Sunday, April 06, 2014

Are we Listening?

 Watch this video before you read my post. This humorous YouTube video will serve as an illustration for the topic of this post   Both, parent and child are claiming the other is not listening.   My work, teaches me to actively listen to my clients: using rephrasing and restating.  It helps both me and the client to process responses.  Sometimes we ask or wonder if God is listening to us, when the better question is: Are we listening to God?   People speak in terms we are often familiar with, however we may not be as in tune with the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I am learning a few concepts about listening for God's promptings.     
1. God desires and allows us to know and discover his voice...    “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:" John 10:27.  The sheep represent God’s children.  This verse also states that the sheep know and hear God’s voice,   they are known by God and Christ.  I believe wholeheartedly God is able to speak audibly if He chooses to.  Let’s just be honest I’ve never heard God speak audibly to me.  While I can’t speak for others, I think it would be hard to say others have either, unless of course they lived during the of Jesus’ ministry.  Though not hearing God’s voice does not mean God isn’t speaking, and t we should not listen.  
2. It is impossible to listen to God without spending some form of time in His presence. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:12-13. One reason I changed the name of my blog to: From Head to Heart, is because I know it is possible to know God’s word in my mind, but not n allow those words to affect my life and heart.  Unless I allow God’s words to make the way from head to heart, I’m living purely from a legalistic knowledge, and not intimacy with God. The Bible says God rewards those who seek, listen to, and place their trust in him. Hebrews 11:6
3.  One of the primary ways God speaks is through his promises.  I shall delight[in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.
Psalm 119:15:16.  Sometimes, in my own life, because of doubt, or just simply because I’d like another answer, I fail to listen to the truth God has given clearly in a given situation.  If God has already provided the answer in the Bible, the phrase do what has already been stated applies.
4.  God also speaks through our own past and present experiences.  This might be through an answer to our prayer, or a challenge we face.  We may choose to waste our trials, but God never intended that.  I watch on a weekly basis as God redeems the agony of cancer into ministry.  It is often difficult for me to listen and look for ways to use my life experiences, but when I do listen and respond, God speaks and reveals himself. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in ]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor.1:3-4.   I wonder sometimes if we are not like the child in the video saying Lord you are not listening to us.  I envision the Lord responding graciously yet firmly. No, child You are not listening to me!  God often repeats his message to affirm it to us.  Are we listening? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The News is Out! Big News!

I love when I have big news to share especially when the news is exciting.   If you follow me on Facebook, then this could be old news but will you indulge me briefly.  My dear friend Jennifer Hand has an e-book out with Amazon called 31 Days to Coming Alive devotional  She is passionate about the  the message, and I'm really proud of her!  It has taken me awhile to wrap my brain around the excitement. The truth is my friend Jennifer Hand has always followed her dreams and this book is no exception.  Jenn is brave in ways many of us have never had the courage to be.  Jennifer Hand sincerely loves Christ, and she makes me want to be brave!  Do you want to live a life of fullness?    If you do, Jenn can and will point you to the One who can take you upon this journey!  In the near future I plan to interview Jenn on my blog about the book.  I'm even more humbled and most honored Jenn has graciously allowed me to be a contributor in the book. You  see, my dear friend Jenn knows I have loved writng since childhood.  She knew the joy that would overflow at the thought of sharing what God has given me.  This post is to tell you and Jenn, as she made her own dream come true by committing her dream and vision to God, He has made mine a reality too.  I have tried not to be overly loud about my personal role in the project, one because Jenn has done all the hard work and I'm so proud of her!  The truth is my goal is not to be a NY Times Bestselling author, I simply want to inspire people by the written word pointing them to the One who makes my life make sense.In all honesty though, I can hardly contain my joy excitement, and gratitude to God and Jenn for allowing me to be published in the book, and to be part of this and get my writing into hands and hearts.   All that to say that I'm so thrilled to have a part in the book, and even more thrilled to call Jennifer Hand a friend!  The books will be in print in a few weeks I will let you know when, but for now, it is on Kindle APP for much less than 5 dollars.    Jenn thank you again!  To those looking for renewal, or just want to check it go for it!  Stayed turned for the interview soon.  I have more blessings to share in an upcoming post!  I'm blessed....  Special thanks to Blaine Vandegriff for promoting the book on social media.To all who are reading or have the book  You all won't regret this read Jennifer Hand is funny, charming, and passionate!

