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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Ugly Curve

When life throws you an ugly curve, and your life changes dramatically, you start to question your purpose. You’re tempted to question God. You wonder about tomorrow. 

“I was doing well in this vocation, this ministry. What happens to the God given dreams now? Where do I go from here? Are all the doors of opportunity closed for good? Will I be stuck here the rest of my life?”

Or, “Have I let God down? Will I ever rise from this? Am I still valuable?”

I’ve struggled with these feelings sometimes. I’ve floundered at times. My confidence has been shaken. 

I remember the ones in the Bible who experienced this. Moses, who was cast away in the wilderness, supposedly to be never heard from again. David, who was constantly on the run, living in caves. Elijah, hiding out in a cave, bowed down in depression. Jonah, in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean. Peter, back in the boat fishing, convinced he is a complete failure. 

And yes, Joseph. You had to know I was getting to him right? 

When you read their stories, it encourages and builds your faith so much. Because you find out that what looked to be the “end” only was a stepping stone to a greater ministry. It ended up to be a spiritual promotion. 

God wasn’t done with them yet. He had greater plans for them. In fact, it was way beyond their imaginations wasn’t it? It went far deeper than they expected. 

Because you see, spiritual promotion is far different than worldly promotion. It takes you deeper than you ever been. It pulls you closer to the Father’s heart. It tenderizes your heart. Your spiritual perception is clearer. Your spiritual appetite is more acute. 

In other words, He has your heart now like He didn’t before. 

Deep intense work like this involves you letting go. You need to rest in His hands and learn from Him. Like the Potter and the clay. The clay on the spinning wheel rests in the Potter’s hand as He molds and forms the yielding clay into something beautiful. 

The clay doesn’t rise up and ask the Potter, “what are you doing? And why are you doing it this way?” 

Beloved, please know that the Potter knows the plans He has for you. He can and will make something beautiful of you. You are valuable to Him. This season you are in now is only a preparation for what is to come. Your character is being formed now. Because of your trust, you will be a powerful vessel in His hands. 

Nothing can sway His intentions for you. Joseph himself said this to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” 

He is entrusting others to you. There are needy lives you will touch and point to Jesus. Do you understand why this deep inner work is so needed? 

I am realizing this in my life as well. God gives me glimpses sometimes to remind me of my purpose. I’m still a beautiful vessel in His hands. 

Know beloved, that you are valuable and beautiful to Him. You will testify to His goodness and faithfulness. The ones you touch will too. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don't Get Ugly

I’ve developed a personal rule to allow myself to complain or whine one time. Just once I’ll indulge myself. 

I’ve been around people, and I’m sure you have too, that indulge a little too much, if you know what I mean. I don’t want people hiding from me when they see me coming. So I’ve chose to do this. 

Because it’s slowly occurred to me that I can spread seeds of negativity pretty easily. Notice that I say slowly. It’s hard to learn this, because we all are rather selfish if you want to be honest about it. At least I am learning right? Better to be growing and maturing in my spiritual walk, then to still be a miserable old cow, (yes I said it!) when I’m in my 80’s. 

And I say easy, because it is so much easier to focus on yourself and indulge in self pity. It’s remarkably easy to spread poison around. 

Again, it comes down to a choice. It always seems to don’t it? I can choose to go around and whine, gripe, and rage to whoever will listen about what a victim I am, how mistreated I am. Or  I can stand up and be the woman of grace that I truly am. Because I’ve been given Grace. I am remarkably blessed. 

Instead of seeing the weeds in the garden of life, I want to see the beautiful flowers. I want to plant the flowers. 
If you want butterflies, you must plant flowers.  If you are focused on garbage, you get flies. 

As I’ve studied the life of Joseph, it became glaringly true that he didn’t allow the ugliness to diminish his integrity. He left such an impression on those around him by his character and diligence. 

Think about it; here’s the favorite son, who’s been doted on, now a slave. He’s doing menial work. The Bible says clearly that Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph that he entrusted his whole household to him. 

Then Potiphar’s floozie wife slanders him and gets him thrown into prison. 

But in the prison, Joseph still shined. It says that the warden eventually put Joseph in charge of those imprisoned. He entrusted him with everything. 

