11.19.2013

Hopeless & Fearful

Hopelessness is a lie from the pit of hell, and it leaves nothing behind but death and destruction in its track. Though one might find themselves in the midst of its ugly grip and taunting lies I speak life and truth – if you let Christ guide your life you will not stumble in darkness.

If you ever wondered what fear is, it’s a feeling that once fully grown has a life of its own. I share from experience that it merely starts as an imagination, notion or doubt that festers, and with each feeding of belief in the untruth it morphs into an oppressing blackness in which you find impossible to free from.

What’s most perplexing is that once engulfed in the black heaviness of fear many things that came easily are a struggle. Smiling is nonexistent, finding the beauty in anything or to realize a blessing is scarce, and hope is dead. There is nothing to look forward to, except more of the same hopeless thoughts brimming with fear and the dismal dark future.

Marked as a Believer I was. Still, I was not cultivating my relationship with God diligently. I was careless and my spiritual tank empty. The enemy took full advantage of my spiritual predicament and planted one thought.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Thoughts enter and exit every hour of every day, that’s not the issue, rather it is what value we place on the thought and the choice to build it up or tear it down. When one is full of faith encouraging ourselves in scripture is not a bother nor is it challenging to tear down lies. Quite the opposite, when you are not grounded in the Word of God or spiritually weak a thought can fester, and lead to death -- death of dreams, relationships, eternal spiritual death, and for some the snuffing out of their own light and/or others. It’s tragic to consider that hopelessness and fear can lead to unthinkable acts.

I’m battle tested and a survivor in my private struggle to find joy, and when given an opportunity I find the courage to speak up and motivate my audience to hold on and let the Holy Spirit lead. I tell all with zeal that He (Jesus) rescued me from that hellish state of being, and grateful that I am free indeed. Nevertheless, I am not neglectful to share additional portions to include crippling fear, ugly incidents, emotional pain, and trusting God to give others more when I was in need. While the world told me to take time for me and seek restitution with the person(s) who have wronged me, Jesus asked that I surrender to His plan, forgive, and give selflessly. The work was deep and intense, yet necessary. In exchanging my ashes for God’s beauty I found grace for myself and others. Then the shift began, “and the light shined in the darkness,” hope birthed and faith renewed. No longer did I feed the lies, on the contrary I was more willingly to cling to hope that does not disappoint—Jesus, the Son of God. I came to the comforting realization that my worst case scenario in life held no weight to the glory and goodness I had in Jesus. He was my all and all!

I aspire to grow with each season of life and that dark period marked in months, years ago, was no exception. To date the most challenging and rewarding as the Holy Spirit - a gentle helper - guided my every step, along with the support of many laborers and their prayers to give me a surer footing and hope for a brighter tomorrow.



“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4-5

Life Application Study Bible: The darkness of evil never has and never will overcome or extinguish God’s light. Jesus Christ the Creator of Life, and his life brings light to mankind. In His light, we see ourselves as we really are (sinners in need of a Savior). When we follow Jesus, the true Light, we can avoid walking blindly and falling into sin. He lights the path ahead of us so we can see how to live. He removes the darkness of sin from our lives. Have you allowed the light of Christ to shine into your life? Let God guide your life, and you’ll never need to stumble in darkness.

11.13.2013

Do Not Fear, Little Flock

Lately I've been intentional concerning the Lord and giving Him my first and best--and from day to day it has multiplied with an increasing hunger for the same. How grateful I am that my spirit has been strengthened and my faith fortified for on the horizon are big life decisions.

After repeated blessings and answered prayer yesterday I offered my thankfulness through tears and ministering* to the Lord, then I heard that still small voice, "It is my good pleasure to bless you." Found in scripture in the book of Luke.


"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32

Glory to God! Bless His Holy name! For He has set His eyes upon me and my spirit abides in Him.

I encourage you to trust God, and give the Lord your time in prayer for others and giving to those He directs from your basket of riches. As His servant it is your good pleasure to do so.

"But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God." 2 Cor. 9:6-11

For as Believers we acknowledge the cost of our sins upon Him, and our obedient response is to surrender, follow, serve, and worship Him alone. Having an intentional and committed relationship with Jesus we are assured of our inheritance in this life and the next. 

*serve, worship
 Luke 12:22-34

11.01.2013

Operation Sticky Notes

Being a newbie on Twitter I have been particularly excited with anything related to Believers and giving. Many are familiar with #PayItForward, and fewer of you have heard of #BeTheGift, which by fate alone did I stumble upon the night before my birthday. Nevertheless, a couple of weeks ago I found yet another way to give through #OperationStickyNotes.

#OperationStickyNotes has been making a difference by Generation Y with Twitter Profile AFH - All For Him - Twibbon (a movement for Christ) in schools primarily, and now making it's way out into the communities and inspiring others to join in. The encourager leaves positive messages and/or scripture(s) written on sticky notes everywhere and anywhere for others. They are unexpected blessings that are making a difference. I was particularly giddy over this type of mission as it was low-cost, anonymous, and notes left in the most inconspicuous of places to include a library book drop, library magazine, water vending machine, mailbox, bathroom stalls, and car window.


