Monday, November 21, 2011

The Ultimate in Regifting

Okay, we’ve all done it at some point in our lives. I know I have, even though I can’t recall the specific incident or incidents right now. You receive a gift that is nice, but it’s just not you. It’s too nice to just give away, and you feel guilty returning it to a store. Soooooooo, you keep it.  After some time passes, you realize it’s too nice to keep in your closet, so you wait for the opportunity to pass it to another home. This is a great idea; unless at some point, the original gift somehow makes it back to the original giver of the gift. “So, Donna, didn’t I give you one just like this last year? Were you able to use it? Where did you put it in your house?” Oops.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take those gifts that we really love and regift them yet keep them at the same time? Instead of giving what doesn’t really work for us, we could share the gifts most important to us while also holding on to them.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But we can.
The best gift I have ever received is God’s love. I can regift His love to others while never losing it myself. This Christmas season, try regifting the best gift you have ever received.  Regift God’s love, grace, and mercy to others.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Gospel Truth

What is the Gospel?

God loves you, so . . .
On the cross Jesus died, because . . .
Sin had separated you from God, so He . . .
Paid the price for your sin to give you . . .

So what do I do with this gospel?  Acknowledge four things:
1.       Your sin – All have sinned, and no one is “good enough” (Romans 3:23)
2.       The penalty for sin is death, but God has a gift for you (Romans 6:23)
3.       God loves you so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay your penalty (Romans 5:8)
4.       You Receive this gift by Believing that Jesus died and rose again and Confessing Jesus Christ as your Lord (Romans 10:9,10)

Only Christ provides the way of reconciliation to God.  If you want to know more, email me or leave a comment.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 X Blessed

This morning our pastor read Genesis 12:2-3.  While this was not really what his sermon was about, I noted three things that God told Abram.
1 – God said, “I will bless you.”
2 – God said, “You shall be a blessing.”
3 – God said, “In you others shall be blessed.”
God had a plan for Abraham, and as Abraham believed God and moved forward with God’s plan, God blessed him, he was a blessing, and we are still blessed today.
While God’s plan for me isn’t to make a great nation like His promise to Abraham, God still has a plan and purpose for my life. He has a plan and purpose for your life too. When we submit to God and follow His plan and walk in His purpose for our life:
1 – God blesses us individually.
2 – We become a blessing.
3 – In us others are blessed.
Have you ever thought about the fact that when you don’t follow God’s plan and purpose, you could be hindering a blessing on others? Wherever you are today, regardless of the past, seek God and his plan and purpose for your life now, and move forward at His direction. He will bless you, you will become a blessing, and others will be blessed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Your Local Church?

Some people want a Revolution. I’m not sure why they want one, but I agree we need one. The Revolution we need in America right now begins at home on our knees, and then transfers to the local church on our knees some more.  The movie “Courageous” has it right. Instead of starting with a Revolution, they first make the right Resolution, which in turn will inspire a Godly Revolution.  One letter makes the difference. We need to individually resolve to change ourselves first instead of revolting to change others.
Does America have problems? Of course.  Are our churches perfect? Of course NOT. Both are made up of people, and all people sin; but what many have either forgotten or have never realized is that “We the People” have a Savior. If we would just humble ourselves, turn from our sins, and acknowledge Him as Lord, God would again Bless America.
There used to be a saying at church, “Each one, Win one.”  This meant each person should bring one other person to Christ. Maybe we should get back to that. Share the good news, and pray for our nation. This is not just for the 99% -- it’s for 100%. Occupy Your Local Church this Sunday on your knees. I’ll be there, will you?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Precious Babies

I know, I know.  My babies are all grown up and aren’t babies anymore. And yes, I do have two grandbabies. But today, I’m writing about my precious furry babies. We have three cats that are all very different. I’m thinking it might have something to do with the color of their eyes.

