Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Radical Plan for 2011

Well, hello there, blog friends! Long time, no post. I know. That's life with a 19-month-old. I give myself credit for having my priorities in order, though!

I have 10 blog posts waiting to be typed out here. I thought about making a New Year's resolution to have at least one blog post every month. Alas, like most of my past New Year's resolutions, my plan would be doomed to failure after March! I actually gave up on making New Year's resolutions a few years ago. I prefer to make gradual, subtle changes (both at the beginning of a year and throughout the year) in order to achieve a goal that I establish at the beginning of a new year. For example, for the past couple of years, I've had the goal of becoming healthier. So, some of my subtle changes have been to switch from white rice to brown rice, from regular pasta to whole wheat pasta, etc.

For 2011, after prayer and tears (you'll see the reason for the tears below), I'm taking a more...Radical approach to planning out my year. I'm establishing more...Radical goals for myself. One of my favorite books that I read this year was Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. I cannot recommend this book enough!
As I read Radical, I was reminded over and over of John Piper's works. So, if you're a Piper fan, you'll probably love this book, too! Before reading this book, I had been blinded to the Truth of Jesus' command to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). When Jesus said to "go" and to "make disciples", He wasn't making a suggestion or giving us an option. He commanded us. Because I have Jesus, I owe a debt to the rest of the world. I am obligated to share Jesus with those who have never heard the Gospel, on both a foreign and a domestic basis. God has graciously blessed me with so much, and I do not want to squander what He has entrusted to me. What seems radical to man is normal (and can even be pleasing) to God.

After describing how he, his family, and his church body have made radical changes in their lives to spread the knowledge of Christ in the world, Platt ends his book with a challenge to the reader to conduct his/her own year-long radical experiment. He lists five action points: 1. pray for the entire world; 2. read through the entire Word; 3. sacrifice your money for a specific purpose; 4. spend your time in another context; 5. commit your life to a multiplying community. I have committed to conducting my own radical experiment in 2011 because I want more of Jesus in my life and because I want to repay the debt I owe to the rest of the world.

Platt recommends an organization called Operation World for assistance in praying for the entire world, and they send out daily prayer e-mails. Hey, if it's in my inbox, I'm going to read it/pray it. I'm just that e-mail conscious!

Unfortunately, I can't say that about the Word.
I am ashamed to admit that I have never read through the entire Bible. I've tried, but I never make it past Leviticus! I found a great reading plan that breaks up the Bible into a different category (e.g., Minor Prophets, Major Prophets, History, Gospels) for each day of the week, and I think that will help keep the momentum going. And I am excited to see what God works in and through my life as a result of having more of His Word in my spirit!

I don't do much for myself in the area of rewards. I am a frilly, frou-frou kind of a girl, but I don't get my hair done regularly, I don't have acrylic nails, I don't get pedicures. But, there is one treat I give myself. Coffee!!!! Ah, my drug of choice. So smooth, rich, energizing. Yes, I love my coffee, both brewed at home and chosen as a special coffee house treat. Some girls can say that they get up every morning because they just love Jesus that much and can't wait to start their days with Him. As I confessed to a close girlfriend just today, I'm not one of those girls. Don't get me wrong...I love my Jesus. But, coffee is the reason I get up every morning. My daughter is a big reason for why I get up, but I have to walk by the kitchen first because her room is on the opposite end of the house. Most mornings, the first thing I think is, "Dear Lord, if I can just get to my coffee maker in the kitchen." Platt challenged his readers to sacrifice their money for a specific purpose and pointed out that in order for it to be a true sacrifice, it would have to hurt. Um, yeah, the biggest pain in my life would be to give up coffee. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Mercy, Lord Jesus. Yes, I have cried. I have cried real tears over this commitment. I know there are dark days ahead as I detox from my smooth, rich, warm drug. The specific purpose for which I have chosen to sacrifice is the building of a water well in an impoverished community. I was stunned to read the statistics of deaths and diseases associated with contaminated water in other areas of the world. It warms my heart, so much more than a cup of freshly brewed coffee ever could, and tears run down my cheeks all over again, to know that mommas will be able to give their babies clean drinking water, in a very small part because I was willing to give up my coffee for a year. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. Day by day, I tell myself. Day by day. You can begin praying for my poor husband and daughter now. They will surely need it.

