Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, right?

Are you going crazy already with all of the lists of who's getting what, what you still need to find, who you need to figure out what to get, what you still need to wrap, and when you are getting together with which family and friends? It gets so overwhelming trying to keep track of it all, and inevitably you forget that you planned the party with Aunt Fran on the same night as the one with Cousin Joe from the other side of the family. And the present you bought for your sister you accidentally give to your daughter's teacher, and you can't give the other one to your sister. Doesn't seem like the most wonderful time of the year, does it?

I decided a few years ago that I needed to be done with all of that by Dec. 1st, so that I can actually enjoy the month of December. I start in September making the list, figuring out what everyone needs/wants, and setting a budget and plan for the next 3 months. Three months later, it is Dec. 3rd, and all of the presents are wrapped and under the tree, the house is decorated, the Dec. schedule is set (with flexibility for changes of course), and the cards are sent. A little anal retentive, I know.

But to be honest, it is my way of committing the month of December to the Lord. Not that every month isn't His, but I really want December to be about Jesus' birthday. Family is important, fun times are great, but putting Him 1st is more important than any of it. I know myself well enough to know that I can not put Him 1st if I'm focused on people, buying for them, pleasing them, cooking for them...instead. There's nothing wrong with pleasing people, but if it comes at the expense of my Savior and Best Friend then it is wrong and not pleasing to God.

Let's commit to making this CHRISTmas be about CHRIST, shall we? Then it really will be the most wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

pushing through

Welcome, November! It's a crisp (a positive word for cold-I'm working on that), sunny, beautiful day here in Indy. Change is definitely in the air. The leaves are gorgeous, but many are starting to fall. Winter will quickly be upon us. Change. I don't do very well with it, but it is necessary both in the seasons outside and in the seasons of life.

I've been plugging away for several months now with what I 'do' and studying my Bible and taking needs to God, but I am needing a change. Has your Bible reading ever gotten a little too routine or stale? Maybe you do it just to check it off the list, because you think you're supposed to or God won't bless you? The change I'm talking about is stepping out of your comfort zone (for me that's Psalms, Paul's books, and the gospels) and leaping into a style of the Bible that may not really be your cup of tea. The legal and the prophetic portions are not parts of the Bible I'm particularly attracted too, if I'm being honest. But a couple of times a year, I force myself to take on one of the books that is primarily one of these styles of writing and push through it. It's not always been easy, but I have never been disappointed. It's during these times that I remember more often to ask God to show me something about Him as I read and that I rely on Him more to help me understand the words and apply them to my life.

Now I started this all by saying I don't like change. I like to stay in my safe little area, but growth happens when we step out and ask God to do something for us instead of relying on ourselves in our own safe little world. So here we go. If you'd like to join me, I'm traveling back to visit Ezekiel for the next couple of months. I pray God shows YOU something new today from His Word, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Christmas is in the Air

I know, I know. It's only October. How can Christmas be in the air already? Well, have you walked into any stores lately? I haven't heard the music playing there yet, but the aisles are quickly filling with red and green. Our house is already filled with Christmas music that we're learning for our upcoming Christmas concerts, so my mind is thinking about Jesus' birthday and what that means to me personally and to those I love and to the entire world.

I've been thinking a lot about those who are away from their families for Christmas this year...soldiers, wayward family members, those who've lost a loved one. The loneliness they must feel not to have their loved ones near them. As sad as that makes me, the good news is Jesus is always near. Deut. 31 says He will never leave us or forsake us. But you have to be willing to open your heart to Him.

When we are with our family for Christmas, we feel warm and loved, even cherished. We know we can be ourselves, and we'll be accepted just as we are. When we open our heart to Jesus and allow Him to come and reside within us, we are loved, cared for, and accepted just as we are. But He goes a big step further than anyone on earth can go for us. He promises that no matter what is going on in our life, what we have done, or where we are He will be with us. And we can carry that love and acceptance with us wherever we go, because of His amazing grace.

If you are facing being alone this holiday season, remember you don't have to be. He wants you to come home to Him this Christmas, and He'll welcome you with open arms. He wants to be your everything.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Denise's Dailys

I can't even believe it's September already. The leaves are starting to fall here, and it's really beautiful. But I gotta be honest with you. I hate the cold. I know God gives the cold and the warm weather, and I know there's a purpose for it all. But I still hate it. So if I'm griping on here come January or February, you'll know why.

