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Posted by on in Christ

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27, ESV

Is it just me, or does it seem a little rude of Jesus to challenge my reliance on fear and anxiety? After all, there’s a great deal of comfort to be found in feeding the flames of anxiousness. Think that sounds crazy? Consider this: anxiety allows me to concentrate my thoughts and feelings solely on what’s happening in my life. When my fears and nerves are central in my life, I can shut out having to worry about the thoughts and needs of others. Fear of how I am judged affords me a satisfying sense that I’m the center of attention, and that what I say and wear matters to others. Anxiety about tomorrow takes me out of the moment of today and relieves me of having to consider that my needs and wants might just be two separate things. So just who does Jesus think He is, ripping that warm blanket of fear away from my eyes and asking me to see a different reality?

We find these words of Jesus in Matthew’s record of the Sermon on the Mount (specifically chapter six, verses twenty-five through thirty-four). Throughout this discourse, Jesus challenges our notions and tendencies not just toward fear and anxiety, but also anger, lust, greed, judgmental behavior, and generally how we address God and our neighbor. Read chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew’s Gospel and you’ll see Jesus chipping away steadily at the cocoon of sin and selfishness in which we hide throughout our day-to-day lives. His words tear away the pain and loss we endure at the hands of sin, leaving us raw and bruised in the naked truth of our condition. Why does He do it? Why strip away so many of our understandings about the world? Jesus knows that before we can put on something new, the old must be shed. He knows that putting our faith and trust in what will serve us means abandoning what does not. The consolation of Jesus is the knowledge that ushers us through the pain of self-realization so that we can find true solace and comfort in the solution He offers through His Son. The temporary rush of believing we’re at the center of the universe pales in comparison to knowing that the true center of all things offered a truly selfless sacrifice for our lives. This is the gift of today, tomorrow, and all eternity. We need never fear losing it by straying from it because it was never merited.

The pain of letting go of fear is the pain of letting go of control. Our hope for something greater than what we fear is found in the knowledge that no amount of control we try to assert can replace the future won for us in God’s grace. Anxiety is at war with faith, and, yes, sometimes it feels as though the battles are too much to endure. The promise of Jesus is the promise that no battle or fear we face is greater than the God who stands beside us. Look to Him and the rest falls away.

God’s Peace,

Pastor Brock

“I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” Psalm 91:2-3, NI

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            I have been standing in the same place for five hours, working on one task. It will end up being the most minute of details. The family probably won’t even notice it. I feel like I’m in the theatre shop again (undergrad degree). We used to stand over a project for hours and hours, working on the tiniest piece of a gigantic puzzle. You have to be satisfied with just your piece, because until everyone’s project is done, you won’t see the magnificent result. We would be stationed next to each other, and you never had to ask for help; we were working so intently on our task you could hear a pin drop, or the person next to you struggling, so help would just appear. We were all looking to the same destination: The Finale.

            Do you ever feel that way? Isn’t it wonderful to think that we are, as individuals, God’s tiny little projects? When He brings us together, we’re the magnificent result! 

            For many years I thought that I could survive as a strong Christian without the need to fellowship with other Christians. And you know what? I about lost my mind. If we’re going to continue with the whole puzzle motif:

-God is the wall.

-The bible is the board the puzzle is mounted on to hang on the wall.

-The church is the paste holding the puzzle together.

-Our ministers and leaders are the corner and end pieces.

-We are the ones in the middle.

We cannot survive on our own. We must fellowship to create the picture. If not, we just end up in the back of a closet somewhere, unused.

            Going back to theatre shop, the one guarantee I always had is that I could learn something from any person in the room. I never had to ask for help, it was just there. Essentially, that is the reason fellowship among Christians is vital. You can learn how to handle situations in a Godly way. You are surrounded by others who will offer up prayer for you. You can learn from others how to further your spiritual growth. I missed out on that for a long time. I don’t intend on doing it again.

            I have recently gained many friends who are focused on their walks in Christ. God has blessed me with many accomplishments in life, but nothing feels as good as the comfort I now have knowing I have people surrounding me who are like me, who are working on their tasks.  Who God is using to create a magnificent result as we await The Finale.

Colossians 2:2-

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.

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Wednesday nights are my favorites. The Church of the Pines has a contemporary service on Wednesday evenings. It’s very laid back and conversational. Where the sermon isn’t a sermon, it’s more like a discussion – a “sermussion,” if you will.  Last Wednesday night, things went from conversational to argumentative, well, I was being argumentative. I was fuming and extremely antsy wanting to say everything I was thinking. I’m very happy that I held back – at least until Pastor Brock got home. I find I can argue much more freely with the Pastor if he is my husband – my “Pastbund,” if you will. (Maybe “hustor” works better here.)


 It all started with one little word, “submit.” You know which part of the Bible I’m talking about, don’t you? Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands...” (It didn’t say anything about Pasbunds.)  The more I thought about it, and the more I heard people explain away the negative context and, in fact, turn it into something pleasant, the more I wiggled in my seat until I had to blurt out, “Paul hates women!” and immediately regretted it. I especially regretted it when I listened to what Pastor Dick Thompson had to say.