As far as spending my time in another context, I started teaching ESL at my church while I was still reading Radical. I will continue participating in that ministry in 2011. Jon and I were also recently asked to teach the K&1st Sunday school class at church two Sundays a month. I really feel like we're in over our heads, so we'll see how long we survive! If God wants me/us to go on another foreign missions trip in 2011, I/we will respond in obedience. But, I must say that local missions opportunities are a lot more feasible with a 19-month-old in my life! Not to mention easier on my heartstrings. Oh, how I love my little bundle of cuteness! She still smells just like a package of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. All buttery sweetness.

God has placed us in a warm, welcoming church. We have so many opportunities to serve and to impact the world for Jesus. It will be exciting to see what God has planned for Mansfield Bible Church in the coming year.

So, that's it. That's my radical plan for 2011. Long-winded, I know, but all my posts are long-winded! I hope you will pick up and read a copy of Radical and prayerfully consider how God would have you to respond. And when you read, sip a cup of coffee. And say a prayer for me. And for Jon and Claire.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Refreshment for a Momma's Soul

As a momma of a 14-month-old, there are many days when I could use some refreshment. Please know that I love my baby girl to pieces! Claire is my pride and joy, and I am grateful beyond words to God for entrusting her to us and for the privilege and blessing of being a SAHM. But, as much as I love her, and as grateful as I am, there are days when I wonder if I will be bald from pulling my hair out by the time Jon gets home from work! And after speaking with several women in my community about this issue, I know that I am not alone in needing refreshment from time to time (if not daily!).

During just such a trying day not too long ago, our gracious Father led me to read Isaiah 66:13, which says, " 'As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,' says the Lord." I have read this verse many times in the past, but it has taken on a deeper understanding now that I am a mother. Just a few days later, Claire was not feeling well, and I spent a lot of time just holding and rocking her. While I was rocking her, my thoughts went back to the above verse. I began meditating on how a mother comforts her child....tenderly, gently, lovingly, patiently, selflessly, unconditionally. There are times in a young (or in my case, young-ish) momma's life, and at every stage of motherhood for that matter, when we need God to comfort us tenderly and to soothe us. What a blessing to hear Jesus promise to comfort us tenderly just as we do our own children!

Isaiah 40:11 tells us that Jesus "gently leads those that have young." I love this verse! I tear up just thinking about it. I am greatly comforted to know that God does not expect me to be a perfect mom (despite the pressure that I put on myself) or to "get it right" every day of Claire's life. He knows that I cannot be an effective mother or the mother that Claire needs in my own power or ability (or sanity!). That is why He promised to gently lead me and all you other mommas out there. I like to think that God ordained for the adverb "gently" to be in this verse because He knew just how frazzled we can become in conducting our momma duties!

Here are two more of my favorite verses for being encouraged in motherhood:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jer. 31:3).
"The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).

Are you having a rough day/week/month/season of motherhood? Do you need Jesus to comfort you tenderly? Do you need Him to lead you gently? Do you need Him to quiet you with His love? Do you need to know that He delights in you and that He is with you? Meditate on these verses and listen for God to speak to you. He longs to be gracious to you, and He rises to show you compassion (Isaiah 30:18).

Products are available!

This is just a quick post to let you all know that a cup of joy products are available for purchase at Pirate Coffee Company in the heart of historic downtown Mansfield! Pirate Coffee Company is located at 116 N. Main Street. They have delicious coffee drinks (as well as coffee alternatives), and everyone is friendly and personable.

I have plans to have my products available at other retail locations, as well as getting my store website finished. But, for now, go to Pirate for a pick-me-up for your body and your soul!

One Last Word on Contentment (a.k.a., The Joy of Contentment Part 3)

Crazy as this may sound, I have been working on seven different blog posts, which might explain why I have not been able to get a single one typed out here. Ha, ha. But, in an effort to whittle down the list, here is one last quick word (in two points) on contentment.

