Monthly Archives: November 2012

Adventures With The Little Things – The Little Red Cards

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Skyline church has set out on a mission, a campaign if you will, to make a difference – to share smiles and pay it forward – within this community and beyond. As the card reads,

Thank you for allowing me to serve you today. May God bless your life in such a way that you will be compelled to share your blessing with others through The Little Things”. We believe that when a gift is given, whether big or small, it can make a world of difference. Your challenge is to make even a small difference in someone else and spread the love as we enjoy the small blessings of life.

Yesterday, I wanted to put this idea into action. I started working on exactly this, and the result was mind-blowing. At least to me. Here is what I had to say about it yesterday:

The Little Things…I cannot say enough about this. What an incredible experience. I’m honestly not sure if the recipient of these or if the giver walks away from the experience more excited.

I know I have been having a really rough time lately, and the last day or two have just been heartbreaking in different ways. So, as a way to focus on something else – and because I wanted to make a difference, I remembered our little campaign. I decided to be a part of this. I didn’t do anything spectacular, I simply paid for the person behind me in line’s drink at Starbucks. As I drove away, the amount of joy it brought in that moment was unbelievable. I know the $4 and change that I gave did not change the world, but it certainly impacted mine by just reaching out.

It sometimes really is the little things that have the potential to make the biggest difference. Take time today to figure out a way to become involved with this. You may just find yourself touched in ways you wouldn’t have imagined.

Today, I was having some trouble keeping my mind focused on Him. So, what did I do? I pulled out another card, and went on a mission. Sharing this joy with others is REALLY impacting me and bringing such strength.

Another guest story shared today on Skyline’s website:

Today I embraced the spirit of this season and with these little red cards (The Little Things) in hand, I went out, set on making a difference. As I explored, I saw a new business, right in the heart of O’Fallon. A cupcake and coffee shop. Who doesn’t need that? So, after I purchased my own goodies, I left enough cash to buy the next person some sweet treats. I have no idea what the reaction was or will be from the recipient of this little gift, but the shop owner and workers were touched. Their reactions alone made it all worth it. They mentioned how “it is just so nice…a sweet thing to do.” We had the opportunity to talk about God, and also about Skyline. “I have never seen such love from a church.” That is a comment I will take with me and keep in the back of my mind. What an experience. Thank you Skyline Church for this opportunity to make even a small impact in the lives of people around us.

Skyline’s pastor is a person of integrity. He doesn’t just ask the congregation to do something, while sitting back idle – waiting to see results. Instead, he gets right out there with the rest of us, feet on the ground – going about sharing and spreading love in this community and beyond. His heart is with and for people. This is what he had to say about his initial experiences with this: (you can also find a link to Pastor Lance’s personal blog in his response. I urge you to check it out.)

Today I took a little road trip full of Little Things. It began as Pastor Chris and I went to every school in O’Fallon to bless the office staff with a dozen doughnuts at each school. I just loved seeing the smiles on their faces as we said, “We just want to say thanks for the difference you make in our schools.”

Our Journey didn’t end there, however, as we continued our mission to bless the people of O’Fallon with of all things…..QUARTERS. A little change in the coin return of a vending machine (who doesn’t like finding some change), $.75 taped with a card at a gas station air pump (why do we have to pay for air?), $1.50 left behind at a car wash, some quarters strategically placed in the shopping carts at Aldi’s, and my favorite….quarters left in the bubble gum machines at Wal-Mart.

We did reap a harvest of smiles and “thank you’s” in the schools, but our other “Little Things” were done anonymously. I can only imagine what might go through those people’s minds…especially the kids at the bubble gum machine. The image of their smiles make all the difference in the world for me.

I have a few more ideas on my blog page….maybe you should check it out in the post “The Little Things Make A Big Difference”. http://themusingloft.blogspot.com/

The entire scope and purpose of this post is to encourage you to dig deeper. Join in on this. If your church doesn’t have a “Little Things” sort of campaign – create one! You really have no idea how something small can be life changing. But, what has become more important than anything else in this equation is that it’s often the giver that is touched and moved more than the receiver. Give it a try. I’d LOVE to see your stories. Please don’t hesitate to share how this (or something like it) makes a difference in your life or community. As always, you can feel free to use the “Contact Me” page OR posting directly in comments. Keep this going!

