MOUNTAIN TOP LIVING

I am a mountaintop girl! I’ve shared that with you before! I love to be on the mountaintop! 

I love to be on the mountaintop both physically, I’m a mountain gal, and emotionally! . Besides reading the word of God, skiing down a snow covered mountain is my favorite place to be. I see God there, I feel God there and I worship God there!

I also love being on the emotional mountain top! I mean seriously, who doesn’t? You know what I’m talking about right? It’s that “fireworks in the sky,” shrill in your voice, happy beyond measure experience, that send you straight to the top of the mountain! you stand there, tall and straight, looking down at all of your problems. They seem so small and inconsequential now. After all, you’re on a mountain top high!

Your spirit is soaring, and you are elated! You have an excitement over some thing that just happened or over some wonderful experience that you’ve just been a part of! You are truly feeling like you are on top of the world! YOU ARE ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP and life is grand!

Then it happens…you have a feeling inside of you that is so hard to describe.

It’s a nebulous feeling that you can not quite put your finger on. Your excitement has become hazy, vague, indistinct, You have some how walked in to a cloudy fog.

You may know why this down cast feeling has taken you over or you may not even have a clue. However, there is one thing that is crystal clear…You are not on the mountaintop anymore!

If and when you find yourself here, you are not alone! One of the most famous songwriters, in all of the Bible, David, finds himself here often.

Why so downcast Oh my soul?” He writes crying out for an answer.

David felt this as a shepherd and he also felt this as a king. David did not eliminate his moments of nebulous(that cloudy, foggy feeling that you can’t explain), because he got a new job, moved to a different town or even joined a new Bible study. Whether David was sitting on the side of a mountain tending sheep, or sitting on a throne ruling the country, he went from mountain top experiences to soul wrenching nebulous experiences just like we do! 

I am so thankful that during his mountaintop experiences and during his down cast, nebulous experiences, David showed us how to cry out to God for both!

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Psalm 42:1-6b

Friends, the truth is we would all rather live on the mountaintop! It is the place where God encourages us, builds us up, and strengthens our soul! But, the reality is, we will all come down from the mountaintop. We will feel times when our spirit is down cast and in a fog. And in those times, God will take care of us, and perfect us, and make us who He wants us to be!

TRUTH BOMB

GOD MEETS US ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP BUT DOES HIS WORK IN US AND THROUGH US IN THE VALLEY BELOW!

When we reach out to God like David did in his down cast nebulous times, we can sing out to God like David did after he puts us back up on the mountain top!

Psalm 40:9-11 says,

“I have told you the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation. behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know O Lord; I have not hidden your deliverance in my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation! as for you O Lord; you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness Will ever preserve me.

So whether you find yourself on the mountain top or in the valley below, SING OUT TO GOD! He knows how you are feeling.

PRAISE HIM ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP AND CRY OUT TO HIM IN THE VALLEY! 

After all, He does His best work when He turns our downcast souls upward!

Speak Truth Love

IN JESUS WE HAVE JOY

When you hear the word JOY, does it make you jump for it?  You know the saying….”jump for JOY!” Maybe you hear the word JOY and you roll your eyes. You are convinced that people who have JOY are simply out of control people who walk around with their heads in the clouds. Or maybe at the sound of the word, you cringe? You think to yourself…”Joy is something some people have, but not me! 

FRIEND, I have good news for you!  

JOY is for everyone!

JOY is defined in the dictionary as:

“An emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure or elation.”

And;

“A state of happiness or felicity.”

First of all, these definitions tell us that JOY is an emotion. Like it or not friends, we all have emotions! Some of us display them fervently on the outside of our beings clearly for everyone to see. While some of us hold them close to ourselves on the inside of our beings, revealing them only when we chose to and whom we chose to show them to.

Regardless, we all have them!

Secondly, these definitions describe that JOY is displayed in delight or happiness. You can have a demure response and coyly demonstrate your JOY. Or you can have an exuberant response and no one within a five mile radius would miss your JOY!

Finally, these definitions make clear that the emotions and displays of JOY have a cause.

You know, that old “cause and effect” rule we all learned about in school.  Something exceptionally good or satisfying happens to us, hence the cause, and we have an emotion of great delight or happiness, equalling the effect!

