Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I always find myself pulled back to my childhood during Christmas. Even though most of the ones I can remember are ones when my parents had divorced, I know my mom did what she could through working two jobs to make our Christmas the very best it could be. We didn't have the latest and greatest things like our friends did who lived on the same street, but I do remember we spent those days leading up to Christmas with a sense of excitement that is missing today.

I don't recall making tons of cookies in the kitchen with my mom, probably due in part to working so hard to provide a Christmas for my brother and myself, yet I do recall the way we used to get excited to pull all our decorations down from the rafters and begin to decorate the house for my mom. I remember the days of real tinsel and not the stuff they try and pass off as tinsel now a days. I remember those colored strands of garland that we would try to drape in OCD like loops around our tree. I also remember the ornaments before the days of Hallmark, the blown glass kind, in all kinds of brilliant colors and shapes; the ones we would want to pass up later on but now as an adult, I'd wish we'd kept. I now search antique stores looking for those to add to my tree. There is something to be said for those old Christmas traditions.

I remember the outside lights on our house were the ones with the multi-colored bulbs you had to screw in after you put up the light strands. They also made loud pops when you tossed them into the street after launching them high into the air. I remember sitting back on the couch in the evening before the days of DVD and Blue Ray players or even VCR's and having to wait for your beloved Christmas classics to come on; A Charlie Brown Christmas, Ruldolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and especially The Year Without A Santa Claus. If you missed it the night and time it was shown, you missed it for the year. So we waited with anticipation for those nights.

I remember those beloved Christmas records too, Bing Crosby's White Christmas or even Elvis Presley, belting out Blue Christmas. All was right in the world. I remember spending hours with the Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog that used to come out just before Christmas and looking all day long at putting together just the perfect Christmas list for my parents. I remember moonlight sales at Woolworth's much like the Black Friday sales now, but without all the madness and pushing and shoving. Even the deals you used to get at stores like Mervyn's before they closed that offered you free gifts with purchase so you could really make your money go further. Now you're lucky to get Free Shipping from your online retailers.

Then the anticipation of waiting all night long for Santa to come along and bring our presents. It was honestly so hard to sleep those nights, waiting with baited breath to see if that noise you just heard was Santa out by the fireplace. Of course, there were those nights when my brother, Mike and I would quietly sneak into our living room to see if Santa had come yet only to be disappointed to still see empty stockings and no presents under the tree yet. We had to force ourselves back to sleep and hope we hadn't messed anything up yet.

Morning were the best in that we would race into our mom's room to wake her up while it was still dark out proclaiming that "Santa had come!!!" We would sit inpatiently by the tree trying to read the names of the packages under the tree to see who had the biggest or more elaborately decorated package. The best part was when presents were too big to wrap and instead were adorned with bows, like bikes!!! Christmas breakfast and dinner were the best in addition to playing with our toys or even trying on new clothes or racing outside to play with our friends. Some memories are just too good to ever forget!

That's why when I am decorating my tree or listening to Christmas music on the radio, a smile will cross my face. I'm remembering a fond memory from long ago and it takes me back to my childhood or even a time when that child-like quality of Christmas magic still exists. It's a time when troubles truly do seem so far away and goodness and mercy prevail, and once more all is right in the world.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sunbathing on the Sea of Dread

Ever planned a vacation for you, your family or just you and your hubby? I know I have and the reason for planning one usually comes because I am way too stressed out, we haven’t had a vacation in who knows how long, or we just need to get away from life. Sound like your reasons?

When you think about it those reasons, it sounds pretty valid. The real thing is for me, based on those reasons alone, would cause me to take daily vacations if you knew my life and the things that go on in it daily. However let’s really break it down and see just how “relaxing” it is.

We have to decide first of all where we are headed, that could take weeks for some. Once you decide on a location, you have to check the weather, locate a family friendly hotel, book the hotel, book any activities that you may need to, pack for the vacation, get airline tickets, or car rentals or even pack the family truckster up. Then you have to get to the airport, get through security, locate food since airlines stopped serving food except the prepackaged peanuts of approximately 7 inside, and wait in line for your flight. Then you have to deal with any potential delays of your flight, connecting flights, lost luggage, bathroom breaks, and locating a rental car or airport shuttle after picking up your luggage from a never ending pile from baggage claim. Then it’s off to navigate some foreign roads you never have driven; deal with toll roads, and since you never have correct change since most people ATM it lately; check into your hotel, deal with not enough pillows, bad smelling room, uncomfortable beds, and the noisy neighbors just on the other side of your paper thin room. Sounding relaxing yet? Yeah right….

If you’re like me, you need a vacation from your vacation when you get back. Isn’t that what your original design for a vacation was supposed to be? If you are like me, what you were expecting was lots of sleep in a luxury room, with a feather bed, tons of super soft pillows, no noise whatsoever, being waited on hand and foot, all your meals are prepared with just the touch of a few buttons on the phone, no worries right?

We worry about everything and anything! We live in a worry-filled society in a worry-filled world with lots of other worriers like ourselves. The truth is however that worrying changes nothing. “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” Matthew 6:25

There are a wealth of opportunities to be anxious about everyday and it’s never ending. Take for example, the stimulus bill, our states budget crisis, layoffs from every company you know, foreclosures at an all time high, late notices of every utility bill and credit card, deaths of loved ones, family members, friends and even perfect strangers, abortions, problems with our cars, divorce, marriage, gay issues, stem cell research, wars and never ending natural disasters. Got a lot on your plate at night??? How about popping a pill for that? Valium, Xanax, sleep aids, you name it, you can be assured you can locate a doctor willing to listen to just a sample of the issues I mentioned above, and you’ve got yourself a personalized autograph prescription. Yet, it doesn’t take the worry away. It only puts it off, it’s right there where you left it once you wake up or the drugs where off.

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.” Matthew 6:34

The things I have listed that we worry about are the same things our parents and grandparents worried about, but worrying about them did nothing to prevent them from happening. Worry ruins our health, robs us of any joy and changes nothing. Worrying about something does nothing to change the thing we are worrying about. Sometimes worrying about those things makes things worse than they were before.

One simple sentence unveils God’s provision plan: “Live One Day At A Time”. God disclosed this same strategy to Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. He provided manna daily, one day at a time, not monthly or weekly. Even on the day prior to the Sabbath, God knew what He was doing. He told them not to gather it on the Sabbath, but the day before. He provided twice as much for them because He wanted them to keep the Sabbath holy and do no work, including the gathering of food. Did the Israelites worry? Yup, even after witnessing all God’s miracles, they worried constantly up to the point of wishing they were back in Egypt where they had plenty of food, water and a place to sleep at night. They grumbled about it daily and constantly.

But weren’t they complaining during their time in Egypt for God to free them from their bondage as slaves to the Egyptians? God answered their prayers, but He never promised them that everything would be a perfect “stress free vacation” of sorts. But He did answer their prayers, just not the way they had hoped.

What they saw as problems, God saw as provisions. Imagine quail in the desert, so numerous that each family had so much that they complained that they were sick of eating it. More grumbling, more worrying!

Worry splits up our thoughts into today and tomorrow. So why don’t we worry about yesterday? Because we know that nothing we can do today will change what happened yesterday. Worrying about tomorrow’s problems today, takes away the strength God gives us to get through today’s worries. This leaves us with not enough resources to deal with today because we borrowed on it to fix tomorrow’s worries. Now we are in debt with worry. No wonder we feel like we can’t deal with just today. We are too busy tackling tomorrows, next weeks, next months and sometimes even next year’s worries. No wonder we are stressed out, sick physically, tired, run down, and at the end of our rope or even all of the above. God never planned on us dealing with things that way. “One day at a time.” Hear the voice of God?