1. In a recent edition of Parenting magazine (July 2010), a 4-year-old girl was asked whether her pet would rather be a person. The wise child responded, "He is used to being a guinea pig. You are supposed to like what you are and not want to be something else." How interesting that a 4-year-old girl can figure out something with which most adults continue to struggle. If only we could fully, gladly embrace what and how God has created us to be!

2. I recently received an e-mail from a popular retail store known for its eclectic, international merchandise. The subject line read, "Gimme, gimme, gimme! I need! I need!" Because I am always thinking of a new blog post idea (hence the seven posts mentioned above), I could not resist viewing the content of the e-mail, you know, to verify the authenticity of the subject line. (I would never think I actually needed something from this store. Ha, ha.) The content was just what I expected: the usual presentation of various pillows, scented candles, and decor items. What struck me about the subject line was the blatant marketing strategy. The company was directly feeding thoughts into the readers/customers minds. And don't you know that Satan works the same way? If he cannot tempt you with enticing presentations, planting the seeds of discontent, he will begin feeding you the thoughts outright, much like transplanting grown plants. The primary need for a plant to thrive following transplanting is good soil. Is your mind good soil for those thoughts of discontent? Or are you allowing your mind to be transformed by God's Word (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:26)?

So, that's it. Time to cross another topic of the list!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Joy of Contentment--Part 2

At long last, here is Part 2 for "The Joy of Contentment." One of the facets of God that I believe in the most is that He has a sense of humor. And because He is a sovereign God, His sense of humor is timely!

During my hiatus from the blog world, which has been over a month now, God has been dealing with me on a different aspect of contentment. And that, my dear friends, is the aspect of state of being. He hasn't dealt with me on this aspect anywhere near as frequently as He has the aspect of material things or my physical appearance (as discussed in Part 1). However, as I said above, He has a marvelously well-timed sense of humor. And though He hasn't dealt with me on being content in my current state as frequently as other aspects of contentment, the teaching sessions have not been less painful.

Even if I am not actively writing on this blog, I'm always musing over possible subjects, anecdotes, etc. with which to write a post. So, my mind is always set to "Play" if not "Fast Forward". Okay, it's usually set to "Fast Forward". I've never been known for being a patient person. One thing God has used motherhood to teach me is the practice of appreciating the beauty of a moment. I say "practice" because taking time to smell the proverbial roses is not an action that comes naturally to me. Sometimes God wants to make sure I don't forget how to appreciate those moments and how to be content, as Paul said, in whatever state I am (Phil. 4:11).

Just over a month ago, I experienced a very painful neck injury. It was a fairly minor injury, but it was debilitating nonetheless. As a result of this injury, I wasn't able to hold or to take care of my daughter for several days, and I also missed two races. It did not take me long to realize that this setup was a prime learning opportunity if I would allow it to be so. I had the choice to fight the situation, and in the process drastically slow down my recovery, or to relax and to submit to God, choosing to be content even in my albeit short-term debilitated state.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes, "
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:11-13 NIV, emphasis mine). Now granted, I have never faced the same caliber of trials as Paul had: multiple shipwrecks, floggings, abandonment, times of hunger and exposure, etc. But, the secret to which Paul refers to can be learned by anyone, regardless of degree of trials. Philippians 4:5b-7 says, "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." In these verses, Paul provides us with the prescription for contentment. Because our kind and gracious Lord is near, we do not need to be anxious, fretful or worried. Rather, we should be praying and supplicating (asking God for help) with praise and thanksgiving in every situation.

In addition to being impatient, I'm also a chronic worrier. And for me, discontentment and worry often go hand-in-hand. Discontentment is a strong state of mind. But glory be to the most high God that His peace is an even stronger state of mind! His peace is perfect, going beyond our measly human ability to comprehend. When I allow God's peace to settle my mind and spirit, being an umpire for my soul (Col. 3:15 AMP), I feel perfect contentment, regardless of present circumstances. I know that I can trust my loving, faithful Father to provide what is best for me and to work out every situation for my good (Rom. 8:28).

If you are in a state of discontentment today, I challenge you to let it all go in prayer, with thanksgiving. And as my beloved Grandpa says, may the peace of God be with you!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Musings

Happy Resurrection Sunday! I decided to take a departure from the current series on contentment in favor of some Easter musings. I big puffy heart love me some Dove chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps, but what I love even more is my Savior!