Pastor Dick didn’t say what a man’s role is or what a woman’s role is. He talked about submitting to each other in a way I’ve never heard before. He said, “We should be Christ for each other.” It was so simple, so direct, so perfect, and so….difficult. And I so didn’t follow the advice. Once Pastor Dick finished explaining, I immediately (and a bit too angrily) turned to my Pastor/Husband and said, “Why didn’t Paul just write that?! Paul hates women.” Hmph. Mope. Sulk. “Well,” said the Pastbund, “he did. Look at the verses that came before it.” 


Ephesians 5:19-21 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”


For almost a week now, I’ve been considering how to be Christ for other people. I see now submitting to each other (including wives to husbands, but also husbands to wives) is loving and forgiving, like Christ. Of course, there is always law with the Gospel. The law shows us our sins and points the way to Christ, to love, to forgiveness. Therefore, while there may be anger in my day, misbehavior in my children (my two at home and my 80 at work), and arguments with my spouse; I can still love and forgive. And what I’ve learned is that it needs to happen sooner than later. Like all Christians, I am a work in progress. I am a practicing Christian. I am practicing being Christ for others.  

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Posted by on in Personal

I don't know when or why it happened, but I'm distracted.  Every little thing seems more interesting then listening to my audio bible. I still put the Lord first in my thoughts and most of my actions, but I'm distracted from building my relationship with Him.  It, honestly, makes me sick to my stomach becuase I have let this happen.  I'm too busy to focus on anything.  I am disappointed that I've become so distracted.  I need someone to fan my flames so I can have that burning desire again.  I miss it.  And really, it's my own fault.  I don't know how I got to this point, but slowly over time I've ceased my good habits of reading my morning devotion, listening to my audio bible before bed, and jamming out to "THE BRIDGE" on the radio.  I feel unclean.  I feel like I've let my Father down... and definitely without good reason.  I haven't lost my relationship with Him, but I sure do have a lot of making up to do.  I'll never be satisfied with my "current relationship" with Our Saviour.  I'll always need to press on and make things better, but I seriously could high-five myself in the forehead right now for being so lazy as to let this happen.  Have any of you ever experienced this?  Why do we let this happen?  Why do the worldly things sound so interesting... when we know "He who is in me is greater than he that is in the world."  Jesus is way cooler than Facebook, yet so much of our time is wasted on the net.  I'm just so distracted.  Thankfully, it's so easy and He is so forgiving that all I have to do is ask Him to show me the way again, and we can pick right back up where we left off.


Although I knocked Facebook, someone did post an interesting Paul Harvey recording that really made me think.  It really hit home about the distractions I've been facing, and I thought I would share with you. 


(*Disclaimer  I tried to "embed the video" not sure if it worked... so here's the link if not



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John 20: 30-31: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”


With the 10th Anniversary of Katrina, we are REQUIRED to reflect on the destruction, smells, frustration and, ultimately, the outpouring of love from volunteers, strangers, and people who we will never know in the recovery.  One of the most vivid memories is that of televangelist Pat Robertson and others speaking about how Katrina was punishment for all sorts of sordid behavior, mostly in New Orleans.  I clearly remember thinking, "I didn’t do that" for the litany of sins that they listed and wondered why they wanted to kick us while we were down.  I also don’t remember the same condemnation of the Tuscaloosa area when they were struck by tornadoes, even though they had recently erected a statue of Nick Saban - but that is a different story.


While in Sunday School last week, I was able to uncover a limited argument to this type of talk while reading the footnotes in my Bible so that I could sound clever if a question came up.  In this particular passage, the footnote states, “People commonly and mistakenly think that Biblical books were written mainly to provide rules for godly living.  Speaking through John, God announces the Good News that Jesus is His Son and that by faith in His name, we have life and salvation – the core message of the entire Scripture.”  What an incredible statement!


The author very succinctly popped the balloon of the judgmental, Old Testament crowd that would have us believe that God viewed us as no more than Sodom and Gomorrah and was sending hurricanes to punish us for our wicked ways.  He showed us that God’s hand was in the recovery and in the promise that no matter what storms of life may bring us, He will save us.  I don’t know about you, but my faith became much stronger after the storm, which may have been the purpose all along.  It’s not an instruction book, it’s a love story.


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A New Song

You may have noticed from my previous blogs, that I frequently refer to Christian song lyrics.  I enjoy listening to Christian music, and feel that it is a beautiful way to spread God’s message.  But it hasn’t always been that way for me.  In the past, I thought of Christian music as fuddy-duddy and boring, like the Lawrence Welk show (if any of you are old enough to remember who he was).  It wasn’t cool, it didn’t have a good beat, it wasn’t exciting.


Once I had children, and they were old enough to start understanding the lyrics to the songs that played on the radio, a lot changed for me.  I started to become uncomfortable listening/singing along to songs that talked about sex while they were in the car with me.  And let’s face it, a lot of songs talk about sex.  Wow!  How can I talk to my kids about proper behavior when I’m singing a song that promotes just the opposite?  People may say, “It’s just a song!”, but to me, if I am listening to it or singing along, it means I am accepting and endorsing the singer’s perspective.  It sends an unspoken message that I believe in the words of the song.  And if I purchase the song/CD, then I am financially supporting that singer and the words that he/she chooses to sing which encourages them to record more of the same. 