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When Disappointment Leads to Trust

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There are times in our lives where disappointment will happen. Often, things outside of our control, will leave us shaking our heads, and wondering where God is in the equation. If we truly believe the Bible, then we have to know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. So, looking through those lenses – if you ever knew God was real, know that He STILL is. If you ever realized that He is God, and He is in control – He still is! He loves you – He always has and He always will!

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are these times, and like it or not – there isn’t much we can do about it. However, it’s how we react in during these situations that build either strong character, or a weakened character.

As I have mentioned recently, I am facing some unsure health concerns. One week ago, I was supposed to have a consult with the breast surgeon to see what we’re looking at, and how he sees fit to handle it. We then were scheduled at a different location, with a different doctor. That appointment was to be this morning. As it turned out, there was a scheduling error and the appointment needed to be rescheduled. Again. When I was told the appointment would now be delayed an additional two weeks, I cried. To be perfectly honest, I’m just ready for this to be over. Good or bad, I KNOW that God is in control. I can honestly say that I do not fear the results. I’ve just been tired of feeling like I feel, and not having answers.

As I sit here and ponder, I realize that there are good things that can come from even the waiting. God is somehow working in my heart on the topic of patience. As I was sharing my disappointment with a friend, it was aptly pointed out that in the delay, there will be more time to pray. That, right there, showed me a different perspective.

I have found myself in the middle of some intense emotions – both good and bad. The unfortunate part has been that my emotions have been pretty much all over the place. There are times I feel like I can’t do this anymore. When I feel that way, God reminds me that I can – often through the love and support of people He’s strategically placed in my life! So, for what it’s worth – please know I’m grateful for those of you who have taken the time to just be there — to be a friend, to pray, and to just encourage. To those of you who have walked a mile in these shoes, I’m sorry. For all who have just been a friend, listened, and simply cared – you have my gratitude.

Though I have been really disappointed with all the hurrying up to wait, I am learning the concept of trusting God in a whole new way. He is my Father. He is my Friend. He is my Strength. He is my Joy. He is my Healer. See a pattern here? I’m really learning, and putting into practice these things — He is my everything.

God Or Coincidence, Part 2

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Very recently, I made a post about God and coincidence – as it related to praying for my car, and watching it come back to life! This morning at church, something happened that allowed me to ask the same question: God or coincidence?

As I was preparing to video our church service, my camera decided it wanted to test my faith! (Before you decide it’s time to cart me off to the loony bin, I know it is an inanimate object not really plotting against me!) This said, I set my tripod up, and attached my camera. Just as I do ever other week. This time, however, things did not go as planned. My camera jumped right off my tripod, landing not so skillfully on the concrete floor! Looking it over, I determined it wasn’t irreparably damaged! However, upon turning it on, all it showed was a bright screen full of fine static. It would not record, and showed no images or videos saved. Okay, so this is not good. The service was to start in less than a half an hour, and I had this non-working camera. Not great.

It was right then and there that I decided to pray. If nothing else, I knew prayer would do no harm. I did, however, have faith that God could and would work this out. So, I turned my camera back on – nothing. I then felt as if I heard Him say to focus on the light. Somehow, I knew to find the brightest light source around. So, I did that. Again, nothing. I kept feeling like that was the answer…so, once again, I aimed it at the light, and proceeded to try and focus. As I did that, the thing started working. All files that were there previously (but were showing gone) were there. All functionality had been restored to my camera. With minutes to spare before starting to record, my camera was fully operational – as if nothing had ever happened. God or coincidence? I’m going to go with God on this one as well. It just instilled in me that He cares about all things.

I am also going to take it one step further. I looked at this as a practical example of a spiritual principle. Think about the following example. Say you fall down. It’s easy to feel broken, and even moreso – easy for things to not feel or work right. What was once there, cannot be found. You may feel broken, scared or like life will never work again – like nothing will be the same. However, my encouragement to you is this: If you will keep your eyes focused on Him, and – no matter what the circumstances seem like – keep adjusting and re-focusing on Him, things will eventually fall into place again. Broken pieces will be restored. Peace will be found, and life will be alright. With God as your focus, everything else seems to fall into place.

