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Good Things Are Happening

“I’ve got news and I know how you like news.” – Mr. Knightley, to Emma.

Good things are happening in and Out Of My Mind!  It gives me great pleasure to tickle your fancy with a taste of what is coming up on my website and blog.  Let me explain:

I am at my best teaching and training others for spiritual maturity, biblical leadership, and ministry. It brings me sublime joy to witness women taking hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of them. My goal for the next year, therefore, is to expand this area of influence by developing an online ministry emphasizing teaching and training the emerging Christian women’s leader.

As the Women’s Ministry Director at my local church, I serve under the headship of our pastor and elders, enjoying their support and accountability.  It is my responsibility to provide the means for women to spiritually thrive and equip them to minister to others. In addition to exemplifying Christ in my own life, I seek to evangelize, educate, equip, and encourage women as they mature in their faith and practice. And now I’d like offer this website as a valuable resource to those women God is calling to become biblically founded servant-leaders.

While remaining flexible to God’s leading – after all, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21) – my goal is to slowly transform my website into a practical resource for women seeking to grow spiritually and women in ministry who desire to develop their leadership skills.  Look forward to participating in:

  1. Bible Studies!
  2. Bible Study Skills Lessons
  3. Biblical Leadership Studies
  4. Ministry Skills Development
  5. Leadership Development
  6. Ministry Development
  7. Webinars, eBooks, printouts, videos, etc.
  8. And much more

I am very excited about being a part of what God will do through this wonderful ministry.  Oh, that many would come and be edified, built up, and unified in the essentials as God matures the beautiful body of Christ.  I hereby commit to the LORD whatever I do, that He will establish my plans (Proverbs 16:3).  Amen!

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Quiet Times In God’s Presence

Jeremiah 29:11-14a:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and will bring you back from captivity.

God clearly calls us to His presence and assures us that if we seek Him wholeheartedly we will find Him.  In His presence, we find security, our needs met, our future assured, and we are freed to hope.  In His presence bonds are broken and we are brought back from captivity.  In His presence we, with tired spirits and burdened souls, come home.

Like the hymn says,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”*

What prevents you from purposefully spending time in the Lord’s presence?**  Busyness?  Debt?  Conflict?  Not enough hours in the day?  Something else?

Excuses.

What keeps us from coming into God’s presence is not a lack of time – we all have the same 24 hours in each day.  It is not long working hours, crying children, or a myriad of errands to be run.  No, the problem is not external circumstances.  The problem is even greater than our mixed up priorities.  We have met the enemy and he is us.***  The problems lies within the coldness of our hearts toward God.  It is not the habit of the sin nature to seek God.  It turns away from God, supposing it has better things to do.  But God says,

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:16-18).

In other words, we who are in Christ are no longer held captive by our old selves, but are free to obey the Spirit of God who indwells us. The Holy Spirit transforms us from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.  We respond in faith, lifting the pitcher of cool, clear water to our parched lips and opening our throats to receive its pouring.  God says,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

God calls us, draws us, and enables us in Christ to find Him.  Living in His presence, habitually spending time with our heavenly Father, is less a choice than a matter of faith and obedience.  And God says we will find Him, we will enter His presence, and we will find rest for our souls when we seek Him with ALL of our heart.


* Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, Helen H. Lemmel, 1922: Public Domain

**The Practice Of The Presence Of God, Brother Lawrence, 17th C.

***By Pogo, a comic character created by Walt Kelly, 1970.

 

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God’s Girls Warrior Princess Party!

Princess Di

I don’t know about you, but I love parties – food, fun, & fellowship – I’m all about it.  The crazier the theme, the greater the fun!  Because I like to celebrate so much, I don’t wait for a reason to party to fall into my proverbial lap.  Instead, I put my genius to the test and create one.

That’s actually the easiest part.  Most of us can think of at least one reason to party:  Somebody is getting married.  Having a baby or a 50th Wedding Anniversary.  There are many, many reasons to whoop it up.  Some of you are well-versed in these.  First-times are great reasons to party-hearty. First birthday, first tooth, first haircut. Then there are traditional celebrations such as birthdays, dedications, graduations, and coming of age.  But surely there are more good reasons to celebrate.  And a seemingly infinite way to celebrate each one.