Find the Ebook here

Saturday, March 15, 2014

God Is In the Remodel!

For some of you I know the word remodel or makeover conjures images of a dream come true. You probably have thought long and hard about the colors you would choose and how perfect things will look. You may even look at magazines or spend hours online looking for the perfect color scheme and fabric. I hate to disappoint those who have the passion for remodeling. You will not induct me as remodel president. You see I love the finished product, where the final snapshot is revealed. However it is the process that takes place before the finishing touch that gives me both a literally and figuratively headache.  I appreciate those who paint and work hard to display beauty.  We are in the middle of a living room and dining room remodel.  My grandmother, has the joy of finally remolding a bit.  I’m so thrilled for us and especially for her, however, in my brain the word remodel means getting rid of stuff.  It means disruption and distraction.  It means sorting through items and throwing away.  It means rearranging objects that seem okay to me right where these are.  The irony is that I know everything will look beautiful when it is complete.  The new paint already makes everything look brighter and like another place entirely. 
I often have the same response in relation to spiritual remolding…  I wonder if most of us have a similar response.  We love the result of God sanctifying us, and becoming Christlike. I don’t believe most of us want God to clean out our messiness, and refine us.  It is painful and inconvenient and it leaves us exposed.    In the end and even in the between, I envision that our Savior is likely saying see my child, all of this remolding and pruning is for a divine purpose, I’m conforming you into the image of Christ.  You only see glimpses of beauty now, but on that final day you will see the completion of my flawless work in whole.  Our dining and living room remodel will be worthwhile and beautiful upon completion. Now we see only small glimpses of the final reveal. This is true for those who walk with God. We cannot see the all revealing beautiful work of Christ just yet.  We are offered beautiful in our lives but sometimes we can be so busy being distracted by the mess in front of us,  we miss the amazing progress occurring.  God is teaching me I can trust Him to refine me. In a spiritual sense to perform a renovation on my mind and soul.   Remodeling takes time. Our spiritual transformation will take longer, and the results at times are far less noticeable. Isn’t great to know that our Heavenly does not leave His work within us incomplete?  By faith in his promise, we can know God is able and willing to display His glory as He confines and refines us!   
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.” Isa. 64:8
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29

My friends on a fun note I have to know are you a remodel junkie?

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Confessions of s scared Writer Part 1

Just a couple of months ago, maybe more, I made a goal for myself to blog at least once a week. For the sake of improving my skills as a writer. I honestly did not think it would be difficult. Several months in to this project/goal it is clear that thus far it's been an epic fail. This wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact, I'm aware of the fact that unless I commit to writing I'll never get to where I desire to be. The thoughts and excuses that run through my mind like a movie scene are endless. What's the point of writing?   You're not competent enough or educated enough to make your mark as a writer. Distractions are everywhere Facebook the dog and just my own laziness played a crucial role in my lack of follow-through.  My mind flashes back to she speaks 2012, where I remember author Emily P Freeman reading a quote from Mark Batterson which states: "the question is not whether God has called you to be a published author, rather the question is has God called you to write?"  The word called has as always been sort of a strong word of my mind. I never really thought of the word "calling" unless it pertains to a person serving in full-time ministry. It isn't that I don't believe that God gives everyone a purpose, of course I do. Those purposes are no less or more significant  than the purpose of someone in full time ministry.. Can I honestly say "God has called me to write? It feels almost arrogant to make such a claim. The truth is whether it is a calling or not,  it is more  a calling than anything else I've ever felt compelled to do. The obstacle staring back at me most at the moment is what if no one relates to my writing voice. What if I have nothing worth writing?  What if I'm too transparent? What if I'm not transparent enough? These are just a few of the thoughts swirling through my brain.  I read  the first chapter of Revelation where God tells John on the island of Patmos to write down his vision  He was there preaching the word of God having been exiled   One day He was worshiping, and he encountered a prophetic vision from Christ.  I imagine the fear, doubt, and sense of urgency he might have experienced when the Lord instructed to write down the vision.    “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.]This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”  Revelation 1:19-20 

