Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Being Grateful

Today my mind has been on gratefulness...there is so much crazy stuff in my life, my family's life, right now that it is easy to focus on the crazy and miss the blessings. I want to have a grateful spirit. Did you ever see that movie America's Sweethearts? John Cusak's character is focusing on being grateful. He is always closing his eyes saying "I'm grateful for you..."

 In one of the veggie tales there is a little song that says..."A grateful heart is a happy heart, I'm glad for what I have that's an easy place to start."

A grateful heart is a happy heart...so simple and so true. I have been learning over the past few months that gratefulness is a choice. I have many thing in my life to be grateful for...so many blessings, almost too numerous to count. I have to choose to focus on those things and make my heart grateful...

I choose to make my heart grateful...I choose to have a happy heart...I am glad for what I have and so that is where I will start. Here are some things that have made my gratefulness list over the past few weeks.

Let me start by saying I am very, very grateful for all the fairly obvious things...my family, the health of my children, my amazing friends, but I think the key for me is to find gratefulness in the crazy, random, everyday things. These are the things that have the potential to make me crazy...but if I can take a  minute I realize that I have the opportunity to be grateful for something wonderful...even if it doesn't seem that way at first glance.

Here is a good example...

I am very grateful for my washing machine even though it only washes on the delicate cycle. When we were out of the house for those months, so many things had to be replaced...I am so grateful that the washing machine still runs at all...

I am very grateful for my Target gift cards and not in the way you think...we had a housewarming this weekend and we were lucky enough to receive several Target gift cards. They are for stuff for the house...but today I needed to use them for medicine. Maggie has had this ongoing cough that we can't get rid of and I really needed some different medicine but it can be expensive and we don't have extra money for things like that...but before I could get stressed, I remembered my Target gift cards and I was able to get the things I needed for Maggie. Very Grateful!

I am extremely grateful for my car. It is a 2003 Dodge Durango and has about 80,000 miles on it. It is loud and obnoxious, but it is red and it seats seven and it is paid for and I LOVE it. We had some crazy stuff happen with our cars this summer and I am so very grateful that I have this wonderful car to drive. To most people it does not seem like much, but to me it is such an amazing gift!

I am so grateful to drop my kids off at school and pick them up everyday. The car pool lane is crazy and I hate to get up some mornings, but I really love being able to say "I Love you, have an awesome day! Do you best!" every morning. I love it so much that sometimes I get chocked up about it...I know it's crazy...but I want to be their biggest cheerleader. I want to hear the stories of the day when they get in the car in the afternoon. I am so grateful for this privilege at this time, it hasn't always been this way and I know it won't always be...so I am very grateful for the time now. 

That is not everything on my list by a long way, but you get the idea...so this is the challenge...everyday find something, anything you can be grateful for...yesterday I took the kids and the cousins to the park for about an hour. The weather was gorgeous and I loved hearing them laugh and scream and run and be silly...it did my heart good. I sat on the park bench filled with gratitude...

I know we are all going through stuff, me included. I don't pretend to know about your journey...but I do know that creator of ALL journeys...He doesn't make mistakes...He is good and He has a plan and He puts things in your life for you to enjoy...He wants you to have a grateful, happy heart...and if you think about it, you want that too...take a look around, enjoy the moment, you will be grateful that you did.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Long time away

It has been a while...I have not written in this blog in so many months...I have been avoiding it, pushing it away like something I didn't want to look at...scared to write my thoughts and lessons...

This blog has always been about my relationship with the Lord and what He has been teaching me about Abundant Life...the problem is that I feel like my life has been anything but abundant...I find myself here at the end of September looking at my life and thinking that it is almost unrecognizable. Nothing I would have planned, Nothing I would have chosen, Nothing I would have dreamed, Nothing close to abundant

But in the quietness of this moment...tonight...in my newly remodeled house and the kids all sound asleep in their beds...I know and believe that God knows...He has always known...all the things that have happened have passed through His hand first. I don't pretend to know why...I don't pretend that it makes it any easier...

Through these difficult moments, this is the time when our faith becomes reality...not just a feeling or a teaching or a belief...but a way of life.