If you take a step back you can see the bigger picture, these acts of kindness are all connected in what seems to be a giving movement that is stirring in the hearts of God's chosen to make a difference in their community—speaking life, sharing hope that does not disappoint, and ministering to those in the midst of struggles.

I encourage you to give out of your basket of blessings, whatever its size, because sometimes the smallest gesture could mean everything to someone struggling. If you’re concerned about your monthly budget constraints I assure you sales are plentiful and the expense is less than lunch out with a friend.

He wants us to be the gift! Jesus was God’s gift to the world, so why do you think it strange that we also are asked to do the same?

10.04.2013

Stop Wanting To Get And Give!

God has been dealing with me on a personal level concerning a relationship that demands more of me than I’d like to give at times. It’s uncomfortable, and giving up of what I could be gaining elsewhere if it were my choice.

I know I’m not alone. Your situation may differ in the scenario, but the lesson is similar. You’re in a tight spot, and for either the sake of your marriage and/or the family you’ll endure. Maybe you’re moving again. Maybe your spouse has a difficult time staying in a job for a season. Maybe you’re stuck in a dead church or a church that doesn’t celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their fullness. Change the people and/or circumstance it matters not.

God has a way of pairing us up with those who are unlike us, and for good reason. We’re learning to soften our hard edges while we live life up close and personal as a witness of God’s goodness. All the while sharing His promises, and laying down our own desires. We talk about doing what Jesus did. However, are we really ready to do that? Are we ready to put aside our selfish longings and be as selfless as He was?

It’s not easy to do at all, especially when we feel like we’ve done enough. Regardless, God is demanding more from you. We must be confident “that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  To press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” and trust Him with our desires and dreams. We need to find joy in giving of ourselves as He did.

What if your greatest divine purpose was to be witness to this other person?

What if all of your sacrifices were to eventually lead this person to the saving knowledge of Christ?

Sharing the Gospel is vital, but equally important if not more is living it out daily.

I give you permission to feel sorry for yourself for a minute, and then move on.

I’m blessed and encouraged that God in His goodness brings revelation to my spirit so that my head and heart are connected to His ways, which are higher than mine.

The lesson is crystal clear: He wants me to be the gift!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

9.29.2013

Amy Hagerup


Amy Hagerup has a gentleness about her, some may say it is grace worn like a mantle, or humility—and perhaps it is a bit of both. What most may not know at first glance is the treasure she carries inside. As she eloquently shares on her LinkedIn page, “my faith permeates my life and business.”

Amy has a keen sense for online marketing, and her stick-to-itiveness in several businesses simultaneously is to be commended—besides having been a missionary for twenty-two years. She’s the kind of woman we want to be when we grow up. We want to have that kind of life-experience, and a legacy that spans continents and makes a difference.

She is still making a difference helping people, but the setting has changed. Instead of trekking in the mountains on a mule to deliver the Good News, she now coaches others as a Christian wellness and weight loss professional (Healthy Christian Living & Shaklee).

Speaking is also something Amy does quite well, and it has afforded her the opportunity to share in many different venues. She’s versatile, and though the programs are widely divergent the core of her message remains. "I love to help people get healthier in body, mind, and spirit." She is as relevant as Apostle John penned in 3 John 1:2, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”



I have showered Amy with compliments galore as to get her to share here today in a short interview, as well as her talent of storytelling. As an auditory learner myself, I find her tone and pitch to be delightful. So relax and listen to a cup of goodness as Amy shares with us in less than 10 minutes. 

Be encouraged and have a great life-changing day!

Life-Changing STORYTELLING:
Life-Changing Storytelling: God's Provision
Life-Changing Storytelling: Being Thankful

INTERVIEW:

Having been a missionary for twenty-two years how has that shaped you as a person?

Living and working in another culture alongside many nationalities makes a person value the gifts and differences that each person brings to the table. Sometimes in America we can become very narrow-minded. However, there is so much more to life than our own experiences, and limited perspective. My 22 years on foreign soil has given me a world-view of the value of people everywhere – not just ones who look, think, and live like I do.

How do you stay humble considering your life-experience?

I really don’t feel that a particular life-experience is to be elevated above any other. God calls us all to different tasks and locations. The key is to be obedient to what He calls each of us to. Someone who is called to be a plumber or an artist is just as important as someone called to be a missionary. I guess anyone has the temptation to become proud in what they do (whether or not it is following a calling from God), so it is important to remind ourselves that we are just a sinner saved by grace – no matter what we might accomplish for our Lord.

If your faith is permeated in not only your personal life, but business as well, do you find that to be typically an advantage or disadvantage?

My faith is at the core of who I am. So I am not the kind of person to say “here I am over here as a believer in Christ” and “over here I am a business person.” I am one and the same with a deep faith in Christ. Of course, I do business with all types of people – believing like I do is not a criteria for my clients. In fact, I love all people of all faiths or lack thereof! However, I do get criticized from others for not hiding my faith in my blogging in particular, but that is okay. II Corinthians 2:15 & 16 tells us that we will be the fragrance of Christ to those who are being saved and to those who are perishing – to the one we will be an aroma from death to death and to the other we will be an aroma for life to life. So how others perceive me has to do with their own philosophy of life, and that is okay. Meanwhile, I will hold true to being rooted in Christ.