Let me be clear I have never seen a prophetic vision nor do I expect to, but I do believe at times in life, God may offer a clear word or direction for his children.  Have you experienced this in your own life?  As I read this and other verses where God tells his children to write down his words, I was reminded how important writing can be for those God has given this task.  .Never will there be another book as important as the bible.Know this however, it does not mean God is unwilling or unable to use present day writing to minster to others.
  Writing often helps people keep a record of what God is doing in their midst.  If I wait for a moment, when my writing is perfected, I’ll never share anything I write, because what I  write will never be perfect.  Do I want to improve yes, but as with so many things in life, my writing craft and skills need God’s grace to soak through.  A friend reminded me, God does not call the qualified, but rather He qualifies the called.  Most days I feel unqualified to write, but the more I write, I’m convinced God is willing and able to equip me.  Have you ever felt unqualified?  How did you find the courage to risk and make yourself available despite your doubts?  Did your experience bring a positive outcome?  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Laugh?

Dedicated to Margaret Long and Madeline Ellis
If you are around my family much there is one element that is present at any family gathering.  Well if you count food as one, there are actually two elements present.  The one I want to focus on here, as we have entered into 2014 is laughter. There is rarely ever a shortage of laughter when my family is together.  There is no doubt there is much to be serious about in this life, but the abundant life Christ promised us isn't’ one that is void of laughter.    Do you ever wonder if Jesus laughed?  I have really no doubt that He did, because the Bible says He Christ made himself like us in every way.  When Jesus allowed Children to come to him, I believe that He allowed them to come as who they were, laughter and all.  There are some who would say that laughing with God is irrelevant, but I disagree….     Laughter makes life richer….  My mom and I laughed last night when she mistakenly gave a Hobby Lobby card to the cashier at Starbucks.  We laughed when my aunt bought groceries from Kroger and upon pushing the cart to the van the toilet paper rolled into the street.  We were not the only ones laughing then.    As a result of my being a deep thinker people often miss or overlook my fun side.  Laughter makes the hard times lighter and more manageable.  Laughter is a gift from God.  “There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecc. 3:4 
A life without laughter is a life lacking something.  I’m glad I have a family that knows how to laugh.  I remember when my cousin Bill, my uncle Ron, and another family member, all ran around the pool like mad men chasing my little cousin Jack, before he dove in the pool with his nice clothes on.  If memory serves me correctly they did not catch him before dove in, and we burst into laughter.  I think we were all so amused that I don’t recall his getting into trouble for his big jump.   
Sometimes it is good to laugh at yourself.  Like the time I introduced a classmate by the wrong name to someone, as I drove away, his girlfriend asked why I called him by another first AND yes last name too. 
 Like any other gift in life if we use laughter poorly or in the wrong way at the wrong time, we can hurt ourselves and others.  No one uses laughter perfectly, all the time, but laughter is healthy for body and soul.  I want to tell you about two sisters who laugh together and have fun wherever they go and whatever they face….  One has chemo brain sometimes, and the other is sometimes suspected of possibly having slight conversational ADD.  I think this verse describes both these sisters. “

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future Prov.”31:25

    One of these women is my Aunt, and the other is my mom.  They spread the gift of laughter wherever they are, and many uplifted by their fun and optimism.  I’m blessed to have their genes.  Does someone in your life make you laugh?  I’d love to hear about them!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas Pictures

You may have noticed I've been more silent on this blog this Christmas than in the past as I'm processing privately rather than publicly at this time.  Please know I value each of you, and look forward to reading your posts.Merry Christmas to you from me.  I'll touch base in 2014.  I'll wrap up with Christmas pictures past and present.  Blessing to you as you Celebrate the Birth of Jesus!
1988ish my brother Pawpaw and me...