The cause and effect together create JOY!

Our “CAUSE” for JOY is JESUS!

By this we know love, that HE laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”   I John 3:16

This CAUSE should create the EFFECT of JOY in our lives!

Because of what JESUS did for us on the cross, we have eternal life with Him forever!

If this “cause” does not bring on the “effect” of JOY in your life, you may need to check your pulse. Are you alive?

Jesus died for us so that we could live forever with Him!

That is pure JOY my friends, any way you slice it!

So, if JOY is for everyone, how come it is so hard to find at times? 

The answer to this came to me from the lips of a young child!

TRUTH BOMB

IF YOU HAVE JESUS YOU HAVE JOY!

As I was snuggling one night in bed with my oldest granddaughter, we were having our “girl chat time,” as she calls it! We had finished our prayers and were “chatting” about the most important things in life…her birthday party guest list, her detailed plans about her party, (she gets this trait from her mother),her present wish list, (are you catching on that she is a list maker?),and she turns to me, looks at me face to face and says, “MAMMA, I am so full of JOY!” Then she said, “Wait a minute, JOY is putting JESUS First, then others, then yourself! I need to step back from asking for so much stuff!”

I cannot make this up people! She really is ‘one of a kind,’ with a very bright mind and a beautiful heart, but she had just hit the nail on the head with that statement.

I asked her where she learned that and she said her teacher!  Kudos to teachers! There are NEVER enough good ones!

J

Y

“JOY is putting JESUS FIRST, then OTHERS, then YOURSELF!”

J ESUS FIRST

O THERS NEXT

Y OURSELF 

When JOY evades us maybe it is because we are not practicing this formula?  

Afterall, JESUS set it into motion with His CAUSE and EFFECT toward us!

Remember I John 3:16

“By this we know…We do not have to doubt or wander if JOY is for us, WE KNOW!

                                     JESUS FIRST IN OUR LIVES GIVES US JOY!

“that He laid down His life for us…”  The CAUSE for our JOY, the sacrifice of JESUS for 

                                                               us!”

“and we ought to lay down our lives for each other.”  For us to have JOY in our lives 

                                                                                           OTHERS come next!

And the magic to the formula is…When we do this, we have JOY ourselves!

Praying you have a JOY this week as you put

J esus first

O thers next, and then

Y ourself 

Speak Truth Love

RENEWED LIFE THROUGH THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

THIS IS THE MIRACLE OF EASTER, BEING RENEWED DAILY IN CHRIST!

This picture of reNEWal in nature gives proof of God’s reNEWing power! A tree appears lifeless as all it has to offer are a few long stems, frail and barren, protruding from the ground. As it survives winter with no appearance of life, suddenly those few scraggly, scrawny sticks are reNEWed as blossoms pop forth with NEW LIFE! 

This is what I love about Easter! 

The MIRACLE that we are reNEWed daily!

That “old” is reNEWed and made vibrant again through the reNEWing power of Jesus Christ!

I need that touch as my branches feel sparse and scorched. I need that touch as I feel depleted and tired. I need to know that God promises reNEWal of all things as life ruthlessly takes it’s toll!

Easter promises all this and more!

Not only will my earthly state be reNEWed through the touch of Jesus on my life, but greater, Oh so much greater than that, I WILL BE MADE NEW IN ETERNITY WITH HIM FOREVER BY THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION!

Don’t take it from me, listen to His words of true reNEWal…THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST!

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, The man said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.”  Luke 24:1-9

No greater or more powerful words have ever been spoken! 

They are TRUE my friend! 

Jesus Christ has risen from the grave! Because of His once and for ALL sacrifice, we now can be reNEWed daily and forever into eternity!

TRUTH BOMB

THE MIRACLE OF EASTER IS RENEWED IN US DAILY AS CHRIST MAKES US NEW!

My prayer this Easter, is that I remember that I am forever reNEWed by His RESURRECTION POWER, and that I thank Him by living a reNEWed life every day!

HAPPY EASTER FRIENDS!

Speak Truth Love

Can Joy survive discouragement , trials, disappointment , troubles, and even darkness?