When a person has been mistreated, and reduced to such a lowly position, the temptation is strong to not give a care. Why even try? Just do enough to slide by. Who’s going to care anyway? What difference does it make if I don’t give an effort.

Joseph didn’t do that. He did more than just work hard, he proved to be trustworthy. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that he was a joy to be around. 

And it’s obvious he didn’t bend everybody’s ear to spread negative poison around either. Although who could blame him if he did? 

Very sobering stuff I know right? You can understand now why he has been such an inspiration to me. 

As I was pondering on these things, and writing this blog, I thought of the passage in Romans 7.

“I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” The Message

The pull of self is very strong as you know. But thank God, It doesn’t have me in a stranglehold. I’m not helpless in its pull. I need Him so badly. He’s the Vine to my branch. 

Because of Him, I don't have to be ugly, just because life is ugly. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

False Impressions

False idea formed in the mind that is based on mistaken ideas. Not genuine or real. Intended to be misleading or deceptive. 

“Don’t go into that department, the women there aren’t very friendly and they don’t want to be bothered.” 

These words were spoken to my friend from her boss. She was told these women were chilly and hateful. So she believed this and stayed away. If she had to venture into this department, she approached reluctantly, expecting the worst.

Slowly over time, she began to spend a little more time with these women as she did her job in that area. A discovery was made that changed her perspective. These women were not chilly and hateful. As a matter of fact, they were rather nice. Friendly and approachable. Nothing at all like she was told. And so a relationship was formed.

False impressions can be damaging. It keeps us from potential friendships or relationships. And it’s all based on lies. We believe a lie about somebody and then keep them at arms length.

We never explore the truth about them. But if we dare to do so, usually we find out that we were mislead. 

So what is your impression about God? How do you feel about Him? Is it based on what you have been told? Has it been shaped from your circumstances? From what someone posted on Facebook, or what the media portrays? 

Did you ever consider that you may be pushing Him away because of false impressions? We do have an enemy of our souls. And our enemy hisses lies into our ears coaxing us to doubt God.

“He can’t be trusted.” 
“He doesn’t care about you.” 
“He will strike you down.” 
“You’re not good enough for Him”
“You messed up your life too much” 
“You’re not worth the trouble.” 
“There’s no hope for anything better.”
“This is as good as it will get.”

And so on and so forth. I’ve heard it all myself. And yes I believed some of those lies too. 

Just like my friend who stayed away from the “hateful” women, I have pushed God away. I have doubted Him. I believed lies about myself. 

These are false impressions, a deception from the pit of hell to keep you and me from knowing, really knowing God. Because when you really know Him, it changes everything. The blinders are removed from your eyes and your whole perspective changes. 

To know Him personally is liberating. It is freedom. Otherwise you are walking around believing a lie. Robbed of the most important relationship you will ever have. 

The truth is that you were created to have a relationship with God. And nothing or nobody will ever be sufficient. The aching and emptiness remains. And so we attempt to fill it anyway we can. And still we yearn. 

He’s standing at the door of your heart, knocking. He has a place for you at His table. Sweet communion awaits you. Don’t push Him away because of your false impressions. 

I guarantee that you will never regret giving your heart to Him. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


As the Cupbearer left the prison, he gave a thumbs up. “It won’t be long now. You’ll be out soon!” For the first time in a long time, Joseph’s hopes were surging. 

This was surely a “God” thing right? He sent this erstwhile cupbearer across his path in the prison. The cupbearer had a dream, and God gave Joseph the meaning. The cupbearer would be freed and retain his position. 

It happened just as God said. He urged the cupbearer to plead his case before Pharaoh. “Remember me and show me kindness. Mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

Every morning he work up with anticipation. Would this be the day? He expected any day now to walk out of here. 

But days and weeks pass and nothing happens. A sad commentary is Genesis 40:23; “The Chief Cupbearer, however did not remember Joseph, he forgot him.” 

One disappointment is bad enough, but when you get hit numerous times it can take a toll. It can become a mindset. You get used to being let down, the second option, forgotten about, ignored. 

You learn new habits: keep your expectations low, close yourself in, tuck in another hurt. After all, you have to protect yourself from another hurt. 

And it’s just a short step from disappointment with people to disappointment with God. We pray for God to move in our favor. That He would change people’s hearts toward us. 