Kylie has blue eyes. She started out as a little ball of white fluff, but has grown into a 9.5 pound white pillow that looks like she was rolled in ashes.  Her white fur isn’t totally white anymore.  She definitely has a lot of Siamese in her, she startles easily, sometimes she is cross-eyed, and she talks a LOT. Kylie has never met a stranger. She loves everyone. She thinks she is queen of the house, but the other two cats don’t agree. Kylie is soft and cuddly, but only on her terms.

Abbie has green eyes. She is a brownish gray tabby cat. She definitely looks like a cat and not a kitten and weighs only a couple of ounces less than Kylie. Abbie is longer than Kylie, so she looks very long and lean making Kylie look fat. Abbie is always ready for a nap. I can leave for work in the morning and find her in the exact same spot when I get home at night. Abbie is a true scaredy-cat. She is afraid of anyone she doesn’t know. When the doorbell rings or a door opens, she immediately hides under the bed. She is good at hiding and has been locked in the closet by accident on occasion.

Munchkin has golden eyes.  She is a dark gray munchkin breed with some quirks.  Full grown at 7.5 pounds, she looks like a much smaller kitten with a cute teddy bear face. Munchkin was born with front paws that are crooked, so she walks on the sides of her paws.  She has a cork screw tail, and her back feet each have six toes. They look like she has her shoes on the wrong feet. She is adorable, especially when she sits up like a chipmunk.  We can only wonder what her insides are like and have thought about asking the vet for an x-ray. Munchkin is very loving and definitely a mommy’s girl. She isn’t as social as Kylie, but she is more inquisitive than Abbie when company arrives. Munchkin has no clue she is any different than the other cats. She runs and jumps and plays and attacks her sisters daily. She is also a talker, but not nearly as much as Kylie.

These are my precious babies: Kylie, Abbie, and Munchkin!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

When I Grow Up . . .

Have you ever thought about what you want to be when you grow up? Or have you ever thought about what you want to be now that you are supposedly already grown up? I always wanted to get married and be a mom. So I did. Now what am I supposed to do? What is my purpose for what many call that second half of life?
In reading everything I can get my hands on and praying about it a lot, I’ve discovered a strong desire to write and eventually speak to women. What are my qualifications? Well, I love whoever it was that said, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” That’s my motto, and I’m sticking to it.
So I’m writing a book. It’s actually been in the works for several years, but now that I'm in that second half of life, I've gotten serious about finishing it. What’s it about? Prayer. In one sentence: Prayer Pearls - After “Dear God,” What’s Next? provides a guide to starting your conversations with God when you don't know what to say. Have you ever found yourself praying one of these prayers?
Dear God, “I don’t know where to start. I’m exhausted.”
Dear God, “I blew it again. I’ve really messed up this time.”
Dear God, “I really WANT to spend more time with you.”
Dear God, “I’m so sorry. Please fix this.”
Dear God, “Are you there? Are you listening?”
Dear God, “I should have come to you first. Why do I wait until I’ve tried it on my own before bringing it to you?”
Dear God, “Why? It’s not fair!”
What are your Dear God prayers when you don’t know what to say? How do you pray, and where do you start when you are at a loss for words? I hear more and more from women that they want to pray, but they are looking for a way to get started.
The Catholic Faith uses rosary beads for prayer. Not being raised in the Catholic faith, I’ve often wondered how nice it might be to pick up prayer beads and know exactly what to say. While the rosary may direct your thoughts to Christ and his life and death, our relationship with God is more personal than just repetitive prayers. We were designed for a relationship with God. We were made to worship Him and for His pleasure.
Christ said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Considering this principle in relation to prayer gave me the beginning idea for this book about Prayer Pearls. These are pearls which can be metaphorically picked up and used not as repetitive prayers but as a tool to remind us where to start in giving our prayers to God. The acronym PEARL is represented by five different colors and guides us in starting our conversations with God. These are the Prayers Pearls that answer the question, After “Dear God,” What’s Next?
Let me know if this captures your attention. Give me your thoughts on prayer, and let me know if you have these same struggles.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Game of Groceries