The answer is…If our JOY is founded in Jesus Christ, then it can not only SURVIVE anything and everything we go through, it can FLOURISH!

Admittedly, I am a Mountain Top Gal! A “cup half full,” is my favorite beverage! 

I lean into positivity like it is a hot fudge sundae or a delicious cupcake! My husband can be quoted as saying, “My wife is so optimistic that she is not always realistic.”

Problem is, I am not being “unrealistic” for me! I believe with all my heart that it can be done! NEVER SAY DIE! NEVER SAY NO! NEVER LIMIT YOURSELF WITH THE B WORD, ‘BOUNDARIES!’ ‘The Little Engine That Could, is my Mantra, “I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN!”

So what happens to the Mountain Top Gal when reality smashes into positivity?

I FALL HARD!

Living on the peak of the mountain, can land you covered in a pile of rock and rubble after the avalanche settles!

It can be something as small as returning from a family celebration and missing my children and grandchildren all over again.

It can be as gigantic as watching my mom slowly fade away as her original self is swallowed up by Alzheimer’s.

Friends, you can fill in the blanks with me… Health turns to illness, wealth turns to poverty, friendship turns to betrayal, freedom turns to captivity…

What is it for you? If you are living on planet earth, then you too are confronted with the ebb and flow of happiness to sorrow.

Friend, what it takes is a MIND SET SHIFT.

Christ followers have a secret, they can have Joy that stays even in times of trouble, trial, discouragement and disappointment. We just have to shift our mindset to that of Jesus Christ!

Jesus sets the example for us. His JOY not only survived, but it flourished in the midst of his trials. 

Jesus told His followers,

Blessed are you when men hate you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for Joy.
Luke 6:22-23

Look at the mindset shift the early followers of Jesus displayed.

James said it like this,

My brothers and sisters, count it all JOY when you fall into various trials.

James1:2

Paul and Silas, even while in jail maintained a mindset of joy,

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:25

While in prison, beaten and bloody, not even knowing what the next day held, they had a mindset of a joy in Jesus!

That kind of joy is what I want to express and display to those who are, “watching me pray and sing hymns to God.”

Friends, we live in a culture of instant gratification where we expect constant amusement. It is hard to understand suffering producing joy! But when we shift our mindset to that of our Lord Jesus Christ, we too will learn to stop living for just today, and live in the anticipated joy that comes at the end to all who follow Christ Jesus!

We too, will be able to echo the words of Paul,

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race(my life), with JOY!

Acts 20:24

TRUTH BOMB

JOY IN JESUS IS KNOWING WE ARE IN HIS HANDS FOREVER! LIFE IS TEMPORARY, ETERNITY NEVER ENDS!

Speak Truth Love

When Marriage is a Blessing!

Have you ever received a gift that was so unexpected and so undeserved that it literally blew your mind?

I’m not just talking about the kind of gift you get on Christmas morning that makes you jump up and down because it’s exactly what you wanted! I’m not even talking about a birthday gift that makes your heart swell four times its original size and burst your heart monitor just like the grinch! 

I AM talking about a gift that is so deep, so true, and so profound that it can only be classified as a blessing from God!

Blessing is defined as: the privileged recipient of God’s favor!

Blessings from God come in all different sizes, shapes and packages! We all have them, I just don’t think we always recognize them as God’s favor to us. Much of the time, that’s because we don’t even understand what a true blessing is.

It is not a gift, in the material sense, that’s here today and gone tomorrow. It is also not a gift in the spiritual sense, that is a fruit of the spirit, to be used for God’s glory and purposes! 

A blessing from God is something He gives you simply because He wants to show you how much He loves you!

You are the recipient not because you’ve earned it or deserve it, but simply because God wants to give you the blessing of His favor because He loves you!

A true blessing from God reminds us that no matter what we go through in life, we have a great big God who truly is in control and loves us more than anything else!

I am the privileged recipient of God’s favor in the greatest blessing that he has given me in the gift of my marriage!