Do you think Joseph prayed passionately in the prison? “Please God, make the Cupbearer remember me. Get me out of here. Move on my behalf.” 

Yes, God did use the Cupbearer, and yes, He did answer Joseph’s prayers. Just not in the way Joseph imagined. It was “beyond what we can ask for or imagine” wasn’t it? 

In my opinion, disappointment has to be a favorite weapon of the enemy. Perhaps there are those who are indifferent; they can just brush it off. 

But I’m sure they are in the minority. And believe me, I’m not one of them. 

The truth of the matter is, if you are walking around on this earth, eventually you will face disappointment. It is inevitable. 

So where does our security lie? 

“The chief cupbearer however did not remember Joseph, he forgot him.” 

Yes, people can forget. People can be fickle. Was the Cupbearer purposely out to get Joseph? No I’m sure he wasn’t. He forgot. 

I forget. I let people down. Do you? 

You may feel completely forgotten, that even God has forgotten. But this is not so. 

He does not treat you as the world does. He alone is your resting place. Your security. 

Psalm 27:10 says, “ Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me”  Isaiah 49:16, “See I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before me.” 

Tomorrow is unknown to us. But we can walk in confidence and authority because God is in our tomorrows. He is already there and will be sufficient for us. 

He will answer in a way not imagined or even asked for. Trust Him in this and see if He won’t prove true. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rambling Thursdays

I’m sharing another travel location on today’s Rambling Thursdays edition. If you enjoy antiques, flea markets, food, cheese, anything Amish made; then Holmes County Ohio is for you. Click here for a website full of information. 

Holmes county has gentle rolling hills with neat as a pin farms. Charming villages dot the county.  We spent an enjoyable weekend. I would go back again. 

Millersburg is the centerpiece of the county. It is a quant town with plenty of shopping. You could easily spend a day here. Other nearby towns are Sugarcreek, Berlin, and other tiny villages. Click here for maps. Each town has something for you. 

We stayed overnight in Millersburg. Click Here for a list of options. There are plenty of hotels or bed and breakfasts. 

If you can’t find food, cheese or a baked item, there’s a problem. These wonderful items are Everywhere! The hard choice will be what to eat now and what to take home. Make sure you bring a cooler. You will bring stuff home to enjoy later. Here is a list of all Amish Fare.

We ate at Chalet in the Valley, which as the name suggests sits in a beautiful valley. Right across from the restaurant is a cheese house, just in case you didn’t get that cheese fix yet. They serve authentic Swiss and Austrian cuisine. The building alone looked like it belonged in Switzerland. The food was really good. Highly recommend it. 

The county is full of antique shops, flea markets and various other shops. You will find something to buy. I guarantee it! Here is a shopping guide. 

While you are in the area you must visit Lehman's in Kidron, which is just to the Northeast of Millersburg. The 35,000 square feet store is a unique shopping experience. There are items here that you will not see anywhere else. Plan to visit for awhile, it’s that big! 

Just to the west off of US 30 is Orrville, home of Smuckers.Yes, the jam. They have an awesome store. We’ve been here a few times and always leave with a bag full of goodies. There’s a cafe where you can get a toasted PB&J with of course... Smuckers jelly. 

As you can see, this is a wonderful getaway to enjoy great food and shopping. Perhaps not so much for kids, although we did drive up to Canton to the Football Hall of Fame. Since both of us are huge football fans, we loved it. Kids would love this. 

I highly recommend visiting Holmes County. We loved our time there and would go back. Happy Vacation Planning! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Pregnant Pause

I'm sharing this blog post from a few years ago. It encouraged me this morning. I want you to know that in whatever season you may be in, that God has not forgotten you. It is not a wasted season in His plan. 

Pregnant Pause: A pause that gives the impression that it will be followed by something significant. 

Since we have a DVR, I love the pause button. It comes in quite handy when a interruption breaks up a great show or scene. Instead of missing out, I can pick up the remote and click pause. After tending to the interruption, I can click play and pick up right where I left off. 

Needless to say, this has transformed my TV viewing. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could apply this to life? If we could pause those nasty interruptions that barge into our lives? Better yet, if we could click play and go back to the much longed for days we had before? A nice thought, but alas it can never be. 

I read the definition of a pregnant pause this morning. The pause I’m in right now doesn’t feel like a pregnant pause. I honestly feel sometimes nothing significant will come from this.  Perhaps you feel the same way about yours. 

