Sunday, September 25, 2011


Romans 11:33(MSG)
33Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

As I sit here looking out at the beautiful Phoenix sky with the gorgeous mountain back drop, I am attempting to wrap my mind around all that I experienced at the "Over the Top" Women of Faith Conference the past two days in this beautiful desert city.  To begin with, I traveled here from the center of the states to be with my Southwestern Sister and my Northern Sister.  We packed our bags and headed for the US Airways Arena, not quite sure what to expect, since none of us had ever been in attendance at a Women of Faith Conference before.

I mention our "bags", because each one of us were carrying one.  The bags we carried all looked different, but they were each heavy and quite cumbersome.  One sister carried a "medical bag" full of uncertainties and challenges that are new everyday.  She finds herself having to navigate the uncharted territory of a visual handicap that would most certainly not be on her "wish list" of life experiences, but I have watched her gracefully hold the bag without dropping it.  My other sister carried the luggage of a crumbling financial market where a mere year ago clients were plentiful and jobs were abounding, but now, people are having to rethink and pull back on previous expansion ideas, and thus forcing her to do the same in a balanced response.  She too, carried the tote high without ever dropping it.  My big bag held uncertainties right along with them, so as we walked up to the hotel room, we were thrilled to figuratively and literally drop our bags and proceed to a "safe place". 

As we entered the auditorium and plopped our tired and weary bodies in the chairs, the lights went off and the music began to play.  Suddenly, warmth filled the room and our "bags" began to fade away with each word we sang.  The worship team (Jovaun Woods, Michelle Swift, Hope Darst, and Kara Tualatai) sang from the heart and led in a genuine expression of praise to the Lord.  It was a precious way to enter into God's presence and allowed us a time to truly enter into worship and contemplation with Him.

This was just the beginning of our great two day journey without the weight of those previously mentioned was a spectacular trip!  We heard stories from Andy Andrews, Patsy Clairmont, Deborah Joy Winans, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, and Brenda Warner.  Tim Hawkins made a one time appearance on Friday night that made me laugh so hard, my cheeks were hurting by the time he exited the stage!  We experienced authentic worship led by Mandissa, Sandi Patty, and Amy Grant as well.  It was a real treat to participate in this incredible event.

Here is what I walked away from the conference with...and without.  First of all, I walked away empty handed.......without my bag!!  I am no longer carrying a load and I think my sister's would agree, that we left those heavy bags at the foot of the cross where they belong.  Will we pick them up again?  I hope not, but we are challenging each other not to....that's for sure!  The three of us are going to say "Yes" and "Thank you" to God each and every morning, "the first thing upon awakening", like Patsy challenged us to do.  The Bible verse from Romans 11:33(MSG) was the focal point of the conference and so, I conclude with it and the two verses that follow:

Romans 11:33-36
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out. 
        Is there anyone around who can explain God?
   Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
   Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
      that God has to ask his advice?

   Everything comes from him;
   Everything happens through him;
   Everything ends up in him.
   Always glory! Always praise!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.

And those verses completely sum up what the Women of Faith conference was all about!!  It was a great privilege to worship with a group of women who love the Lord so dearly.  Thank you to the Women of Faith team for the opportunity to attend such a great event!!

Nothing ever escapes your sight.  I am guessing that their might be some people reading this tonight that are carrying very heavy bags.  I am asking You to help them leave their bag at the door of Your house and walk away empty handed and full hearted!  (Help me to keep my hands off of my old bag as well.)  I praise and exalt You above all.  Thank You for the chance to spend these past few days with my sisters! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Review: Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Sometimes Spriritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper

Stumbling Into Grace: Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper was a wonderful book!  You don’t want to miss what she has to say about the subject of grace.

Stumbling Into Grace:  Confessions of a Sometimes Spiritually Clumsy Woman by Lisa Harper is a beautifully written book organized into very easy to digest chapters.  At many points throughout the book, I found myself laughing so hard that I was almost in tears!  Her writing is so eloquently transparent that you feel as though you have known her for years.  Her frankness and head on style are a breath of fresh air. 