Look to Him and just know that He is in control. No matter what “this” is, KNOW that He’s got this!

Praying For Your Pastor

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You will often hear me talk about praying for the people God has in leadership positions – and in this case, pastors everywhere. The following are some personal guidelines that I keep in mind when praying for the leadership at my church. Where there are any names, you can substitute your own. This is by no means a complete list. For me, sometimes it helps to have a focus to my prayers.

First, let’s pray for God’s heart for Pastors Lance, Scott and Chris – and their families. Remember to not speak critical of them, but serve them with love through the ministry of prayer. Pray for them continuously throughout the day.
Here are a few areas to keep in mind when praying:

1. FAMILY – Proverbs 3:33
Pray for their marriage and families to be blessed.

2. STRENGTH – Isaiah 40:30-31
For the joy of the Lord, Rest, Strength – Physical, Spiritual, Emotional and Mental

3. PROTECTION – Psalm 91:1-16
Pray for a Shield of Protection from spiritual attacks, from criticism, and pray for their physical health.

4. PRAYER LIFE – Acts 6:4
Pray for a strong prayer life, and personal relationship and intercession for others.

5. DIRECTION – John 10:27
Pray they will be guided by God, and hear and obey His voice.

6. VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION – Matthew 6:13
Pray that they would not be led into temptation, and that they would resist the enemy.

7. ANOINTING – Luke 4:18
Pray for their teaching, preaching, and leading Skyline in worship – pray also for the presence of God.

8. PEACE – Philippians 4:7
Pray for the peace of God to rule their hearts.

9. FAVOR – Luke 2:52
Pray for favor with both God and man – with many open doors to share Jesus.

10. CHURCH – Ephesians 4:13-15
Pray for a continuously supportive and loving church family, that they mature and grow in Christ, and they continue to have a passionate vision to reach the lost.

11. PROVISION – Matthew 6:11
Pray for continued provision for the church vision, along with provision for their home and family.

God’s Answer To Prayer – Or Sheer Coincidence?

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you prayed and believed God for something – and your prayers were answered? If you answered yes to this question, did you just KNOW it was an answer to prayer, all the while having well meaning friends or family stress that it was just a coincidence? While people will believe what they want with reference to coincidences, I’m inclined to believe in a God larger than life – who listens to the prayers of His people – and cares even about the small details of our lives.

Holding true to my character, I have a story to tell.

My black Friday was anything but normal. Today, I did not go out shopping. I have long since decided that my sanity is worth more than that! I did, however, have to leave the house. I was on my way to pick up the kids. (They were visiting family.) As I was driving, my car started acting strange. It was as if the accelerator was malfunctioning. I would push the gas pedal, and my car wouldn’t respond. The engine would rev up, but not accelerate. It’d slowly pick up speed, but it’s like the timing was off. Then, if I let my foot off the gas, it would do nothing for 2-3 seconds – then would go about slowing down. It made driving interesting, but not seemingly unsafe. I did a system check, and all systems were a go. No errors or problems detected. This was until I got about 5 minutes away from their house. I wasn’t sure what to make of it (other than my car was not cooperating) – the little wrench symbol lit up. Great, a car issue. Then, the words “CHECK TRANSMISSION” came up and glared at me. Because it was dark, and freezing outside, I opted to keep on driving.

As the drive ended, and I reached my destination, I went on with life as normal. This was until I tried to leave. I packed up the kids, and started my car. As I put the car in reverse, pressed the gas pedal, and attempted to back up, my car (parked on a hill) only wanted to move forward. I turned the car off, and back on. The error lights and transmission wording kept coming back. Lovely, I was now stranded across state lines. Not how I enjoy spending my day. We waited a while, and tried again. And again. To no avail.

It was apparent that my car was not going to cooperate on it’s own. So, we called our roadside assistance folks, and got a tow truck to come on it’s merry way. Just to make sure, we tried starting it and attempting to back up. Again, didn’t work.