If you are like me, we worry so much about something that has yet to happen, but most of the time, what we worry about never really happens. Worry gives small problems, big shadows. Corrie Ten Bloom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of it’s sorrows, it empties today of it’s strength.” “God will take care of everything you need.” (Phillippians 4:19)

So what can you do to eliminate this worry and stress from your life?

1. Pray More!!! You can’t worry while your praying and you can’t pray when you are worrying. In my case, this means I need to pray most of my day. I worry a lot. The average person prays about 8 minutes a day when the average pastor only prays about 10 minutes. Shouldn’t that tell us something? Imagine how different our lives might be if we just prayed a little bit more? Couldn’t hurt right? No where in the Bible does it say to pray a little or to put limits on our prayer time right?

2. Want Less! I tell my daughters this daily when it comes to buying things, especially in this economy where the average family is barely making ends meet while paying more for groceries, gas, bills, and everything else while our income goes down or stay the same as it was before. So I have to ask them, “Is this a want or a need?” Sometimes I have to remind them of the definitions of each. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Enough for today is all we can enjoy. We cannot eat or drink or wear more than today’s supply of food and clothing. The surplus gives us the care of storing it and the anxiety that someone may steal it. Enough is all we should expect, but a craving for more is ungratefulness. When our Father does not give you more, be content with your daily allowance.” (The NIV Worship Bible, New International Version, Dana Point, CA: Maranatha 2000, 1302)

3. Live for Today. “Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27. God will take care of things in His time, not in our time. He sends help at the hour we need it. You don’t have the wisdom for tomorrow’s problems, but we will tomorrow. You don’t have the resources for tomorrows needs, but you will tomorrow. You don’t have the courage for tomorrow’s challenges, but you will when tomorrow comes.

God will meet our needs daily. He did then, he still does, and he will continue to do for you always. Trust in Him, and wait! Don’t worry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Plane Crash Survival Mode

I think it's OK to be completely honest with God. I mean He knows what we are thinking anyway right? I believe He is looking at us and wondering when are we going to say something. Let it go, get it off our chest and ultimately lay the burden down. Empty the load we are carrying unnecessarily.

So yesterday I had my moment of self pity and grief. My husband got off the phone with our lender, Nationstar Mortgage (a blog post will be forth coming on this company) and we learned we did not qualify for the HAMP or HAMP 1 loan modification. But if we were willing to send them a wire transfer for $2900.00, they would reconsider some other loan options for us. Sound fishy to you too?

Right away, I told my husband, something isn't right in Denmark on that issue!

 And I began to research the company in detail. What I found there and shared with my husband quite literally rocked my world. We are just one of thousands of people who are dealing with this and no one is stopping the process. So I turned to my husband and asked, "What should we do now?" He responded that we should begin with back up plan B, C, D and every letter necessary to secure a home for us.

It was at this point yesterday and the evening before, I went into melt down mode. My plane had come crashing down, as my brother, reminded me yesterday. I didn't really take that into consideration until later. It made perfect sense! He told me to stop seeing all the collateral damage. See it as a plane crash and you have survived. Now that you have realized you are still alive, process this like you would if you were in an actual plane crash.

First of all, don't panic. I did panic. I felt the air removed from my lungs and couldn't breath. But what he said made sense.

In a plane crash as a survivor if you want to make it out alive, you don't panic. You begin working things out one at a time. We are in survival mode now and we needed to begin to develop what needed to happen next to ensure our survival. In a plane crash, you need to figure out shelter, food and water requirements while waiting for help to arrive. You never leave the crash site, unless danger is imminent.

So in our case, until the notice comes for us to leave the site, we stay put but work on shelter issues first. For us, it's finding a suitable shelter. We are working with a property management company now to find us a rental home nearby that is within our range of monthly payment options. We actually found several ready to move into NOW and they are willing to work with us regarding our less than stellar credit now thanks to this lending nightmare they forced us into .

Once that is settled, then it's simply the process of moving and friends have been amazing as well as neighbors who have volunteered to help out in anyway we need. We simply now need to stop worrying about other what ifs, that the enemy is sending our way because you know what, there is NOTHING God can't do in all this. He could have made the mortgage company approve our loan, but in the end, we've found so many homeowners are being subjected to the whims of monthly payment increases and more hoop jumping and quite frankly, I'm a bit too old and seasoned to keep doing this.

 At some point you wonder just how many times do you need to walk around the plane wreck and believe that the plane can't fly anymore? Unless we accept the wisdom and revelation that comes from answered prayers from God, I will keep walking around that plane looking for possible ways to get it back up in the air, while God simply shakes His head and waits patiently.

At some point, I figured it out last night and realized, "Hey look! I survived!!! Time to find a way out of here, and with God's help it is definitely a possibility!!"

 So when you go through something that feels way over your head and you question God's Hand in all of it, remember Job's wise words when he lost all that he had and what he did in the midst of his own plane crash, Then Job rose and rent his robe and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshiped. And said,"Naked (without possessions) came I (into this world) from my mother's womb, and naked (without possessions) shall I depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed (praised and magnified in worship) be the name of the Lord!" ~ Job 1: 21-22.

 In God's own time, He will rescue us, but we will continue to keep our eyes on Him and remain in our walk with God by our side. The journey isn't over yet and the harvest is coming. Sunday is near and soon it will be time to rejoice in all things.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jumping Through Hoops?

I know most of you that are following my blog or reading this post from Facebook already know the craziness that we have been walking through this last year. While dealing with one failed mortgage company after another, we have almost reached the end of our proverbial rope and I am wondering if I am supposed to hang myself with it. That's an internal thought, not an actual one that I am contemplating. But sometimes in those long walks in the valleys where our character and faith are truly being tested, don't you wonder where the oasis has gone or are they all merely mirages?

Yesterday after our daily battle with Nationstar Mortgage, we reached yet another customer service rep of the day. We actually NEVER talk to the same person twice. If you attempt to reach the same person, you are given their voicemail extension to which NO ONE will EVER call you back. I can't tell you how many messages, emails, letters, you name it we have sent to this mortgage company, only to have NO ANSWER!

We have answered every single request, contacted them on a daily basis seeing as our sale date is set for October 12th at 1pm. The funny thing is that Nationstar has hired a company to push us through the foreclosure proceedings, while they attempt to work with us on loan modification, including the federal OBAMA HAMP program, which I have failed to see work for anyone who has tried. We are told our income to debt ratio is off by 6% but no one will let us speak with a person who is actually processing our loan documents. Despite it all, Nationstar denies that they are proceeding with foreclosure and they have no knowledge of it at all. In fact, we've even gone so far as to fax them all said documents and they still deny it. We called the company who is handling this for Nationstar and we're told by their attorney that they are aware of everything because it's the law to notify the mortgage company of everything. Just what is that smell anyway?

I believe it's called political and government failure. While millions of people continue to jump through the circus hoops in this sick side show, the banks are getting fat off the government to foreclose on these loans and have their own debts wiped clean. This is why this country is failing. It's driving our economy down and those that are living off the meat of those that have worked to put these people in business have failed to understand how quickly they could wind up right where we are. In the meantime, we are looking for rental property while the home we've worked at trying to keep, despite the Foreclosure Specialists that are working "for us" to save our home, will undoubtedly be sold next week. What I have learned in the process, is that scavengers are everywhere waiting to swoop in and steal what they can from you, that everyone who says they are trying to help, are only stalling until the inevitable, and the Foreclosure Specialists are just that, specialists in foreclosing on your home.

I wish they would just be up front and honest and tell people, NOPE, we're not going to help you, too bad so sad, you should probably be looking for somewhere else to live, because you're time is running out. In the long run, I can add professional hoop jumper to my resume! I know I have LOTS of experience wasting my time filling out yet more forms and spending money to mail things that will never be looked at by anyone, expect for the mail room person who places that in the circular file and the trash men that take it to the dump.