Do you think Joseph felt that his situation was a pregnant pause? We all know that yes, something very significant happened at the end. But in the middle of a pause, the outlook can be quite grim sometimes. 

Somewhere along the way, Joseph began to see that God had him and this situation well in hand. Genesis 45:5-8 reveals his awesome faith in his God. Listen to what he said when he revealed himself to his brothers:

 “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God."

Reading this really elevates your faith doesn’t it?  When you know your purpose and whose hand is on your life, the interruptions of life will not sway you.

It also means that the pauses of life aren’t wasted seasons. We don’t just endure this “wasted” season of our lives until favorable conditions return. There isn’t a pause in His presence, His grace, in His purpose for us. 

God is working now. He is preparing our hearts. Changing us from the inside out. Easing the bitterness out of the wound, and creating a tender heart. He is blessing others through us now. Yes even now in this pregnant pause. 

Joseph was a blessing to his master, and to his fellow prisoners. God used him powerfully in the middle of the pause. But you and I have to let Him do this don’t we? It’s alway a choice isn’t it? 

I don’t always want to choose the right way. The old twisted sister would love to wallow around in self pity, moan and groan to whoever will listen about my sad lot in life, indulge in those ugly thoughts, and just be miserable to everybody. 

Like David, I’m speaking to myself the truth. That my God is still at work now. His purpose for me has not ended. I can be a blessing now. 

This isn’t just a pause, an interruption. It’s a pregnant pause. Because of the faithfulness of my God, something significant will happen. 

The Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- the LORD, who remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6 NIV

Monday, April 24, 2017

Identity Scam

I became a victim of identity theft a few months ago. In spite of all we did to protect ourselves, nevertheless this happened at my husband’s job by a fake email scam. Because I recently worked there, my Social Security number was stolen, along with many others. 

As a result our lives will probably be altered from now on. We had to freeze our credit reports and keep a watchful eye on all our accounts. 

I had to make an inconvenient trip to an IRS office to clear my identity, which meant gathering written proof of who I am. Social Security card, Driver License, Tax Returns, Birth Certificate, Bills, etc...

Thankfully the IRS agent was very helpful and cleared it all up. After looking over all my proof, there was no doubt of who I am. He couldn’t deny the truth after that.

My identity may be in doubt. I may have to prove it again. Another trip to the IRS may be in order in the years to come. But I’ll just pull out the proof again and hopefully it will be cleared up. 

I have my own unique identity, which has been formed since my birth. Formed from my surroundings, circumstances, and my choices. What is my identity? What do I believe about myself? 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my own identity scams. Lies I believed about myself. Negative garbage I’ve heard, or perceived about myself.  

“You’re not loved”, “You’ll never amount to much,” “You’re ugly”, “You will always be a victim”, “You can’t rise above this”..and so on and so forth. 

I can’t change my past. I can’t go back and undo the pain. I can’t retrace my steps, my choices. Ugly things have been done and said to me. I have the scars to prove it. So is this to be my lot in life? Is this my identity? Will it define me forever?

My friend, if we are believing these lies about ourselves, then it is a identity scam. It’s a scam to get us to live way beneath ourselves. To live short of our God given potential. The cold iron links of lies can chain us for years. 

But it doesn’t have to be like that. My God is a God of redemption. He can free the captive heart. He restores the pain. He can heal those open wounds. I can testify to His great power to do this. 

He healed and restored me completely. The chains have been broken and I am free. He longs to do the same for you. If you let Him. 

Sometimes an identity crisis can happen. Doubt and fear harasses me and I question myself. But I have written proof. Proof that shuts up even the enemy of my soul. It’s the truth that can’t be denied. 

The Word of God tells me,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 

I’m not merely renovated, I’m transformed. A new creature. 

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

How can I question the Potter of the clay, “Oh I’ll never amount to anything?” I am His workmanship and I am beautiful in His eyes. 

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

In and through Jesus I have restoration and redemption. He has lavished His grace on me. 

I’ve only shared three verses. I could fill pages and pages of promises. Written proof that will clear up any identity scam. It is the Word of God that has the power to transform our minds, the way we think. 

I’m ending with a beautiful promise. Let Him free you. 

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:31-34