It has truly been a remarkable summer, and I will miss the beauty of summertime. But it is nice to get into a routine again. When you're on the road for a long length of time, it's easy to get really worn out and feel displaced. That's what I was feeling a couple of months ago-displaced. We had a week or so break between traveling, and we were able to attend our home church, which we love more than words can express. I was feeling so displaced that I geared myself up for this grand homecoming where I would hug everyone and tell them all how I missed them and they would do the same, and I would get all filled up to go back on the road again.

Well, let me tell you how that worked out. It didn't. I came to worship with my church family with the thought, "What can I get out of this time today?" Instead of "How can I give back to God today in my worship?" Big difference. I left feeling still displaced, because my expectations didn't match up to the experience. It never could, because I was placing my focus on myself. Our worship is for one purpose and one purpose only-bringing glory to God. That's it. In everything we do.

So end of the story. We were able to go to our church this past Sunday, which was our first time back after that experience. This time I went in with the mindset of "How can I worship the Lord today? Who looks like they need encouragement? Who can I serve today? How can I bring glory to my God today?" Big difference. This time I was bouncing off the walls when we left, and my joy was complete. I had several opportunities to encourage folks, help out, listen, and oh, the worship was grand. If I keep my focus off myself and on Him, I will be filled up and He will be glorified.

How can YOU bring glory to God today?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Denise's Dailys

Holy time travels, Batman! This summer has completely flown by. I can't believe it's August 18th-my birthday by the way :) My last post was in June. The main reason for the delay was we've been on the road most of July and August. God has given us safety, good health overall, and many opportunities for ministry over the summer. I'd like to share just one story from the many stories from the summer so far and lessons learned from this story.

Just last week we were at a family camp and had taught the kiddos some during the week as well as leading the adult worship times and doing a concert. In our concert, we did a skit called "Pray About it" that goes through several family circumstances and how no matter what the situation, big or small, we should take our needs to the Lord together as a family. Later that night, Jadyn fell and hurt herself (while running around like a crazy girl I'm sure), and a little boy trying to comfort her looked around at the other kids and yelled, "We need to pray about it like they said in their skit!" Wow! It really got through. I wonder how many adults "got" the lesson and actually will apply it like that. We have to pray about everything, and we need to take it to God before we talk to others. My initial instinct in the past whenever something would happen was to call Robbie or my mom, but I became very convicted that God wanted to be FIRST! That means we go to Him FIRST whether it's good news, bad news, a little situation, or a huge boulder of a problem. Try it for a week. Go to Him first about everything. A pattern will slowly develop. It also helps me keep my mouth shut a little better and think before I speak.

Thanks for checking this every once in a while. BTW, please share on here. I'd love to hear from you as would others who read this. I've met several folks lately with great stories to share about how God is working through the trials He's placed in their lives whether it's an autoimmune disease or their house burning to the ground. Please share here how God is working in YOU. We can all learn from each other. If you think you're the only one who's going through or has gone through something, you're wrong. We can help each other.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Denise's Dailys

Yikes! Almost a month since my last post. I would say I've been working so hard since we last chatted that I haven't had a chance to get on here, but to be honest I have been enjoying my family for a couple of weeks and slacking a bit. I'm not apologizing for that. Just telling you all like it is. As a matter of fact, I started to be apologetic about it, then realized that's what we as women do. Apologize for taking any time to relax and hang out with family, friends, whoever. If we're not doing and going 24/7, we feel like we're failing. Well, I have a tendency to feel that way anyway. But I know my Heavenly Father is all about allowing me the opportunity to rest and refresh myself under His care. And I've enjoyed my time feeding myself on His Word and stocking up on some good family time.

I'm so glad for the past couple of weeks with my kiddos (and hubby some of the time) before we are on the road a bunch. We've had a few pool days, some bike rides, a couple of movies, a mommy and daddy night out, and a few 4H projects. There's been work here and there to prepare for the upcoming events, but God really blessed us with 10 days of nothing scheduled to just be together.

In light of some recent events in our community and in the country, time together seems more and more precious to me. There have been several deaths in our community in the past week, and it reminded me again how brief our time on earth is. Father, may I never take for granted the sacred gift of family you have given me. Help me to cherish each family member and shower them with grace and love, as You do every day with me.