In the interim, I called a couple of people to ask for a variety of advice – if people knew good mechanics in the area, if they knew where to take the car OR where to avoid taking it. Since I was unfamiliar with the city I was in, I had no idea where to turn – or who to trust. I had one phone call, however, that changed the course of history. Well, history as I knew it this evening. The tow truck was on it’s way, and I’d already asked the driver if he could tow it the rest of the way (not covered by the roadside assistance) and we’d pay the difference. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. He could not take it over state lines. He was not covered for interstate commerce. Now, this seemingly left us with just one possibility. We’d have the car towed to a local dealership, worked on and have to drive back over to get it afterwards. So, back to this history changing phone call…

As we were talking, I explained my strong desire to have my car closer to my house for repairs. I just really wanted a tow truck driver who could transport across state lines. That’d make life easier all the way around. So, I was told a story about the faith of a group of people trying to catch a flight. They were on standby, three tries, and three failures. They HAD to make their destination, and so they HAD to be on this flight. They prayed and KNEW God would go before them to prepare a way. They had the faith that, even though the airline told them there was NO WAY that they were getting on that flight, they were. Long story short, through a series of events, they got on that particular flight. God took care of them, and they made it to their destination without further delay. All I mention that story to say is that (as I was talking on the phone) I realized that God can work out situations on our behalf. Situations that seem like they have no other hope…no way out…He is able. So, right there on the phone, we prayed and asked God to help me get my car towed to a place close to home. However that needed to happen, we had faith that He would do it.

So, as I got off the phone, it was time to wait on the tow truck. As I waited, however, I had another idea. I took those moments to just sit in His presence, and listen — to be quiet before Him. I felt such peace, and such gratitude for all He’s done in my life, and all He is going to do. As I sit, I began to talk to God. I told him my desires…and that I loved Him and would trust Him regardless of the outcome. Then, as my faith grew and was strengthened right there in that moment, I was bold with my faith. I expressed the desire to be able to drive my car home myself – for my car to be fixed, as if miraculously. At first, I laughed at myself – thinking how crazy it must sound to God. But, really – who is God, that we limit Him? He’s able. I kept hearing the words – My child, I am able. So, I didn’t know what would happen, or how it would get fixed, but tried starting and making it move again. Nothing. Still, my faith remained. I wasn’t sure how God was going to work in this situation.

The tow truck driver arrived, and asked what the problem was – and what all was going on. I explained the course of the day, and what it was doing – or rather NOT doing – and filled out the necessary paperwork. As I finished telling him of my car woes, I completed the story by telling him that my car was going to respond differently this time. It would start and run, and accelerate like normal. No problem. (He was concerned, figuring out how he was going to get it out of the driveway, seeing as how I was parked on a hill (away from the road behind), that he would never get it out. So, I told him not to worry it would reverse and be fine, and that God was going to take care of me either way. I’m pretty sure he thought I was looney. I didn’t care. What followed next was nothing short of God.

He sat in the car to see what it felt like, and – lo and behold – it started fine, and as the accelerator was pushed, the engine reacted just as it should. I then checked for the error messages, and there were none. He backed the car out of the driveway and drove it to where the tow truck was parked and waiting. As a precaution, we were still going to send it on it’s merry way, and get it checked out. Then I had a gut check almost. I sat there and realized God had answered my prayer, and my car was healed. I joke, but I believe it to be true as well. Against the advice of my inlaws and the tow truck driver, I told him that I was going to drive it home. He tried to convince me that it would just react the same way again when the engine warmed up all the way. Everyone indicated the whole “best to be safe than sorry” routine. I, however, felt strongly urged to act and react in faith. So, I stood my ground, and sent him away. I got the kids packed up and, after a little while, went to start the car again. All was well.

As I drove home, I thanked God for His faithfulness. My car ran smoothly, and like nothing had ever gone wrong. It accelerated fine, and drove like it did before these issues. You may call it a coincidence. I call it God in action. Either way, I am grateful to God for keeping my family safe, and for getting us home safe, sound and in a car that works!

Happy Thanksgiving – Being Thankful — It’s All In Perspective

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln

This quote from Abraham Lincoln is very powerful – and it’s absolutely true. How you respond to your situation is a choice. It is your choice to make. There are so many times in life that it may be all you can do to simply get out of bed in the morning, let alone accomplish a miracle of actually finding something to be thankful for. Today is a very special day for some, and a heartbreaking day for others. People have the choice today – give thanks, or accept depression (or insert whatever “condition” a person might find themselves in instead of being thankful). Sometimes it’s easier said than done, and I get that. Ask me how I know!?