Life...it's a gift...the good, bad and ugly...all a gift, designed for us by the ultimate giver...

I don't know about you, but days like today i wish I could return parts of the gift...things I don't want or I don't think I need...but that is not how it works. God is using all the pieces of our lives to work together for the good...but it is hard and tough at times...

And for me these past few months...they have been tough...and I am still in the middle of the tough times, but I am slowly walking through it...

trusting and waiting...

waiting for you alone, O Lord...not even for the light to show the step ahead...but for you alone...I wait...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2 – 3

Today in the great state of Texas is a day that school teachers and students have been dreading all year, it was TAKS test day. This a day that the schools work for…the teaching and preparing and today was the day. Most everyone who works in public school is just ready to get it over with. Another test…the questions are difficult, the students are nervous, everyone just wants it to be over.

But today I noticed a different perspective. As my principal was on the morning announcements, I noticed a different sound in her voice, an excitement, a great anticipation…she was almost giddy. She said on the announcements that this was the opportunity for all the students to show everything they had learned, this was their time to shine. I thought about her words…opportunity…I wouldn’t have used that to refer to this test. But she did and I could tell by the sound in her voice that she really meant it. She had an excited anticipation about the day.

I had the privilege today to read the test a loud to one little 4th grade girl. I was not sure what to expect with just she and I in the room all day, but it turned out to be quite interesting. As the test began, she was really nervous. She worked cautiously, she second guessed herself. She was very quiet. But as the morning went on she became more confident. She came to questions that she was sure she knew the answer. She began to work more swiftly, her pencil marks were sure. Her entire demeanor changed and she took the opportunity to shine.

As I thought about all of this today, my mind begin to think about us and our tests or trials. The book of James says to count it ALL JOY when we encounter various trials. It made me wonder…is our Heavenly Father like my principal? When we encounter trials along life’s journey, does He look at it as a way for us to shine, to show the things we have learned? Is He waiting with eager anticipation to see if we will pass through our test with flying colors?

I think that the answer maybe yes. I think that the Lord is watching as we go through life trials and He is waiting to se how we will react and what we will show. I think that James understood that. Look at what it says in the Message
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” James 1:2-3
Did you catch that last line “Show its true colors?” That truly is the opportunity to shine.

For most, trials catch us off guard and we approach them like my little 4th grader. We may be scared and timid, unsure of the next step or how to proceed. We may be nervous that we will make the wrong move or make a big mistake. But the more trials we experience and the more lessons learned, the more confident we become. We gain perseverance…isn’t that what James said was the real point of trials anyway?

When we find ourselves in the midst of a trial…something we didn’t expect, something that is difficult to walk through…let’s take a minute. We can look at these moments as our time to shine. We can pray and ask God that we will use this opportunity to show our true colors. That we will come out on the other side a little more confident…a little more sure-footed, clothed with a little more perseverance. That is my prayer for all of us.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30


Such a simple word with a big meaning. I have been thinking a lot about “rest” in the last few days. I think it is because I do not feel very rested. Take at look at the definitions I found…

 the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep.

 relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.

 mental or spiritual calm; tranquillity.

 to refresh oneself, as by sleeping, lying down, or relaxing.

 to relieve weariness by cessation of exertion or labor.

 to be at ease; have tranquillity or peace.

I do not know about you, but I am having a hard time finding rest for my soul. Most of the time I feel like I am carrying around the weight of the world…and I am longing for rest. The thought of tranquility and peace is so foreign when I can’t even seem to get a good night sleep. I long for quiet moments sitting by a peaceful stream, reading my Bible and sipping coffee. But how can you find tranquility and rest in the midst of our daily lives? Our days are filled with a thousand tasks. Our to-do list is so long that we are lucky in a day to complete half, and then it makes a longer list for the next day. And those are just the things that we know about…what about the unexpected, the things that pop up and throw our daily schedule out the window.

