Archive | February, 2012

Moments of Joy

29 Feb

Last night our little man, Micah, was bouncing off the walls, not wanting to listen to mommy or daddy, and grabbing everything he was told not to.  Basically, a typical, headstrong toddler.  One thing he got his eager hands on was a set of Sunday School DVD curriculum.  The kid is smart; he ran around the coffee table to get the DVD’s out of our reach, then sweetly said, “Pease mommy, daddy, DVD.”  Even though he hadn’t listened most of the evening, he used the magic words, and we conceded.  He settled on his couch to watch what may be our church’s new preschool curriculum.

He loves this hat.  It was one of mine for a crazy hat day at work.  The trim is blue and purple, but he loves it still.  He wore it all evening, woke this morning, put it on, and did not take it off again until bedtime.  I’m kind off worried he will get a bald spot!

Micah adores the character on the DVD’s and was enthralled as the lesson about being a friend unfolded.  One key component of the series is a short Scripture verse that is accompanied by actions to help the kids remember better.  Micah loved this part and eagerly imitated what he saw on the screen, then turned to us to make sure we were watching.

I can’t tell you how much joy that brought to my heart.  Not only was our son enjoying something immensely, he was learning God’s Word and taking it into his heart. We did the motions the rest of the evening, saying, “A friend loves at all times.” We did the motions this morning and he repeated the words again.  His eyes light up each time, and I smile.

He was in mid-sentence on the word, all, here.  I am quite fond of that face.  I am more in love with the little heart I see glowing in his eyes!

Cherish the small moments of joy.

Endless Love: Day 7: Lent Journey

29 Feb

 

 

“Thank God because he’s good, because his love never quits.  Tell the world, Israel, “His love never quits.” And you, clan of Aaron, tell the world, “His love never quits.” And you who fear God, join in, “His love never quits.”

 

Psalm 118:1, The Message

Today’s message is simple, yet so full: God’s love is endless.  God’s love is perfect, never failing, never wavering, never ceasing; God’s love never quits.

God’s love endures forever, and He desires to lavish it on us.

How great the Father’s love for us, that He would send His only son, Jesus, to die for our sins, in our place.  God’s desire to bring us back into restored relationship with Him cost Him dearly, but He counts it as gain as we accept His grace and love.

God’s Word is filled with the promises and examples of His love; it is a love letter from His heart to ours.

What words of love do you long to hear? Continue reading

Sexier?

28 Feb

I was checking my email when I noticed this image in an ad banner.  I almost gagged.

Image from Victoria's Secret Ad

I am sure that some of you think there is nothing wrong with this image.  Some of you will see nothing but a beautiful woman in lingerie (creeps), and come of you will see what I see; something scary.

Please, hear me.  I’m sure the model is a fine person, and this is not an attack on her.  She is a product of the fashion industry, reduced to skin and bones.  While she is very pretty, her form is sickly skeletal.  This type of image is everything that is wrong with our culture and the persisting images that ultra-skinny= sexy.  This is one major reason eating disorders are so dangerously rising in teens and tweens.  When you can LITERALLY see ribs and other bones jutting awkwardly from a person’s frame, they are too skinny.  There is nothing wrong with being fit, thin, and in-shape. I think we all need to find the healthy weight and shape that best fits us individually.  There is something wrong with this degree of skinny being hailed as “Very sexy, now sexier.”

Yes, the ad is supposed to be about the lingerie, which is really cute.  However, you can’t ignore the model wearing the items.  Despite the fashion industry’s best efforts to create models who are mere “hangers” for fashion, we do still see the models behind the clothes.  The image projected tells millions of females that unless you strive to look like this model, you aren’t sexy enough.

This image just makes me sick and very sad for the state of our society, and all those who will see images like this and think, “I’m not good enough.”

Hear me:  Yes, you are.

 

Word Up: Day 6: Lent Journey

28 Feb

 

 

 

“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another- showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.  Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17, The Message

Over the years, this passage of Scripture has really grown on me, or rather, in me; my heart.  While the passage as a whole is important and useful, I find myself focusing on the beginning and the end.

We are reminded here that Scripture, the Bible, is from God.  While it was written by man, it was not conceived nor created by man.  It is God-breathed.  God infused his very words, thoughts, and being into a gift given to His children, helping show us the truth and the way.  And it is not just portions or parts of His Word that are valuable. Every part of the Bible is useful and able to speak to us, even today.

Speak?  Is God still speaking to people today? Continue reading

Who’s Your Constant?: Day 5: Lent Journey

27 Feb

“For God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” Let us be bold, then, and say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5b-6 (Good News Translation)

“I will never leave you.  I will never abandon you.” For such a short verse, those are two incredibly powerful and large with meaning declarations.  If I believe God’s Word is true (I do), believe God’s Word is a promise (I do), and believe that God is the same, yesterday, today, and always (I do), then I should never feel alone.

Guess what!  I DO!  (For further insight into my dark, scary fear, check out Day 1.)  I have abandonment issues despite the abundantly clear message from God in the Scripture above and elsewhere in the Bible that He WILL NOT ABANDON me. God’s promises about always being with us are plentiful.  Here are a few verses to remind us. Continue reading

Heart of Worship: Day 4: My 40 Day Lent Journey

25 Feb

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

Psalm 100:2, NIV

I love a great time of worship; praising God for all He has done, is doing, and will do.  The writer of Psalm 100 writes about worshiping the Lord with gladness.  What does that mean?  Worship by definition is paying reverent honor and homage to someone or something regarded as sacred.  So we are to give honor or pay homage, or tribute, to God by worshiping Him.  But how?  With offerings or material gifts?  While there is a place and time to give of our material gifts, in this instance and most frequently we should worship God with our thanks, joyful praise, and most importantly our presence.