For those of you that think, we deserve it, perhaps maybe we do. Maybe we are guilty of believing the lies that good things happen to those that do the right things. I know our home isn't here anyway, and I can only hope God comes quickly. Things are getting rough here for believers anymore and for those that try to stay on the straight and narrow path. There are always thieves lying in wait for you to come across their path. For what it's worth, I had to put this on my blog. It's a part of the life, we've been going through and I believe we're heading for calmer waters soon. This will be a part of my testimony when I can go back later and analyze it all. The stuff we have here on earth is merely on loan anyway. Time to try establishing a new zip code anyway! Home is where you make it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Cookie

It's hard to believe we saw him again after thinking we never would.

See it's been about 5 months, since we had our run in with Chester, not his real name of course, because you just never know who is reading blogs anymore, so let's just go with Chester for now.

We first met Chester on a brisk, grey morning in March this year. We were headed to pick my oldest daughter, Caitlyn, up from school and had arrived a little bit early. So we decided to park the car and just wait outside.

I picked up my phone and left her a message just in case we missed each other when school let out and the kids begin to pile into the parking lot. Sometimes you can get lost in a crowd of students because once school is out, it will be the fastest you ever see students move in your life.

So content that she had a message waiting from us, plus that missed call message, we knew somehow, some way we wouldn't miss each other.

So my youngest sits next to me in the front seat with her Nintendo DS propped up in her hands battling whatever unforeseen enemy needs to be defeated and saving the earth in the process, at least its what is sounds like to me.

I lean my head back on the head rest behind me, and put my sunglasses on so I can keep an eye on students walking by without them knowing I am looking at them and occasionally closing my eyes off and on.

That's when Chester showed up.

Kailee, my youngest daughter, looks up and points at him and tells me she doesn't think he belongs here.

If you could see what Chester was wearing, and what he looked like, he obviously didn't fit in.

He wasn't a student that would be attending this school. He looked much too old for that. It look like either time or the elements had taken a toll on him.

He looked at us as he passed by, and sat on the small concrete stone wall just outside the school.

Perhaps he was here to pick someone up or perhaps he was just waiting for a ride home.

He kept looking around rather nervously like he had done something criminal or was going to be in trouble if someone saw him here.

So there Kailee and I sat, just looking at Chester sitting on the stone wall just off to the left of my car. He stayed there for about 10 minutes and when the bell buzzed that signaled the end of another academic day, he ran off.

We tried to look back and find him but he managed to disappear behind some cars and we didn't see where he went.

We had gone back a few times before school ended and when I asked my daughter, Caitlyn about Chester, she didn't seem to know what I was talking about.

I guess that meant Chester didn't go to school or wasn't a parent of one of the students.

The odd thing was, the poor thing looked hungry and hadn't had a bite to eat in quite some time by the looks of him. We would have offered him something to eat, but he didn't look like he would trust anyone anyway.

You can imagine our surprise when Steve, Kailee and I went to pick Caitlyn up from school the night of her dance just yesterday. The dance had let out at 5pm, since it took place during the summer for her school club.

We had mentioned to Steve while we waited outside the school for Caitlyn about the odd run in with Chester earlier in the year and wondered if we would ever see him again.

Steve noticed Chester first. The minute Kailee and I saw him, we instantly recognized him. He hadn't changed much since we saw him last time. Same old appearance and he still seemed anxious and frightful at the same time.

This time, we had just finished shopping at Target and at least had some bags of cookies and snacks with us. So I took it upon myself to try and offer some food to Chester. Kailee even suggested that since he may be afraid of another bigger person trying to talk to him, perhaps she should try.

So I waited for Chester to stop and this time he sat beneath the trees instead of the stone wall. I couldn't have blamed him since it was unbearably hot that day. Poor thing, I bet he must at least be thirsty.

I walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk and reached in for a box of cookies I had just bought. I pretended I didn't see Chester but out of the corner of my eye, I could tell he was watching me. I couldn't fool him.

But he didn't leave. He just waited. Kailee went and sat on the wall and began to talk to him as I walked over to him. He didn't say anything. He just kept watching us. Perhaps the years had taught him to be wary of strangers or perhaps like most people, he was treated harshly by someone in his past.

You could just tell that by looking at him that we needed to gain his trust. We kept talking to him and asked him if he might be hungry.

He just gave us that blank stare where you can tell deep inside someone's mind that they are wondering whether to trust you or simply run away. At least he wasn't leaving. So we passed a few cookies to him.

We just laid them down and waited. We waited to see if we could be the people he begins to trust again. At that moment Caitlyn walked up and we had to motion to her to be quiet, because we were trying to help Chester. We didn't want him to be afraid. If the only thing we did that day was offer food to someone that was hungry, perhaps it would make a difference and he wouldn't be so afraid anymore.

Soon, Chester got up and walked over to where we laid the cookies and picked one up. He kept looking at us the whole time like he thought it was some kind of joke. We told him that if he wanted more, he could have the whole box. We just wanted to be his friends and at least give him something to eat if he was hungry.

He ate them all, and when he was eating the last one, a bunch of kids came running out of the school and Chester took off. Perhaps he thought he was going to be picked on or perhaps these were the kids that had made him distrust people.

Whatever the reason, Steve magically caught our encounter with Chester on film just in case something were to happen to him later.

As we left the parking lot, we realized that Chester had a home and we would be seeing him again real soon. I thought I would share that special moment when Chester was eating our cookies. Looking at it even now, brings a smile to my face and makes me realize that we can make a difference just by trying. Even little things make a difference in the life of someone when you show them you care.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

High Tech Spiritual Warfare

It seems the more closely we are drawn to God the more sensitive we become when we are under spiritual attack. We often don't need clues that something bad is looming on the horizon, we can just get a sense of something we don't see but can definitely feel. I find the more we are drawn to God and are walking in His will, it's an all out assault to try and take us down anyway we can.

This morning, before I woke up I had a sense of heaviness but couldn't quite put my finger on it. I wondered if it was perhaps because I didn't get much sleep last night or woke up with an odd dream I couldn't explain that was really bizarre but it just seemed like there was a darkness hovering that I couldn't see, but could definitely sense. The Holy Spirit reminded me to maintain my level of praying to God, thanking Him for the goodness He was going to bring to today no matter what was going to happen, for me to maintain my focus on Him and all the things going right today and to look for revelation for those today seeds I need to be planting for God's glory.

Even though I began my day with prayer, and listening to praise and worship songs before my Bible Study, it just seemed like the enemy was on full tactical alert against my house to divide and conquer. I even mentioned this to my husband and reminded him that the enemy is attempting to attack us today, in big and small ways and lets stay close to God. I mean if Gods on your side, you can't lose!

Then it came time to do my study with Joyce Meyer's today. It's always a great day when Joyce puts it to you plainly and that's just what the topic was for today. A Thankful Attitude. I learned the secret of high tech spiritual warfare is (1) not to complain. The word complain means simply to remain or to keep overnight, so the more we complain about things, we are guaranteed an overnight stay before we can attempt to move forward again. Take for example the Israelites who complained about the living conditions on the way to the promised land, the food supply, lack of water, just about everything. What could have taken them all of 11 days journey got them, 40 years in the desert due to their guaranteed Over Night Stays of complaining.

What we need to begin doing is speaking positive when we are facing or in a negative situation. We need to go to God, like David did, and tell God everything that's going on instead of complaining about it to anyone that will listen to us. God is really the only one that can work to change things for us.

How often are we saying we are thankful to God?

We need to be more thankful for the little things people do for us every single day. Here is the biggest tip to winning the war in Spiritual Warfare:

1 Thessalonians 5: 18-19 "Thank God in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit."

We quench the Holy Spirit when we complain about things. We need to learn to give thanks in ALL things, the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude! We need to celebrate God's goodness and victories in our life. We need to have a thank you party once a year with giving gifts to the poor as a way of remembering the Red Seas, God has parted in your life.