And I know I can’t control the songs played at football games, at Mardi gras parades, at restaurants/bars, but I can control the songs I listen to in my home and car.  So I would change stations whenever an inappropriate song came on, and then I heard a song by Brandon Heath: “Give me your eyes.”  This song changed the way I thought of Christian music, so I started to listen to Christian radio.  At that time, there was only one station.  And they were sponsoring a challenge: listen only to Christian radio for 30 days.  I’ve read that anything done for 30 consecutive days has a greater chance of becoming a habit, so I knew the station’s ulterior motive, but that was OK.  And what I discovered is that I liked Christian music!  It wasn’t fuddy-duddy, many of the songs have awesome music, and many of the lyrics come straight out of the bible!  Wow!


And what happened after 30 days?  Well, when I went back to the secular radio stations, I was often appalled at what was playing.  I became sensitized to the lyrics and the messages that the secular songs were sending, and it made me rethink what I listened to.  What did I want to promote to my kids?  What messages was I sending them through the songs that I chose to listen to?  Yes, there are good and appropriate songs on secular radio.  And yes, there are annoying songs and DJs on Christian radio.  It just comes down to being more mindful of what I was choosing.


That has been several years ago, and now there are several Christian music stations available in my area.  While I don’t listen exclusively to Christian music, I do enjoy it.  During their annual pledge drives, the Christian radio stations often ask people to let them know what Christian music means to them.  It is inspiring to know the power of a song, and of a radio station that sends out positive messages of hope and love.  I love listening to these testimonies.  Many people speak of these songs and this music helping them make better choices, turning their lives around, remaining hopeful in spite of the difficulties of life.  In Philippians 4:8 it says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”  I find that it is much easier to think about these things when I am listening to Christian music.  It helps me remember that while I live in this world, and am surrounded by the messages coming from the secular media, I don’t have to live like that.  I can choose a different way.


Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” 


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What's in Your Closet?

So God used something extremely personal and embarrassing to teach me a lesson the other day. And when I felt that nudging of "blog this to the BOWABites"....I'll be honest. I cringed. So here's the raw, horrible truth. 


This summer I've had a fruit fly infestation in my apartment. (Fruit/drain flies....whatever you call the little bitty black terrorist with wings.) I had tried everything under the sun to get rid of them from home remedies to chemicals to praying them away. I was on the verge of losing what sanity I had left. My bathroom, kitchen, living room were the worst. But occasionally I would have one wonder into the bedroom and attempt to land on my face while I slept. After much cleaning, fumigating, and screaming, the situation had improved...but only slightly.


Until last Thrusday.


I went grocery shopping early that morning. Came home and put everything up but a bag of small red potatoes. I laid down for a few hours before getting ready for work that night. When I walked back into the kitchen I was met with more flies that I had ever seen in there. Turns out there was ONE rotten potato in the bag I just bought (Don't ask me how I missed it. I wish I knew.) That one potato turned to the Ryan's Buffet for these pesky black flecks. As I'm throwing them away, I had a "lightbulb" moment. I turned and walked into the walk-in pantry I have (and never go in). In there I have a canvas bin I keep my baking potatoes in. Weeeelllll I forgot about a few potatoes from weeks ago. The one potato may have been Ryan's, but that bin had become the Ruth's Chris of fly dining. I screamed. Wished for once I wasn't an adult that had to deal with this. And them preceded to throwing the entire bin away...flies and all. After a few days of further cleaning and spraying, I'm pleased to say I now can get ready without a fly nosediving my face. (Gosh...I told you this was embarrassing!)


So what does this have to do with anything? Well while I was cleaning out that pantry/closet, God dropped this question in my spirit: What's hiding in your closet? What is in the back corner of your closet that is rotting and causing you trouble that you don't even realize is there? Sometimes we have these things in life that we don't want to deal. And we keep pushing them back and pushing them back until all the other junk in our life has covered it up. We may have forgotten about it but we didn't deal with it. We didn't take care of the problem. Throw the potatoes out so to speak. Then when things start going wrong, the "flies" of life show up, we wonder why. Those "flies" may be bitterness, anger, relationship trouble, seasons of prayerlessness, sickness. Maybe you feel like you take care of one problem only to face another.


Maybe its time to stop and clean out the closet. Maybe its time to say "God, what is there that I haven't dealt with? What is there that I don't want to admit to but is holding me back?" Those are the hardest questions we can ask ourselves and Him in my opinion. Its easy to point out how dirty someone else's "house" may be. But we never want to admit that our "house" may be dirtier. But when we do, and God shows us things He wants to work on and throw out, it feels so much better. I promise you I sleep better now knowing I'm not going to be toted off in my sleep. Wouldn't you sleep better knowing that your "closet" was clean enough for God to hang His coat in? That nothing is holding you back from everything He has for you? 

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What Makes You Special?