If you could share a wise nugget of truth in one sentence what would it be.

The most important thing for us to do each day is to spend time with Jesus - reading His Word, talking to Him, and listening to that still, small voice.

9.25.2013

Be the GIFT

#BETHEGIFT
BECAUSE GOD HAS BLESSED ME
IN SO MANY WAYS BIG AND SMALL

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16 NKJV

Jesus went about doing good, and as His disciple I am compelled to do the same. So I was not surprised, but rather excited that I got the idea earlier this week that my upcoming birthday would be different than those past. I would give instead of receive.

Looking for inspiration for the next day’s mission I stumbled on Ann Voskamp’s website and print list quite quickly. Mission confirmed through Ann’s journey of blessing others randomly, which in itself caused me to sit up and pay attention. Yes, God is saying something, “Do it!” I answered the call with an eager, “Yes, Lord!”

My morning started off a bit bumpy because of less sleep  due to hormones mixed in with a good dose of expectation. Still, I was ready, available, and charged with boldness and power to make a difference today. I was commissioned to give and share with others that God exists, and He is good.

There’s truth to the Bible and its application, and today was no different—it is more blessed to give than to receive. I was on a supernatural high, and blessed at how God orchestrated conversations with heartfelt smiles exchanged.

 

Busy Banker Dude
I peeked in the glass enclosure to see him busy at his desk with reports in hand glancing at the computer. He looked like the perfect candidate for a Starbucks blessing. Being the first of many gifts I was extremely encouraged when I tapped on the door and with a short explanation he accepted so gracefully.

Bearded Young Man
One of my conversations today was giving the gift of hope. A young man spoke to me as we walked the parking lot towards the mall. I acknowledged and approached him with a smile, kind words and a friendly handshake. He was thankful that I was polite, but perhaps most of all that I genuinely cared. I continued and further shared that there’s so much evil in the world today that I’m just doing my part to show that God exists. He was stumped that I could have that perspective. “Keep keepin’ on,” I said as we parted ways.

Yes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob exists, and He is good. Even so, if one questions God or where is He in all this tragedy and tribulation in our world I must remain steadfast in my faith that He is not afar off, and with His influence I can take this walk with Jesus to limitless possibilities being light and salt in my sphere of influence.

Lady Grocery Checker
As I asked for cash back with my purchase of gifts and gift bags, the checker answered with the following statement, “Oh it’s not like your giving money away today.” Nobody but God! I answered, “As a matter of fact I am—funny you should say that.” I gave her a five dollar bill with my printed orange sheet with a smile and a “God bless you!”

You can’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor! But perhaps He wanted to see the motive of my heart and to test my boldness. Regardless, we know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  I gladly confessed.

There were others that touched me to the core like blessing a young boy with a bright orange teddy bear at the gas station. I had a skip in my step after seeing the big rig truck picking up donations from one of those stand alone metal deposit stations. I gave him Blessings bank envelopes for his children. The coveted two-dollar bill was enclosed along with my message. I asked permission to leave my last Blessings bank envelope on a two-top at the ice cream parlor. The maintenance woman at the mall wasn't expecting a spice pumpkin candle after her ATM transaction.

This glory is not my own, nor do I share in it, but I am merely a participant that reaps the benefit of seeing how God can use the ordinary to do the extraordinary in the everyday.

Today I was the gift, the giver, the encourager, the hopeful, and the kind and generous. I witnessed the anointing that breaks down barriers, generational gaps, and the possibility of being misunderstood because God had ordained it. It was a seamless transference of gentle human kindness and heaven had recorded it.

Thank you Lord, for a holy experience in giving and sharing with my community. It was an unforgettable day with you!

It’s my birthday and I’m still here, standing and believing that God has a purpose and plan for my life, and in His timing it will mature into its fullness. I will wait patiently on the Lord!

"Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass. And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday." Psalm 37:3-6 Amplified Bible

"Get insurance with God and do a good deed, settle down and stick to your last. Keep company with God, get in on the best. Open up before God, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done: He'll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon." Psalm 37:3-6 The Message

9.13.2013

Do Not Forsake Your Mother's Teaching

I remember when my daughter was a toddler and every bump and bruise mommy was there to kiss it and make it better. I would bring joy to any blue moment, and often without an invitation.

Moms are like that—our nature is to rescue and leave that situation with smiles and happy thoughts. I believe that’s appropriate from infant to kindergarten age while other children need more time to grow with a few exceptions up to and including second grade. Nevertheless, my third grader needs to get it.

My mommy instinct kicked in at the end of last school year with a tip-off that it’s time. It's time this first responder gets a needed break and my daughter take ownership. In many conversations I declared it with phrases like:

“You have to find your own voice.”

“You have to be more responsible.”