The car breaks down and we have kids to get to school and meetings to attend

The kids come down with the stomach bug in the middle of the night, now there is twice as much laundry and half as much sleep

Electricity bill has tripled…there went the “extra” money for the month

You never know what is going to be around the next corner or in the next phone call. These things are making it impossible to find the rest that our bodies and spirits so desperately need. Is there any hope?

The answer is in the verses in Matthew…Jesus clearly tells us what to do.

The first step – Come – He says “Come to me all who are weary.” It is that simple. We must come to Him. Now I know that we al came to Him when we came for our salvation, but I think that this is more of a daily time…Come to Him everyday. Seek His face. Come to rest in His presence. Sit at His feet. Be still, if even for a moment.

The next step – Take – “Take my yoke upon you.” Jesust wants us to take HIS yoke, His burdens, His plans upon ourselves. In order to take His, we have to lay ours down. You can’t have two sets of plans. You can’t see the world two ways. You can’t have two sets of priorities. In order to take on HIS way, we must lay down our way.

The Third step – Learn “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” We have to take time to learn from Jesus about resting and seeing the world the way He sees the world. We need to care about the thing He cares about. We need to learn His heart. We may find that things that take up our time may not be so important.

If we can do those steps, then Jesus says we WILL find rest for our weary souls. He longs for us to stop striving in our own power and take on his burdens because they are light…His way is easy…

Look at those verses in Matthew from the Message…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
I like where it says, “Keep company with me.” I think that sums it up pretty well. We need to spend time everyday getting to know Jesus and learning to see the world the way He sees it, to make His priorities, our priorities. When we do that our prospective will begin to change and we can find rest for our far too weary souls.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Father of Lies

Anybody remember the old Amy Grant Song “Are you Living in an Old Man’s rubble?”

It is an old song and the chorus goes something like this

Are you living in an Old Man’s Rubble?

Are you listening to the Father of Lies?

If you are then you’re headed for trouble

If you listen to long you’ll eventually die.

I don’t know why this song came to my mind this week. I could not get it out of head. I think that the Lord brought it to mind to bring something to my attention. That has been me the past few weeks. I have been listening to the Father of Lies. I have been under such an attack and I have been beaten. Satan is such a liar and I let him get my head and mess with my mind and heart. He wants us to be defeated. He wants down on our back feeling hopeless and helpless and completely useless. I must confess he has gotten to me. In a big way. So much that I felt myself spiraling and out of control and I didn’t even realize it until I felt hopeless.
But we have a way to fight back. We do not have to be hopeless, because we know the father of all hope. The rest of that Amy Grant song says this
But if you are living as new creation

If you listening to the Father of Light

Then you’re living in a mighty fortress

And you’re going to be clothed with power and might!
Did you read that? Mighty Fortress…Power and Might. We can fight off the attack from our enemy because we live in the mighty fortress. We have the entire defense we need, if we use it. That is the key. We can not do it in our own power.
I think that the trick is to believe that the Bible is true. We are who it says we are and we can do what it says we can do.
Satan says, you are worthless.

The Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Satan says, you are powerless
The Bible says I have not given you the spirit of fear, but of power and might and a sound mind.

Satan says, you can’t do anything
The Bible says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Satan says, God doesn’t have a plan for you, he doesn’t care about you.

The Bible says, I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.

All the days of your life were recorded before you took one breath
God first loved us and sent his son

I could go on and on. We buy into the lies and forget the truth. Remember this today. Say these words out loud and let them sink into your soul…

You were created for a purpose. You are loved. You are beautiful beyond measure. God made you and He bought you. You can do anything thought Christ. He hears you when you pray, He knows your desires and your fears. He is your Father who LOVES you.

Don’t let the Father of Lies mislead you and deceive you. Remember you live in a mighty fortress and you are clothed with power and might!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

God is still God

I’ve been thinking about how God is God because of who He is not because of what He does or what He gives…He is simply God.

Last week my mom told me about the song our choir was going to sing on Sunday. The song is called “He’d still have been God.” The premise of the song is that God would have still been God even if He hadn’t done all of those wonderful things that we read about in our Bible. If He hadn’t brought the flood, or made the donkey talk, or parted the Red Sea. He would still be God because He’s God. His actions don’t make Him God. His gifts don’t make Him God. His ability to save us or rescue us or fix our problems doesn’t make Him God. He IS God and that’s enough.

