letting go. Jerry Bridges states that one of the principles of training is the cost of commitment. He writes:

There is a price to godliness, and godliness is never on sale. It never comes cheaply or easily. The verb "train," which Paul deliberately chose, implies persevering, painstaking, diligent effort. He was well aware of the total commitment those young athletes made to win a crown that would not last. And as he thought of the crown that would last-the godliness that has value for all things, both in the present life and the life to some-he urged Timothy, and he urges us today, to make the kind of commitment necessary to train ourselves to be godly.

God is challenging me that I must make the choice, the commitment, to give up those things in my life that prevent me from running with endurance. I would take this a step further, to use the word surrender. With surrender there is a complete release or letting go. When we hold things palms up, we can always take them back. If you let go of something with palms down, once it is released, you can not hold on to it. This type of complete surrender is what is required of us. Are your palms facing up or down? Is there anything God is calling you to let go of, so that you may run with endurance the race He has set before you?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Am

I recently posted Where I Am From and have enjoyed reading as several of you have posted your own version. Owlhaven has posted a new writing template that is similar called, "I Am." Once again I would love for you to let me know if you decide to post so I can read yours. It is such a creative way to express yourself and learn about each other.

I Am
I am the baby born in Kentucky to a seminary student
and high school teacher & coach
Who almost lost me to pneumonia at age two.
I am the child who played Wonder Woman, detective, sports, and dolls.
Who loved to put on shows with my brother and cousins
and loved to run through sprinklers and make mudpies-for real!
Who stored notes from my brother in my treasure box.
Who dreamed of being an ice skater like Dorothy Hamill
and never thought she would actually get to be in a movie.
I am the teenager who liked hanging out with my family.
Who wore parachute pants and jelly shoes and
loved my youth group and hated cliques in school.
Who dreamed of making an impact and knew she would be in ministry.
I am the woman who loved the college experience, playing volleyball,
and building relationships of depth.
Who loves my Savior and my family
and my ministry to college students.
I am the mother who loves reading to my kids and
whose moments of perfect bliss come when I get to cuddle
with my kids after their bath with freshly shampooed hair.
I am the teacher who loves schedules and
avoids (okay- procrastinates) things that bore me.
I am the woman who reflects and plans and obsesses, at times.
I am the person who desires change and growth
and then encounters frustrating bumps along the way.
I am the woman who still loves autumn days & summer evenings,
staring at the ocean, and the smell of rain and books.
Who still longs to learn at the feet of my Savior.
I am the person who dreams of walking on the beach with my husband
on our 50 year anniversary and living with purpose and without regret.
I am grateful for my spiritual heritage and grace.
And I am the woman who hopes that her children
will rise up and call her blessed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Cold Within

The Cold Within
by James Patrick Kinney
Six humans trapped by happenstance
in black and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
the first woman held hers back.
For on the faces around the fire
She noticed one was black.
The next man looking 'cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.
The black man's face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.
And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.
The logs held tight in death's stilled hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.

I am studying the Fruit of the Spirit through the Living Beyond Yourself study by Beth Moore. This past week I learned so much about joy. One aspect of joy that really hit me was that God wants us to experience joy through the body of Christ--to minister to and be ministered to brings joy! So many times I allow my busyness or selfishness get in the way of being a joy to those around me.

Sadly we can see this disconnect everywhere in our culture. We need those connections, we are designed for relationship. If you stop and look, people are dying inside all around us from "the cold within." May we strive to reach out to bring joy to the body of Christ and to those searching desperately for connection and love.

You have given me a great joy and encouragement, because you, brother (or sister), have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
--Philemon 7

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Amazing Grace

Here is the movie trailer of the upcoming movie "Amazing Grace" to be released February 23rd. It is the story of William Wilberforce, an Evangelical Christian converted under the ministry of John Wesley in England, who was largely responsible for the campaign to abolish slavery in Britain in 1807. This action led ultimately to the United States looking at this shameful issue. The movie takes the title from the hymn written by John Newton, a friend and mentor of William Wilberforce.