Proverbs 1:8-9 Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. "

Fast forward to today after coming home with a tummy ache, and it gets worse quick. She has forgotten a re-do test at school that her teacher specifically gave her a consequence for if it’s forgotten or lost.

Oops!

I tried my best in returning to school, but by late afternoon on a Friday the parking lot was mostly empty. The way home was mounting stress for her with tears streaming down and repeating, “Oh my gosh—I can’t believe it.”

Believe it honey. You’re in the thick of a mistake and mommy can’t fix it. I’m rather okay with it too.

Most lessons in life are painful, and all can attest that growing up is hard work. It’s a tough dose of truth to swallow, but sometimes parents help by not rescuing their child.

Ouch!

I've grown every season with my daughter since day one, and here we are again learning life lessons side by side. I'm learning to let go little by little so that she may someday stand on her own without my help.

The Bible is clear--children are precious, but it also states how we are to teach, train and discipline them. Bible verses here.

8.25.2013

Why did God choose me?

I listened to a riveting sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes that had me on the edge of my seat while my ears were leaning in to get every word and my heart open to receive such good news. It encouraged me, and strengthened my spirit man to persevere no matter what. Whether on the mountain top or in the valley I have to know the truth that is—God did choose me.

Later on that same evening during my quiet time I pondered more about why God chose me. Rewinding my life story I started at the beginning, and continued with defeating trials, obstacles, and unfortunate circumstances. It’s not the making of greatness I assure you. The devil tried to take me out. So inwardly I pressed in the more.

The Lord answered with that still small voice, “It doesn’t matter where the seed is planted it will grow; whether in the crack of cement, in the crevice of a rocky mountainside, or in arid desert places.” My heart melted and my mind could comprehend it. I am His seed, and in my mother’s womb He knew me. I was marked and set apart for Him.

I would grow in age and stature, but at age 31 come to a crossroads and accept the prevenient grace of God -- to choose salvation in Christ Jesus. My spiritual journey had begun, and Jesus has never disappointed me these seventeen years and counting.  Even in a moment of doubt I come back to the Bible truth:

God chose me.



God doesn’t lie.

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

He understands my thoughts.

“You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” Psalm 139:2-4

I cannot hide from Him.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10

I was skillfully made in secret, and God saw me.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

He had a specific plan and purpose in mind when He chose me.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He will keep His promises if I wait, trust and am hopeful.

“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Then the Lord answered me and said: "Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3-3

He has kept His Word, and I am His.

Why did God choose me? (Bishop T.D. Jakes)

8.18.2013

Blast From The Past: Negativity a Stronghold

Blast From The Past are archived blog posts hidden and held hostage elsewhere or in my computer archives. They have relevance, and encourage me to remain patient as Christ did to endure—for surely the vision shall come to pass.

Previously Posted: October 3, 2010

"God is asking us to be obedient no matter what the results." – Marina L.

God is speaking to me specifically on how to overcome the discouragement in the lack of progress, success, or motivation from a certain situation or difficult person.

An analogy came to mind that only made more real my current life lesson. It is obvious the difference of when our emotions and exuberance are attached to something "new," and when we are in something for years of the same. The lack luster of what we fix our eyes upon can be down right dull and boring, and quite possibly and irritant.

Consider the bliss effect in getting a new job, house, or when in a new relationship. Everything is coming up roses so to speak. Then, gradually without even noticing, our attitude becomes less gracious and more critical.

We are overwhelmed with a house that is sub-par and in dire need of an overhaul. We might be in a career that is on hold with little hope of advancement in an economy that is stricken with handicaps of all sorts. Perhaps it is our marriage where one or both spouses are stuck. Though these are the facts and our reality, we must recognize that these situations can be the breeding ground for anger where our focus shifts to all things negative.

Do you find that you cannot walk pass that chipped paint without a physical reaction -- a deep sigh or the rolling of your eyes? Do you get sweaty palms or does your heart race when you have to deal with a difficult person on the job? It is easier to communicate with your spouse about anything, but the issues that are in need of repentance and healing.

Negative attitudes lead to negative behaviors. Let us call it what is—a stronghold. Strongholds can be either a safe place of protection or prison.  Negativity is the latter whereby the enemy influences and plunders our Heavenly goods of love, grace, and forgiveness. Where joy and delight wanes to the point of non-existent—hence, inoperative for the Kingdom of God and no longer a threat.

God is love, and anything that drives us negatively is not of Him. This should be our spiritual barometer: If we are feeling upset to the point of negative thoughts or speech, it is time to seek help in tearing down the prison walls.  Fellowship, bible study, daily prayer, accountability, and maybe deliverance.  Do some or all, but do something. Get free!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

8.16.2013

Giveaway: Custom White Mug

Giveaway: Custom White Mug (Copyright). Mailed straight from the manufacturer to the lower 48 only. Created in 2011 for coffee house gigs. Enter using Rafflecopter. (see below)

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Guest Post: Seeking Kingdom First

"A man's gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men." Proverbs 18:16



Writing is my passion. It's what I want to do most of my day, but life's obligations don't afford me that.

