Smell the Coffee

coffee1

This morning I was sitting in my office, writing Christmas Cards, when my husband decided to brew a cup of some kind of Espresso, tar in a cup, really strong coffee. I am not a coffee person unless you count Starbucks Eggnog Lattes which I love. However, I usually enjoy the smell of fresh brewed coffee. G=His coffee smelled so bad, I got a little annoyed. I was about to make some kind of snarky comment, (Yeah I know, my love walk stinks you don’t have to tell me.) but then I randomly thought, what if I didn’t have the ability to smell? It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but your sense of smell also affects your sense of taste. My next thought was, “What if I wasn’t able to taste anything?”

Now that would be tragic. The satisfaction of eating a Belgian truffle. That buttery, chocolate goodness that just melts in your mouth. Delicious mashed potatoes with just the right amount of cream and butter. A beautiful piece of salmon broiled with ginger and cilantro and all other kinds of mesmerizing spices. The fresh guacamole that I make weekly and can’t get enough of. Can you tell I like to eat? I thoroughly enjoy good food and I couldn’t imagine not being able to taste what I was eating. The ability to smell and taste is a gift, but a gift I regularly take for granted.

How many other gifts are all around me that I just don’t open my eyes to?

* One of our friends has spent the last few months in and out of hospitals with her little girl. My kids are healthy. This is a gift.

* Last night I met a young couple with a small baby. They had no job, no money, no place to live. They were planning to spend the night in a tent until they could get on a bus today to go home to Tennessee to their family. I have a house that I get to go to everyday. I have a nice comfy bed that I get to sleep in every night. This is a gift. The fact that we were able to help this little family is also a gift.

* I know people who have been out of work for months although they are diligently looking for a job. My husband and I have jobs and are able to provide for our family. This is a gift.

* Some people are sad this holiday season because their parents are no longer with them. Not only do I have great parents I get to see this Christmas, but also a wonderful mother and father-in love, and my grandparents are healthy and well. This is a gift.

* There are those who are lonely without a friend in the world. I have friends all over the world. This is a gift.

In this season filled with gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, let’s not forget to smell the coffee and appreciate the everyday gifts that aren’t in a pretty packages, the gifts we don’t see.

What is a gift you are most thankful for?

 

 

 

Advertisements

The ONE

discouraged

There comes a time in the life of almost every person in ministry (before you say not me, notice I said MOST not ALL) when we look around and wonder if what we are doing is making a difference; if it really matters; if there is even a point.

It sounds good to say things like “We don’t care about the numbers”, “It doesn’t matter that there are 50 less people in service this week than last week as long as we have healthy people we don’t care”, “I know my travel schedule is light, but Praise God, it’s going to be a great season to refresh and recharge”, “I don’t really care who reads my blog, I just write it for myself” or any number of other things we may tell ourselves and others. These all sound good, but can we be honest and say that we really don’t believe what we are saying?

The truth is, seeing less people in church can be discouraging for a pastor and ministry team. Having a lack of speaking engagements can be deflating for an itinerant minister. Having 2 ladies show up for the women’s Bible Study when we expected 50 can take the wind out of our sails. Checking the stats and seeing that only 4 people read our latest blog offering can be somewhat depressing.

We’ve planned, prepared, and put our heart and soul into our ministry and when we don’t see our expected results it is easy to get disheartened, even if just for a moment. It doesn’t help that on social media platforms worldwide, everyone else is talking about the amazing growth they are experiencing in their churches, the amount of ministry opportunities they are receiving, the doors that are opening, etc…. when it seems that we ourselves are not impacting anyone. This can leave us feeling flat, wondering why we do what we do.

Maybe instead of thinking about what we are NOT, what we don’t have, or what we wished we had, we need to shift our perspective and start thinking about the ONE.

one

 

(No, not that ONE though He is pretty important too!) The ONE who’s life was changed without us even knowing it. The ONE who slipped into our church a year ago a broken mess, who is thriving today. The ONE single mom who was hopeless until we showed her Jesus. The ONE sick guy who was supposed to die, but is still alive today. How about the ONE cashier in the grocery store, who was overworked, overtired and overwhelmed until we smiled and asked how her day was? Or the ONE who did read our blog and it changed their perspective on their situation.

This is why we do what we do. Everywhere we go there are ONEs walking around, who have had their lives changed because of us, and even more importantly, ONEs waiting to have their lives changed. Jesus Himself told the story of a Shepherd who left his flock to go after the ONE. In fact in Jesus’ parable He said the Shepherd makes more of a fuss over that ONE than the other 99 who stayed put. Instead of wishing we could see a greater impact from our ministry, let’s celebrate the ONEs today.

Who is your ONE?  I’d love to hear all about it!

Make the Most of Your Time

I once heard it said-

Image

How true is this?!?