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24-25

Now I know that when the “M” word is used, marriage, it’s stirs up all kinds of emotions. Some of us have found God‘s favor and blessing in marriage, but some of us have found God‘s favor and blessings in other areas! God does not weigh or measure how much He loves us by the blessings that He gives us. He loves us all exactly the same…He loves us all so very much that He sacrificed His Son on our behalf so that we could have access and live with Him forever and ever! No greater love has ever been demonstrated! However, while we are here on earth, only for the amount of time known to God alone, I do believe that He gives blessings to all of us! The point of this Blog is to recognize what a true blessing from God is and to give Him the glory and credit for it!

While my greatest blessing from God, my marriage and my husband, are not perfect, my God is! 

TRUTH BOMB

A blessing from God shows His favor and love toward us!

My marriage has had good times and rough times just like everyone else. But the fact that it is a blessing and a gift from God to me is undeniable!

Today, I want to thank God for blessing me with this birthday boy, I get to call my husband!


Taking the time two pause, reflect, and recognize the true blessings God has made you the recipient of, causes us to realize how so very much God truly loves us!

My husband is the greatest adventurer I know! And he takes me on life‘s greatest adventures with him! We’ve skied the highest mountains, hiked amazing trails, explored distant countries, raised children, loved grandchildren, forged treacherous waters of disappointment, betrayal, and loss. Yet everyday, through the highs and through the lows, we have woken up with the same united purpose, love God, love others and serve God until He calls us home! 

This is why, on this very special day, when my husband celebrates the day he was born, I can clearly say, “thank you God for my marriage, my greatest blessing from you! I love you back!”

Happy birthday to the most incredible man I know! I am privileged, honored, and ever thankful to God for blessing me with you!

Friends, I think my grandma was right. She always used to tell me to sing this song and to remember that each and everyday God loves me and He gives me His blessings!

‘Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done!’

Count your blessings today friend and know that you are immensely loved by God!

Speak Truth Love

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY JUST HATE IT!

Friends, I hope that after you have read my title of this weeks blog that you have kept reading! I realize that the word HATE is not a socially correct word to use. I further realize that it is not a very nice “Christian” word to use either! 

I know that it can be misused, overused and used with little or no thought. I also believe that it can be used quite appropriately and accurately if understood properly!

One of my favorite stories of my sister-in-law and I raising our children together when they were young is the story of my niece, who happens to be the youngest of all five of our children combined. She was sitting down one evening with all of us at the dining room table at my mother-in-law‘s to have dinner. My sister-in-law had “outlawed“ the word HATE with her children. I agreed with her on this, it is a very harsh word and children rarely understand the true meaning of it. My niece sat down quietly and politely at the dining room table with all of us already seated there. She looked at the food in the middle of the table and began to pound her little toddler fists firmly on the table and repeat in a very loud voice,” I really, really, really, really DON’T LOVE this food!”

Now, while she gets incredible points for obedience, her meaning was crystal clear! She HATED The food on the dinner table!

The dictionary definition of HATE is,

“to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for, or extreme hostility toward; DETEST.”  

To put this into terms that we can relate to and swallow, it would be “to hate the enemy.”  And I do, truly do, HATE the enemy of our souls, the devil!  And “to hate bigotry.” And I truly do!

To give hate a biblical definition, the Bible puts it this way: Paul says in Romans, 

Hate what is evil, and cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9. 

Given this definition, we must understand what is truly evil in God’s eyes, and hate it, while also understanding what is truly good, and cling to it!  

In our human nature, this is not easy to do. We allow personal preferences–the way we were raised, our likes, our priorities–to become in our eyes and by our standards what is “good!” And on the flip side of that, we allow our fears and our misunderstandings to become things we actually hate. For example, I hate going to the dentist!  Now while I am sure most people would agree with me, there are some who don’t mind it. But in reality, going to the dentist isn’t something to hate, because it produces a good outcome that is for my benefit. Me not liking going to the dentist is not actually hating it. It is just a very strong dislike for something that is not pleasant, but will produce a good outcome for my life.

I have used the word “hate” about the dentist most of my life. But if I am putting it into biblical terms, I do not actually hate it, because I am grateful for the fact that it ultimately fixes my teeth, makes me healthy, and eventually relieves pain. Those are all good things! 