Start by saying, " I believe that You are going to work it out for my good God!" "This is going to work, even though I can't see it or feel it, thank you even now for working on it!"

We need to be more like Daniel, who was an outstanding role model for gratitude to God. He gave thanks up to 3 times a day under the threat of being sent to the lion's den by the king, but despite the odds, Daniel kept praying and he kept being promoted and promoted and promoted and wore out three kings in the process.

We need to remember the story you can find in 2 Chronicles 20 about the three armies heading to war against Jehoshaphat. What did he do? He got down on his face in prayer and assigned his people to begin singing praises to the Lord, "Give thanks to the Lord, for His Mercy endures forever!" over and over. When the armies came against them, they were so confused by what they saw, they ended up killing one another.

This is how we wage war against the devil and win in high tech spiritual warfare! (1) Begin praying and lifting up our concerns to God, (2) give thanks to God in all things, despite what the outcome, and (3) celebrate our victory's with God!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Final Roadblock Removed!

Do you ever feel like God is calling you to do something? Perhaps it's even the worst thing He could ever ask you to do because you don't feel like it's supposed to be you to do it. What if it's repairing a relationship you didn't damage, could you pick up the phone, write a letter or even plan a face to face meeting to resolve the issue no matter how much it hurts?

I find that God can't move forward in our lives to bless us, to help us grow or to push us to become better people unless we are willing to submit 100% to His calling. Like I stated in my post yesterday, I want the 100-fold return. So when I asked God to show me any areas in my life he really wanted me to clean house on, he told me I had to make the first step in resolving the issue with my father. We haven't spoken in 17 years. It's not because either of us had issues with one another, we simply grew apart and for me, I personally believed, it just wasn't the time to have conflicts and unnecessary stress in my life. I also wasn't walking with Jesus back then, I kind of went my own way and resolved to pick God up again when I found the time.

Yet, when a young man I counseled back at the end of the summer just as he was heading back to college, we both had a god-like intervention. It was a tough time for both of us in what started out as simply friends getting together, but with God there are no coincidences. He had a plan that day. A plan to work a miracle of sorts in both our lives and for us both, it was a test of our wills, a test of faith, and a test of our commitment to Him. That was a huge turning point for both of us. We each had to resolve issues with our family. He did his immediately and for me, I did mine today.

The first person I really wanted to share it with was my friend and I got so much love and support from him. I felt it was time to call my dad. He had been inquiring about me and my family through my brother and even though I provided him with all my contact information if my dad wanted to reach out, he felt he needed to come from me. Well now, I know where I get my stubbornness from.

So lately, I've been tackling a study on faith with my husband. We've been learning how to walk closer with God's will for our lives and less than our own will. I've been learning how to put up boundaries to keep my inside and focused on today, learning to plant today seeds, and being a 100% committed to God in ALL areas of my life. Today, God called and said it was time to clean the whole house, including that closet in the back where I've kept it under lock and key.

Today, I refused to listen to all the lies of the enemy, because God said today was the day. Was He making me do it? Of course not! God doesn't force us to do anything. He simply asks. If we're 100% committed, the response should be an easy one, but for me, well, let's just say it was the hardest thing I believe God asked me to do. He wanted me to call my dad today. Why today?

Because (1) He asked. (2) I was willing to go all in, and commit 100% if God saw things that needed to be cleaned up in my life, and (3) it was my dad's birthday. A perfect segue into why I was calling today of all days. I didn't know today would be the day, God would call in His chips for this area of my life, but knowing how wonderful He's been moving in areas of my life, I didn't want this to be the one thing that would hold me back from receiving His best in my life. Who doesn't want God's best?

And let me tell you He has been working in mighty ways, but I can't share just yet. So when God called today, I had no excuse. I had to 100% committed for Him, or I wasn't. He doesn't want anything less from me. So after a lengthy prayer asking for Him to be with me, I rummaged for the phone number my brother gave me a few months ago, and dialed the number. I was kinda hoping it would go to voicemail, but you know God, He had other things in mind. My dad answered.

I don't know which of us was more shocked, me or him. He was surprised, but you can tell it was a great surprise. I had to hold back the tears as I wished him a Happy Birthday and remind him who was calling. Remember he didn't have my number with him, I'm sure. We touched base a little bit today, and I told him I wanted to call over sending a card to let him know I was thinking about him today. We spoke for about 15 minutes since he was heading into work, but I know today was the start of something amazing. I know one things for sure, my dad probably got the birthday gift he's been wanting for a very long time. For me, I was happy to know that I kicked the devil back into his hole, because now, my house is clean. I have 100% assurance I am not holding anything back. I've forgiven all the people in my life I have issues with and for once, I have opened the doors in all my personal relationships!

And you know what?

I feel GREAT!

and the best part?

God's got something coming and it's going to be mind-blowing amazing and I believe it's coming soon!

I hope this message inspires you to open those doors God's calling you to work on. While it may difficult, the enemy will try to remind you of all kinds of ways to avoid doing this, but like removing a band-aid, you just got to rip it off! It doesn't hurt half as much as you think it would, and it's sooooo worth it!

If you want to contact me, leave me a message and I'll respond or you can ask me to pray for you. I know in the last days the enemy is going to seek to divide and destroy our relationships and it's time we got the construction business going and start to make repairs and build bridges. Let's put him out of business!

By the way, Happy Birthday again Dad!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Possible Ministry Opportunity

For months now while watching what has been happening all around us, people losing jobs, losing homes, losing loved ones, struggling just to put enough food in their house to make a decent meal, helping people out with no or low cost legal options, finding medical care for people who have found themselves without insurance, you name it and I'm sure you can find a need that you have heard about or you yourself need.

How many times have you asked yourself, if only...(fill in the blank with your need)?

How easy would it be to fix things if everyone just got together and said, enough is enough, let's stop waiting around for the government to fix things, lets jump start a program to really help people who are hurting?

God has placed such a burden on my heart to help people who are in need, but often I felt like I can't do it alone. Then God asked if I would at least be willing to try if He provided the means. Why sure! Of course, I'd jump at the chance! Today, God reminded me I don't have to do it alone.

I know there are tons of people around the world, through Facebook and all kinds of Social Media groups that would LOVE to jump in and help in ways that only they can. You might have a special gift to help out and simply didn't know where your skills sets might fit in. I mean what can one person do right?

A lot if you're 100% committed to making this work. I believe it can!

I believe that God will bless the efforts and provide a 100-fold return if we are willing to be a 100% committed. The great thing is that you don't have to be 100% committed all the time. Just 100% committed when you decide to step out in faith.

It could simply be responding to the need of a single mom, who found out she can't make her rent because her husband stopped paying on his child support and now she is really stressing out. When she tells you about it, I know in some cases we can just pay her rent, but in some cases we can. That's when I believe we should. If we can't, I believe we know people who can, or even if we simply got 100 people to contribute enough to help, we can all help!

This is my belief that as believers that there is nothing wrong when people tell you that you're having an issue, and are standard response is, "I'll pray for you!" Let's take it a step further and accompany that prayer with action!

James 2:14 - 17 amplified version

"What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works to [show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?

If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day, And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?

So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)."

While this is still in the process of being compiled with many prayers to move forward, and we have yet to work out the business side of creating a non-profit and logistics on this side, we would love to begin planning with those of you that are sincerely interested to show the world, what the power of His Love can do to change lives in more ways than ever before.

I am super excited to hear your ideas and comments!

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me remember, Lord, that faith without obedient actions to back it up is destitute of power, inoperative and dead. Help me work together with other believers to make this vision of Yours, a reality and show people everywhere the power of Your love! In Jesus Name, we pray! AMEN!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Test of Faith

We've all heard the say, "Our faith is being tested" or "It's only through tests, that we are strengthen in our faith!" but what does that really mean? How do we know when to take a step of faith or what to do while we are in the midst of the storms?