Monday, November 25, 2013

When is Thanksgiving? Doing something different this year

I have an ugly confession to make. I have not been very thankful the last couple weeks as Thanksgiving is approaching this Thursday. I don't really have a legitimate excuse. I am blessed just as I have been blessed since before I was born. Those of you who have read my blog for any length of time know that for the last several years I have. A Thanksgiving 100 list. As much as I've enjoyed this the last few years, it has become more important to me to be thankful not only by claiming a list of things I'm thankful for, but it is truly showed this and live it out. Rather than making a list this year I want to just share some brief reflections.
I'm thankful for continual forgiveness when I fail... If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteous first John 1:9
I'm thankful for and unmovable unshakable love. Though the mountains be shaken and the heels the removed my unfailing love and my covenant of blessing will not be removed from you. Isaiah 54: 10
I'm thankful for provisions only God can provide: Philippians 4:19 and my God will supply all my needs according the great riches of Christ in Christ Jesus.
I'm thankful for my family and friends: God always provides people I need at the time when I need them. I think my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3
I am thankful for my mom's stable health…
I'm thankful that even when I have down weeks like I have recently, and I'm not vocally thankful in my words are my attitude that God's still blesses me with .underserved gifts.
I'm thankful for my dog Franklin.
I'm thankful that I live in the United States of America, even when almost daily there is something that people complain about with regard to the country.
I'm thankful for reconciliation of broken relationships that is ongoing.
I'm thankful for the privilege of the week participating corporate worship.
I am thankful for modern medicine and for Sarah Cannon research Institute in Nashville Tennessee
I am thankful for the saving of the unborn babies in 2013
I'm thankful for caring church.
I'm thankful for those who participate on my blog even when my post are sporadic.
I'm thankful for nonjudgmental people in the judgmental world.
I'm thankful for modern technology.
I'm thankful for the health issues that I don't have to endure.
I'm thankful for the people who care for me on a weekly basis.
I'm thankful for the strength of power to do things through Christ that I could have never done on my own.
I'm thankful for simple joys in life, that I'm often tempted to take for granted.
Lastly but not least I'm thankful because of Christ always have and will hope no matter how dark things may look.
I'm thankful that both in and out of season there is always reason to be thankful.

In Ephesians Christians are commanded to be thankful regardless of season or circumstance. For those who has experienced losses, trials and continuous difficulties this may seen unfair or unreasonable, however If. We know Christ as our personal Savior is not an unreasonable demand. In fact, any other response is nothing short of ridiculous. I am thankful that God is patient and compassionate when his children struggle with the attitude of gratitude in all our days. Let's follow the example of Christ himself, and ask him to fill our hearts with the gratitude, that He is is most deserving of! If like me you find yourself in a rut and struggling to live out gratitude everyday, then this is something we need to confess, and commit to prayer, and ask the Lord for his perspective and His joy. Over the last month, there has been a practice on social media to list something you are thankful for every day for one month. While I know this is a fun game that I have participated in the past, this really isn't any different from what we as Christians are called todo on a daily basis only we do it more with our hearts and our words instead of simply posting it as our Facebook status. I hope that you and your family have a delightful Thanksgiving. Thank you for visiting please feel free to leave a few reasons you are thankful in the comments section of this blog. If you are more private in your gratitude, I respect that. I would encourage you to take inventory of what you are thankful for not only during the holiday season, but as a regular practice in your life. note I felt it was important enough to dictate this post, I'm using voice activated software so if you find uncorrected mistakes that is why. Please do your best to decipher the and send it words :-)  I will visit your blogs soon.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Day I Got Caught!