Last week, as I was reflecting on the wonder of Christ's sacrifice and everything that means for us who believe, I came across Colossians 2:13-15 which says, "
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Glory and hallelujah!

The portion of verse 14 that says "nailing [the written code] to the cross" brought to mind the verses in the Gospels dealing with Jesus' trial and crucifixion, specifically John 19:19-22. Within these verses, we are told that Pilate made a sign which said, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" in the three main languages of that day (Aramaic, Latin, and Greek). That sign, which bore His name, was nailed to Jesus' cross for everyone to read.

Here is what struck me about these two passages in Colossians and in John: The written code that accused us and demanded justice for our sins was nailed to the cross of Christ just as a sign bearing His name and His very body were nailed to that cross. Are you with me? It is not just that His body broken and His blood poured out provided for the forgiveness of our sins; it is also that His very name was nailed to that cross. There is power in His very name! "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).

On this glorious Easter day, I want to ask you one question: Have you confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, as your own personal Lord and Savior? I wonder about Pilate, who I believe was in a real heart-based quandary regarding whether Jesus really was Who He claimed to be. During His interrogation by Pilate, Jesus said to him, "I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37). Pilate replied in the next verse, "What is truth?" I wonder what Pilate saw in Jesus' eyes, as Jesus spoke truth to him, even telling Pilate from where Pilate's power came (John 19:11). While Scripture does not say how Pilate ultimately chose to believe, I think it is important to note the exchange in John 19:21-22, just after Pilate had the sign nailed to Jesus' cross. The chief priests wanted the sign to state that Jesus merely claimed to be the King of the Jews, to which Pilate replied, "'What I have written I have written'" (v. 22). We will have to wait until Christ returns for His Bride to find out what happened to Pilate.

You may be in Pilate's shoes today, wondering what is truth. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). His very name has the power to save. I encourage you, plead with you, that if you never have given your life to Jesus, to call on His name today. Do not wait another day, hour, or minute to commit yourself to Him. "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:9-10). I pray with all my heart that you will not spend another day searching in vain for truth. Jesus wants a relationship with you. He wants you to spend time with Him in daily, continuous communion, and not just for a couple hours Sunday mornings.

If you have any questions about salvation, please leave a comment, and we will search the Scriptures together for answers. I encourage you to find a good, Bible-based church to help you grow in your faith and in your knowledge of Scripture. And remember that Christ died and rose from the dead so that you can have a new life!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Joy of Contentment--Part 1

I tend to write out of the flow of whatever God is dealing with me at the time, and for the sake of being transparent and hopefully touching at least one life, I tend to write with candor.

In this case, the issue is contentment, and I will be honest about my tendency to be seduced into pitching my tent in The Land of Discontent.
For me, The Land of Discontent includes towns such as Greed, Envy, Not Trusting God, and Pride (which is also the capital of this deceptive land). The streets beside which I have pitched my tent include I Hate My Thighs, I Hate My Arms, I'm Tired of that Color, I Want a Bigger Car (sometimes this street sign is misread as I Need a Bigger Car), and one of my long-time favorites, I Wish I Were Like Her.

I confess that this is not the first time God has dealt with me regarding a lack of contentment in my life and my dwelling in this particular sin, but it is surely one of the most intense times.
The Apostle Paul gave me and you plenty to meditate on regarding contentment. And the Holy Spirit never wastes a Scripture or an opportunity to remind us of His Truth! I will be dividing this discussion into two parts for ease of chewing.

Prayerfully consider
1 Timothy 6:6-8, which says, "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." The middle portion is easy to comprehend and to accept. But, the first and last portions can be a bit harder to swallow.

I have been pondering the first portion: "Now godliness with contentment is great gain." In the preceding verses, Paul described certain men who regarded godliness as a means to gain. But, Paul points out the beauty of contentment coupled with godliness. Godliness is not about being "good" in God's eyes so that He can give us more of what we want or what we think we need or deserve; godliness is about being like God, imitating His character according to the grace He provides, and being content with what He, in His perfect sovereignty, sees fit to give us.