Sunday afternoon grocery trips have become my hobby. A trip to the grocery store can be fun. “Fun?” you ask. That’s right. Here are the rules for a fun grocery trip.
Prepare – Make a list. I use to know which items are on sale and have matching coupons. This also determines my menu for the week. Only purchase items on sale and with a coupon. By purchasing these items when on sale and with a coupon instead of when you run out, you don’t  run out.
Eat before you shop – If you go to the store hungry, you will be tempted to purchase items you don’t need and items that are not on sale. You will also be in a hurry and possibly miss extra savings.
Go alone – If you take other people, they will want to purchase things that are not on sale and without a coupon. They  also distract you from focusing on the savings at hand.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes - Sometimes it’s necessary to climb the shelves to reach items up high and at the back.  I have even tag teamed with another lady blessed with the same height challenge I have.  She boosted me up, and I retrieved items for both of us.  And I’m never past asking a taller shopper for help.
Stay organized - Stores will frequently run specials requiring you to purchase 10 items (mix and match) in order to receive an additional 50 cents off each item.  You must be sure to purchase these items in exact multiples of 10 in order to maximize the savings. Organize your cart by grouping these items together for a quick count before checking out.
Be Aware at the Checkout – Group like items together to keep cold things cold and for ease of putting things away at home. If it is extremely hot outside and you are shopping at more than one store, it helps to have a cooler with ice in the trunk. Pay attention to make sure all coupons scan and none are missed. Also make sure the store special for the multiples of ten are taken off at the end ($5.00 for each multiple of ten).
Look at the Receipt – This is the payoff. Once you have paid, look at your receipt and see the percent of savings at the bottom. Have a goal. Mine is 50-75%. Don’t let the cashier discourage you. At some stores the cashier is trained to tell you how much you saved with your store card. This is not the entire story. Look at your receipt for the savings including coupons.
Play by the rules, and enjoy the fun. Then enjoy the benefits of stewardship and giving. You will have a smaller grocery budget, and you can share your savings with others. Hope you have FUN on your next grocery trip. I can’t wait for mine.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life is a Team Sport

This weekend I traveled to San Antonio and Austin to watch my son play soccer for the Texas Tech club team. I was reminded of the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Unfortunately, in soccer it usually is all about whether you win or lose regardless of how you play the game.
As Christians, we already know that in the end we win, but how we play the game is still important. Each of us has a calling and God-given purpose. Part of playing the game of life is finding God’s purpose for our lives. Just like soccer, knowing our position is important. But there is a lot more that goes into the game of soccer than what happens in an hour and a half on the field. There are hours of practice and conditioning, a steadfast commitment, and support of fellow teammates. It is a team sport. What is done in preparation as well as in the game affects every teammate.
Life is the same. Whatever our individual calling, life is still a team sport. Our practice and conditioning, showing up on time, and supporting our teammates affects how we play in life. It influences how we fulfill the calling we have which makes an impact on our teammates.
Life is a team sport; and while we know we win in the end, it’s still important how we play the game.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where's Your Line?

Today my husband and I went to Sonic. Many Saturdays there are different groups of kids delivering the food and receiving tips as a fundraiser. Today it was a swim team. I was intrigued by the slogan on their T-shirts, “Kick or Drown”.  How simple yet profound for a swim team. Other sports have slogans such as “Run Fast or Be Last”, “No Pain, No Gain”, and “Run Hard or Walk Home”. Perhaps you have heard religious slogans such as “Turn or Burn” or “Pray or Perish”. The one that came to my mind was “Grow or Die”.
When we are physically born, our body begins to grow and develop and get stronger; but there comes a point when our body slowly begins to deteriorate as we age and eventually die. I envision this as a line that goes up to its peak and then descends.
Spiritually it is the opposite. We are born into sin, and each day we live without Christ pushes us further and further and closer to eternal darkness; but when we are born again spiritually, we begin to grow and develop and get stronger. I envision this as a line descending that abruptly stops and turns upward when we surrender our lives to Christ. At that point, we make a daily decision as to whether our line will continue on its ascent upwards growing with Christ or whether it will remain stagnant. The line will never again go down, but your decisions affect how far it will rise.
Where is your spiritual line? Is it ascending? Are you growing? Or are you stagnant? When your physical line ends, where will your spiritual line be?
Kick or Drown -- Grow or Die.
I Peter 2:2