With all that's going on in Iran and several recent celebrity deaths in the news today, I am also reminded that there are many lost souls who need to know their Savior. Oh God, may I be used to show others Your great love for them. Allow me to be a part of Your plan to reach lost souls for Your Kingdom, and help me not to miss any opportunity You lay across my path.

Well, this post has been all over, but that's the way things go sometimes. Know that wherever you are today, God is okay with that, and He wants to use YOU right there. You don't have to become "different" before He's ready for you. He wants you just as you are!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Denise's Dailys

What a tremendous weekend we had. Everything that was borrowed has now been returned, and what we purchased has now been put away for another event down the road.

But the memories made will last a lifetime. There was a moment on Saturday when we were all in the motor home getting ready to pray with our pastor, and Robbie turned and looked at all of the people enjoying their time with their family. He broke down, and my heart was right there with him. For us, there is nothing greater than seeing a family together having fun, making memories together, and serving together as many families did on Saturday. Our challenge to the families was to commit to spending time together and being a part of each other's lives. Our other challenge was asking each individual to see God bigger than they did before and to ask Him to show Himself BIG to them. This is a prayer request that is absolutely within His will, because His Word tells us that if we ask anything in His name, He will answer. And we know He wants to be first in our lives (making Himself bigger than anything else). So, we know He will answer this prayer. We also know He'll answer this prayer, because we asked Him at the beginning of the year and He has answered with a BIG YES!

So even if you weren't there on Saturday, the challenge is the same for you. Ask God to show Himself BIG in your life today, but be ready. He'll blow your mind!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Denise's Dailys

What a few weeks we've had at Higher Ground central (aka our home office and garage :). We've had several CDs going out and are already receiving encouraging words about how God is using these songs in people's lives. We're so thankful for the privilege to share these songs and know each CD is in God's hands, and He carries it to each recipient and allows them to hear what they need to hear. Wow.

We're also going crazy (good crazy though) getting ready for the Family Fun Fest where we invite our community to join us in celebrating this really amazing God we love and serve. This God who gave us our families and wants to be at the enter of our homes. He has answered every one of our prayers for this event and is blessing abundantly. We're still waiting on all of the volunteers to step forward, but we know He's not going to leave us now.

With all of that's going on, I've been seeking time to be still with God. To be candid, often it's in the bathroom where I can actually be alone...sometimes. But there are times when I need to be with my friends, you know? My favorite song to sing on the new project is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." This song does something for me as a woman that I don't think men necessarily get. I think we ladies need friendships. Sometimes I get to the point where I tell Robbie I am starving for time with friends. He doesn't really get it, but he supports that need in me. I need to have that time just hanging out and feeling supported by my friends. So when I think about this song, I'm thinking of filling that craving with Him. "May we ever Lord be bringing ALL to You in earnest prayer." That's what I need in my alone time to fill me up. To bring it all to Him and dump it earnestly on my best friend's lap. He will bear the whole load for me. All of it. No one else will agree to that. Even my very dearest friend on earth doesn't want me to dump all of it on him. He can't handle that load. But my best friend Jesus can.

My very favorite part of the song is the last verse. It says "Soon in glory bright unclouded, there will be no need for prayer. Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there." Never again will I need to be filled up or to dump my burdens on anyone else. I will remain eternally full with Him.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter with kids

I can't believe Easter is in just 3 days. We've been spending time this year preparing our hearts for Easter morning and focusing on the cross. Sometimes Easter is tough for parents with kids. You want to do the basket and the egg hunt and have fun, but it's easy for kids to get too caught up in those things because let's face it, they're selfish beings. It's our job as parents to work hard at keeping Jesus as the main thing at this holiday especially. This is the greatest day of all for Christians. Easter shows us not only the greatest sacrifice, but it is also the greatest demonstration of power over the evil one. The resurrection is mind-boggling to me, so I can only imagine what it does to my kids' brains as they try to wrap their minds around that great day.

So I showed my girls a 5 minute trailer from Passion of the Christ this morning as a part of our devotion time. Not sure if it was time yet, but they handled it well. They asked several questions, and it got our discussion going. I pray it sticks with them today as they go through their day and that they talk to other kids about what they saw and heard as we read the crucifixion story from Mark. I'm certainly not saying I've got it all right, but I know it takes time to develop a relationship with Christ. And I know it's my job to foster that in them. Allow them opportunities to see Him in a new light, give them the time they need for prayer and private devotion time, and live it out in my own life.