If you're wondering was I ever published, the answer is yes. I did numerous Christian movie reviews for a few years and did great. Before that, I had my dot com when space on the Internet wasn't free. I also wrote over 1200 posts on another general blog, which is held hostage and private with a farewell post the end of 2010. Occasionally, I do sneak back there to find a treasure or two.

Cup of Goodness started in Jan 2011 as a faith-filled blog; with my mind made up, the call to minister was a natural next step in 2012. However, I will tell you I was surprised, but not my pastor. Ministry responsibilities also include editing the church's monthly newsletter, and it's a labor of love to serve in a capacity that's fitting to my gifting. They are a church that celebrates God as the head, the calling, the gifts, and the Body of Christ.

Writing is my gift—with God's super on my natural! He alone has made my mind fruitful. He gets all the credit! My inspiration comes in different ways. Nonetheless, when my thoughts start to carry on into sentences in my head, I know it's relevant and significant to share with an audience. Tap, tap, tap on my keyboard and the message is there. Whether it be an audience of one, or in a room with a few, I'm sharing it.


My daughter asked me a question recently that certainly seemed to come from nowhere, but that doesn’t mean I discourage it either. If it’s on her mind and she’s curious, I want to be available, open and honest. As her trusted mother, I am the person she comes to first and most often.
“Mom, have you ever had an epic failure?” 

Please visit Forest Rose at Seeking Kingdom First now Kingdom First Homeschool for my guest post Epic Failure.

8.12.2013

Testimony

 
It was 1996, three weeks before my wedding day that I had a spiritual conversion -- an introduction to Jesus in a personal way. Finally, all the love I had felt for my Heavenly Father since a child, reciprocated in one finite moment. God kissed every fiber of my being inside and out, and I would never be the same!

Through my 17 years of walking with Jesus I admit there were many seasons of intimacy, but there were also a few that I acted more like a distant lover because of distraction and the busyness of life. Still, I press on knowing that the countless mountaintop and valley experiences were necessary for maturing in the faith of Christ Jesus. And with humility, I answered the call into ministry and surrendered to His plan.

I am an ordinary woman living out an extraordinary life through the power of God.

"My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

Mission
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Mission

I began blogging in 2007 elsewhere and it was a wonderful 4 years of making friends and doing life together through posts and sharing of pictures. Our journeys marked with milestones and challenges, but through it we encouraged each other and laughed along the way. Though it was time to close that door, it wasn’t long before I began to share again here, but with a much more focused drive to reach others with specific and inspired posts.

Thankfully, life has evolved and new chapters added to my life story to include ministry. I pray that this blog be a wellspring, an overflow, of what God has compelled me to share with others face to face. My mission is to point others to Jesus, to speak encouragement concerning their circumstances, and to feed the hungry the life giving Word of God. All this working in harmony so that the hearer is not swayed by circumstances or trials, but rather built up and eager to run the race.

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Pat's Creamy Chicken

Last week I scored chicken breast on sale. Buy one Foster Farms chicken and get two free! The cost figured out to be less than $3.00 a pound.  

This week I was disappointed to find regular Gala apples priced at $2.29 a pound. Instead I decided with $2.19 for organic Red Delicious. I wouldn't have noticed that without the help of a friendly shopper. High five to the apple lover!

An oldie but goodie from my recipe folder:

Pat's Creamy Chicken (2005)

Ingredients:
•4 to 6 boneless chicken breast halves, skin removed
•1/4 cup melted butter
•salt and pepper, to taste
•dried leaf thyme, to taste
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 can (10 1/2 ounces) creamy chicken soup
•8 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes, can be used reduced fat
•1/2 cup chicken broth
•1 cup chopped onions
•1/2 cup chopped celery

Preparation:
Place chicken breasts in crockpot. Brush the chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add herbs and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.

Tips: I don't brush the chicken with melted butter. I melt it in the microwave and pour it over. I use the high setting for 4 to 5 hours.

This dish is comfort food at its best, and great over rice.  I dare you to pass this up and head over to the meatloaf or mac-n-cheese. Really, it's that good! This recipe calls for thyme, which is a bold spice so use enough, but don't overdo it when seasoning. Take into consideration that you'll want to taste the cream cheese and chicken as well.

Enjoy a hearty meal from the crock-pot today! Trust and believe your family will thank you.

8.11.2013

I Was Blind But Now I See

Before I made a commitment to Christ I was dead, dead in my spirit, though my body was living. Nonetheless, not alive as it was purposed. Yet, the Lord was patient and persistent with me, and knocking on the door of my heart. Regardless of my then sinful state he knew I would open the door and say, "Yes," because I was called by name.

After being a believer for many years, life became busy after the call of motherhood. In the midst of being mother and wife without warning, I found myself on shaky ground and crippled with fear. I had forgotten my first love and gradually became lukewarm, which makes God sick—literally.

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:16

In both instances I was lost and separated from God. Yet, when I turned to Him in desperation with my heart eager for His will, God the Father of abundant mercy took me into His loving arms and gave me Heaven's riches. I will never be the same. My heart feels what He feels. My eyes see what He sees. I am His humble servant.