It really bothers me when I hear someone tell me how they can’t fulfill a commitment, because they are too busy. Then I see them move heaven and earth to do what they want to do. Then I was thinking today about how I too might use the excuse “I didn’t (or don’t) have time for….. ” as a reason for not accomplishing something. You probably have too! 

But the truth is, if we want to do something we will make time no matter how busy we are. We will rearrange schedules, and figure out a way to make something that we want   happen. At least I know I will, I can’t speak for you.

Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us

Image

 

The Word says- Make the most of your time!

The thing is, we need to be as intentional about what we need to do as we are about what we want to do! Instead of putting off things and talking ourselves out of doing the things that are beneficial to us, let’s make a commitment to get rid of the excuses!

Image

I’m going to start today! Who’s with me?

 

Still Standing

I love music! As a worship leader and songwriter, I always appreciate the great music that others produce. Today I had the privilege of listening to Keisha Cory’s new album Still Standing for the first time, and it is definitely something you will want to add to your music library!

Image

Keisha and her husband Trent are incredible worship leaders who have made a huge impact on the body of Christ through their music. Not only are they both talented singers, but their heart for worship, and passion to bring people closer to God is evident in every song they sing. Their music is powerful, and their worship songs are being sung all over the world.

Keisha’s solo project, Still Standing, is a brilliant mix of her worship roots combined with a contemporary Christian feel. The title track, “Still Standing”, is an inspiring, upbeat song that will encourage you that even in the midst of trials, you can still stand strong! The love song, “Overwhelmed” is a beautiful ballad that will bring peace to your soul. Trent joins her on the song “I See Heaven”, and their amazing harmonies take you to a place of worship. “Love Came Down” and “Hallelujah You’re My King” will definitely be songs that I incorporate into our worship services.  Keisha’s amazing vocals, along with so many great songs make it impossible to choose a favorite!

Watch this preview of Keisha’s album

Then go purchase it here on iTunes or here ! You will be glad you did!

Sustained

 

Sustain

Lately I have been meditating on Psalm 55:22 and I’ve come to realize that I’m not   a very good care caster. Care can come in  many different packages. Simply put, a care by definition is a disquieted state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and responsibility. Financial pressure, health concerns, family issues, relationship problems, work stress- these are all cares, and they come to try to get us to focus on them rather than keeping our eyes focused on Jesus. Mark chapter 4 tells us that the care of the world comes to try to choke the Word of God that is sown in our hearts.

I’m more of a fixer, so when care arrives at my front door I try to figure out all the ways to fix things, my mind runs 100 mph, I think of every possible scenario and many times instead of casting the care, I start carrying it. The problem with that is that pretty soon what started out as a little care becomes a heavy burden. My peace gets all messed up, and I become weary. In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus told us when we get weary and heavy laden with cares and burdens to come to him and He will give us rest for our souls.

Rest

 

Not only will He give us a place of rest, but the Bible says that if we cast our cares on the Lord that He will sustain us. I looked up what sustain means and found this:

sus·tain  (s-stn)

tr.v. sus·tainedsus·tain·ingsus·tains

1. To keep in existence; maintain.
2. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for.
3. To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop.
4. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage.
5. To bear up under; withstand: can’t sustain the blistering heat.
6. To experience or suffer: sustained a fatal injury.
7. To affirm the validity of: The judge has sustained the prosecutor’s objection.
8. To prove or corroborate; confirm.
9. To keep up (a joke or assumed role, for example) competently.

When we cast our care upon Him, our heavenly Father promises to provide for us, support us, keep us from falling, affirm us, encourage us and keep us in existence! We will be sustained by the One who promises a place of peace that passes all understanding, and joy unspeakable and full of glory! I don’t know about you, but that makes me happy! Today I choose to refuse the care that comes to try to burden me and instead cast it on the Lord, how about you?

 

 

The True Meaning of Christmas

Proud

It’s no secret that I have been blessed with one of the most amazing teenagers ever! I know all mom’s think that about their kids. But seriously, I just wanted to take a few minutes today to tell you about my oldest daughter, because she blesses me, and I think she will bless you too!

DSC_0815

At 16 years old, this child of mine has been a model, straight A student all of her life (Except for that one B she got  in 4th grade). After this semester she will not only have completed her junior year of High school, but will only need three more classes to also have her Associates Degree. She will graduate from College 6 months before she graduates from high school!

DSC_0787

 

She is an amazing big sister and loves her little brother (Luca) and sister (Gigi) as much as they adore her!

She is obedient, kind and sweet, and goes out of her way to constantly grow in every area. She can sing and play the piano and has recently started writing some pretty good songs! She is a joy not only to our family, but also to our church community.

About 6 months ago she earned a little money. Well not a little, actually more than I probably earned in a whole month of working when I was her age. You would think that a teenage girl who loves clothes and shoes and jewelry would have been planning a killer shopping trip right? Nope not her.