A friend told me the other day that she was trying to figure out what makes her special. I suggested that she would only find that answer in her relationship with God. She countered that she knew why she was special to God but she didn’t know why she was special to humans. I don’t think there’s a separation between the two. Sure, if you want to talk in broad, general terms, God loves us all as His creations. But I think you can ask Him for guidance with your gifts and strengths and He’ll reveal those that are specific to you. They’re the key to fulfilling His plan for your life and they’re also the reason people glow inside when they think of you.


One of the ladies at my church is a gifted musician and a kind, welcoming soul to everyone she meets. Everyone! I can’t fathom it! No one seems to irritate her or make her uncomfortable. She just gives beautiful love to everyone! And I think of those qualities when I think of her, and her spot in my heart glows. Those are her strengths for God and for humans.


My sister is this brilliant, insightful treasure who knows just the way to touch another’s heart. She understands human nature and emotions better than anyone I’ve met. She uses her power for good, finding small ways to make the lives she touches richer. I think of that uncanny ability when I think of my sister, and her spot in my heart glows. That is one of her strengths for God and for humans.


A guy I knew in school is working with the teens at his church now, engaging them in fun, exciting ways and modeling for them a disciplined life. The same as he was always my friend and both encouraging and inspirational to me, he’s blessing those kids. My friend examines himself, is able to maintain a sense of humor, and above all has remained true to his faith. I think of those things when I think of my friend, and his spot in my heart glows.


The catch is that many of us don’t recognize our own gifts because those are the aspects of our personality that come as second-nature. God is able to send the right people to highlight them for us, allowing us to polish those skills and use them to further God’s kingdom. If you’re not asking for direction, though, you may miss out on them and focus on your areas of struggle.


For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,so in Christ we, though many, form one body,and each member belongs to all the others.We have different gifts,according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying,then prophesy in accordance with yourfaith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;if it is giving, then give generously;if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8

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Pick Your Spots

The other day I saw a story about an NFL player who was returning to practice after the death of his infant daughter. The Facebook page for this story had many comments. The top comment at the time expressed sorrow for the man and mentioned that heaven was receiving a “beautiful angel.” There was a response to that comment from a “devoted christian” who points out that “people that go to heaven don’t become angels.” And, “Angels have been in heaven since the beginning and that won’t change.” My thought about that comment whether or not the statements are technically correct is “Why would a person choose that time to make a technical point?”

One of my favorite aspects to Jesus’ personality is His snide streak. He did not shy away from calling people out. (Such situations were glorious.) He didn’t always call people out. He showed compassion when people erred but were respectful of Him and recognized His greatness and power. However, when people (commonly Pharisees) displayed arrogance in asking him questions to get Him to contradict or test Him or criticized Him outright, He offered rather snippy but thorough responses.

For instance, Luke 11:37-40 reads:

While Jesus[e] was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?

Another instance comes from Matthew 23:1-7, which reads:

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.

Finally, an instance from Matthew 23:16-19, which reads

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

Each time, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for some bad behavior when their intent was wrong. Commonly, that behavior was hypocrisy, which God despises. So, I think we need to be careful with how we display the knowledge that we have. Just because we know stuff, does not mean we need to correct people – especially when such correction is essentially irrelevant to the situation. Showing that you are correct can be completely counterproductive. We need to be sure to pick our spots when we try to impart knowledge on others. And, if we aren’t sure, err to the side of caution and just offer compassion.

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We live in a time of instant gratification.  We constantly flip the channels during commercials.  Check Facebook every 10 minutes.  We’re always changing the station on the radio looking for a better song.  We want everything to happen right then and there because that’s convenient for us.  When did we get like this?  Why do we continue to be like this?  I feel like it’s an awful curse that we have gotten ourselves into.  We’re so used to it that we even expect God to make things happen instantly.

I constantly remind others… mostly myself though, that things happen in His time.  I really need to practice what I preach.  I pray about our finances a lot.  Things are just ridiculously priced these days and it’s never easy to make ends meet.  Living paycheck to paycheck stinks, especially in my case being a teacher.  As much as I’ve prayed about it, I’ve really been meditating on it lately.  God clearly knows our struggle, I talk to Him about it all the time.  The inner child in me wants to through a tantrum because I want Him to fix it RIGHT NOW!!!!  Why’s it taking so long God?  I thought you were going to help me get rid of some of this debt.  Take away the things we don’t need. 

I’ve finally come to realize He has already helped me.  He provides us with everything we need.  We aren’t starving.  We’re not homeless.  We have wonderful careers that we enjoy.  Our boys don’t go without.  He has provided us with several opportunities to make extra money to make ends meet.  Yes, we’ve had to work for it.  Yes, it’s been long hours.  But, yes, He has answered our prayers His way in His time.   Sometimes you have to put feet to your prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for the opportunities and blessings you continue to pour out to us.  We are forever grateful of Your love… because without love, we’ve got nothing.  Without love, we’re bankrupt. 