"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 3:21

Revelation 3:15-22


If You Were Accused

8.07.2013

Blast From The Past: Having Church

Blast From The Past are archived blog posts hidden and held hostage elsewhere or in my computer archives. They have relevance, and encourage me to remain patient as Christ did to endure—for surely the vision shall come to pass.

Circa 2007

Yesterday I was listening to Shirley Caesar, Marvin Sapp, Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff, and Israel Houghton while cleaning. Yes, it’s possible to be spiritually elevated with gospel music and Lysol wipes!

The light shines upon my life, and within me.


Thank you Jesus, for your promises that include the assurance of my eternity, and that life's challenges will come. But, behold I have the confidence that with God I will continue to overcome, conquer, and endure. Knowing that my ultimate victory is over death because of Christ and His blood shed at Calvary.

God has provided resurrection power for the journey. I boldly testify, there is nothing that Jesus and I cannot face together, His comfort and strength are with me always. I'm on the mountaintop, and looking below upon the valley from which I have traveled. It has been a season of reflection, growth, and most importantly a time of intimacy with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for the valley experiences that continue to prove that His love and purpose are working in me.

My faithful Jesus—all powerful and wonderful God!

8.02.2013

COLORME Art Spa

gofundme: COLORME Art Spa

Fine Artist, Debra Lee Murrow of COLORME Art Spa is an inspirational artist and a gifted teacher with groups of every age and skill level. She has both created and coached at numerous events and fundraisers. Her passion and belief is that everyone can draw, and for those who are uncomfortable with coloring outside the lines, Debra gives you permission to do so. Her attitude and smile are convincing on mess-ups as well, "You can turn that into something. It's a happy mistake!" Her large canvases with whimsy and words have been shared in churches, restaurants, coffee houses, commercial real estate, and homes alike.



Prophetic Art is Debra's gift as led by the Master Artist, God. While she draws close to Him through prayer her hands create on canvas interpreting the sermon, teaching, or speech at church services, conferences, or conventions.


There's an abundance for the kids at COLORME Art Spa also with shrink plastic necklaces and key chains, paper WORD postcards, and custom pillowcases.  Debra's Art Spa is very popular at VBS art camps, birthday parties, and other youth events. Give her a couple of hours of your time to color your world in Phoenix, Arizona or book her for a session on Skype. All you need is music, colored pencils, oil pastels, chalk, ink, paper and/or canvas, and you become the artist.

 


INTERVIEW:

I have heard parts of your testimony during art spa workshops. How old were you when art had more meaning than a box of colorful crayons, and how has it evolved through the years?

I was 33, when a revelation of the power of words changed me one ordinary day. My art is made up of words and phrases mixed together to engage the mind and heart.

What’s the most significant piece that you’ve created thus far, and what’s the story behind it?

Most recently I have been able to create prophetic art, on stage at conferences while the music was playing. Those pieces are very near and dear for me because God lead me through them step by step, and I was learning and growing at the same time. Last year, when I created a black ink piece that had the written word REPENT, I then looked up every Bible scripture that went with this piece and wrote them around the letters of the word. I must have cried through the whole drawing—it was very cleansing.

It seems that art is satisfying no matter what our age. You have done a variety of venues from children’s birthday parties, to teaching at assisted living centers, and most recently prophetic art where you do the creating center stage at conferences. What motivates you to offer your COLORME Art Spa to a wide audience?

Everyone can and should create—no matter what age and at what point in their life. I love creating with mixed age group classes, that way it gets the parents and the kids involved together -- learning and exploring art. Then they can continue this in the comforts of their own home.

Art is healing, and you make such a declaration on your website. Won’t you tell us your side of it?

Art comes through the right side of the brain. I also believe that is the side where God gives you visions and dreams. When we stop saying, "I'm not an artist" and unblock that side, we can heal not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially. I believe we can hear Him better by being able to draw and draw well. We also then use our whole brain—hence, wiser. I am not saying everyone should become a fine artist. I am saying everyone should learn how to draw so they can unblock. I love the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. She explains it so well.

It’s said that, “Your talent is God's gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God.” Do you agree?

Most definitely—we all have different gifts and if we don't or won't use them, well then, God will find someone else.

If you could share a wise nugget of truth in one sentence for those who follow your life/art what you would tell them.

God does have a plan, and He is waiting on you, not the other way around.

What’s next for COLORME Art Spa?

I want free standing 'COLORME' Art Spa galleries in strip malls and malls across America, and then eventually internationally. I want people to go out and create art as easy as they go buy the next new thing. I want the model to be donation based so that there is no objection to going in to create even the smallest of art pieces.

Contact Info: DebraLeeMurrow.com

7.28.2013

Heavenly Navigation

“When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13

This summer was more than typical, filling in my calendar with activities and play dates for days without a rest. I must confess I believe it to be the best summer my daughter has ever had. It’s been brimming with everything summer should be for a child.

It was an ordinary fun-filled day meeting up with friends, but not without a couple of hiccups -- delays and unreliable cell phone coverage. After meeting up for a quick lunch we follow one another by car to a free library program. I was leading us to an unfamiliar part of town when I noticed that the navigation on my cell phone was out of range for reception. Not good. Thankfully, I did have a printed copy of the directions as well.