I want Easter to be the holiday my kids look forward to the most, because they know their Savior died and rose again for their sins and that He's coming back for them someday. Now that's something to celebrate!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Denise's Dailys

I realize this should say "Denise's every other weeks", but that doesn't sound very good and I'm committed to this not becoming another thing I 'have' to do. I love sharing my thoughts with you and don't want it to be a burden on me or on you to have to come back every day. We have too many of those already in today's world. How many jobs do you have besides the one that may (or may not) bring in a paycheck? I think I could probably list at least 5 or 6, and that doesn't count all the mommy jobs. Why do we continue to do this? Afraid of failure? Afraid of not living up to a standard set by our culture? Or set by ourselves? We hear Satan telling us that we are not a good mom if we don't have the house clean all the time and fresh-baked cookies on the table when they come home from school. We're not a good wife if we don't look perfect when our husband comes home. We're not a good employee if we don't do everything to perfection at work and receive the highest honors and praise.

Let's get rid of Satan's lies here and now. Here's the simple truth. We can not be everything to everyone at all times. We are not God. Ahhh, the truth does set us free. Then get back to what God desires from us-to bring Him glory and to worship Him in our daily lives. That's it. Don't complicate it by putting tasks with that. It's less about doing and more about being. Kind of like me at my favorite kind of Spring Break-sitting on the beach with a great book or just watching people pass. Just being. As we approach Spring Break, think less about what you need to do in your life and more about who you are in Him. Focus on just being with Him and getting to know Him more. That would be a truly successful day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Denise's Dailys

Hi ya'll! It's been a while since I've been on. Sorry. Does time ever seem to just disappear for you? Listen to my great idea. I'm not into this Daylight Savings Time thing. I'm from Indiana, so we've only been doing it a couple of years. I think it would be a lot better if we just added an hour to the day instead of moving it. Wouldn't that be awesome? And we could keep that all year long. But I know there's only One who has control of the days and nights, and we all have the same 24 hours. So I am responsible for making the most of those hours. That's why Robbie and I pray every morning together that God would help us see what it is He wants us to get accomplished today. My list is meaningless if any of the things aren't on His list for me. Sometimes my "best" days or biggest "accomplishments" for glory are when I get nothing done that I had planned. It's all for His glory and praise and for His purpose. Have a great day in the Lord today!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Denise's Dailys

I've come to find this sort of like my personal journal, except instead of being able to close the book and hide the thoughts from everyone I have you to hold me accountable for them.

I've been studying James and several themes are emerging. 1. Truly living what I believe in the Bible, because if I don't live it I don't really believe it and 2. Mercy not judgment. I always get a little scared when I start studying something new, because I know my generous God is going to give me many opportunities to practice. And boy, he sure has. I can't tell you the number of times I have been presented with the decision to show mercy or judge in the past week. The choice is mine. Do I really believe what I'm saying I believe in the Bible, or is it just talk? If I believe it, I will live it. I'm not going to lie and say I have made the right choice every time, but the Holy Spirit is definitely working on me right where I am, in every situation in my life. Some are very simple situations and some are as complex at it gets, but the decision is the same-mercy or judgment, believe and live it out or don't.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Take a breath and be thankful

Did you ever have one of those days where you are made aware once again of the blessing it is just to be alive? Last night, a dear friend had a tree fall on her car and was trapped inside the car. Miraculously, she survived with no serious injury to her body. In another part of Indianapolis, another friend had a generator running through the night and her baby boy woke up screaming with a very high fever. They called 9-1-1, and now the entire family has been admitted to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. The baby's cries saved all of their lives.

Both of these incidences could have easily produced far more devastating results, but for reasons we don't understand, God spared them. I'm thankful this morning for His provision and care over them, but I'm also reminded how short our time on earth is and that we don't know when we will take our last breath. It has reinvigorated me not only to be right with God and seeking His will for my life, but also to share with others while I can.