Those of you who know me personally, know much (if not all) of what I am about to say. However, for those of you who don’t, I’d like to share a little bit about the things in life I am thankful for, but the emotions and situations that played a part in the not so happy or thankful times. I have so, so very much to be thankful for – though I’ll admit, I haven’t always seen it that way.

I will use one very personal, but fitting example of this principle in action. On Thanksgiving day, five years ago, our family experienced a loss that I often find hard to put into words. On this day reserved for giving thanks, we were not doing as much of that as I’d have liked. You see, we lost a baby that day. To be honest, I had no idea if I would ever be able to be thankful again. For the record, that didn’t last long – as I gazed into the eyes of my precious two children. We had suffered a heartbreaking loss, however, we had also been blessed with such a loving and amazing family.

This experience was full of many moments where it was all about perspective. The loss of a baby is not anything I would wish on anyone. Not ever. For me, however, it gave me much time to reflect. There was nothing in this world that would bring her back, and no way possible to change this. I came to know that, while my life was forever changed by this, it would also not be the end of the world. I knew the potential was there for God’s plan. I wasn’t fond of God’s plan at that moment. I wasn’t ever really angry at God. Disappointed? Absolutely. But, I didn’t blame God. We’ll never know why this happened, or why He allowed it — but I’m pretty sure it was part of such a sweet plan He had for our family.

Much to our surprise, we found out we were pregnant with our (now four year old) baby girl. It was a shocking, but absolutely welcome surprise. She was born exactly one year, minus a day, after our loss. Thanksgiving one year was filled with heartbreak, and the following year with a newborn.

As I sit here today, five years later, I realize many things. I am blessed more than I can figure words to say. No, I’m not (and I’d imagine never will be) thankful that we lost our baby. However, I AM thankful that our precious daughter is here today. She wouldn’t be if we had not experienced what we did. God’s timing is perfect.

It’s all in perspective. I could have chosen to live a life full of grief, thus affecting every area of my life OR I could choose to see His hand in things beyond my control – realizing, that He is, and forever will be in control. He is the God of yesterday, today and forever. He’s got the whole world in His capable hands – even mine – even yours. Yes, there are times we remember, and have emotions connected with that. We don’t, however, have to live in that depressed moment.

Here is my challenge to you — take time today to give thanks for the things you are thankful for. Beyond that, though, I’d like to ask you to take it one step further. I want you to reflect on the things that you aren’t so happy about. Don’t dwell, but think about those things that you aren’t thankful for in any way, shape or form. Take that, and find something (anything) positive that has come from it. I know there are certain situations where you may feel as if nothing good could come from such a bad situation. However, think about it – come up with that one thing that has been positive as a result….and then, give thanks for that. (I’d love to know how this goes for you. Feel free to post in comments or “contact me” through this page. Looking forward to your stories!)

Someone recently asked what tops the list of things I am thankful for this holiday season. My response was short and sweet, but heartfelt in every way. My answer was simply, “The typical “my God and my family” response came to mind and holds that top spot on the list. However, also very much on my mind, is the ability to have gone (or go) through pain and emerging on the other side with the ability to share strength and hope with others as a result…that, and grateful for the friends and family I look to in similar situations.” That’s what it’s all about — finding strength and a reason to be thankful, even when there seems to be nothing worthy of giving thanks for! Have a blessed day guys, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Installing Love

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INSTALLING LOVE

Tech Support: Yes, Ma’am…. how can I help you?

Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me though the process?

Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?

Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?

Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart, ma’am?

Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?

Tech Support: What programs are running, ma’am?

Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment running right now.

Tech Support: No problem, Love will gradually erase Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called High Self-Esteem. However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off, ma’am?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Tech Support : With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?

Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program not run on external components .” What should I do?

Tech Support: Don’t worry, ma’am. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non- technical terms, it simply means you have to Love yourself before you can Love others.

Customer: So, what should I do?

Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance; then click on the following files: Forgive-Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge your Limitations.

Customer: Okay, done.

Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming. Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Smile is playing on my monitor and Peace and Contentment are copying themselves all over My Heart. Is this normal?

Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everything gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.

Customer: Thank you, God.

— Author Unknown