In an age where so many people attack Christianity, it is wonderful to see the story of a hero of the faith depicted in a movie. While I have not seen the movie, it is getting endorsements from groups such as Focus on the Family and the Association for Christian Colleges and Universities. Visit the movie website at amazinggracemovie.com to see if it is coming to a city near you. These are the heroes that I want my children to learn and read about.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Do Not Be Deceived-This Applies to You & Me

Last year I read a book by Shaunti Feldhahn called For Women Only: What You need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men. This was quite an eye-opening book that presented ideas based on a survey of 400 men. My husband and I talk very openly about issues in our marriage and in life, so I thought I had a pretty good handle on this topic, but I learned several new things. My husband read the book, as well, and was amazed how much insight the author had. He said every woman should read this book. Interestingly, I read where a church in Georgia purchased and gave every woman a copy.

One concept that was particularly powerful for me was the idea that men have a visual Rolodex of images. The author states that men literally store images in their mind--once it has been stored, can pop up at any time, even when a man does not want it. Eighty-seven percent of the men polled said that these "pop-ups" happen to them. Therefore, men are constantly put in the position to choose to look at the image or close it down, if you will. This has to be exhausting! Most women do not understand this--we do not store images in this way. And they certainly don't just "pop up" uninvited.

Given this idea, you can totally understand the problem our country has with pornography and the danger it presents to the men in our life. They are bombarded with images from every side and angle, and our lack of understanding on this issue makes it worse. My new blog friend, Kelly at Party of Five, shared about a series her church is doing called Pure Sex. This post along with an article on Clay Crosse, Christian recording artist who struggled with pornography, in the current Home Life magazine really got me thinking about the problem of pornography in our culture. Here are some startling statistics on pornography.

    • Pornography industry grosses $12 billion in the US, and $57 billion worldwide (more than Microsoft)
    • There are 800 million adult videos and DVDs rented each year.
    • 72 million Internet users visit pornographic web sites each year.
    • 80% of 15- to 17-year-olds have had multiple exposures to hard-core pornography.
    • The average age of first exposure to pornography is eleven!
    • The largest consumer of Internet porn is the 12-to17-year-old age group.
    • 90% of 8-16 year-olds have viewed porn online.
    • 53% of Promise Keeper men viewed porn in the last week.
    • There are 25 children's character names (like Pokeman) that are linked to porn sites.
Whew! If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will. I realize that this is not the world's problem. Do not be deceived, this is an issue that Christians must take seriously--it is an area Satan is using to gain a foothold and defeat us. Some statistics also showed that 51% of ministers have taken "just a look" at pornography, while 37% state they have a more serious problem. We do not like to hear these facts, but we can not ignore them.

As Christian women, I believe that we must take action. We must pray diligently for the men in our lives for the strength to resist Satan as he so aggressively seeks to destroy them in this area. I have been praying this already for my 8-year-old son, as well. In addition, we must not forget to pray for our church leaders. No one is "above susceptibility" on this issue. As a minister's wide, I covet the prayers of others for my husband as he serves the church.

Not only must we pray, but we must take this knowledge and make more conscious choices about the media that we consume. It is not just pornographic material that Satan uses, but images on television and movies. For goodness sake, it is a minefield for men to go through the check-out at the grocery store.

We must realize the importance of dressing modestly and teaching our daughters the importance, as well. We do not want to be a stumbling block for those around us. This is hard with many of the clothing choices out there. We desire to be fashionable and feel good about how we look, but must balance that with a modest approach.

A couple of other courses of action pertain to technology available. First, having a good filter on your computer is a must. Another resource comes from XXXchurch, a Christian online site seeking to help people break out of the bondage of pornography. They have a service that you can sign up for with other accountability partners. At the end of the week, a list of the websites you accessed is sent to your partner(s) to hold you accountable to what you are viewing.

In closing, I will mention that trends are showing more and more women falling prey to pornography. In the past couple of years, I have had an increasing number of the female college students I work with share about their struggles in this area, often through chat rooms. So we must stay on guard personally and pray also for our daughters and friends in this area, as well.