My husband and I are in the midst of our own personal storm. While it is not a raging tempests or maelstrom, it is one of the biggest of our lives. We are waiting to learn the outcome of our home loan modification since our loan was sold to another mortgage company. Our old mortgage company wouldn't work with us, and we are hopeful, change is a sign of great things to come. We should learn something within the next few weeks and I believe it will be a great thing. I am putting my faith that God will not forsake us and willing to put my Trust in Him and not in anything less.

So how do I manage through my day? What am I doing differently that I wasn't doing before? Well since we found ourselves being tossed about in our storm, we remember the story of Peter in the Bible. As long as Peter believed and was willing to keep His eyes on Jesus, during his own storm, he was fine. But what I realized is that the devil was probably whispering into his ear, that he isn't supposed to be able to do this, no one walks on water, look at the water, anything to get his mind, focus and eyes off of Jesus. Even for just a split second, when we do, we put our faith in the enemy. We fail, we fall, we sinks and we are immediately stricken with fear and panic. So there is a lesson in this. Don't take your eyes off of God no matter what the enemy or the world says. There only goal isn't to try and help us, help ourselves, it's to try and take our focus, our thoughts and our eyes off of God.

When we maintain that focus on a daily basis, we are strengthen!

Did you catch that?

Yup, it was daily! Not worrying about some deadline, sitting on someone's calendar somewhere. Not some notice we received in the mail, not a phone call with less than pleasing results, not even a well meaning but disheartening comment from a family member or friend. If you can answer yes to this questions today, then God has blessed you and you need to be thankful to Him through prayer today. It's what I call and have learned is planting today seeds.

Do you have enough food today?

Do you have clothing to wear today?

Do you have a roof over your head today?

Do you have enough money to cover your needs today?

If the answer is yes, thank God right now! He has blessed you and have promised to provide your daily needs. We aren't supposed to worry about tomorrow because the only guarantee we have is today. Known of us knows what will happen tomorrow, but today, if you're still here, then focus only on today and praise God for all the things going right today.

But what about tomorrow? What is something goes wrong tomorrow? What if I lose my job or house tomorrow? What if the diagnosis is bad tomorrow? What if something tragic happens tomorrow?

Matthew 6:34 provides the answer:  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Simply put, don't worry about it. But isn't that easier said then done? Yes, it is but I find if I remain focused on just today, my worries are less. When I hear the enemy trying to remind me about something else, I simply tell him to shut up. I boldly proclaim, that I believe that God is working in my life, on my behalf and that something good is coming! I keep saying it outloud, over and over until I believe it. Sometimes, in all honestly, I say it a lot. But it helps. 

I also remain focused on all the things that are going right in my day. So often we fail to miss all the things that are working and instead focus on those that aren't. This reminds me of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. One of the tasks Indiana Jones must accomplish to save his father's life and gain the Holy Grail is to forge across a deep crevasse but without any way to get there.  He reads that he must take a leap of faith to move forward and while it appears that he could fall to his death, he closes his eyes and takes a bold move. That's when an invisible bridge appears. 

God is like that in most ways. He is simply waiting for us to take that bold leap of faith in our daily walk with Him. It's keeping our focus, our thoughts and our eyes on Him and believing without a doubt that His perfect will, will be good enough for us. Now while we may not get what we ask for, are you willing to believe that whatever happens, you Trust God in it all. To bring about goodness for you? No matter what?

I wonder if we exhibited more faith like the ones we do on a daily basis without thinking how much our lives would change for the better. What if you simply trusted God to do what's best in your life, like you expect that when you put the key in your car it will start? Or that when you attempt to turn on your light switch the power will come on, or when you pay for something with your ATM or credit card, you won't be denied? Is your faith like that? 

I challenge you to stay within the boundaries of today and focus on what is going right. Pray and give God all the tomorrow seeds and lay them at His feet. Ask God what can you do today, to act according to His will in your life so you can plant seeds today for a harvest tomorrow. Then sit back and watch God work. He never fails and He's will is always perfect and it will always lead to what is best for you!

Dear Jesus, 

Too often I get ahead of myself in my attempts to handle my problems, when I should keep my focus, my thoughts and my eyes on you instead. I ask that Your will be done in my life today and not mine. Lord you know what is best for me, and no matter what happens, I know you have my best interests at heart. You remind us in your Word,  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-3. I believe that Lord. I believe that you are working in my life and even though I may not see it, you won't fail me. Help me stay in the boundaries of today because tomorrow isn't guaranteed. Reveal to me that seeds you want me to plant today that will lead to a bountiful harvest tomorrow. In Jesus Mighty Name, AMEN!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I got this in my email yesterday and completely forgot to share this with you. I think it's time for more miracles in our lives, and who knows who you might be able to help today! Enjoy!

Cost of a Miracle

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet.

She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even.. The total had to be exactly perfect.. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention, but he was too busy at this moment.

Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

'And what do you want?' the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice.. I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages,' he said without waiting for a reply to his question..

'Well, I want to talk to you about my brother,' Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. 'He's really, really sick....and I want to buy a miracle.'

'I beg your pardon?' said the pharmacist.

'His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?'

'We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you,' the pharmacist said, softening a little.

'Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.'

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, 'What kind of a miracle does your brother need?'

'I don't know, 'Tess replied with her eyes welling up I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money..'

'How much do you have?' asked the man from Chicago .

'One dollar and eleven cents,'Tess answered barely audible.

'And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.'

'Well, what a coincidence,' smiled the man. 'A dollar and eleven cents-the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.'

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said 'Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need.'

That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery.

The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well.

Mom and Dad were happily talking about he chain of events that had led them to
this place.

'That surgery,' her Mom whispered. 'was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?'

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost.....one dollar and eleven cents...plus the faith of a little child.

In our lives, we never know how many miracles we will need.. A miracle is not the suspension of natural law, but the operation of a higher law.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The American Bible Challenge - Giveaway and Review

"If you don't know your Bible, you don't have a prayer!"

This is guaranteed to be the next slogan to hit homes as the Game Show Network launches the premiere of The American Bible Challenge this Thursday, August 23rd at 8/7 central with the host, Jeff Foxworthy! Jeff Foxworthy, himself spends his Tuesdays and Thursday nights hosting a Bible Study in his hometown for the homeless!

I can see this show being utilized by churches and youth groups to bring fun back into the church through studying the Bible and who knows perhaps forming their own team challenges!

Three teams will battle to challenges of biblical proportions in both the Old and New Testaments while playing to bless others charity's or ministries such as cancer, building wells, supplying shoes, feeding the hungry, human trafficking and aids just to name a few.

They have researched with many pastors and churches to make sure they kept serious Bible learning with fun and humor while creating this exciting and new series!

It doesn't feel like Sunday school but a school of Rock, while still keeping it respectful but relevant with some amazing categories like:

Faithbook - like Facebook where you guess the character based on status updates!
Real Housewives of the O.T.
My Tweet Lord - who tweeted this?
Jesus Christ Super Star Wars - which answers are from the Bible and which are from Star Wars!
Greeting Cards - based on what the card says, figure out who this person, place or event is.

Final Revelation Rounds - the rapid fire round designed to challenge the teams in a series of answers. They are given a category such as Dreams, get time for a quick Bible Study and come back and try to win the round!

I can't wait for this to begin and there are some amazing ways to watch this. You can tune in on Thursday to the Game Show Networks on the 23rd of August, 8/7 central, or you can soon download the app to your device. You can even find out more amazing information on the GSNTV.com website, such as learning about the teams, their charities or play along. Make sure you check out all the details before Thursday. Don't forget to set your DVR's!