There is a slight glitch when you go back to using paper directions after relying heavily on satellite navigation; you don’t pay close attention to how many miles until the next written direction. I found myself glancing at a street sign to notice that I missed a turn. Feel the pressure. I pulled over, and attempted to try my cell phone again to find the navigation loading. We were back on course. Nevertheless, in just under a mile I would find myself at a scary intersection with signs pointing in two directions for highways on an overpass. Panic set in. I put my signal on and turned my steering wheel to enter a different lane more than once. The difficulty was in my perception. The navigation’s directions and the signs seemed to crisscross, and a wrong decision could have wasted time and miss the event. Confused and with hands on my hand, I surrendered. When the light turned green I had to trust the navigation and proceed as directed, because the end result was getting to the library, and on time.

Following the navigation proved right. The straight road led me past the east and west entries of a major highway and down a stretch of unoccupied desert. Our celebration of getting to the library with a couple of minutes to spare ended quickly when we were advised of tickets to enter the free event. We were grateful for God's Word, “And My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) We had the favor of God, and an exception was made!

In reflection of this day’s events, it parallels our own lives as Believers. We panic when our reality has posted signs to go one way or another, when God is telling us this is the way to go. We are to trust and believe, and rely on our heavenly navigation -- the Holy Spirit -- that is reliable to get us where we ought to be. We must depend fully on Him without underscoring how long we’ve been in a challenging season or when it will change. Have confidence that there is a freedom waiting for us to take hold of, which is filled with joy and peace that comes from living in the moment and being guided. No longer is there the heavy weight of what to do next in our limited understanding.

Let go, and let Jesus take the wheel!

I confess, I have taken a few wrong turns and gotten lost a time or two thinking on my own instead of consulting with God. My route hasn’t been the easiest, and some of it my own fault. Still, I am thankful that God is faithful to my end, which He had in mind.

God has blessed me with His guidance and goodness even when I was far less than perfect, but He knew what He was getting into when He called me by name.

7.26.2013

Friday Link Love #1

In these posts I'll be linking to those who inspired me to do whatever on Pinterest, as well as bloggers who I stumbled upon recently who have a unique story to tell.

Enjoy!

7.25.2013

You Are Mindful of Me

Lord, who am I that you are mindful of me?

I sang that verse and others from I Am A Friend of God late one evening recently through tears while making my husband's lunch. It was certainly a thankful worship moment while smearing tuna on a wedge of bread for the truth that is: "He is closer than a brother."

My spirit was elated because I felt His comfort throughout that whole day as well as the previous night when all hell broke loose. I called Him and He heard me, and did not forsake me in my hour of need.

Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing

Have you ever had a day that starts great, but as it continues it gets stinkier by the hour? As my stinky day turned into night it escalated into horrendous events that had me disappointed at others and myself, and troubled.

"We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

The enemy was all up in my business, and for a reason. The morning of I had ministered to a broken soul who I know the Lord has called. It's just a matter of time as He woos her into His loving and healing embrace.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I am thankful to be called according to His purpose.

I am thankful that He sees the end from the beginning.

I am thankful that God has not changed His mind about me.

I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

I am thankful to be comforted by God.

I am thankful to be able to comfort others in the midst of their affliction and suffering.

I am thankful that I still have breath to thank Him!


7.24.2013

Wordless Wednesday - Boomer


Rescued!  Boomer a tiny bird who fell out of his nest, but soon found shelter, food, and water for a few days. Then it was off to an animal sanctuary!

I take comfort in Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

Linking up here and here.

7.21.2013

Summer 2012 & 2013

I stumbled upon this 2012 post, and like a treasured memory I recall the season when writing it. For some reason it never made it from draft to publish, and maybe for this purpose -- to show how God is faithful by comparison.

Summer 2012:

What's Your View Like?

Summer is nearly over for my little one. She hasn't had an eventful summer. There were a few highlights, but there was no family vacation and no family visitors either. We also moved, so add that to the mix and it's been a different summer altogether for us. Still, we made the best of it and count our blessings.

I'm counting my blessings with an intentional focus on what I have instead of what I don't have. I learned that it's a trick of the enemy to keep me under, defeated, disappointed, and dismayed. And if he keeps me there for a duration I am aware this is the beginning of his ultimate plan to "rob, kill, and destroy" me. (John 10:10)

I could get easily distracted from my blessings while discouraged that we had no extra funds for a family vacation again this year, or I could rejoice (as I am!) that my bills are paid, I have food in the fridge, and I have faith to believe. Ahem. My basket is full and my view is spiritually healthy. What more could I want?!

What's your view like?



Summer 2013:

Wait on the Lord!

My life's testimony is underlined as a patient believer of over seventeen years, who recognizes that God's timing is best. And while I wait for it, He builds my character and gives me a new perspective to be grateful for the blessings in those seasons. Still I understand the reality of what is and the desire for what isn't. In my humanness I get that, but I take a stand in faith as a spiritual being having a personal experience. Though I may feel denied for moments at a time, I recognize it's just a timing issue, which by the way Heaven nor the Kingdom of God is governed by.