These thoughts have reminded me of one of my favorite stories from the Bible. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You remember them from the book of Daniel. The story is that the King had built this huge statue and every time all of the musical instruments played everyone in the land was to bow down and worship this statue, basically worshiping the king who had created it. Well, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew God’s law and they knew that they were not to worship anyone but God, so when the music played they did not bow down and they did not worship. Of course some of the king’s men just happen to notice this (Right?) and they reported to the king. These guys were friends of the king and so he called them to the palace and wanted to give these three young men another chance. The king told Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that the music would play again and they would have another chance to bow down to the king’s statue. But they didn’t need another chance. They knew that no matter the circumstance, they were not going to bow down to the King’s statue. Here’s what it says in the book of Daniel, chapter 3 verses 16, 17, and 18.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
 Now did you catch the awesome phrase in the middle of those verses…”the God whom we serve is able to save us…But even if He doesn’t…we will never serve your gods.”

But even if He doesn’t… Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew God. They trusted Him, they followed Him, they believed in Him. They knew that God had the ultimate power to save them. God could do anything…He can still do anything. They knew that the fiery furnace would be nothing for God…but they also knew that God might chose NOT to save them. They believed in Him enough to know that whatever He did in this circumstance, He was still God…always and forever…God. Their faith did not waiver. They looked at possible death and knew that dying in the midst of serving God was far better than living life without Him. So, even if He hadn’t saved them…he’d still have been God.

Several times in my life I have struggled with that very question…Do I believe that He is God no matter what? No matter what struggle we are facing. No matter how dark the days look, or hopeless things seem…do I trust that God is in control? Can I boldly say that I know and believe that my God is able to save me, but even if He doesn’t, I still trust in Him alone? It is the even if he doesn’t part that gets me…
 I know that God is able to heal, but even if He doesn’t…

I know that God is able to provide, but even if He doesn’t…

I know that God is able to restore broken relationships, but even if He doesn’t…

He is still God! We still trust in him and put our faith in Him…He is God.

My journey of faith has been filled with moments of God asking me…Do you trust only in me…not what I can give, not what I have done or can do…but only me? Is it enough that I am God? Sometimes my answer has been yes and sometimes no, but I am still learning and growing. God is God. He is who He says He is…you can trust Him…no matter.
Whatever your fiery furnace is today…lay it at His feet. He wants you to trust in him. That is all…and that is what I am trying to do…trust.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

All things new

One of my new favorite songs talks about God making all things new. This topic keeps coming up over and over during the past few days and just now it was in my Bible reading in Psalms. I was thinking about it and I turned off the light and it occurred to me to think about the phrase in a different way...

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, God can make all things new.

 I Love that idea. God can make all things new. I have heard that phrase many times. I have contemplated it, claimed it, and prayed it for myself and others. My focus has always been that God can make ALL things new. There is nothing that you can bring to God that He can not fix. There is nothing too big, nothing too bad, nothing that will overwhelm Him. There is no life circumstance that can not be turned around. ALL things can be made new. We have all messed up. There is a time in everyone's life that choices have been made and we are left holding pieces. Things did not go as planned, but God can take any and all of it and make it new. I am so thankful that we have a big God...so big that He can encompass anything in our path. He can make it new...

But tonight it dawned on me that there is so much more...He can make ALL things new...but I think we need to look at...He can make all things NEW. When we accept Christ and He comes and inhabits our life, he does not come and clean up our sinful heart and our selfish ways and make himself at home in our old heart and our old life. It is not our old life now forgiven. It is not our old self on a different path. It is not just a makeover or a remodel...It is NEW. Not a better version of the old, but something completely NEW. He takes our old sinful, selfish heart and gives us something beautiful, wonderful and NEW.

Wow! That is an amazing concept. There is freedom in that newness. We do not have to try and conform our old ways into something pleasing to God. He gives us a new nature, a new life that IS pleasing...we don't have to try...we are new.

