Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Shaping of God’s Word: Thoughts, Attitudes and Behaviors

I asked myself last week, “How deep does my daily reading of God’s Word go?” I receive encouragement from my reading, I’m challenged to be more like Jesus, and even feel God speak to me through it. But, am I allowing the intensity of God’s Word to shape my thoughts and attitudes?

Political news shapes my knowledge of which candidate to vote for. Friends shape my views on cosmetics, clothes, and reading material. Pastors shape my views about spiritual understanding.  But who shapes my motives? What penetrates my thoughts and impacts my attitudes to make me most like Jesus, the lover of my soul?

It is through the beautiful Word of God that we are molded and shaped into God’s likeness.  Each of us must decide how we read the Bible. Do we read it as a duty, something to be checked off our to-do list? Or do we read it with intensity, asking God to let it penetrate through our carelessness and lack of concentration?

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12).

When we give our concentration to Scripture, it follows us around all day. And as we reflect on the precious words, the shaping of God begins. When we memorize the words, they are waiting in our heart to guide our attitudes.  As we sing Scripture songs, the joy of His Words fills our soul and our behaviors are directly impacted. 

John Stott said, “We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” Let the shaping begin.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

5 Ways to Heal Bruised Hearts

Anyone who knows my husband knows what an easy going, gentle man he is -- which is why I was surprised, in the middle of my peaceful night's sleep, to wake up to him kicking me over and over. I have the bruises to prove it. (Disclaimer: He recalls the incident, but only enough to know that someone was chasing him, and he was trying to save his own life; when I awakened him, we both laughed...)

I wonder how many people with whom we come in contact daily have bruises we can't see. Their husband isn't gentle with his words. A self-proclaimed best friend betrays them. A mother-in-law criticizes how they are raising their kids. An ex- husband tries to turn their children against their ex-wife or vise versa. Their adult children ignore them. They live in a drab house, yet long to turn it into a home.

The bruises are hidden. Hidden behind a smile, hidden behind shyness, hidden by wrapping their arms around themselves in self-preservation. I find them in the requests that come in for our card ministry project. I find them in stores where making eye contact unleashes requests for prayer. I find them in churches where they are ignored by those who profess to be like Christ.

How can we help those with hidden bruises?

1. Be Alert: Too often I am too busy with my writing, my ministry, my family, or my friends that I fail to really look into the eyes of those around me. When I do, I can see their emotional pain. When I'm living in the moment, I am more aware of those around me.

2. Be Kind: Speak kindly. The bruised of heart have been berated over and over. They long for a kind word. Is there something you can compliment them for -- a pretty smile, a job well done, or an insightful comment?

3. Be Helpful: Is there something you can do to help? Send a card, listen, suggest professional help. Take her to the hardware store to pick out paint -- then help her paint a room. Buy some flowers and other "pretties" to give her a spot of beauty in the drabness -- the beginning of an inviting home.

4. Be a Friend: How do we treat our friends? We text, call, or meet for coffee. We watch their kids and meet at the park. We make Christmas cookies together. We share our books, and we are real. We lose our own fake smile and share our days when we dropped the eggs and spoke too sharply to our husband.  We don't treat them like a "project," but treasure the blessing they are.

5. Be a Pray-er: Take your friend to God every. single. day. Leave her in God's hands.  Don't let her seep into your conversations with others. Be faithful to pray. Be faithful to praise. Let her know you are praying for her needs.

So there you have it -- 5 Ways to Reach Out to Bruised Hearts. You'll find gems if you allow God to help you heal hearts.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Baptized in Blessings

My new blog -- Shelter: Postmarked

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

When you ask our oldest grandson, Ethan, what he wants for a gift, he will answer, “money.” At Christmas his answer was, “cold, hard cash.” So in order to fulfill his wish, I put his money gift in the freezer and created a treasure hunt to get him there. I had to come up with another idea quickly, because his birthday is January 8th. I bought him an umbrella and sewed dollar bills to the inside. When he opened it, it “rained” cash.

I’ve had some rained “cash” from God these first few weeks of 2016. Rain in the form of blessings. Ethan knows he’s getting money if that’s what he asks for – he just doesn’t know how it will be gifted. I know when I ask God for help, encouragement, or any need, He will answer. I just don’t know the vehicle for the blessings. 

My blessings have been raining from text messages, emails, mail, and friends. I’m overwhelmed, blessed, and humbled that the God of the universe sees me. He not only sees me, He blesses me with daily blessings. Some answers are needs, but my Heavenly Father takes many of my “wishes” and baptizes me with additional blessings.

Today I’m cozy, out of the cold. Yes, it’s a cold in Indiana day, but despite the freezing temperatures outdoors, I’m warm in my soul. It’s like the Holy Spirit tucked a blanket around my heart and rained down joy upon my head. I asked. He surprised me with the answers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Check Out My New Blog

Here's the link to my new blog: Shelter: Postmarked. I'll still be posting here, but if you're a snail mail encouragement lover, then come over and sign up for the mailing list. Not only will you find inspiration, but you can count your postmarks with us. While you're there, enter the giveaway of a book choice, note cards, a book of stamps and more. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My 2016 One Word


2016 – How can it be? Choosing my “one word” has occupied my mind. I’ve thought intently, discarding so many words, waiting for the one God would drop into my heart to grow all year long.