So back to when my niece used the phrase, “I really really really don’t love it,” was fairly accurate! The food on the table wasn’t to her liking. It wasn’t her preference or what she wanted to eat. She didn’t even know the food was good for her. She just didn’t like the taste. Even though she would have preferred ice cream and cookies, her loving parents knew this would not produce a healthy outcome for her little body. 

This brings us to our spiritual nature and the Holy Spirit of God that we have, as believers, working through us. In His strength this is easier to do. Though God doesn’t always spell out what we are to hate in every detail, through His word we can discern what is evil, and what we are actually to hate. For example, we are to hate child sex trafficking. Why? Because it deeply harms children, exploits them mercilessly, and (at least potentially) ruins their lives. Killing innocent people who are non-combatants is evil. Slandering someone’s character falsely is evil. As Jesus says in Matthew 18, for example, 

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6. 

Here is an example of Jesus hating evil, and calling that person into God’s righteous judgment. 

TRUTH BOMB

IT IS OKAY TO HATE WHAT GOD HATES!

Think about the things that you hate. 

Does God also hate them?  

If He doesn’t hate them, you may have to rethink and rephrase what you “really really really don’t love.”

Speak Truth Love

What is resting anyway?

I struggle with the concept of Sabbath.

I perfectly understand the Biblical definition, and I agree with it wholeheartedly! But translating that Biblical truth into my life and character is a whole different ball game!

Even when I desperately need rest and spiritual filling, it is still hard for me to “Sabbath.“

I know there is a need to recharge, recoup, relax, restore, and refuel my tired, weary body, mind, Spirit and soul.

Yet demands of life and time restraints keep me from Sabbath! Then there’s financial reasons to not go to a quiet still place, coupled with major character flaws that don’t allow me to truly Sabbath in a home I feel the need to take care of constantly.

And those character flaws I just mentioned, also hinder me from sitting in a beautiful green spot as I do my best to focus while the wind beats on me, the sun bakes me or the bugs bite me! Then my focus is truly taken away and I’m not really resting at all!

What are your excuses? 

What are the habits, the obstacles of life, and the character flaws that keep you from truly having a Sabbath rest?

Maybe you need someone who cares about you, loves you and knows that Sabbath rest is an essential part of a healthy spiritual life!

Enter a faithful friend who knows what you need and cares enough to make it happen!


Getting away to a place where your mind, heart and eyes are free of duties, obligations and responsibilities is key. 

Spending time in Gods creation, reading His Truth, singing songs of worship to Him and resting from work is truly SABBATH!

We ALL need it! God tells us that we do! However, the Biblical mandate to SABBATH is to allow us to focus on God, renew our spirits with His love and presence and to restore our selves back to serving Him.

While it is vital to carve out the important time to Sabbath, it is also vital to not Sabbath for too long!

Quote from the Elijah study by Priscilla Shirer, 

“Comfort and steadiness is what we crave, but overstaying our welcome in one place can rob us of the work God intends to do in us at the next one.”

Sabbath is not intended to be an every day practice. As hard as it may be to get there and truly receive a Sabbath rest, we also must caution ourselves from staying there too long!

You know the old saying,

“Guests are like dead fish: they start to stink after three days!”

So, if we want to maintain a pleasant aroma and still receive rest we must learn to truly Sabbath!

Biblical definition of Sabbath: A day of rest, ceasing from all work, dedicated to the God.

Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…Sabbath day of rest is dedicated to The Lord your God. On that day no one in your household can do any work.” Exodus 20:8,10

TRUTH BOMB

WHEN WE SABBATH WE ARE RESTORED AND RENEWED!

Returning from that Sabbath experience lifted my spirit and recharged me to serve God with renewed strength! 

I felt like David of old,

He led me to green pastures. He led beside quiet waters. He restored my soul.” 

Psalm 23:2

Speak Truth Love

NEW STRENGTH

Have you ever felt like you are walking through life on old strength? 

That you are doing all of the same things, the same way, and it is all good. But as you walk your feet feel heavier than usual. With each step it feels harder and harder to pick one foot up and put it in front of the other. There may be no reason at all, just monotony, doing the same thing over and over and over again. It can drain our strength and leave us feeling lethargic. This can make the “everyday” feel somewhat overwhelming.  