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Good Enough -- Because I Wasn’t

How many people have you heard share their testimony of salvation?  How many have heard yours? I believe many of us don’t share our personal stories because we feel they won’t have the same impact as another person’s story. We remember the people that Christ saved from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. We remember the people saved from deep depression, near suicide, and atheism. These are awesome stories of the work Christ has done in their lives and can do in others, and I would not dare to try and take away from the miracles God has done in their lives. But . . .
What about you? Are you like me? Just an average “good” person?  In a random gathering of 500 people, on average only 20 will be alcoholics, 25 will suffer with drug addiction, and only 1 will attempt suicide. Where does that leave the other 454?  I contend that the average person you meet in your day to day life probably considers themself to be a “good” person. Many will hear miraculous deliverance stories and think, “that is great for them, but I don’t have those problems, and I don’t need deliverance.” While they may be intrigued, they do not relate.
Scripture says there is none good but God; and because we have all sinned, none of us are good enough. So how do we reach these everyday “good” people?  We share our “good” story. My story is good enough to share with others, because I wasn’t. And I need to share my story so that others know that they can't be good enough either. My story is good enough – because I wasn’t. What about yours?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Content But Not Complacent

Are you content? The apostle Paul stated the following in scripture: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Philippians 4:11) and also “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).
My husband has gone back to school and has to take philosophy as one of his college courses. His class this semester began with philosopher Bertrand Russell’s idea of the Practical Man. Russell stated in The Problems of Philosophy, "The 'practical' man, as this word is often used, is one who recognizes only material needs, who realizes that men must have food for the body, but is oblivious of the necessity of providing food for the mind." Russell’s Practical Man is content with his day to day routine to meet his immediate needs; and in his contentment, he is complacent about anything outside of those immediate needs.
Many times in our spiritual lives we look at scriptures such as those above and claim to be content, but are we actually complacent? Do we just get by with our Sunday spiritual nourishment?  Do we only pray when we have an immediate need? Do we read our Bible and pray out of routine habit without thought, or are we growing spiritually?  Are we challenging ourselves? 
Paul also stated the following, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Don’t allow yourself to be satisfied with cursory routines. Press toward the goals God has for you. Be content, but don’t become complacent.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Competitive Advantage

We’re starting a diet contest at work on Monday. We do this once or twice a year, and it’s always based on percentage of weight loss. I’m the queen of percentage weight loss and then weight gain. Each year I lose the weight and win the contest, and each year I gain the weight back. Since we haven’t had a contest yet this year, I have definitely gained the weight back plus some.
This year’s contest rules are different, so I’m not sure I’m ready. The winner for the first four weeks will be based on total pounds lost, not percentage, and the winner for the second four weeks will once again be based on percentage. I have a reputation to uphold, but pounds versus percentage is not in my comfort zone.
The competitive advantage now comes into play. What is that? During our company diet contests, “competitive” is more than just my nickname. I want to win, so I don’t cheat on my diet – at all. My secret to winning in the past has been to just stay focused on the end result and not cheat. It reminds me of the tortoise and the hare. I plod along slowly and steadily each week not worrying if someone has a large loss one week. I stay focused and let others do the cheating. So, in a way, they are the ones helping me win. I probably shouldn’t be releasing my secrets, but what do I have to lose -- other than pounds.
Stay tuned for the results as this tortoise starts figuring out how to get a few more miles out of her first four-week tank of gas.