If there's someone you're supposed to talk to about Christ and what He's done for you, don't wait until tomorrow. If the Holy Spirit has been tugging at your heart and telling you to say something, don't put it off another day. As we tell our kids, obey immediately and with an attitude of joy. Maybe the tugging at your heart has been to surrender your life to Christ. Don't wait. You really just don't know about tomorrow.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Denise's Dailys

Energy suckers-sometimes that's what my kids are. They can suck all of the energy out of me, so I have none left for my husband. Don't get me wrong. I love doing things for them, loving on them, taking care of them, but sometimes as mothers AND wives it comes at the expense of our husbands. Sometimes I just have no energy left at the end of the day and just collapse into bed. God made me to be a nurturing caretaker, but not just for my children. He made me to care for my husband and his needs as well. One mom said, "It's ironic. Romance gave us our children, and our children took away the romance."

I need to make sure he's my priority, because let's face it, he's going to be around long after the kids are gone. Song of Solomon talks about saving up all the choice fruits for our beloved. Not the leftovers? Oh.

God, help me today to make Robbie a priority, so he knows how much I love him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Denise's Dailys

What a great weekend we had! We were able to spend the weekend with a precious body of believers who desire to have God use them to reach out to others. It was amazing to see people listening to the Holy Spirit and many making renewed commitments to reach out to their neighbors, friends, and family. Robbie and I went home praying that these decisions weren't made out of "peer pressure" or out of emotion, but that these folks will truly allow the Holy Spirit to guide them to open doors with folks around them.

There were a couple of truths that came home to me anew this weekend as well. The speaker at one point said that we won't just be accountable for what we say and do in front of others, but what we do, say, and think when we are alone is what matters most to God. Ouch.

The other thing was that I could be doing more. Sure, I'm in front of people every weekend telling them about Jesus, and I try to reach out to my neighbors with various activities. But what if today was the last day I had. What would I be saying to the grocery store clerk and the dry cleaning lady and the mail carrier? Now, I'm not saying we should cram the Bible down all of their throats, but are we looking for open doors to serve and love people? Are we ready when God sends someone our way who is as our pastor would say "ripe for the picking"?

I want to be ready. That is my heart's desire, and so I ask for the Lord to prepare my heart.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chronic Illness

I promised to be vulnerable on here, and I ask you would be too. I'm going to hold up my end of the bargain. I've been going through a struggle the past week or two. You know that back and forth in your head thing we all go through where one side says, "But it's a good idea" and the other side says, "But I'm scared" and so on. Well, here's my dilemna. Let me know if you can relate.

My feet, hands, and legs have been hurting really badly over the past month. I think mostly due to weather (and probably stress if I'm being totally transparent here). At the same time I'm re-reading an email I received a few months ago from some dear friends in New York who have found a specialist in irisology (I can explain this later if you want) who would like to see me when he's in town for a conference in February. I have his number, and I'm supposed to call him. Doesn't sound like much of a dilemna, does it?

You see, I haven't been to a doctor in over 2 years, because I got to the point where I was completely spent and done with having to tell the story over and over again only to have them say "huh, that's weird." You think I'm kidding, but if I had a $1 for every time a doctor has said that to me in the last 5 years, I'd be able to pay for my kids' college by now.

So the thought of opening up that door again makes me want to run the other way. Yes, I do want to get better, and I know there is a slim chance that could happen with this doctor. But the roller coaster of emotions you go through when they think they've figured it out and they put you through another round of tests, then on yet another medicine that either does nothing or gives you awful side effects...well, it's really hard to gear yourself up for that after 5 years.

Sometimes it's just not worth it. On the other hand, if God has brought this doctor across my path to allow healing in my life, I certainly don't want to miss out. So I guess the moral of the story is, sometimes you have to step out and be uncomfortable and vulnerable and trust that God will not give you more than you can handle, because He may just have another miracle waiting in the wings. I'd appreciate your prayers for courage as I call

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Wow, what an interesting past month. We had the opportunity to meet a bunch of new folks at the Christmas events we had. There are a lot of hurting folks right now. It's easy to assume everyone's okay and happy at the holidays, because that's how they look on the outside. But that's so often not the case. Some are just barely making it. Don't assume the pain is over just because the holidays are. Seek out people who are hurting and show them Christ's love. Take the time. Believe me, I'm preaching to myself as much as anyone. I talked with person after person who shared stories of burdens they are carrying around every day. People are hurting. And if as a follower of Christ, we do nothing, we are quenching the Holy Spirit big time. Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to someone who is hurting today and pray that you will be guided as to what to say or do to be an encouragement to them today and to point them to the One who CAN help.