Or, It may be for a specific reason…you are going through a health issue, someone you love is going through a health issue, you are encountering a serious life change, or maybe a relationship breakdown. Any or all of the above can be overwhelming and drain our strength. Instead of struggling to put one heavy foot in front of the other, it is a struggle to put your feet on the floor and get out of bed.  

I know this feeling. I am by nature a positive, upbeat person. I was taught by my grandma to thank God for the blessing of each new day the minute I wake up. She used to say,

“If you wake up in the morning, it is a gift from God!” Then she taught me to claim each new day for Him! She told me to put my feet on the floor and say to God,

This is the day The Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

While this TRUTH passed down to me from my Grandma has been my practice the majority of my life, I found myself dragging in strength.  Her precious daughter, my sweet Mom, has been dealing with Alzheimer’s. It has been a rough few years, to say the least, but the symptoms were fairly mild for awhile.

ALZHEIMER’S is defined as:

“A progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to degeneration of the brain.”

Now, beside the fact that it defines it as a brain issue, which is most commonly known, it is the word PROGRESSIVE that rings true.

Friends, the last month has felt not just PROGRESSIVE but RAPID!

This has put my sisters and I in a sad position to watch the mom we know and love, “progressively fade away.”

TRUTH IS, I didn’t just need God’s strength, I needed NEW STRENGTH!

And because GOD IS GOD AND I AM NOT, He knew this!

As I leaned into God, knowing He is faithful and true, He showed me something in one of my favorite verses, that I had never seen before. NEW STRENGTH!

But those who trust in the Lord will find NEW STRENGTH, they will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

As I was walking on one of my regular trails, spending the morning with God and feeling like my feet were made of cement, getting heavier and heavier with each step, I just kept walking. Why? Because I knew that leaning into God was all that I could do!

I could not heal my mom. I could not return her to her old self. I could not take care of all of the details. I could not even take the pain away from my sisters!  All I could do was practice the only thing that has ever given me strength, lean into God! Walk in His creation, read His Word, and whisper the verses over and over again to myself that I knew to be true!  

That morning, as I was doing that and feeling the weight of my burden with my old strength, I heard something! It was not a bird, or a dog on the trail next to me. It was not the sound of feet walking next to me. It was a loud rush of air being forced into a hot air balloon! I looked to my left and there it was!

The sound was louder than I had ever heard it before. The balloon was very low. It was hovering over the vines of the vineyard I was walking alongside. I stared at that balloon and at first just noticed it’s bright colors. Then I heard it again. This time it was louder! It was the rush of hot air being pushed into that balloon and causing it to rise!

NEW AIR!  HOT AIR!  

What makes a hot air balloon fly?  A hot air balloon soars up into the air because warm air is lighter than cool air. So when air is heated by the fire blowing through the center of the balloon, it makes the heated envelope of gas less dense than its surroundings. In layman’s terms, the air around the center of the balloon is heated to over two hundred degrees and because warm air is lighter than all of the cool air around it, it causes the balloon to rise.

The more hot air that is pushed into the balloon the higher it rises.

Suddenly I knew why God had brought to my mind one of my favorite verses from Isaiah.

God was showing me that He was able to give me NEW AIR, NEW STRENGTH!

That He alone could and would renew my strength and make it new!

He would not magically heal my mom and restore her health, but He would take care of her, carry her through it, and give my sisters and I HIS NEW STRENGTH to walk lighter and soar higher than we could in our Old Strength.

Do you need NEW STRENGTH today?  

Lean into God He wants to give it to you!

TRUTH BOMB

GOD GIVES NEW STRENGTH THAT HELPS US SOAR!

God will renew your strength, make it NEW and help you walk through any and every situation you encounter!

Speak Truth Love

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

Have you ever built anything?
I mean, really built something! If you have, then I am envious of you! This is simply not a gift that I possess. Actually, it’s not even a “so so” skill that I possess. Actually, all my life I have looked with awe and wonder at people who can actually build something! There really is such an art to it. Now some may disagree with me and say it is more of a method or a process. All I can say is that I can take items out of a box, I can lay them out on the floor in perfect order, I can lay out the direction book and follow steps one, two, three in a distinct and perfect process, but I still can’t build!