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Golfballs, Pebbles, and Sand

So, admittedly, I’ve been struggling with what to blog about . Someone told me to think of something I was either thankful for, afraid of, or waiting for and an idea would come to me.  So I did, and…. nothing.  Well, I was looking through some pictures on my computer and came across a story that I’ve read before and have always liked. Today, it served as a much needed reminder… and I realized how much I really was thankful for!  So, the advice ended up working. The story is about a professor who is at his desk and as students come in, they see him sitting there with a large empty mayo jar.  To start class he quietly reached under his desk and pulled out bucket #1, emptying the contents into the empty jar.  Golf balls. He then asked the class if the jar was full. They agreed it was.  He reached down and pulled out bucket #2 and emptied its contents into the jar.  Pebbles.  He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles filled into the empty spaces between the golf balls. He asked the class again if the jar was full, and they agreed it was.  Next, he pulled bucket 3 from under his desk, and emptied its contents.  Sand filled into the empty spaces between the golf balls and pebbles. The class laughed.  He asked again of the jar was full.  Again, they agreed it was.  One last time, he reached under his desk, producing 2 beers.  He popped them open and poured them into the jar, and the beer effectively filled the empty space between the sand.   They room roared with laughter.  The professor then said, “Now, please recognize this jar as representing your life.  The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions – and if everything else in your life was lost and only these remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.  The sand is everything else – the small stuff.  If you put the sand in first, there would be no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If you spend your time and energy fretting the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay more attention to the things that are more critical to your happiness.  Spend time with your children, your parents, and your grandparents.  Take your spouse to dinner, play another 18.  There will always be time to fix the disposal and clean the house.  Take care of the golf balls first and set your priorities.  The rest is just sand.”  A student raised her hand and inquired what the beers represented.  The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked!  The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend!”  This story makes me smile, every time.  And today, it served as a much needed reminder to stop and slow down.  To really allow myself to enjoy the important people and things in my life.  Being a single Mom, I get so caught up in the day to day, the routine.  I stress about work, about bills, and about being the only parent to my munchkin.  About my car always breaking down and not being able to afford a new one, or forgetting to buy dog food, again.  Hahaha.  But it’s easy to let the small things worry you and make you feel overwhelmed.  But really looking at it, my life is amazing.  It’s turned into something incredibly wonderful.  I am blessed beyond measure to say I have a healthy and happy child, who loves the Lord and sees the beauty, good, and innocence in everything.  My Mom is here with me now, sharing the burden of raising a child alone, and my Ace Man is so blessed to get to spend this quality time with his Granny.  I have great friends.  A job that I love, with a boss who is so understanding and kind.  He always lets me know that being a Mom is more important than anything else, and if something comes up my job is never in jeopardy.  I am so thankful for that. 

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How's God Messing With You?

How’s God messing with you is a question that is usually asked at least once a week in my life.  This question comes from a mission minded Pastor that started a Missional Committee called Dwelling 1:14.  Prior to knowing anything about this Dwelling 1:14 thing I had never really given any thought to acknowledging how God is messing with me.  After all, does God really do that?  Does God mess with us? Does He somehow try to get our attention?  My answer to those questions is YES! Sometimes God messes with me more than other times.  I think it depends on how stubborn I am being.  It seems as though it is when I start to get comfortable.  Just when I think I have settled in and I feel like I can breathe.  Then God says “Uhhhh Hope, what are you doing?  You can’t grow doing that.  I need you to get out of the boat.”  That’s when I take a deep breath and say “Thank You!”  I usually freak out later.  

The reason I bring this up is because I want to tell you just how God has been and is messing with me.  In 2007 I was getting a divorce for the second time, partying with friends and completely lost.  I felt as if I was a complete failure and that no one could understand what I felt.  And in 2008, I walked back in to the doors of my old church and I haven’t left.  I’ve never felt more alive in my life.  My whole life God has been messing with me; I just couldn’t see it at the time.  At the beginning of this year I was hired at my church to be the Outreach Ministry Coordinator. I cannot express to you how blessed I feel to get to do this. On top of that, I was asked to lead last night’s service at church.  How awesome is that?  God is so great.  I was scared to death to have that privilege but God knows what He is doing. Which brings me back to “How’s He messing with me “, again.   Almost every day this last week 2 Corinthians 12:9 has been in my face.  Oh and the preacher did His Sermon on this Sunday.  It’s amazing how Gods gifts come on time every time.  He knew I would need a scripture for the week.  He knows my fear of public speaking.  As I write this I just can’t help but smile.  God is so amazing and He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us.  We don’t deserve any of it but we got it anyway.  If He could take a broken sinner like me and do all of this just think what He could do with you.  My prayer for anyone reading this is that you always know how much you are loved.  There’s nothing that you could ever do to change that. Even from out brokenness God can and will do great things.  Let yourself be weak so the power of God is greater.  And ask yourself how He’s messing with you?