The last part of this passage,
"And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content," speaks to the importance of distinguishing true needs from deceitful wants. Granted, our world today is much, much different from the world in which Paul lived, and you may be successful in arguing that even our true needs are different these days due to various societal and familial demands. Electricity and technology have made huge differences. And yet, in some respects, our worlds are the same because human nature is the same. Recall with me that since the beginning of time as we know it, humans have been attracted to things they wanted, but not necessarily needed (Genesis 3).

Now, I have to be honest again and tell you that I often struggle with distinguishing my true needs from my deceitful wants. And not just mine, but my daughter's, as well. It is very easy for me to say to my husband (who, I must add, is a wonderfully responsible provider), "But, Jon, Claire needs a new dress for church." (Forget the fact that she already has five dresses that fit perfectly well and that make her look absolutely darling.) And if I am in a particularly challenging (uh, make that deceived) state of mind, I will add, "Don't you want your daughter to look pretty for Jesus at church?" Um, deceived much? Mercy, mercy, mercy. Praise God that He, in His infinite wisdom, gave me a husband who is much better at distinguishing our family's needs from our wants.

I think that is enough candor for now. Keep reading for Part 2!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Joy of Abiding

Most of us in the church have heard John 15:11 quoted many times. In this verse, Jesus tells His disciples, "These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full." We often focus on the later half of the verse (to have full joy or any joy is a good thing, after all), but we fail to consider what those "things" were to which Jesus referred.

In the preceding verses, Jesus explains that He is the true vine, God the Father is the vinedresser, and we (the body of Christ) are the branches. Throughout verses 1-10, He stresses the vital importance of our abiding in Him, of allowing His words to abide in us, and of our abiding in His love. The consequences of our failing to abide are severe: a lack of fruit and a kind of spiritual death. However, the consequences of our obedient abiding are wonderful: Jesus' joy and joy to the full. (Note that Jesus did not say enough joy to get us by; He said a full joy!)

Here are some definitions of "abide," courtesy of "
1. to remain; continue; stay 2. to have one's abode; dwell; reside 3. to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.; last." Take a moment and chew on that definition as relates to our abiding in Christ. We are to remain in Him, to make our dwelling with Him, to continue in a relationship with Him. We would not expect a relationship with a friend to continue on a good level if we rarely communicated. Should we expect it to be any different in our relationship with Christ?

When we fail to abide in Christ, we dry out and whither up, and consequently bear poor fruit, if any at all, and we lack joy. Here is an example: When I get caught up with taking care of my sweet baby girl and my wonderful husband, keeping the house clean, cooking meals, running, and all the other tasks in my day, I can forget God. I don't mean that I forget to have my quiet time. I mean that I forget God. (Just keeping it real.) I forget that He's there inside me, around me. I forget the vital importance of abiding in Him and communing with Him. And when I fail to commune with God, my attitude reflects it. My life begins exhibiting very poor fruit...being short-tempered, frazzled, impatient, unkind, unloving. And I get sad and even depressed. On the other hand, when I remember to speak to God as freely as inhaling and exhaling, then abiding in Him reminds me of His awesome love and mercy. And because I am reminding of His love and mercy toward me, a wretched sinner, I am better able to fulfill Jesus' commands to love others and to show them mercy. And what joy there is in that!

So, ask yourself these questions: Am I abiding in Christ and in His love? Am I bearing good fruit for the sake of Christ and for the glory of God? Am I experiencing Jesus' joy to the full? I pray today that you will know the joy of abiding in Christ, of allowing His words to abide in you, and of abiding in His love.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Choosing Joy?

In an earlier post, I compared our hearts to teacups. If we so choose, our hearts can be receptacles for the Lord's joy. The key word here is "choose." When James admonished his brothers and sisters in Christ to "consider it pure joy" when they faced trials (1:2), he pointed out that it would require deliberate, purposeful action on their part.

In his book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, Francis Chan writes the following:

"We tend to think of joy as something that ebbs and flows depending on life's circumstances. But we don't just lose joy, as though one day we have it and the next it's gone, oh darn. Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for. Like the ability to run for an hour, it doesn't come automatically. It needs cultivation.

When life gets painful or won't go as we hoped, it's okay if a little of our joy seeps away. The Bible teaches that true joy is formed in the midst of the difficult seasons of life.