The day I got caught… A little over a year ago, I attended She Speaks writer’s conference in North Carolina. My friend and I rode the elevator many times that weekend. The last day, I was feeling tired from all the excitement and my brain was on overload. I had met many people on the elevator that weekend, but this time was different. A woman with a large rolling backpack entered the elevator. You would think with my having a physical disability, I would have been prepared for what happened next. I tried not to stare but I couldn't take my eyes off of the physical scars that were apparent on her face. It didn't occur to me to ask her questions. I was torn. I didn't know how this woman, who I didn't know at all might respond to a question regarding something so personal. It seems as though we were on the elevator forever. The silence was killing me, and I'm sure the silence must have been making her uncomfortable as well. She broke the ice by striking up a conversation with me. One would think my being in a wheelchair all my life would make me more sensitive to situations like these.  Shouldn't I have been the one to be more tolerable and open? It was evident she wasn't seeing my chair upon talking to her. She wasn't being mean to me for staring at her. She offered to give me information about her personal testimony, and her desire to minister to others. I could not help feeling deeply convicted as we parted ways that day. I of all people should know the pain of being judged by physical appearance alone. I learned a lesson from that sweet woman that day.  I became aware of just how tempting it is to judge by appearance, even if I have been judged by the same standard. I have more understanding and compassion, not only for those who are being judged, I also have compassion for those who are doing the judging as a result of this experience.  In that moment, I had judged a woman solely on what had happened to her, even though I didn't know what that something was. This woman, to be honest I don't even remember her name now,showed me how our Savior teaches us to view those made in His image. Instead of being angry with me, because in my ignorance and curiosity I stared at her, she chose to use that as a door of opportunity to minister to me. This woman's humility is beyond anything I have seen upon the earth. As Christians, we must ask God to help us see with spiritual eyes like Jesus does. . When I came home from the conference I opened the packet of information she gave me, and I was in awe of her depth and wisdom. I was humbled by her desire to educate and inform others about her ministry. This beautiful woman inside and out could have chosen to be bitter and resentful for her lot in life. She could have chosen to be angry because no doubt throughout her life I'm probably not the first person, who  stared at her, and sadly I'm sure I won't be the last. I wonder if most of us would be so bold to allow those uncomfortable and painful moments in our lives to be a window to educate others in their own struggles and pain. I don't know where this woman is ended up. I do know her courage and strength were an inspiration to me that day. I will make a conscious effort to extend the same grace and mercy that this wonderful person did, whether I am on the side of tempting to judge another person by physical appearance, or if I am the recipient of someone else's judgment. Immediately after that encounter: the Lord brought a verse to my mind. "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" 1 Samuel 16:7.
We live in an appearance driven culture. It is comforting to know that we worship a Savior who sees beyond the outer appearance, and concerns Himself far more with the depth of our character and beauty of our souls! As Christians, we must ask the Lord to help us see those we come in contact with using spiritual eyes, even when it comes to that which is physical. This woman who taught me one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned, has a beautiful soul. She has even more than that, she has a beauty that is displayed through brokenness and physical scars Likewise this is the same with Jesus Christ! He bore our pain and took our scars: yet there is none more beautiful than the Savior Christ the Lord!  Have you ever had a similar exprience?