The book dives deeply into spiritual principles without the weighty and sometimes confusing terminology that often accompanies subject matters like this.  Lisa has a Masters of Theological Studies and it is obvious as she applies the Word of God chapter by chapter.   She delivers some much needed straight talk about the graciousness and truths of God.  Upon investigation of her Bible references, one can only conclude that there is truly nothing we can do in our own strength to earn our way into the presence of God.  It is a gift.

This book is filled with wonderful authenticity about the obstacles we often find ourselves trying to hurdle over.  The author expounds that as we fall back on the Lord, He will give us what we need.  Each chapter concludes with a prayer, reflection questions, and a challenge to further your pondering with a journal entry directive.  The book is systematically designed to be used in in a small group study or as an intimate heart search between the reader and the Lord.  Either way, the experience will leave you stronger for having walked with her through the pages of her life and His Word.  I highly recommend reading this book!  It is one that I would like to discuss, one chapter at a time, with a small group of sweet friends around a warm crackling fire and a hot cup of coffee.  Enjoy!

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishing Company through BookSneeze for providing me with this review copy of Stumbling Into Grace by Lisa Harper. The opinions I have expressed within this review are completely my own.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Psalm 136:23(MSG)
God remembered us when we were down.  His love never quits.

I love dogs!!  Everything about them brings a smile to my face.  Their loyalty.  Their happiness.  Their energy.  You name it and I love it!  (Ok....I know what you're thinking now...and well..I guess I love almost everything about them.)  I own two healthy and beautifully tempered canines.  They happen to both be females, so they have earned the name "The Girls".

"The Girls" have a routine they embark (pun intended...ha) upon every night.  It begins right before bed when they proceed downstairs to speed out the back door for their last midnight run.  It's at this point in the night that they run "full on" down the hill and into the darkness racing to the back fence in a flurry of flying hair.  It is such a treat to watch this ritual.  I usually let them cruise around out there for up to an hour while we finish up whatever we have started inside and begin our final bedtime preparations.  Last night was no exception to our rule.  As I opened the door, they tore off into the night as usual.  I went off about my business.

What I discovered on my return trip was sad indeed!  I opened the back door as usual and my nose could not have prepared me for what it encountered!!  Thousands of tiny molecules hit me square in the face......and my brain took no time in identifying the obnoxiously dreaded skunk smell!!!   Oh noooooo....not again!! 

I snapped this pic one day last year...he must have a home nearby.
This happened to us almost one year ago to the date.  As I looked down, my poor little "girls" were foaming at the mouth and the youngest was partially blind...stumbling all over the deck.  There is not one ounce of funniness in this.  In fact, the skunk's spray is oil based and actually creates blindness for a period of time if it enters the eye.  If that isn't enough to make them miserable, the horrific smell can linger for up to a complete year.  Yikes!

I ran inside to fetch the "skunk" wash, which is "supposed" to strip the oil off their hair.  (Did I mention that this happened last year?)  Here is what I know about this.  If your dog sheds, then he/she will have a much happier time after his skunking, because his coat also sheds the oil quickly. The nasty stuff just sort of rolls off of their back.  If your dog does not shed, like my youngest one, then the spray is absorbed like a sponge being dipped into water!  The only thing that will help the poor victim is to shave them as short as possible and begin the daily baths with Dawn liquid dish soap.  Very traumatic event for all parties involved.

So, off I went this morning with my stinky little fur ball, escorting her to the precious groomer named Jessica, who willingly agreed to receive her for her haircut, detoxification and purification regime.  (She is the sweetest lady to receive her with no appointment scheduled and a sympathetic face!  Thank you, Jessica...if you're reading this.)  Gloves on, mind you, cuz last time I wore no gloves and it stayed on my hands for about two months...even after scrubbing with lye soap!  Scary! 

As I'm driving, I'm thinking about the smell...obviously quite strong now that the two of us are alone in my small vehicle.  The stench is circling around and around the car like a strong kerosene.  And then it hits not another car thankfully....a thought!  The thought comes to my mind that this must be how much we stink when we are covered in the sins of our flesh.  The fumes linger and are so powerful that they can be detected a mile a way, but God still loves us.  He probably has to cover His nose, but He still loves us enough to scoop us up and take care of us.  The Lord gently washes us with His holiness until the smell is no longer there.  When we're at our worst, He comes in and rescues us from our debilitating messes.  Phew!!  Thank goodness for a God who has love for me that "never quits"!  