Now even more great news! Thanks to FlyByPromotions, they are offering one lucky follower of my blog the chance at a great giveaway for a American Bible Challenge T-shirt and a Zondervan Bible! Here's all you need to do:

1. Be a follower of my blog, Reviews From The Heart.

2. "Like" my Facebook page, Reviews From The Heart, or if you already "Liked" me, then leave a comment telling me how you are going to play this game!

3. Be a resident of the US or have a US shipping address. Please No P.O. Boxes.

4. Leave me a comment below telling me what your thoughts are on how you and your family or church are going to use, The American Bible challenge along with your email address. You can use the words (at) or (dot), but without it I can't contact you if you're the winner.

I will notify the winner on August 31st via email and post the results on Facebook.

You can find out more information by going to The American Bible Challenge website or on Facebook.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Defending the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Part 1

I am a firm believer if you are going to stand for something, you have to believe in it. Yet some things we may not physical see or be an actual witness to know that something is true. For example just because you haven't seen your great, great, great grandparents doesn't mean they don't exist or you weren't physically there when they were around, you know based on what you were told by your grand parents or parents who were, correct?

Some would argue that Jesus Christ doesn't exist because I mean who was around some 2000 years ago right? But don't we have solid, factual proof from people in a written document that can still be proven within 5 years that He did exist? What would you say to that?

I find it interesting as I grow more solid in my Christian beliefs that there are those who won't agree with what I believe, and that is up to them. What I would argue against in my defense is those that would say all I believe is a big fat lie. Jesus Christ wasn't God, there is No God, and that all that we have on the face of the earth and heavens was merely created by some cosmic speck or some big bang. For those reasons, I have to defend my beliefs.

For those of you that wonder what I believe, it's simple. I believe in God. I believe that He, alone created the heavens and the earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, and I believe He is the son of God, sent down from Heaven in the form of a human to die for the sins of ALL man-kind, past, present and future. I believe He was crucified, died and was raised from the dead after 3 days, and I believe He rose to heaven and is coming back again. I believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God and I believe that simply through faith alone in Jesus Christ and not through works, I will be saved from the physical death in this life and have an eternal life. I believe that it is only through Jesus Christ, based on what He stated in the Bible, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ~ John 14:6

With that being said, you have to be able to defend your beliefs and often times it's difficult because most the people who argue against you just slam the arguments that there is no other way to heaven except through Jesus, but He said not me. So you can take that up with him. In regards to the other matters, you have to take apart the doctrines of the Christian faith one by one to defend it.

If you don't believe in God, what do you believe?

If you don't believe the Bible is the word of God, what is it?

If you don't believe in Jesus, then who was he?

If you don't believe that He was crucified, died and rose from the dead, then why was he crucified?

Those are our basic core beliefs in the Christian faith and I know most people who run when they hear the "Christian label" do so, because they have been left with a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to knowing what being a Christian is.

No where in all of history has any other religion, been made fun of, mocked and have believers persecuted as much as the Christian or followers of Jesus Christ. I am not saying that other religious groups haven't been persecuted, but no where near the level of Christians. Just look at the current main stream audience and see what happens when you stand up for Christ now, and what He believed in, you are labeled a racist, a bigot, and worse. However when any other religion stands up for what they believe in, nothing. We chalk it up to whatever, it's what they believe in anyway.

Need more of an example, lets take a Christian's belief in marriage. We believe, it is between a man and woman alone. That is the way God created it, it was designed for procreation in the Garden when God created man and woman and called it good and it what we morally believe it's right. Just throw that statement on your Facebook page and watch what happens. Persecution will follow.

So why are there no protests from gay and lesbian groups in third world countries, who firmly stand by these same beliefs even though they are a different religious groups? Worse yet, if they did, all these people would be put to death. Why the outcasting of the Christian ones?

We have to start somewhere and with the Christians it's the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY one who isn't still in the grave. Buddha's grave still holds a body, so does Mohammed, so does Confucius, but Jesus's grave is empty. That alone is proof that everything he claimed while he was here was the truth. I mean if you don't believe that, who do you think Jesus was? A great man, a miracle worker, a prophet? Really???

Then can you tell me why the Roman Empire had him crucified?

Because He claimed to be the Son of God, that's why. It went against everything they believed at the time and people were believing in him. He proved it through his miracles of raising the dead, healing the sick, the blind and the diseased, and walking on water.

What? You don't believe in miracles?

Hmm then let me ask you what is a platypus?

By logic and premise it shouldn't exist, but we know it does. We've seen it. Yet let's look at what it is.

It's an egg layer, so it's a reptile right? Only reptiles lay eggs. Whew! Thought I had you right! Wrong.

It isn't a reptile because science claims that reptiles lay eggs and are cold blooded. So what is a platypus? It's an egg layer who is warm blooded. Therefore, according to science it doesn't exist but it does. Check Google. You can see pictures! Go to a zoo, more than likely, you'll see one for yourself.

But according to Science and logic, it can't exist. Miracle!!

Ah, but I am just getting warmed up, check back tomorrow to see more evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Feel free to comment too! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prayer List

I think it's imperative to lift our needs up in prayer and to pray for one another. Especially in these hard times so many are hurting and in need. I've started a prayer list on the top right hand side of my blog, so if you are in need of something specifically, I will add you to the list. I will also provide updates if I get any regarding the specific issues that we are lifting people up in prayer, (for example if you are praying for a job, and you get one, let me know and we can revise it to answered prayers.)

I think it's a great way to gather together under prayer and lift our needs up for God. We may not always get the answers we want, but we pray that God knows our needs best and will answer according to His needs for us, not our needs for our lives.

Please email me at Stevenkat27@verizon.net if you have specific requests or if you need to update an answered prayer. The more specific your needs the more we can pray for those things.

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

There Are No Mistakes in Life!

You make all things work together for my good! ~ Romans 8:28

I can still hear this song and scripture verse ringing through my soul. It's what I call a "soul song"! A song that lingers deep within as though you are hearing it as loud as it was when you were in the midst of hearing it live, but it resounds in your soul.

Sometimes we never know when our testimony will be called by God to share but that is what I felt led by God to share today. What I know for certain is no matter how painful it may be to bring up and share, the enemy will attempt to counter your thoughts and tell you it doesn't matter. Do it anyway, trust me, God will use it like He does everything that causes us pain.

Who would have thought that a simple conversation dealing with college classes would lead to the topic of forgiveness that led an incredible man of God to struggle with letting go of a burden that he's been holding onto for 19 years. While I can't tell you what the conversation was personally, all I know was that I could see the pain and hurt that holding on to feelings can bring. Even though he's walking according to God in his life, this was something he wasn't ready to let go of. We spent time together sharing stories from our past in how we got over emotions that can betray us to keep from forgiving people that have so deeply hurt us.

Like I shared with him, it's not about them, it's about us. It's about letting go of that burden you know you aren't meant to carry and who knows how God will use this part of your life to help others who are struggling like you are. God can take any burden and make it lighter.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest!" ~ Matthew 11:28.

God never meant for us to carry this weight of our pasts, especially as believers. He has so much goodness and mercy to lift this off our shoulders and let us move forward. It isn't about what they will do with our forgiveness, but what God will do with it. He wants us to live a life of freedom, a life that the enemy would keep us in bondage from having. He wants to give us every reason under the sun, not to do what God has called us for. But that isn't the answer He has for us.

God makes ALL things work together for OUR good! Even all the ugly pain, bitterness, anger, hurt and feelings of rejection. God wants to set us free.

I can only lift this man up in prayer today and ask that you join me to ask God to soften his heart, and allow him to seek the forgiveness he knows he needs. Now is the time. There are NO coincidences when it comes to God. He brought us both to that place today to share the pain of two decisions with very different results that hopefully will bring us both healing in different ways.