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Counting It All Joy,


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Independence Day
Our nation just had a birthday, 239 years since brave men refused to bow to an earthly king. This courageous act opened up a place in the world that was free for people to worship their God as they see fit! What a wonderful awesome thing that turned out to be! I am allowed to worship the God of my father without fear of persecution or imprisonment for it. So many in Biblical times weren't so lucky.
In Daniel when God allowed His people to be overcome by other nations, some of the best and brightest were taken to a place far from home and trained in the Persian ways and languages. As the story goes Daniel was one of those best and brightest and he continued to excel by honoring God. He made enemies and had others conspiring to have him killed. They talked King Darius into signing a law that put anyone who prayed to any god but him in the lions' den. Daniel was a good and faithful servant and didn't compromise his faith for that law and was thrown in with the lions. As we all know the story, God didn't forsake Daniel's courage and boldness not to forsake his God.
While what the Founding Fathers did in our nation wasn't for religious freedom, they did ensure they would be allowed to honor their God without worry. God blessed these men with the stability their nation needed to succeed and flourish. As our nation comes under attack by the great deceiver, we must remember to be like Daniel and stand firm in our faith. Not hiding it in the closet but open our windows and bow to pray to God openly and proudly with the confidence that if we don't forsake Him, He won't forsake us. 
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A couple of weeks ago, I went to a day-long women’s retreat at church. It was called “Garden Getaway.” Everything was centered on plants, flowers, gardens, and growing. The metaphor was extended to growing your faith, growing in every season of your life, and walking with God through the garden.

My favorite part was the discussion about insects getting into your garden.


I am no gardener, and what I do try to grow dies. The deaths usually occur because of something I’ve done (or haven’t done), but recently, something else has happened. I received a potted flowering plant as a very thoughtful gift. I’m sure this beautiful flower has a name, but I haven’t a clue. I’ve watched it get eaten away by pests – gaping holes in all the leaves. Since I have no wisdom about plants, I felt helpless. Here is where the metaphor gets really good. These “pests” in our faith, in our lives, in our current “seasons” can be very destructive. And, without wisdom (or the Word), you will feel helpless. Have you ever felt lonely when surrounded by people? Have you ever felt depressed when you have beautiful things surrounding you? Have you ever felt anger over something insignificant (like traffic)? Have you ever been jealous of a really good friend – perhaps your best friend? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions (and we can all say “yes, that’s me.”), there is no need to feel helpless. The insects have gotten in… like my poor flowering-whatsitsname-plant. Insects like anger and loneliness and jealousy and greed and discontent. How can we keep these “pests” from our hearts? How do we stop them from staying if they are already there? Just like Jesus fought the Devil with the Word, we can too. Here is Psalms 32:3-6 “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity…Therefore, let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.” Keeping it all inside will give those “pests” lots and lots of food. At the time of my distress, Lord, I offer my prayer that these pests are taken away.


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “ Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

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Seek Ye First

     I would like to start today off with stating I’m tired of opinions. I think the biggest thing I struggle with as a Christian is not talking about people. I come from a long line of gossipers. I am a straight forward, speak my mind kind of girl. It’s genetic. I can’t help it…. Or can I?


     It’s taking everything inside of me not to post my opinion about flags and rainbows. I am absolutely sick of seeing it on my Facebook feed. Yet, I keep going back to Facebook trolling. Maybe I’m just looking for something positive out of this or maybe I’m hoping God will give me a word to post…. Who knows… only time will tell.


     Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). But the thing that overtrumps sin in my mind right now is LOVE. We all know the verse :

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New International Version (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.



Patient: God’s timing NOT ours. There’s a stirring going in our world. Be patient and seek God. He has a plan. While being patient lose yourself in His word.


Kind: Speak with kindness. o Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


     By all means, I’m not saying I agree with what’s going. But, what I do know is (1 John 4:4) He who lives in me is GREATER than he that is in the world. This is not my battle. It is His. I choose to keep my opinion to myself. I choose to use my time more wisely and pray. Things are getting rather “hairy” in our world. I want to make sure I’m the maidservant that has her oil. I want to make sure I have a firm relationship with my Savior.


     It’s so easy to focus on all the bad things. That’s exactly what the adversary wants. I’m not going to lie, all this ruckus had me shaken up at first. I had to step back and evaluate the situation, then I realized just how strong my faith is, how much of the Word I have retained in my studies, and how much of a burning desire I have in me to please the Lord. I’m still just a baby in my faith though, so I’m not going to sit here and worry about something out of my control. Instead, it’s time for me to dive deeper into His word. It’s time for me to show our boys there’s more time to pray than just at dinner time and bed time. I’ve got to pick up my pace in this race. I don’t want judgment day to come and God not know me.


Gracious Father,

I want to take this time to lift up my fellow Bowabites. Lord, open our eyes so we can see the truth, Open our hearts, so we can love as you do. Let us be overcomers, Lord. God, I ask for a hedge of protection around us. We know times will get tougher. Days will get darker. Although it may get darker God, You will shine even brighter in us. We are ready to stand our ground for you Lord. You are our rock and salvation. Father, if you want us to speak your word, may we hear your message crisp and clear. Let us stand strong like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and our Christianity not be shaken. Let us not bow down to the world for You are our one true King. You are our Abba Father. We love you and praise you. We give thanks to You.




I would like to end with this: All though times are tough and uncertain, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. You are a child of the Most High… and you can do all things through Him as well!

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God's Judgement

Judgement is a topic often discussed today.  Judgement means weighing the evidence to make a decision.  The word is usually given a negative meaning.  We are told “Don’t judge!”  Christians are often portrayed as being “judgemental” towards others.  In reality, everyone judges each other.  And we even judge ourselves.  How do you judge yourself?  The term “self-esteem” is used to describe the way that you feel about yourself, your abilities, your appearance, your worth as a person.  It isn’t based on anything concrete or measurable. 