I currently understand, to a much greater degree, the old expression that says, "We got skunked!!"  It means we had "zero" and the other team beat us really bad!!  And guess what?  That really does stink!  (Quite literally in this particular story.)  But fear not!!  "God remembers you when you are down"! 

1John 1:9 (NIV)If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Awe Lord,
You are so amazing in my life.  You are becoming larger with each passing day.  Thank you for the blessing of transparency and the gift of friendship.  Thank you that even though we stink sometimes, You are willing to reach down, scoop us up, and take us to the groomer for a gentle cleansing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One Nation Under God

Psalm 136:19-22(MSG)
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,  His love never quits.  Struck Og the Bashanite king, His love never quits.  Then distributed their land as booty, His love never quits.  Handed the land over to Israel.  His love never quits.
I knew from the start that I was approaching a dangerous situation.  I could see that it wasn't going to be an easy battle, but I had to at least attempt to win it.  It was worth the risk.  I proceeded with caution.  I looked at the territory, weighing my different strategies and carefully planning my retreat in case of an emergency.  Ready.  Set.  Attack!!

I went in with the broom handle leading the way and attempted to swat my way through.  I figured it would give me the distance from my enemies that I would need.    Unfortunately, this was an incorrect assumption.  The loud and fierce army lined up in quick succession and began their advance toward me.  I stood my ground....I refused to move, but they marched on, unwavering in their determination to defend their new post. 

I HAD to win this.  I owned this.  It was mine and not for them!!!!  I did really good until they were within striking range.  That was when fear gripped my heart!  I thought......"What on earth was I thinking?!  I can't win....I'm doomed!!"  I dropped the broom and ran like a scared rabbit...screaming all the way back to the garage.

Quite an entertaining scene to the neighbors, I'm sure.  (Heavy sigh...)  I slumped down into the yard chair and accepted defeat.  After a well deserved little break and refreshing glass of water, I decided to wave the white flag.  Quite literally, I picked up the roll of white paper towels and proceeded to the front porch to wash the glass door that was displaying every visitor's finger prints that had entered our house for the past week.  As I stood their spraying and scrubbing~all within ear shot of the army that seemed to be mocking me as they buzzed around happily eating the sweet liquid that oozed from the humming bird feeder~ a thought came flooding into my mind.  I wonder if glass cleaner is deadly to bees?

Well, certainly, the broom didn't work, so I decided to give it a shot....literally.  I snuck over to the feeder and squirted twice...maybe three times tops.  I stood there...really close..a little too close probably.  They turned and started toward me!!  Oh no...those bees just got even madder than when I swiped them with the broom handle.  I stepped back.  And then it happened.  They were in mid flight..heading straight for me...and all of a sudden they fell.  There were about five of them.  They just dropped to the ground like someone had thrown a rock at them.   Awe.... victory is mine!!!  "Ding dong the bee is dead....the wicked bee...the wicked bee...ding dong the wicked bee is deeeaaadddd"....oops...Wizard of Oz....sorry..

I love to feed the humming birds and the bees were taking over the feeder like uninvited guests at a banquet.  I had to get them out of the way, so the birds could eat.  Plus, every time I opened the door, a bee would come at me....or my visitor.  They had to go....plain and simple.

I wonder if that's how the Israelites felt when they came to the country just east of Jordan near Heshbon on their Exodus out of Egypt.  It was there that they ran into King Sihon.  He was the Amorite King of Heshbon (a Canaanite) and he refused to let the Israelites pass through his territory.  (Numbers 21:23)  It is a pretty cool story that I reread today.  (You can read it in Deuteronomy 2:26-38 if you want.)  Anyway, my summary of the events is that the Israelites needed permission to pass through King Sihon's land.  The king wouldn't let them travel through his land, because "God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate" (Deuteronomy 2:30).  So, what happens next? guessed it!!  God gives the Israelites the victory over this king and his army.  God goes on to do the same thing with the next king (Deuteronomy 3:1-22) that shows up and attempts to bully the Israelites and not let them pass!!