She said, ” Oh good, now I can really give Luca and Gigi a great Christmas from me.” She found out what they wanted and planned out exactly how she could surprise them on Christmas morning. Then she said, now I need to believe God for some more money so I can get stuff for you and Daddy. I assured her that we did not need anything and that we were just so impressed that she was being such a blessing to her siblings that that was the greatest gift we could receive.

DSC_0906

Let me back up, my daughter has always been a  giver. I taught her how to tithe when she was little and she on her own would also give offerings as well. In fact there were times I had to tell her it was ok to actually keep the money she had been given because she always wanted to give it all away. The crazy thing is though, that money seems to find her. She gets blessed all the time.

It was cute because she had told a friend of mine what she had gotten me for Christmas and she asked her, “How did you get the money to buy that?!” Lauren just shrugged and said, “God gives me money!” And He does. I’ve never seen anything like it.  She is a true example of the scripture in Luke 6:38  Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.

So back to my story, she ended up with enough money to purchase the gifts she had picked out for each of us. Then was blessed with some more. You would think that then she would go at least buy herself a new pair of shoes or something. Wrong again. She decided that she would just get another gift for us instead. Every dime she made for the past six months (after she gave some to God) she used to bless us. She is a true example of what Christmas is really all about.

 John 3:16 says For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. God gave us a gift so many years ago. A selfless sacrifice made out of love.

John316

The gift of His only Son. In the midst of the busyness of the season, take the time to really reflect on  the true meaning of Christmas. It was shown to me through my precious daughter in such a powerful way.

I encourage you to find a way to be that same kind of blessing. Get a gift for someone less fortunate, go out of your way to spend time with people that could use some holiday cheer, find a way to brighten someone else’s day. Let the gift that’s been given to you shine through and affect someone else’s life today!

 

Keep Calm and Only Use Fake Trees Next Year

Merry Christmas

I love decorating for Christmas and I am somewhat anal about how my tree(s) look. I am a little ashamed to say that I am one of those mom’s that won’t let my kids put the ornaments on the tree because they won’t be symmetrical. :0 Don’t judge me! I did remedy this by getting them their own tree last year and they may decorate it however they like! Last year when Christmas was over, I hit the 75% off sales and went a little crazy! This year, in addition to our usual live tree and the kids tree, I  got them each an individual tree for their rooms as well as another big artificial tree for the living room.

We typically buy our live tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Even though we had just returned from vacation that day, we went out to carry on the tradition. After we brought it home, I also set up all the other artificial trees and we got them all decorated. Then I got so busy that ten days later I realized that my real tree still did not contain one ornament, light or anything. and I hadn’t finished decorating my house.

I had been really stressed out with several different things I had been working on,  but one night around 10:30 I decided I better get that last tree decorated. I was completely exhausted, but still painstakingly arranged every bit of garland, the strands of lights and each ornament just so. An hour and a half later, I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and heard the worst sound possible. A crash followed by the tinkle of broken glass. I went back in the other room, and you guessed it- my perfect tree was lying on the floor, broken ornaments everywhere. (I tried to find an old blog I had written where the exact same thing happened several years ago, but alas could not).

At that moment, all the stress of the past few weeks, the pressure I had needlessly put on myself, the frustration of having just wasted a good hour and a half of valuable time, as well as the giant mess, culminated and there was only one thing left to do. Sit on the step and cry like a baby! Which I did. My husband heard me sobbing hysterically and ran downstairs thinking something was horribly wrong. Thankfully, he helped me clean up the broken glass, and millions of dislodged pine needles and if he was laughing at me he didn’t even let me see it!

Here is my pitiful tree after we set it back up-

tree 1

Pretty huh?

The next day I went out and bought a few new things, opened up some ornaments that I hadn’t used and decorated the tree all over again. And I like it better than I did the first time!

tree two

What’s kind of funny to me is that I have decorated my tree almost exactly the same for the past few years, but the little mishap forced me to do something a little different and gave me an even better result.

So, here’s the moral of the story-

keep calm trees

Not really.  Here’s the real moral of the story. In four parts.

1) I realized that my little mini breakdown was less about a tree and more about how I try so hard to keep everything in my life exactly where it needs to be, but sometimes, in spite of my best effort , the whole thing comes crashing down, breaking  things and causing a big mess. And usually that happens when I am tired, stressed, and have a exhausted myself in the process.

2) It’s okay to sit on the step and cry for a minute. As long as you get back up, clean up the mess and then fix whatever got messed up.

3) Sometimes someone has to come along beside you because they heard you crying and help you until you are alright enough to finish the job yourself. And it’s ok to ask for help if you need it. You don’t have to be superwoman and do everything by yourself.

4) When mishaps happen, instead of being upset about them, use them as an opportunity to do something a little different than the way you were doing it before. You might be surprised at what you find!

Whenever you face a tough time, or a setback the most important thing to remember though is what the Lord tells us in Isaiah 41:10- Don’t panic. I’m with you.There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you

 keep_calm2

He’s got you!