So how fair are we in this judgement of ourselves?  Do we see ourselves clearly?  Or do we magnify our faults and failures?  Would we judge another person the same as we judge ourselves?  For most of us, we are our own harshest critics.  This is a practice that starts in adolescence, while our bodies are becoming mature and we’re trying to figure out who we are.  We may compare ourselves to others, and try to measure up to worldly standards.  Often, many adults continue this devastating self-judgement.  Men may feel like failures if they aren’t athletic, or don’t have a “powerful” job, or make less money than others.  Women may feel unworthy because of what they weigh, or what they look like, or their lack of a relationship.


As the words to the song “Who I am” ask:

“Am I strong?
Am I good enough?
Do I belong
After all
That I've said and done?
Is it real
When I feel
I don't measure up?
Am I loved?”


Let’s look in the bible to find out the answers.  Right off the bat in Genesis, it talks about how God created man and woman.  On the last day of creation, God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness… So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27).”  For everything else in creation, God said “Let there be…” and it was.  But not for us!  When God created man and woman, He got physically involved.  Genesis 2:7: “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”  He got His hands dirty in the dust and formed us, and breathed into us.  Pretty amazing how up close and personal He gets with us! 


So why do we often think we are worthless or can’t measure up?  Who are we to judge??  We aren’t the judge, God is!  And God spent an awful lot of time and effort making us.  Why would he go to all that trouble if he didn’t think we were worth it? 


It’s time to start taking this in.  God made us and called us good.  It's time to quit arguing with God about that.  If you don’t believe you are good, it is like calling God a liar.  Or that He made a mistake, or messed up.  God doesn’t mess up.  So stop listening to those voices in your head that bring you down.  You don't get to decide if you're good, God has already decided.  You.  Are.  Good.  Please start believing that!


The song continues:

“I am sure I am Yours
I know who I am
I am sure I am Yours

You have made me”


And just for clarification, Good does NOT mean Perfect.  The only one perfect in this life is God.  And that’s OK.  He knows we aren’t perfect; he created us in his likeness, but not to be clones of Himself.  We are images of Him, but we are NOT Him.  But that’s still OK!  Even though we aren’t perfect, He still loves us.  And nothing we do can change that.  He doesn’t want us to spend our lives on Earth burdened with feelings of inadequacy, shame or guilt.  He created us to “be fruitful and multiply” and to spread the Good News of His love with those around us.  In Jeremiah 1:5 it says that "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  Wow!  Before we were even born, God had big plans for us!!  As imperfect as we are.  


So the verdict is in: God isn’t out to judge or condemn us!  He thinks we are good, and He loves us even when we mess up and make mistakes, even when we yell at our kids and cuss at the traffic, even when we strike out in baseball or get fired from our job, even if we weigh more or less than we “should”.  None of that matters to God, because He made us and loves us, no matter what.  I hope you take that to heart.


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How God Sees Us


Have you ever been to a 3-D movie, and worn the special 3-D glasses so you could see all the special effects “pop” out at you?  The 3-D stands for 3-dimension, so you see things vertically, horizontally, and also coming towards you and away from you.  It is an amazing experience in a movie.  It makes the special effects seem more “real” and helps you feel like you are actually in the movie.  It helps you see things differently.


So how does God see us? 


“Rumor has it there’s a gavel in my hand

I’m only here to condemn…” 


One of the verses in the song by Danny Gokey, talks about how people perceive God.  Certainly, there are a lot of reasons for us to think of God as a judge.  In the Old Testament of the bible there are all kinds of stories about His judgement: God flooding the Earth and killing everyone and everything except Noah and his family, destryoing the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire, sending horrible plagues to Egypt, drowning Pharoah’s soldiers in the Red Sea… it goes on and on.  God’s disapproval in the Old Testament was quite evident.


But now, let’s go to the New Testament.  We find the story of God’s son, Jesus.  This shows another side of God, a more “human” side, if you will.  And not only was Jesus here to help us understand God better, He also helped change the way God sees us.  Jesus is kind of like a pair of 3-D glasses.  But let’s call them 3-C glasses, C for Christ.  Jesus acts as a special “filter” to help block out all our sins and mistakes when God looks at us.  Our sins deserve punishment and death, but Jesus came to take our punishment on the cross.  Jesus was punished instead of us, and now God only sees our goodness. 


As the song ends, God is saying: “I'll catch all your tears
Burn your name on my heart
Be still And trust my plan
I'm more than you think I am.”

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{The author is barely a writer, much less an artist. So please forgive the lack of artistic ability. I hope that is not the primary message you take away from this blog!}

My child, you are so nervous, so frantic, brittle, and emotional. Chill out! Did I not lead you down this path? Have I not promised to bring you through it? Of course, the road is hard. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a calling. If this weren’t a difficult road, people would be lining up for the chance to live your life, and I wouldn’t need to call anyone. But they weren't lining up and I did call someone - I called you. And I will be here with you every step of the way, the whole way, always, as I always have been. Think back over your life…

good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?


But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.