Why?  Why does God do this?  Why would He show up and give His kids victory over their enemies...even those "enemies" that loom within our mind as doubt and fear?  I think there are two huge answers to that question and they are right here in these verses.  First of all, He wants to defeat your enemies....because..."His love for you never quits!!".  He wants to defeat your enemies...(whatever or whoever) they are, because He loves you so much!! 

The second reason lies within Deuteronomy 3:21-22-"And I commanded Joshua at that time, 'Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings.  So will the LORD do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing.  You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you."  He defeats our enemies to build our faith and take away our fear! 

On this eve of September 11th, it is quite fitting that I would be on this passage.  It never ceases to amaze me how perfect His timing in the Word is.  For our country, we have seen a great deal of tragedy.  The attack within our land on September 11th, 2001 was so devastating and in our face that it is hard to comprehend.  It has left us with scars that will always be there.  Personally, I think the evidence should always be visible, so that we can remember, like the Israelites, what happened that day and how God has protected us since.  We need to remember the lives that were lost and the lives that are still being lost to provide that protection.  We must also cherish the lives that are being saved, because of a God who loves us and gives us victory over our enemies!


We all have enemies.  Some of them are big and tangible and others are within our mind, but they are all destructive forces that block us from living the abundant life that You have designed for us.  God, please go before us today and conquer our enemies to give us the victory over our land.  Please provide safety for the men and women in our military who are putting themselves in harms way even as I type this.  Continue to raise up faith within each one of us to eliminate the doubts and fears that paralyze our effective walk with You!

May we bring glory to Your name Lord,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Famous Kings

Psalm 136:18(MSG)
Struck down the famous kings, His love never quits.

I've met a lot of "kings" in my day.  Well, not really kings, so much as people placed in positions of authority over me.  Here's what is interesting to me about these "kings" or modern day terminology would be "bosses".  Some are easy to work for and to communicate with and some are not.  You know what I mean.  Some people are so open to listening and so good at facilitating communication that I look forward to being around them.  I tend to anticipate when I will get to see them again.  When I am working for them, it is easy to give them the very best that I have to offer.  (Recognizing that I should give ALL of my best to every boss...of course...because I am working as unto the Lord, but I am getting side tracked.....)
And then....there are those that I quietly wonder how they got into the position they currently hold.  They certainly deserve my respect, due to their status, but perhaps, they haven't exactly "won me over" with their "people skills". Thinking about kings in this way, makes me recognize the important character quality of warmth and openness when dealing with people. 

This verse tells me that God does strike down kings.  He allows certain reigns and interrupts others as He sees fit.  His driving force for this allowance is His amazing love for us!  It certainly makes me take a second look at those in authority over me.

Thank you Lord, for the love and guidance that You are providing in my life.  Please give those "kings" in authority over our country wisdom and direction to make sound decisions as they maneuver through the turbulent waters of these times.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smashing Kingdoms

Psalm 136:17(MSG)Smashed huge kingdoms right and left, His love never quits.

Busy...busy...busy!  Yep, it is a busy time of the year for me.  What am I doing that is keeping me so busy you ask?  Well, playing "catch up" mainly.  I never can seem to keep all of the balls in the air.  Kind of ashamed of that fact, but 'tis true.  It would seem that no matter how hard I try; no matter what "get organized" trick I use, I am forever "feeling" like I am behind.  Is that a  "kingdom to be smashed?"  Perhaps.

I most certainly think that the sensation of never having enough time in the day to accomplish all that I want to complete, can be a distraction and therefore a "kingdom" to be destroyed.  When I read this verse today, I am convinced more than ever that the Lord wants to conquer those areas in our life that steal the sense of joy and purpose that He has for us through His love.  Feeling frenzied and unorganized is definitely a thief that can rob your sense of peace.

I'm choosing to refocus this day on what the Lord wants me to finish...settling into His plan for my day and resting in the divine, instead of rushing through my "to do list", mindlessly unaware of His presence. 

Help me to work in Your presence today.  Smash any kingdom that would come between You and I.  Thank you for your word that tells me, "Your love never quits!"