I know the decision won't be easy. It never is when we go against what the enemy wants for our life, but I know, deep down in my soul, that God has a great life in store for this man. Please continue to lift him up in prayer and remember when you feel the call of God on your life, make sure you answer it right then and there. You don't know how much time any of us have and if we think it can wait til tomorrow, we might just be fooling ourselves.

I can't wait to see what God will do with this!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 5 Back-to-School Deals for This Week (August 5-11, 2012)

I got permission to post this on my blog and with so many of us nearing back to school time, I hoped these ideas might save you some money in the long run. Feel free to share your ideas or money saving tips in the comment box below:


Kid's Jeans for $9 From Old Navy: Old Navy has all their Kid's Famous Jeans on sale for $10 through August 15, 2012. This sale is both in-store and online. If you are planning on purchasing multiple pairs, you can sign up for Old Navy emails to get a $10 off $50 coupon. Plus, shipping is free on orders over $50. So you could potentially get five pairs of jeans for just $9 shipped each. If you're shopping in-store, you can print a $10 off $50 coupon from the Old Navy Facebook Page.

Kid's Jeans for as Low as $8.50 from The Children's Place: The Children's Place has a number of different jeans priced at $10 right now. Use coupon code RETAILMENOT82 to get an additional 15% off your order, making the jeans just $8.50 per pair after this coupon code. Shipping is free on $75+ orders or a flat-rate of $5 on orders less than $75.

Free 6-month Subscription to Shop Runner: If you do a lot of online shopping, you'll want to check this offer out! Sign up for a free Cozi account and they'll give you a coupon for a free 6-month subscription to Shop Runner. Shop Runner gives you unlimited free shipping to many different online sites -- just in time for purchasing back-to-school clothes, shoes, and electronics!

Buy One, Get One 50% Off Plus Additional 15% Off at Famous Footwear: Famous Footwear is running a Buy One, Get One Half Off Sale right now. This is a great opportunity to stock up on quality shoes for your kids at low prices. Plus, use this coupon to get an additional 15% off your order total.

Free First Day of School Printable Signs: Like to take a photo of your children on their first day of school to commemorate the occasion? Download two different free designs of First Day of School Signs. In addition, you can find some other fun free Back-to-School printables here.

LitfuseCrystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, author of The Money Saving Mom®'s Budget. Visit her blog, MoneySavingMom.com, for the best back-to-school deals and for practical ideas and inspiration to get your life and finances in order.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Do you submit?

For the last four weekends, we've been going through a study at church on marriage and how there is such an attack on what the Bible defines marriage to be. I am a firm believer that marriage was created to be and always should be, only between a man and a woman. I am not a bigot, a racist or intolerant, I am simply a believer in God who stands by what God created. I don't think we need to redefine the definition and God's word doesn't need to be changed to make things acceptable for all.

I am not trying to take away anyone's rights nor am I trying to incite hate, but if I claim to be a believer in the Word of God, the Bible, than I accept it at face value. It doesn't need to be changed. But there are those in recent days who have called me a bigot, a racist and a hater of gays, but that is all wrong. I simply stand by my beliefs like they stand by theirs. It's when I try to state what I believe, that I get all kinds of hate mail, Facebook posts and instant messages. I smile, because like Christ, He came here for the lost, the sick and the needy. Those that opposed what He stood for, mocked, insulted, beat and murdered Him because He stood for what God said was wrong. How funny that as Christian, believers in Christ, that we find ourselves following in His footsteps and carrying the cross as well. I smile, because it means I am doing what makes God happy and not man!

But back to the message at hand, submission. Do you find yourselves willing to submit when called for? I mean submitting to the authority of our current President? Submitting to your harsh, and micro-managing employer, or even submitting to a non-believing spouse in your marriage or even a spouse that is believing but isn't doing the will of God?

I think like most it's the word submission that frightens us the most. For most, they take the word out of the context it is meant to be. We think it means, becoming a doormat, someone who allows others to walk all over us, for us to smile and turn the other cheek while being a victim. Yet you'd be surprised as just what the word in the context of the Bible means.

I've had so many people look at the marriage and relationship my husband and I have. They compliment us on how we get along so well and how they wish they had marriages like ours. Want to know a simple secret?

It's all found in the Bible! All the answers! How to deal with almost any circumstance and watch the power of God transform your marriage. But both of you have to be willing to submit. Are you willing to use the power as a wife, to submit? Because that's what it means, to willingly surrender or volunteer without words (nagging, complaining, eye rolling, name calling, you get the idea!) through out actions to admire, encourage, affirm, build up, and become the biggest cheerleaders through loving our husbands in allowing them to "LEAD" our marriages, our families and our homes! We are to LOVE our husbands like we LOVE the Lord!

We need to not put our hope or faith in our husbands, but in God. Our husbands are human and will from time to time, let us down. But if we can learn to Trust GOD and His promises, He will bless our marriages, our husbands and our families! It's that power of submission, the willingness to let go and let God work on changing our husbands and work on building our relationship with God that He will bless our marriages. We, now more than ever before, as Christians, need to show the world just why God's definition of marriage is better than the worlds! We need to show people through our actions, not our words, why God's promises work and how beautiful our marriages can be when we live for God. There is NOTHING impossible for God only for man!

For more resources on dealing with submission, see 1 Peter 2:11 - 1 Peter 4.

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3: 15b (NIV)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to the Man I Will Always Love!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to share with all of you that it's my husband Steven's 44th Birthday today. I've had the most wonderful 14 years of being married to him and calling him my husband, but 17 years of finding and discovering the best friend, I thought I'd never find.

I can honestly say I love him more today than ever before mostly because of the ups and downs life has handed us during the time we've known one another. How God has used the storms of life to draw us both nearer not only to Him for our faith and hope but also to one another, for comfort, strength and knowing that it's only made us closer to each other.

I wanted to thank him for supporting a ready made family with me and my daughter, Caitlyn who he willingly accepted both battered and emotionally spent from a difficult divorce. He restored my self esteem and created a role model for what a husband should look like not only Caitlyn, but for the daughter we would share together when we had Kailee. He continues to encourage us, support us and provide for us not only as a husband and father, but shares his struggles at his daily spiritual walk with God. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for us.

Wishing you, Steven, a very Happy and Blessed Birthday. May God provide an overflowing abundance of blessings headed your way not only as you celebrate your birthday, but in the days, weeks and years to come for your faithfulness at leading our family!

Here's a video dedicated to what you mean to all of us! Happy Birthday Babe!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

She's Turning 19 Today!

I can't believe it, even though the day is here. So many great memories of watching my first born grow into an incredible woman she is today. She is filled with such a compassionate heart, is kind to those in need and will literally give you anything you need. She made being a first time mom a pleasure and I thought I would share a video montage of her life today! Thanks to Matthew West for providing the music, This is Your Life!

Happy 19th Birthday Caitlyn! You're life is going to be beautiful and it's only just beginning!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Monumental: In Search of America's Treasure

I had the rare opportunity to capture on my DVR, Kirk Cameron's new documentary, Monumental: In Search of America's Treasure and let me assure you, I can bet this will NOT be seen on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel or even debated on any of the major networks because it goes against everything happening in our government today including how we arrived at the current economic crisis we find ourselves faces with today. It's also one that liberals and those in the government would prohibit from being shown but if you truly value the truth that this country was founded on, I would seriously encourage you to watch this for yourself, do some of the research on the things sited and answer the question yourself, is there an answer to get ourselves out of the mess this country is in right now? Is the government the answer? Or is the answer to our world-wide dilemma much simpler than we ever thought possible?