I’ve celebrated some crazy things in my life, like the twinkling of sunlight on the morning dew or a new haircut.  I’ve celebrated not getting my hair cut.  Ma and I make merry on grocery shopping day.  I’ve even celebrated when my kitty peed on the waterproof pad instead of the chair.

Sometimes I celebrate clearing off my desk or cleaning the house.  I always celebrate a new purse, clothes that fit, and a day away from home.  No matter what I’m celebrating, hands down, the best celebration is with family and friends.  Food, fun, and fellowship.

More than anything else, we have the greatest reason of all to party:  Jesus.  Remember that song?  “Celebrate Jesus! Celebrate!  He is risen.  He is risen.  And He lives forevermore.”

So here’s a reason to party:  The first day of a new Bible study.  Oh yeah!  What a great tradition of celebration!  Next week we are going to party, party, party.  We shall be studying the book of Ephesians in the New Testament.  God has so much to reveal to us!  It is going to be a great study.

And what’s a party without a playful theme?  We’re having a God’s Girls Warrior Princess Party.  Oh yeah.  You read it right.  I’m making the coolest Jesus princess hats (or should I say, helmets), swords, and shields.  Not too sure where to find a couple of mighty steeds (my budget is zero), but I do have several old broomsticks and a bit of yarn.  Then again, folks might think we’re playing witches and that won’t do.  Any ideas?

Groucho Mama

Swords and shields.  Hmmm.  Better buy some aluminum foil.  Need cardboard too.  No palm tree this time around.  Perhaps a jungle vine.

I’m torn between wearing a ball gown (with my waistline, that’s probably a very bad idea) or dressing in some kind of an all-black panther-like outfit. Maybe with a colorful toga over it. What does a princess wear under her warrior gear?  What do you think?

No, I do not make everybody else dress up!  Fortunately, I recognize that it is possible to party without all the accoutrements.  Dignity aside, dressing the part is like a visual portrait of the Bible message.  And it’s just plain fun.  After all, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).  Okay, that was slightly out of context.  How about this:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4, 5).  How’s that for a reason to celebrate?

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Adventures in Christ

 

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My Favorite Forms of Creative Expression

Jewels For Brains, Altered Doll Head

 

My creativity is expressed in several ways. As an artist, there is nothing so fun as combining acrylic paint and ephemera to create dreamy collage art on canvas, gesso board, cigar boxes, and in art journals. I love paint. If it weren’t toxic, I’d smear it all over me and roll around in it on the floor. Sometimes it looks as though I did that very thing because I’m kind of messy when I’m making art.

I also like to alter things.  At left is an example.  It’s one of a series of altered doll heads in which I explored the theme of “stuff for brains”.  Professor Higgins would be disappointed to find that none of them were full of feathers, hay, or rags.

Words are another favorite creative medium. I’m very careful to get my 10,000 words out every day. Get me in a group with my favorite people and it’s hard to shut me up. But I really love writing. I’m not terribly prolific because writing is slow work for me. It must be accompanied by buckets of really good coffee, a comfy recliner, and all the paraphernalia usually required such as a MobiCam so I can keep an eye on my Alzheimama while I work, glasses so I can peer across the room, laptop, pens, pencils, paper, dictionary, Bible, etcetera, etcetera.

I’ve been known to write a bit of bad poetry now and then and am rather fond of making lists. In fact, I take great pleasure in checking things off, crumpling up the list and then making a new one altogether.

Know where else I express creativity? Visual vignettes. I love designing little vignettes for special gatherings like our annual Hallelujah Party – surf’s up! I have bunches of small, found objects and inexpensive vintage items gathered together in little groups at home. You know, doll heads and rusty keys, figurines and miniature rib cages, etcetera.

I’m pretty creative with our budget, too, although my follow-through is somewhat lacking. It’s been said that once in a while I can actually get blood from a turnip. Lastly, I think I’m pretty creative at hiding that extra 10 pounds. After all, whenever I ask someone if I look like I’ve gained weight, they always say no.

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Posted by on January 24, 2011 in Adventures in Christ

 

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Me On The Move

In Far Away Lands

Sometimes I think I hear God calling me to a future ministry on the move.

Traveling to distant places; suitcase, camera, and laptop in hand.

Utter reliance on God for everything right down to a place to lay my head.

Speaking.  Teaching.  Training.  Photographing. Journaling.  Telling Stories.  Giving shots.