Would you please picture with me in your mind the mess that would be laid out on my living room floor as I tried to build some thing that came in 332 pieces inside of a box? It truly would have looked better if I would’ve hung the box on the wall instead of creating the mess I had on the floor and tried to make it into something!

I have said over and over that I do not have an artistic bone in my body! I do not say this to acquire accolades or affirmation. I truly believe that I have other gifts to offer, but artistic gifts are not among them! People have argued this point with me many times. They have looked to the way I dress or to the way I even decorate my house and they have pointed out that I do have artistic gifts.

But I firmly disagree! What I do have is the ability to recognize beauty in something and the way it is put together and re-create or mimic it. As a teacher I used to say, “ I can copy and trace very well, but building it from scratch is not my forte!” Because I lack this natural ability, I believe it has given me an incredible sense of appreciation for those that have it.

I love walking through an art museum and staring at the masterpieces on the wall created out of nothing!

I love walking down crazy, busy, crowded city streets and being awestruck and inspired by the architecture around me. Someone built that out of nothing!

I love seeing the characters drawn freehand  by my brother-in-law and his son! I am flabbergasted by the artwork they create out of nothing!

I used to love to go to work with my dad as a little girl and watch him pull boards out of his truck, measure and cut them to a precise size, place them in the perfect position and pound nails into them to create something out of nothing! By the way, my dad could draw and paint freehand, beautifully! He once drew a horse head that looked so real I expected it to NEIGH! I truly believe their is an artistic connection to building!

I am in awe watching my son-in-law look up a project on YouTube and literally make something perfectly out of nothing!

This truly is a God-given talent that I do not possess! I can recognize it in others and even admire it, but that does not mean that it is a strength of mine.

However, I am made stronger by others who bless me with their strength of building!

Over four years ago now, we moved from Southern California to Northern California. My sister had come over to help me put together my new home in Sonoma County. I had bought a new set of shelves that I wanted to put in my living room. Like all wonderful products these days, it came packed in a box that looked way too small for a set of shelves! Inside the box were all the shelves along with 1 million other pieces! I just left the box laying in the entryway, unopened! As I was busy unpacking other boxes, my sister walked up to the box and said, “do you want this put together?“ “Yes,” I said, “I would love that!”

She opened that box, laid out all the pieces on the floor, laid out the directions, and built that set of shelves in less than an hour! Those shelves are still in my living room today. She has that ability to build! She blessed me with her strength of building and it compensated for a weakness of mine.

I could have gotten defensive knowing she had a strength I did not possess and said, “No, I’ll do it later!” Or, I could have let myself get defeated knowing she had a strength I did not have. If I would have done either one of those things, I still may not have a set of shelves in my family room(my husband does not have this strength either)!

I believe that we become our very best selves when we allow the strengths of others to compensate for our weaknesses! They in turn become their very best selves when they allow our strengths to compensate for their weaknesses!

TWO PEOPLE ARE BETTER THAN ONE, FOR THEY CAN HELP EACH OTHER SUCCEED.”        ECCLESIASTES 4:9

God does not intend for us to live our lives alone! He also does not expect us to be perfect. God knows that we are better when we are together! He also knows that we are most effective and successful when we are pulling on our strengths and allowing the strengths of others to compensate for our weaknesses.

We all have those friends! Those abilities that are weak rather than strong. The question is, will we allow the strengths of others to BUILD us up and compensate for those weaknesses or will we pretend we can do it all by ourselves?

If this becomes our mantra, we are not only cheating ourselves of being our BEST selves, but we are also cheating others from being their BEST selves!

TRUTH BOMB

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES TOGETHER CAN BOOST EACH OTHER UP!

Speak Truth Love

STINKY FEET

Valentine’s Day is Sunday! It is a day set aside to “show LOVE!”

What does that really mean?

In biblical terms it would mean LOVING ONE ANOTHER!

There are many “LOVE ONE ANOTHERS” spoken in the Bible. But when we are talking about a whole day set aside to LOVE OTHERS, I believe we should take our cue from the one who showed the world the greatest love ever, JESUS!

In the book of John chapter 13 we read these tender words from Jesus about His LOVE for His disciples,

“…When Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to The Father, having LOVED His own who were in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE END.