I challenge you to watch this documentary and decide for yourself. The documentary itself opens with Kirk Cameron asking the question I think every person in this country is asking themselves and especially us as Christians, is this world going to hell in a handbasket? Why aren't we doing anything about it? Some merely sit back with an attitude that if the world is going into chaos, isn't it good because it simply means Jesus is coming back sooner than we had anticipated? If that is the case and as Christians, we sit back and actively do nothing to stop it, isn't this then becoming a self-fulfilled prophecy? This is perhaps the best line in the film for me as a Christian to sit up and take notice. We have the power to change it, despite what our current government may want to tell us, that this is a nation, the United States, that was founded on Christian (Biblical-based) principles, it always has been and it's been changed along the way.

The documentary begins where the birth of America began with the Pilgrims coming to this country and what their true purpose was in coming here. Kirk takes a trip back to England and talks with an English historian to learn about what their religious beliefs were and what was happening in their country during this time. I caution you, this is NOT the stuff I was taught in school and found it so interesting. It is in fact, what my daughter is learning in her home school/charter school class however, and thus provides the foundation for the drive for the Puritans to leave England under the power the Catholic church was demanding as the government for the King at that time. (Funny isn't it, how church and state at that time, were working as one, however not as God designed, as man had a need for power and greed).

Kirk than heads for Holland because due to the beliefs of the Puritans, they were considered outlaws since they were going against the beliefs of the church at the time, not against the beliefs of the Bible and they were wanted men. We then learn after 12 years of learning about God's word in the only place that they could find religious freedom, they went back to England, hired out two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, but when the later ship cracked they had to go back. Only half of the citizens were able to set sail on the Mayflower and arrived 8 weeks later in America.

I won't get into more of the movie at this point so you can enjoy your own discovery but I did love knowing about the National Monument to the Forefather in Plymouth, referred to in the documentary as the Matrix of Liberty, built 130 years ago as a way for America never to forget how this nation began and the principles that would work to help our country get back on track should it ever begin to fall apart. You can learn more about this incredible monument here. This the blue print to restore America and one I never heard about until today and am astounded that I never learned this as part of our American History.

This is such an powerful movie that I would encourage every single person to watch this and see for themselves just where we fell short and why we are in the mess we are in today. Why violence in the schools is running out of control; why our constitution and laws from our forefathers are being questioned and redefined; why our education system is failing and why what our kids are being taught is out of our hands; why our country that was once blessed and prosperous is rapidly falling apart at the seams. Isn't this worth a look at to judge for yourselves?

My review of this documentary is based on my honest opinion and I received no compensation for my review from any one in regards to this documentary but it is one I think every single Christian American should be watching. We still have it in our power to change things. We don't have to sit back on our hands while the government does nothing but steer us in the wrong direction. God gave us a plan and it's time to rise together and begin with our families. To educate them, to raise up a generation that will pick up the pieces before it all falls apart and we should be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. I rate this film as a 10 out of 10 stars and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this documentary. I can only hope we learn from our history, and not repeat what happened in the Roman Empire for it we do, we already know what happened to that one.

For more information on Monumental: In Search of America's Treasure, Kirk Cameron or where to purchase this DVD today, please click on the links below:

You can also follow the movie page on Facebook and learn more interesting facts about this nations history by clicking here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I know at some point in all of our lives, we've all been afraid of the dark. In the dark, things aren't what they should be, things are hidden, and our minds play with our imaginations so much that suddenly life is breathed into fear. So where does this fear come from? Is it simply a lack of knowledge, an overactive imagination, or perhaps its an unveiling waiting to take place. Darkness isn't even real, it is simply the absence of light. No matter how much darkness prevails, all it takes is but a little light and it flees from it. Darkness can not put out the light. Just like evil can not outweigh goodness. There will also be a light in this world and that light is the love of God.

This is why on the day of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, that darkness was allowed to dwell for a time, the light for a moment in time, had gone out. Disbelief, sadness, despair, fear and grief was not present in the lives of those that lived with Christ. All hope was lost, despite Jesus' words that He would return on the third day. But during that time, darkness had a field day. Much like it still is ever since sin came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of fruit of the tree of knowledge. Notice they didn't get a chance in all their time in the Garden of Eden to sample any of the fruit from the Tree of Life? The stage had been set for a time of man's conscience choice. Man would chose wrong and the consequences would be felt by all even if we didn't commit the original sin. Life was forever changed.

Just like last night when a masked man, entered a darkened theater. He was covered and he entered the darkness. He didn't want to be seen and what he had planned to do was pure and utter evil, and thus the need for darkness to hide him. He took the lives of innocent people and wounded many others. For every single person in the theater that day and even afterward, darkness wanted to have it's time and push out the light and now their lives will never be the same again. Yet light can still push out that darkness. We can't let what one person did, outweigh the lasting effects of God's love. The enemy would love for us to dwell upon all the what ifs, what is that had been our family, why did that happen if God really cares, and why should this man be allowed to live despite the lives of some many that didn't have a choice?

It goes back to the darkness against light. The enemy would have us now, cower in our homes, afraid to send our family out anymore to prevent this type of thing from happening again. To begin to question every single person that is around us now. Life was renewed in fear again last night, but it doesn't have to stay that way. We serve a greater God than the enemy.

We serve a God whose light shines before men, but those who do not know Him can't seem to understand it. They run from it because it exposes them for what they want to hide. This is why our world is falling apart, because the darkness is threatening to overtake the light. We cast blame, look the other way when we should be shining the light of what God is doing in our lives. We need to immerse ourselves with those that are in need, the sick, the hungry, the lost and bring them into the light of God's eternal love.

How much do we have to hate someone for us to withhold the great news that eternal life awaits anyone who asks for it? Why do we only associate ourselves with other Christians, see only Christian movies, listen only to Christian music, and build up the walls around us, so we can keep the darkness out? God has called us for something more. He didn't come here to save us so we would keep the information a secret. He came so we might all who know Him, would tell every single person about Him. We, as Christians, need more than ever to take a stand, and let His light shine before ALL men, not just the ones we want to see enter heaven. More than ever, this world needs the love, mercy and grace of God. Each one of us that is saved now has a responsibility to share the Love of God with the lost and unbelievers. The light we are to shine is not our own, it is God.

This is the reason that the Jews missed their calling. They failed to understand their purpose in bringing the light into the darkness from the Old Testament. Let not this generation fall into a spiritual sleep like the generations of old. God came so we would know Him. It's time to rise up, and address our lost culture.

When was the last time you cried?

When was the last time you cried for the people who are lost that don't know Christ? Isn't it about time for us to soften our hearts towards the lost instead of ganging up on them in a Us versus Them mentality? Our testimony's hold the greatest power to change lives. It is the power of Christ living in us that has completely transformed us through the renewing of our minds, our thoughts, and our bodies and we need to share what God living in us has done for us. Just look at what William Booth, the founder/creator of the Salvation Army had to say on this:

"Not called!' did you say? 'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world."

Our greatest treasure in life is the gift of salvation and shouldn't everyone have an opportunity to share in it? Even David Wilkerson had this to say, "Today, some Christians are content to merely exist until they die. They don't want to risk anything, to believe God, to grow or mature. They refuse to believe his Word, and have become hardened in their unbelief. Now they're living just to die."

God can and will raise up misfits to use to get His word out. We need to stop feeling like what we have to say doesn't matter. We need to share every day what God's love and power is doing in us. We need to rise up and become bearers of the Light. Let us not, allow what has happened in the world around us, to make us bitter and angry. Let us instead rise up and put an end to the darkness that is trying to prevail in the word. All it takes is one speck of light in a enormous darkness to make a difference. I challenge you to be the difference today.

That is why the world around us is spiraling out of control, unbelievers are blind, they can't see what is happening right in front of them, but we can. This is why we can see the evil but there are those that can't. They remain in the darkness until we can help them "see" with the power of God's love what has been in front of them the whole time. No amount of reasoning can help someone see in the darkness if there is no light.

Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light (God's power) shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."