Whatever.  I dunno.

I’ve been picturing a wild, beautiful adventure in Christ as I go where He sends me.

It’s begun already, even now as I sit in the warm and secure place I call home, caring for my Alzheimama, our kitties, and the birds of our back yard.

Where life is slow, but steady.

It is present now as I worship God and lay down what I want for what He wills.

Perfection for compassion.

Independence for freedom.

Entertainment for contentment.

It is in full swing, even now as I put on my adventure wear (Ephesians 6:10-18) and gather my adventure gear (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Stepping out in faith.  Just as I am.  In Christ.

Even in my recliner, I’m already on the move.

 
 

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Out With Old, In With The New Year Goals

Just before the close of each year, I like to spend a little time reviewing it according to the vision, goals, and objectives set the previous January.  This year, I’m happy to report that I met most of my goals.  There are several reasons for my success.  First of all, I tossed out the whole idea of new year resolutions a long time ago.  Surely I understand by now that there is nothing worthwhile I can accomplish in my own power, no matter how sincerely I may resolve to do so, yet, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).  God empowers us to do His will, therefore the place at which to begin is with God himself.  With that in mind, I changed my entire approach:

  1. I spent time with God in prayer and petition, seeking His will;
  2. I formed goals based on the principles of His Word, not on a self-centered wish-list or worldly idea of perfection;
  3. I refrained from merely creating a depressing list of my faults, and
  4. I focused on goals and measurable objectives that were challenging, but not impossible.

The question to ask before committing your goals to paper is not, “What do I want?”, but, “What do You want?”  I found that by putting God first, the goals He set were not burdensome.  “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29:30, NIV).  This can also be summarized by Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

Unsure how to recognize God’s voice?  Make your goal this coming year to know Him better.  The more intimately acquainted you are with God, the better you will discern between His voice and your own or that of the enemy.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:4).

Keep in mind that the spiritual maturing process won’t be over any time soon: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).  Develop goals that you are actually able to meet in a single year.  Instead of saying you’ll lose 50 pounds and never eat cake again, why don’t you start with something a bit more realistic, like asking God to use this year to help you understand what is behind your overeating and under-exercising.

Finally, focus on the growth God wants to bring about.  Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” This is because you are asking according to His will, not your own.  More than that, it is because in offering yourself fully to God as a living sacrifice your mind is renewed.  You – and your will – are transformed (Romans 12:1-2) into the image of Christ.  Remain watchful, therefore, for your answer will come … in God’s timing, according to His ways.  After all, whom do you really desire to be the lord of your life – yourself or God?

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:19-21).

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Adventures in Christ

 

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Speaking The Truth In Love

 

Bird of Paradise

Loving my neighbor is not the thing at which I excel. Case in point: I’ve found myself responding in kind to some recent online bickering over the true meaning of Christmas.  Silly, isn’t it?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: We who are Christians are being idiotic when we expect non-Christians to think and act like Christians.  Selah.

Jesus put another way, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”   Matthew 15:14.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our neighbor is to speak the truth in love.  But read carefully here: the key element of that conversation is love.  Are you speaking to stir up a response of faith or are you just trying to stir up trouble?  I’d like to say that my responses were strictly meant to be helpful, but the truth is that I really wanted to slap them upside the head for being purposefully dense about Christ.  It irritated me and I responded in kind.  At the heart of my response was not love for Christ, but love for me.

I’m not sorry I spoke the truth – I’m glad I did – but I wish my heart had been right because then I might have used words that drew them toward Christ instead of pushing them further away.  Remember, it is Christ’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance that draws us to Him, not condemnation.

God is just as concerned with our hearts as our doings.  Let me ask you this:  What is in your heart when you are speaking the truth to a non-Christian?  Is it love or is it condemnation?  Is what you say designed to draw them to Christ or is it merely a posture of defense against those who do not believe?

I’m going to continue to speak the truth, but by love, because I want to be a fragrant flower that draws people to our glorious Savior.  How about you?

Lord Jesus, help us to speak words that bring people closer to You.  Check our motives, Lord, and teach us to differentiate between our own selfish desires and love of Christ. Let us truly be about your business.  Give us courage to speak the truth in love to those who do not yet know you, that they might be led out of the darkness and into your marvelous light.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

 
 

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