Monday, October 28, 2013

We All Need Somebody

Hello readers
it is been far too long since my last blog post. My intention is for that to stop as of today.  It is not fair for you if the reader to not have consistently when you come to this blog, and quite frankly my own lack of consistency in this area is  discouraging to me.  Please allow me to give you a brief overview of what I've been doing the last few weeks. First, in addition to my volunteer position two days a week, I have joined an online writers training program called Compel: attempted as well to join an online Bible study, but this has not worked out so well. I am loving the compel lectures offered by Proverbs 31 ministries. While I love the book  confident heart and this will be my third time to actually read it. I haven't done a a good job of interacting with the online Bible study. I honestly think that I have overcommitted myself somewhat!  I have discovered that I don't do well achieving goals by myself.last Sunday night I was given the privilege of sharing with my church the impact that our 40 day prayer challenge has had on me. God was faithful as he always is to take my weakness and use it for his honor and glory. I was deeply encouraged by the love and encouragement offered by my church family. Lately it seems God has been reminding me of how important it is to be plugged in to real genuine community. Yesterday I saw the movie Capt. Phillips. This movie in many ways illustrated the same point. The message that the captain continued to give his crew was stick together, despite the fact that they have been attacked by a ruthless enemy. This doesn't just make for good triumphal movie, it is also a deeply scriptural principle. Community happens in many different forms. Whatever the form community may come in it is essential to well-being and success.I know that 95% of the time social media gets a bad wrap, and some of it is no doubt deserved. For me though, social media has provided a sense of community when circumstances prohibited me from leaving my house.  King Solomon in Ecclesiastes stresses the importance of community and knowing that one is not alone. If we are attacked and we have no one to support us, then we are no doubt doomed to fall prey. If we have community, then even if we fall – it will not be fatal. Those who support us can't help us to get back up and run the race again. 9  "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."  Ecc. 4: 9 – 11
I have been very blessed in the sense that God has always provided for me at least a couple of genuinely sincere relationships no matter what season of life I find myself in. There are times when it takes a lot of work to get into a community where you belong and feel that you can be the person that God created you to be. The older I get, the more this become an essential need and priority to me. I'm not talking about codependent friendship, I've been down that road: and some days am still tempted to do so. I am fully aware of the fact that being in community is part of God's desire for his children. At different times in my life the sources through which I have experience community have been different depending upon the season. In the past, I have always been eager to hold on to whatever relationships or friendships God might bring them to my path. I do believe that loyalty is a good quality to have friendship, however as I have matured over the last couple of months, I have realized that it is okay for friendships to grow and change. It is even okay to maintain a friendship for a season, and not a lifetime. Trust me when I say, that everything in my being wants to protest the statement I just wrote. It is okay to want meaningful relationships in life, butI have made the mistake  ofnot allowing myself to establish the possibility of new friendship, for fear that it might somehow eradicate  or hinder the few friendships which are precious to me. I am a firm believer that we were never intended to have numerous genuine companions. I don't mean that we should not be nice to all people. The Bible says just the opposite of that love one another without stipulation. Even Jesus had special individuals in the in his life. It didn't mean that Jesus was prideful, because clearly Jesus is the perfect example of humility!While I won't list these individuals personally, it is my hope and desire that they know that they are part of my community, and they  don't need their names listed in order to be confident of this. Today I'm thankful for God's perfect wisdom in offering me community and every season and in different ways!
what ways have you found that has led to genuine community?
How do you define fellowship? I'd love to get your feedback, as I explore these questions for myself.thank you for sticking with me and I plan to be back in touch with you soon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's a Girl!

Last week I had a computer crash...  It is still not fully up to standard...  It has good for my sanity and mom's that she had a week off treatment.  Something exciting did happen though.  After much prayer and conviction, I have a child....  Did you faint yet?  No, I didn't give birth...  I didn't adopt.For years I have wanted to sponsor a compassion International child, but always put off, but when I could no longer avoid the fact that God had planted this desire,  I knew what I had to do. I went online and looked for children who needed sponsorship.  I know I'm not the parent, but what joy it has already brought to me to be a part of a child's life.  It went without saying for me I would choose a girl to sponsor.  I know boys need love and support too, but sponsoring a girl seemed right.  I wrote my first letter Anelis today.She is 4 from Bolivia.  I have heard Michael W Smith speak of compassion International for years at concerts, but never responded, for several reasons...  However recently every place I went something was said or done to promote Compassion.  I was concerned about the financial commitments, but once I went to the website, and I knew I would do whatever I needed to do!  Have you ever done something that turned out to be far more rewarding than you imagined?  Love to hear about it!  By the way, if you want to check out more about compassion you can here...  For me, the time was right,  and it is already a blessing!  Here