I’m afraid the word gladness has lost some of its luster over the years.  I’ve heard it uttered and used it myself as a glib remark such as, “Yes, I’m so glad to do that for you.” (Now imagine that being said with tones of sarcasm throughout.)  Even when it is used sincerely, “I am very glad to meet you,” I’m not sure if we fully understand what we are saying.  Gladness is about feeling and expressing joy, pleasure, and delight at something or someone.  It’s more than a nice, fuzzy feeling.  Think about it. When was the last time you used the word glad to define how you felt?  Did you really mean that you were filled with joy and expressing your delight and pleasure?  Or, were you just a shade of happy?  Nothing wrong with that.  I just think that the type of gladness the Psalmist is referring to comes from a place of deep, abiding joy that wells up from our very soul and can’t help but be poured forth from our lips; an overwhelming sense of gratitude for God.

I can only say these things because I have experienced them.  I have substituted shades of happy and tried to convince myself I was glad.  I have entered into a time of worship and brought only feelings of obligation and not joy at the chance to express my gratitude and love to God.

Now, I know that there are seasons in our lives where joy and gladness are much harder to come by, and sometimes completely void from our presence.  I have known those seasons and am aware of their lurking shadows.  Are we to worship in those times as well?  Yes!  It is in those times that we need to worship the most.  God wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, no matter the season of our soul.  If we come into worship with a weak smile plastered to our face, yet our soul cries within us, it is our soul that God hears and sees.  We can fool those around us by our outward appearance, but God looks and sees our heart, and He beckons us to come.  Continue reading

Devotion: Day 3: My 40 Day Lent Journey

24 Feb

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

Colossians 4:2, NLT

There is a reason we call spending time daily with God, devotional time.  We are supposed to be setting time aside, devoted wholly to God.  Whether we are spending that time praying, listening, crying, praising, asking, writing, reading, studying, or just being with God and His Word (Bible), we should be giving ourselves fully.  If all we have is 5 minutes to spend with God during the day, then spend that time with your mind, heart, and soul focused on God alone.

Now I know that this can be difficult for some people.  It is something we need to put into practice.  Some days will be easier than others.  God doesn’t expect us to sit down everyday in perfect harmony and a serene environment, spend an uninterrupted hour with Him and never let our mind wander.  The most important part of the previous sentence is that God wants us to spend time with Him.  Don’t get me wrong; God wants whatever time we can give Him to be focused on Him.  Devotion means giving our time, energy, attention, self entirely.

If you are just starting a devotional time with God or trying to start again (like myself), here are a few tips: Continue reading

God is Bigger Than the Boogeyman and Worry: Day 2: My 40 Day Lent Journey

23 Feb

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Philippians 4:6-7, The Message

Every time I hear or read this particular passage of Scripture, I can’t help but hum the tune of, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I’m not sure why, but that is my instant reaction.  Silly.  I know.  Throw the first stone!

But happiness in place of worry is not exactly what this Scripture is talking about.  The focus of these verses is to replace worry with prayer.  Give it up and over to God and in so doing, find a peace that He is in control and you are not.  Happiness, while nice, is fleeting and fickle.  Peace and assurance in knowing that God’s got your back is a much better thing to strive for and hold onto.  Continue reading

Day 1: My 40 Day Lent Journey

22 Feb

Day 1 of my journey to deepen my devotional life and draw closer to God, and all He has in store for me (read us) has dawned. (Read here to figure out what I’m talking about.) After posting last night I did some praying and soul searching.  I wasn’t sure how much I was going to share through these devotional insights.  I was feeling led to really open up some of the darker, less pretty parts of where I am, but I was…… well, I was too chicken to commit to that.  I have to be careful as a pastor’s wife not to offend anyone.  Really.  Then after checking in on facebook today I got a swift kick in the behind.  Plumb (aka Tiffany Arbuckle) is one of my favorite singers and she had posted about her plans for Lent. She is planning on posting each night via her FB account about those dark places in her life “as they are exposed to healing.”  It felt like God speaking to me in that moment. “Hey Heather! Toughen up. Trust Me and open up.”

So, as I reflect on the devotionals daily, I am going to really be doing some soul excavation and restoration.  It will not be my intention to offend anyone along the way, but to be honest and open.  I hope God will honor this transparency and bring some needed healing and hope, not only in my life, but maybe in someone else as well.  So, here we go….. Continue reading

Lent Me Your Ear for 40 Days: My Lent Challenge

22 Feb

I have a confession. I stink at at maintaining a devotional life. Over the years I have tried numerous books, studies, tricks, tips, rewards, and even deprivations in an attempt to start, maintain and sustain a rich devotional practice. I have FAILED.

As a college student majoring in Youth Ministry then Religion I had some guilt over this particular weakness. As a wife of a seminary student my guilt grew. As a pastor’s wife there is no measurement large enough to quantify my guilt. But more than that, it is the lack of abiding closeness that I am missing most. While my self-esteem may suffer because I am not leading a weekly women’s Bible study and feel like a ministry wife failure, that is nothing compared with what I am missing out on by not meeting daily with God.  I know that needs to change, and change, it’s a comin’ Continue reading