A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God (James 1:2-4)."

There are countless numbers of people on our planet who are facing major trials right now. But, they are not countless to God. He sees each one of them. And He sees you. There are many people who are facing the ongoing effects of natural disasters: death, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, sickness and disease, just to name a few. In comparison, my trials are minor. Perhaps you can say that your trials are minor in comparison, as well. And maybe you cannot say that. But regardless, Jesus wants to be your joy. He wants you to find strength in His joy (Neh. 8:10). He wants to be your everything, your heart's desire.

Choose Jesus today. Choose His joy. And find your strength.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Running for the Joy of the Lord

I've always been intrigued by the Apostle Paul's comparing the Christian walk to an athlete preparing for and running a race. I've been running for several years, but now that I'm finally serious about it, I think I have a good grasp on what Paul was talking about.

Running requires discipline, sacrifice, purpose, focus, perseverance, and determination. And the Christian walk is much the same. But, I'll save all that for another post. Something else is on my mind this morning, and I think I'll run with it instead. Ha, ha.

Every runner has bad days. We don't have as much energy or stamina as we usually do, we become injured, or we finish a race later than we had wanted to finish. I had just such a day two Saturdays ago. I was running with my training group and was struggling to keep pace. I kept falling further and further behind. I battled my negative thoughts the entire time: "Just give up. You're not good enough to run with them. You'll never be fast enough to keep up with their pace." And it didn't stop there. I struggled through every run for the next week. I allowed my poor performance on Saturday to hang over me like a rain cloud for the next six days. By the time the next Saturday came, I didn't want to go meet my training group. I knew I would fail again. I wouldn't be able to keep up with their pace. But, despite my thoughts of quitting, running wouldn't let go of me (as has happened many times in the past). I decided I owed it to myself, and to my precious husband who had paid for my training program, to follow through on my commitment to the program. So, I went. I ended up having one of the best runs of my entire life! It was hard, but is was worth it. I ran at the front of my group, becoming one of the pacesetters for the day. That sense of accomplishment and victory has stayed with me throughout this week. My runs have still been hard, but it's been easier to silence the negative voices in my mind.

We've all had bad days spiritually speaking. And some of those days turn into seasons. We lose our temper toward our spouse or kids (or both!), we slack off at work, or we don't feel like going to church or reading our Bibles or praying. We start to believe our negative thoughts: "You're a poor example of Christ. You're not good enough as a witness. You'll never get this Christian walk right." Over time, our believing those negative thoughts can lead us to give up or at least want to give up. But, here's the thrilling part: God won't let go of us! When we are faithless, he is still faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). Do the elements of God's character mean that we won't have bad days? Of course not. But because of His unending faithfulness and everlasting love, we can keep running the race. And we can run with the intent to win! We can experience victory on a daily basis!

Wherever you are with Christ today, whether on a mountain top or in a valley, I want to encourage you to run and to run well. A day will come when all our races will be over. I want to finish strong. I want Jesus to say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matt. 25:21). Now, that's a joy worth the running! And what a finisher's medal we will have to present to our Lord (2 Tim. 4:8)!

Friday, January 29, 2010

God's Timing Is Always Perfect

This blog is part of a business 5 years in the making...and dreaming and planning. But, God's timing is always perfect! Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." In other words, the right word given at just the right time is a thing of beauty. And so, I am humbled and honored to share with you the business God gave me, which we named a cup of joy.

The mission of a cup of joy is to provide Christian inspirational products and devotionals that encourage and bring joy to women of all ages. Right now, a cup of joy includes this blog, a website ( is currently being developed, so stay tuned!), and various paper products featuring my poetry. All of my poems are based on Scripture and are covered in prayer.

My hope and prayer for this blog is the same as it is for my business: that you will be encouraged and reminded that God wants you to live this life full of His joy!
When we face trials of various kinds, it can be difficult to "consider it joy" (James 1:2). But, we can ask the Holy Spirit to be as a tea pot in filling the tea cups of our hearts to overflowing (John 15:11; Psalm 23:5) with the joy of the Lord, which is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

May God use this blog to glorify Him, to encourage you, and to fill your heart and life with His limitless joy!