I heard Ed Young talking about this concept this week. He made the analogy that we are like old yucky crab apple trees and we produce yucky crab apples. They are bitter and sour and make you sick. When we accept Christ, He is the Golden Delicious Apple tree. He does not simply put His Golden delicious branches on top of our crab apple tree branches to cover it up. He cuts our crab apple tree to the tiniest sliver of a stump...then he takes His Golden delicious Tree, the whole tree roots and all, and plants it over the stump and lets the Golden delicious roots grow over and around our old stump until there is nothing left of the crab apple tree...all that it is left is the Golden Delicious apples and His tree.

I don't know about you, but this resonates in my soul. It is not Pam the sinner trying to be the saint. It is Christ's heart and soul living out through me...my NEW-ly created life, living out a purpose that was created for me. Christ in me and through me...ever fiber of my being His. ALL things NEW.

I know it sounds crazy. I know it sounds too good to be true. Maybe even too easy...there is a part of us that thinks we need to constantly be struggling and working and beating ourselves up for past failures and past mistakes. That we somehow need to pay for the things we have done so that we can "earn" this new creation...but that is not the free gift that God is offering each of us. Now, don't get me wrong, we do have to strive and push ourselves to keep moving ahead...to keep on our new journey and there is are days when it is not easy...but we are not alone. and we are not our old selves...we are NEW and we are moving ahead and God is constantly working in us and around us everyday if we can be open to it. I have said this many times...the journey is not always easy, but it is always worth it. Embrace the NEW life God is giving you and go pour it out as a living offering to Him everyday...I promise, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are you all in??

This is a question I heard this week about the Christian life. Chip Ingram was speaking and he was comparing life to a game of poker. The game just goes along fairly uneventful until someone looks at their cards and then puts them down and says "I am all in" and pushes ALL of their chips into the game. That is when the game takes an exciting turn. Everything is at stake...all the chips are on the line. At that point it is either win or go home. 

That is the way with life. In order for us to experience all that God has for us in the Christian life we need to be ALL in. 

This week I have been thinking a lot about what that means. What does it look like to have a life that is ALL in? I don't want to hold anything back from God. I want to get to the end of the journey and know that I gave it all, I held nothing back. It was worth every moment to live to His extreme. I don't want to get to the end and realize I missed it somehow...

ALL IN...all my time - how would God have me spend my time? 
         There are many, many good things to fill our time and we all have responsibilities and obligations, but we must find the BEST things, the GOD things, to fill our time. 
...all my energy and attention - how do I need to focus my attention? What things of God need my energy? 
           I only have so much energy and attention to give to the things in my life. I do not want the Lord and his plans to receive my leftover time and attention. 
...all my resources, talents and gifts.
           Everything I have is His. All that I own, every ability, any gift that I might possess, EVERYTHING comes from Him and Him alone. How can I hold anything back? 
And finally...ALL MY WORSHIP...There is a pause in my spirit as I type those words...do I understand the seriousness, the weight of those words...my worship, all my worship. I can't begin to understand why the God of all the universe wants my worship, but He does...and He most certainly deserves it. My prayer is that my worship is true and pleasing to Him. 

All In...will you join me all In? I can not tell you what the journey will hold for you or for me, but I can tell you that it will be worth it all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finally posting in 2010

Well, I am finally posting in 2010. My plan was to post at least once a week, and here it is almost the end of February and I am finally posting something. 2010 has been good so far. I have really been praying that this will be a year of God's favor and so far it has been. He gave me a couple of verses in Psalms at the very beginning of the year and I feel like these are my verses for this year. 

Psalm 60:12 With God's help we will do Mighty Things, for he will trample down our foes. 

Psalm 90:14 - 17 
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery
Let us see your miracles again;
let our children see your glory at work.
And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. 
Yes, make our efforts successful!!

I feel as though the Lord is giving us back gladness for our misery. He is redeeming that time. The journey over the past 7 weeks in 2010 has not bee perfect, but God has continued to show His faithfulness. I am so grateful. I can't wait to see what the rest of this year has in store for us.