I thought fun would be my word. It seemed the opposite of 2015 with its health issues and grieving my mother’s death. But I’m not a “fun” sort of person. But hold on -- maybe my idea of fun doesn’t fit the typical definition of fun, but it’s my fun.

My fun is sheltering. My fun is being creative. It’s playing with papers and tapes, adding to my stationary collection and actually using these items. The kind of fun my mother had in 2010 when she sent out 163 cards and letters (and yes, recorded each one). The kind of fun when my mother sent 185 letters and cards in 2011 (not counting Christmas Cards).

As I read through the record of her correspondence, I was convinced this is what God is leading me to do. So I give you my 2016 word – Fun. Fun that I'm putting a postmark on. You can’t believe the FUN I’ve been having working on my 2016 project. I had hoped to have it all ready to release January 1st, but I guess webmasters take break during Christmas holidays. I have a brand new blog (but this one [Sheltering Tree] will stay the same), and just as soon as it’s up, I’ll let you all know where to find it.

All year long we will be counting our postmarks. You’ll have the chance to send 52 cards and letters this year – envelopes full of love, cheer and encouragement. We’ll have quotes, DIY projects, Book Reviews, giveaways – all on the subject of filling mailboxes of those who need a smile. For more inspiration look at my Pinterest boards:

Your children can join “Postmarks with our Princess” (we welcome Princes, too) to begin their own mailbox ministry. Morgan will be highlighting fun crafts, giveaways and letter writing etiquette.

Ten friends have committed to begin this journey with me. I’m hoping many of you will join us as we postmark our fun. I’ve spent a lot of time in planning, but I know that though humans plan, it is the Lord that determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9). So I know this year will be far more than the plans I’ve made. I can hardly wait to start the journey.

Linked to:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Favorite Gift

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Christmas in my childhood home was celebrated with joy. Well, after the tree was up (and lighted), the joyfulness began. Baking and wrappings and secrets galore abounded. 

Our favorite evening of the season was the night Daddy went shopping for my mother. There would be a big stack of Brody’s Department Store under the tree when we woke up Christmas morning. Daddy would tell us (and Mom) what was in each box. The trouble was, it could be exactly what was in the box, or it could be totally different. 

The morning after Daddy’s shopping trip when I was ten, we woke to find a huge box under the tree. On top was a note written by Daddy: “Dottie, do not touch. This means YOU.” He told us we weren’t allowed to touch the box either. We couldn’t wait until Christmas for Mom to open it. There were days of discussion as we imagined what was in the gift.

On Christmas morning, we were giddy with anticipation, ready to watch Mom open her gift. But when it was time for my sister, Melodie, to open one, Mom pushed that huge box towards Melodie. When she opened it, she discovered a much-longed-for accordion. I have no idea what I got that year for Christmas. And in my mind that gift stands out as my favorite gift ever – and it wasn’t even mine. 

This year, my favorite gift wasn’t mine either. My kids spoiled me rotten with a stack of beautifully wrapped gifts. RB whisked me away for an overnight stay (this was the year for in-laws’ Christmas Day). But my favorite gift this season was the tiny baby placed in the arms of a couple who have waited long for a child. Each picture posted on Facebook makes me smile and pause to thank God for the gift that wasn’t mine. 

When I think of the greatest gift, the gift of Jesus, I think of Isaiah, Simeon, Jeremiah, and others who waited long for the Messiah. Yet when the gift came, it WAS mine. It is yours, too. My friend, Janene, sings these words so beautifully:

He gave the greatest gift of all
When He gave Jesus
He sent the greatest gift of love
Wrapped in His Son
He brought us hope
When we had nothing left to hope for
Redemption's story had begun.. (Jane & Jon Sherberg)

The gift of God’s Son, a gift we can’t imagine giving, wrapped with the ribbon of God’s love was a gift for all mankind. Born in a stable, this gift was the King of Kings. He was Emmanuel – God with us. Far more than the gift of an accordion, even far more than the gift of a Twenty-first Century baby boy, is the greatest gift. Open your hands and heart to receive God’s gift.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Breathing Out Your Praise

So I'm breathing in Your grace,
And I'm breathing out Your praise.
Matt Redman

We sang the above song by Matt Redman Sunday, and it's been singing in my heart all week. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16). Each day is a grace, leaving no room for the trite and pettiness so evident in the world. I can press them down, shake them, but still they run over -- each breath a praise to my God.

Praise for forgiveness, freely given.

Praise for life, abundant and full

Praise for peace, quiet and calm

Praise for joy, overflowing and steady

Praise for blessings, upon blessings, upon blessings.

This grace is undeserved. It's amazing, and constant. It's daily and unending. And it's for you! Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

Breathe in God's grace, and exhale with praise. There will always be grace-breaths to inhale. His grace never ends, but it is in the praising that brings sparkle to the grace. Without the praise, when we take grace for granted, it dulls. Take some deep breaths today, and count your graces.

What grace are you breathing in today?

For you...30 Days of Praise. 30 praise verses for you to cut out and use during this season of gratitude.

Click here (30 Days of Praise) to download.