Suddenly, you found your calm. You took deep breaths and were able to rise above the surge. You floated it out peacefully.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hands were at work. I never left you.

did you see Them

Did you miss them?


good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?


But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.


Suddenly, you found your bootstraps. You looked inside yourself and found the strength to climb to higher ground. You waited it out peacefully.

unseen hands

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss it?


good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?


But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.


Suddenly, you found your friend. You braced yourselves against the storm together and were able to rise above the surge. You stood it out together.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hands were at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss them?


good life

Do you remember this one? You were having such a good time in life? Playing and laughing in the shallow waters of life?


But then the storms of life overwhelmed you and you were drowning, flailing your arms, and gasping for breath, but the water just kept rising.


Suddenly, your friends found you. They pulled you up out of the deep into safety. They rescued you from your storm.

unseen Hands

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it

Did you miss it?


With your friends sharing the burden, you were able to find your strength and your hope again. You began to climb out of the floodwaters to ride it out peacefully on shore.

unseen Hands 2

But my unseen hand was at work. I never left you.

did you see it 2

Did you miss it?


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.  Psalm 23:4-6, KJV

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7, NIV

Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockerybecause I trusted your Word. Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments—oh, how I love them!—relishing every fragment of your counsel. Remember what you said to me, your servant—I hang on to these words for dear life! These words hold me up in bad times; yes, your promises rejuvenate me. The insolent ridicule me without mercy, but I don’t budge from your revelation. I watch for your ancient landmark words, and know I’m on the right track. But when I see the wicked ignore your directions, I’m beside myself with anger. I set your instructions to music and sing them as I walk this pilgrim way. I meditate on your name all night, Godtreasuring your revelation, O GodStill, I walk through a rain of derision because I live by your Word and counsel.  Psalm 119:41-56, Message

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Trust Without Borders

Earlier this year I read a blog that pushed the opinion that we should stop singing the song "Oceans" by Hillsong United. I read it with an open heart and mind, but finished it with more confusion. The clarity hit. In this blog the author quoted the song where it so beautifully sings:


"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior."


Her argument was we haphazardly sing these words not thinking about their weight. I agree that our words shape our world. Proverbs says there is power of life and death in our words. (Let that sink in a bit.) To paraphrase (but not by much), her question was what if God calls you to be a missionary in another country? I had to sit and think about it. See, the problem isn't the song or its lyrics, as great as the song may be. But if I'm afraid to sing any song because God may ask me to do something for Him that I'm not comfortable with, then the problem isn't the song- its my heart. Why would I not want to be where He leads me? What is in me that is creating that fear? Have we as Christians really reached a point that our prayers resemble something along the line of "God, here I am use me....but only under these conditions?”  I have to believe that Gods knows my heart regardless of the song I sing. He knows my capabilities and my willingness. My "trust without borders" may be moving across state or joining a new ministry team at church. Yours may be becoming a missionary. Someone else may be answering the call to preach. I personally want to go where He leads me. To "walk upon the waters" knowing that the only way I am there is by God’s hand. But I do agree with this point...pray that prayer and He will answer. 


While praying recently about the direction of my life and what I'm called to do or be...I'll admit I was letting my flesh talk louder than my spirit. In fact my prayer one particular day was for God to help me trust Him like never before. To be reminded He doesn't call the equipped but equips the called. I selfishly asked for some sign that He heard me and that I wasn't crazy. That I was on the right path with where I think He wants me. I turned on iTunes radio to have some worship music playing. “Oceans” was the first song to play. And it has been the first song to play nearly every time I turn on my radio. And every time it starts its like I can feel God laughing, saying "you asked didn't you?" (Am I the only one who thinks God sits back and is entertained by me when I do things that deserve a V8 knock to the head? Yes? Ok! Oh well!)


A groups of us were talking this week about how God seems to be stirring His children in a new way. One said "I wish God would just give me a 30 second glimpse as to what my future holds. What He's preparing me for." Initially I agreed. Then I thought about it. If I had a preview of what was to come, could we really handle it or would we just mess it up and run? We forget that He really does know best. And when the time is right, He’ll reveal to us what we need to know. But until then maybe He’s just waiting on us to take down the borders and let Him be God. 


(Side note: As I was closing the computer from finishing this...take a guess what song came on the radio. How'd you know?

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Whom will stand against me?


As we all do at times, I seem to be fighting things on a few different fronts, whether emotion, professional or faith based. These things have a tendency to get us down and open an opportunity for the great deceiver to issue in doubt into our hearts. In these times God finds ways to speak to me be it at church in the pastor’s message or through friends or just a random thing I see scrolling through the ole Facebook. He guides me just as He promised He would in Psalms 23. He will guide us through our darkest days and sustain us in the face of our enemies. With that kind of promise how can we fret? How can we worry? As the Author of Hebrews states in Chapter 13 verses 5 and 6,



“5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' 6 So we may boldly say:

'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'"


What can man do to me? That is a powerful question! With God’s backing we stand apart from the world and there is nothing of the world that can do anything to change that! As we all go through this week let us keep in mind this fact, No matter what we face God has already conquered it and He stands with us with His rod to defend us and His staff to comfort us! May your week be blessed!

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Have A Question?

Have A Question?