So, Jesus gave them a bunch of money. NO!

So, Jesus set them up for life with a home and land. NO!

So, Jesus took them out for a nice dinner. NO!

So, Jesus gave them candy, flowers and a big heart balloon. OF COURSE NOT!

Jesus acted on His LOVE for them, lowered Himself to the dirty ground and washed their stinky feet!

Feet are not known for smelling sweet.

Feet are known to stink! We don’t shake feet, we shake hands. 

Yes, it would be uncomfortable to sit down and put our feet in the air every time we met someone new and wanted to greet them. But, it would also be less sanitary, and possibly down right stinky!

We walk on our feet. Our feet touch the dirty ground. Our feet get pushed into socks and shoes of all kinds. Our feet take the weight of our entire body on them. They feel the pressure of running and walking, stepping on hard blacktop, and rough ground. They step on rocks, gravel and sand. Not to mention all kinds of dirt in every form.

No wonder feet stink!

I am known for being a bit of a “neat freak.” Well, actually, I am known for being a huge neat freak. I like things clean and am not fond of touching dirt. Except to clean it of course, and then I have rubber gloves on my hands. Touching dirt, let alone, stinky feet, would not be something I would sign up to do. Yet, one of the greatest experiences in my life was doing just that!

In the Summer of 2009 we left for Nairobi, Kenya to do mission work alongside missionaries who were already working in the slums there. We walked each day into the slums of the Mathare Valley and witnessed the most detestable living conditions I have ever seen! The mud was thick and dense from years and years of piles upon piles of every gross and dirty thing you can imagine! The stench was overwhelming and caused an immediate gut wrenching reaction. I literally had to hold back the vomit. God was good and day after day we walked the Valley, prayed over it, shared the good news of Jesus with anyone who would listen and interacted with the people who lived there.

My favorite part of the day would be returning to the school the Missionaries built there and teaching the children who came.

As the time of our trip drew near for us to depart and return home, our leaders called us all together. They had set up chairs and wash basins and were calling all of the Kenyan workers over to sit in the chairs. We were going to wash their feet as and act of LOVING ONE ANOTHER.

I washed the feet of an older Kenyan woman who wore sandals daily and walked back and forth in the filthy, dirt of the Mathare Valley slums. I wrapped a towel around my waist and got on my knees, and bowed low to take hold of her calloused feet. I remember going down on my knees and asking God to help me endure the stink and demonstrate His LOVE. By the time I held her foot in my hand and dipped it into the water, tears were streaming down my checks! Her feet were beautiful and they were covered with the same sweet scent of the LOVE of Jesus that mine were!

I held her feet in my hands and washed them and dried them with the towel around my waist and felt like I had never demonstrated LOVING ONE ANOTHER like Jesus told me to any better!

I WAS NOT THE TEACHER THAT DAY, AND SHE WAS NOT THE COOK, WE WERE SIMPLY BOTH THE CHILDREN OF GOD!

DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE DONE TO YOU? YOU CALL ME TEACHER AND LORD, AND YOU ARE RIGHT, FOR SO I AM. IF I THEN YOUR LORD AND TEACHER , HAVE WASHED YOUR FEET, YOU ALSO OUGHT TO WAS ONE ANOTHER’S FEET.

JOHN 13:12-14

Jesus calls this, Loving One Another.

He demonstrates this Love for us as He Loves His disciples by washing their feet. Feet that walked up and down dirty, dusty roads in leather sandals.

TRUTH BOMB

When we truly love one another it can be stinky and dirty!

Jesus says He Loves His disciples!

He then tells us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER and wash each other’s feet!

February is a month we dedicate to LOVE! We give candy, cards and flowers, but do we “wash one another’s feet?” 

Do we Love each other by doing the hard stuff? 

Do we listen, meet needs, go out of our way and speak God’s Truth in love even when it is hard to say and hear? 

I believe this is what Jesus meant when He told us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER by “washing each other’s feet.”

It may be stinky, it may be dirty, but we are to DO THE HARD STUFF IF WE TRULY ARE LOVING ONE ANOTHER!

I’m looking at Valentines Day a bit differently this year. My prayer is that you will too!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I LOVE YOU!

XOXO

Speak Truth Love