boulders-336523_640Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizph and Shen. He named it Ebeneezer saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” ~ 1 Samuel 7:12

I love the start of a new year: clean schedules, new goals, hopes for the coming year. It reminds me of the feeling I got as a child when seeing the first flowers after a hard winter. Something new is coming.

I am looking forward to 2015 and I am at the edge of my seat waiting to see what God has in store for the new year: the hardships, blessings, struggles and joys I will see.  I don’t know about you but I am excited. Why?

Because thus far the Lord has helped me.

In the past five years I have seen some of my greatest heart breaks but also some of my greatest joys. God has led me though some dark times but he never left me. Every success, every failure, every gift, and every grief has brought me closer to Him. Closer to His heart. Closer to His purpose for my life.

As I get ready to jump into 2015 with the anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve, I am not naive enough to assume the road will always be smooth, every day filled with happiness, or every dream come true. But I do know that I can jump forward with confidence because no matter what the future holds. God is with me. He promises so in His word. (Deut 31:8, Joshua 1:9) But also, I know because all I have to do it look back at 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and so on. Thus far the Lord has helped me. Thus far the Lord has helped you.

He who began a good work in you…in me… will be faithful to complete it. (Phil. 1:6)

Look back on your own year. Where do you see God’s hand at work? Set up that memory as an Ebeneezer. Write it on a card, stick it on your mirror, and read it daily. That way, no matter what you face this year, you can look at that card and remember that God has been with you. He is still with you. Do not be discouraged, do not be afraid. He’s got this too.

If you feel comfortable to comment what an Ebeneezer from 2014 is for you please add it to the comments. I’ll start.

Isaiah 9:6

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For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be
on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

Whether today, tonight and tomorrow are filled with hustle and bustle, family and chaos or quiet and calm. May we all take time to remember the truth that our lives are different because of Jesus. The world was ever changed when a child was born a couple thousand years ago.

For unto us a child is born…AMEN!

How Should I Pray?

prayer 2Lately, I have been wrestling with prayer. I want to be a great prayer warrior. I want my prayers to change the world. But how?

In my devotional today in Stream of the Desert by L. B. Cowman, which I highly recommend for a daily reading, there was a quote that seemed to be the missing link in my search. The answer is so simple yet so many of us miss it… we must PRAY.

The quote by Charles Spurgeon said, “Great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must go to work to obtain it. Let us never imagine that Abraham could have  interceded so successfully for Sodom if he had not been all his lifetime in the practice of communion with God. Jacob’s all-night at Peniel was not the first occasion upon which he had met his God. We may even look upon our Lord’s most choice and wonderful prayer with his disciples before His Passion as the flower and fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His often rising up a great while before day to pray.”

So when I feel close to God…pray.

When I feel far from God…pray.

When all seems wrong…pray.

When all is going right… pray.

So how do I need to pray…often and with an earnest heart.

LORD – give me a heart of prayer. Help me to seek you early in the morning, before I rest at night, and many moments in between. ~Amen

Another Year… Another Birthday

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Yesterday I turned 39. One year until I am 40. I have officially become the age where half of the people I meet will think – Wow, you’re old. While the other half think – You are still so young. And the reality is, they are both right.

Thirty nine years. Even if I live a long life, my life is almost half over. Gone are the days of staying up late or water-skiing and not paying for it for the next week. Yes, my body has seen better days, yet from here on out, it will never look better than this.

But before you think I am wallowing in the depths of mid-life depression I will add this… I am still so young and every day, whether I have one more day on earth or 60 more years, is a gift. A gift from God to accomplish His purpose in me.

What will I do with that gift? How will I spend today? Will I spend time with him? Will I strive toward the call He has laid before me? Will I do what I can to care for all that he has entrusted to me (my family, my gifts, my health)?

Would I wish to be thirty again? Honestly, no. I have grown so much in the past nine years. I am wiser. I speak less and listen more. (Think that it isn’t possible that I used to talk more? Trust me, I did.) I have learned from so many godly women that the Lord has placed in my path. I would not trade a few less wrinkles for that growth.

I am not trying to brag – after all I still have a long way to go. And I can’t wait. I hope that I will be able to look back when I turn 40, 50, and every age after and say, “Thank God for the growth. Thank God I am another year older, wiser, closer to my savior.”

I don’t want to stop time.

I don’t want to stay young.

But I do want to be purposeful. I am tired of letting time slip though and missing moments of ministry, mommy-hood, life. I am grabbing 39 with both hands and running toward 40 I don’t want to cross that line kicking and screaming. I want to cross it running full steam, filled with the joy that I have lived another year, loved another year.

That year starts now.

Advent

1482257_10151735174997191_636337141_oSunday was the first day of Advent. Did you celebrate? Advent is traditionally celebrated on the four Sundays before Christmas with five candles. One candle is lit the first Sunday, two the second, and so on until finally Christmas Eve all candles are lit. I love this tradition for several reasons but the biggest reason is because it builds a Christmas anticipation that is not surrounding gifts and goodies.

A few nights ago as we lit the first candle, my children were already in great anticipation: when would we light each one? Which part of the story we would read each week? How many days until we light the Christ Candle?

But no matter your tradition, it is important not to forget it isn’t about the candles, gifts or even a day off work to spend with family. All these are great but it is about so much more.
According to the dictionary, the word “advent” is a noun meaning the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Did you catch that? The arrival of a notable person. God in the flesh. Fully human. Fully God.

Emmanuel – God with us.

Every year when I sit and contemplate that reality, it blows me away. This isn’t just the celebration of a miracle. This was the hinge, the turning point of all history. No longer did humans have to be separate from God.

Emmanuel – God with us.

And after the ascension…He is still with us through the Holy Spirit.

Emmanuel – God with us.

So, as Christmas approaches, take time in all the hustle and bustle to celebrate Advent. You don’t have to do it with candles. You can simply do it on your knees with an open heart waiting. After all, a notable person has come. That is why we celebrate.

Emmanuel – God with us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey day is upon us: food, parades, football, family, shopping and for some Christmas decorating. But with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it is easy to offer a quick thanks before the meal and forget how thankful we are and to whom we are to thankful. So here are a few verses to read over now, maybe before your big meal. May they encourage you as well as point you to remember that all good and perfect gifts comes from above.

Psalm 136:1 O give thanks to the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.

Lamentations 3:23 They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.
John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be you thankful.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Hebrews 12:28 Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Morning Prayer

Do you struggle with the right words to pray sometimes? I know I do and this Psalm out of The Message is one great way that I have found to focus my heart and mind to start the day. Write it on an index card and read it every morning!

Psalm 119:169-176

Let my cry come right into your presence, God;
    provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word.
Give my request your personal attention,
    rescue me on the terms of your promise.
Let praise cascade off my lips;
    after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life!
And let your promises ring from my tongue;
    every order you’ve given is right.
Put your hand out and steady me
    since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel.
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation;
    I love it when you show yourself!
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well,
    use your decrees to put iron in my soul.
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me!
    I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.

~Amen

Have a blessed week!

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