"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. " 2 Peter 3:8

In the spring of 2013, my family and I vacationed with my sister and niece for a short week after seven long years. It was sweet, and the joy and laughter we shared precious, and it's still fresh in my memory.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, be encouraged that God has not forgotten your visions, dreams or desires. Remember He is faithful to complete it, and bring it to pass. Wait on the Lord!



7.18.2013

My True Love, Jesus

Like a wedding song reminds me of vows and the celebration, I reminisced while listening to Selah’s Bless the Broken Road. I was tearing up thinking about the broken road that led me to Jesus so many years ago. How the emptiness within my soul could only be filled with His Spirit—even considering I was getting married in 3 weeks. Though my life was better than it ever had been, I was still missing a vital piece spiritually.

I sense that we are all created with a special place within ourselves that only God the creator can fill. Yet, we try in our ignorance, or for some it’s pride, to put anything and everything there but Him. We make career, money, self, spouses, family, and even good causes our center or motivation. Nevertheless, it won’t work—the end results in our own fatality. In doing so, we’re deprived of living a spirit-filled life and assured of eternity.

A spirit-filled life is full whereby our steps are ordered and purpose driven. It’s a life with spiritual clarity, wisdom, and understanding, but most importantly it’s a conversational relationship with God.

Do you experience these riches of Heaven? What other thing or person can offer what Jesus has promised for you?

Success, certificates, awards, accolades, people, causes, and all the rest are temporal achievements in this life. Still, they hold a respective place that amplifies goodness, but none should be the center nor share where only One should reign within.


I am so thankful I surrendered over seventeen years ago and became born-again in spirit. It’s been quite a journey as a disciple of Christ, and I know that my life story would be drastically different if I had not. I imagine the worst, divorced with no child, no fruitfulness of mind to write or speak, and worse yet my name not written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  

My prayer is that your broken road leads you to Him as well, that you begin to live a full life as He intended, and that one promised day we will meet on the other side of Heaven.

Be encouraged my brothers and sisters, God’s heart is that we all live victorious and free, in this life and in the next!



7.16.2013

Darkness: The War is Real

"Did you know that when you carry the Bible, Satan has a headache; when you open it, he collapses; when he sees you reading it, he loses his strength; AND when you stand on the Word of God, Satan can't hurt you?"

The above excerpt is from a long forgotten email saved that was true then, and true now. Demons and spirits of darkness are real, and are serious about their mission to steal from you, destroy you, and with the ultimate satisfaction to kill you.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

The spiritual realm is a very big part of a Christian's belief, and though we like to think on angels and heavenly imagery, the darkness is real. Moreover, spirits of darkness are our enemy and who we wrestle against as Believers, but it's time those in the Lord's army get ready to rumble.

Even so, "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (the Spirit of Antichrist), because HE (Jesus the Christ) who is in you is GREATER than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4

Life Application Study Bible:
"It is easy to be frightened by the wickedness we see all around us and overwhelmed by the problems we face. John assures us, however, that God is even stronger. He will conquer all evil—his Spirit and his Word live in our hearts!"

Good advice: Stay in the Word daily and worship God with your mouth, thinking, and decisions. Don't leave an open door! Don't give the devil a foothold!

Paul says it best, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called..." Ephesians 4

7.14.2013

Word of God: It's Life and Health to the Flesh

"My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh." Proverbs 4:21-22

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17

Do you hear it?! I do. It's an alarm going off about how important it is for believers to be feeding our spirit with God's word every day.

It's summer, and it's easier to get distracted with full calendars and meeting up with friends. Still, we have to be more disciplined. Otherwise, when and if trouble comes (Jesus said it!), we'll find ourselves without an anchor.

“A memory of a potato has never nourished anyone. You can remember what a potato looks like or what it tastes like, but only until you eat a potato will you have nourishment.” – Kenneth Copeland

We need to be nourished and filled by the word of God every day.  Just the memory of the word, or reliving last year's spiritual experience isn't enough. Fill your spiritual tanks today with a favorite bible story, a daily devotional, Proverbs, and or Psalms.

More here on what the Bible says about reading God's Word.



7.13.2013

Spotlight: COLORME Art Spa

gofundme: COLORME Art Spa

'COLORME’ ART SPA Workshop

Debra is an inspirational artist and a gifted coach with groups of every age and skill level. After one of her workshops everyone feels lighter and sees the world in more vibrant colors.


Recent Blog Post Boast on Art Talk in the City: Reclaim Your Creativity: The ‘COLORME’ Art Spa

7.11.2013

Repair Dry Cracked Heels and The Annonying Heel Fissure

This past winter weather I boasted about a great find under my favorites label for dry chapped skin, but let me confess there's something better. Hold on, better doesn't do this testimonial justice, it's beyond better.

AmLactin is serious care for softer skin.

After doing some research I was informed that alpha-hydroxy was equally important in caring for dry cracked heels as well as hydrating. I found AmLactin Ultra Triple Action Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy at Walgreens for $17.99.  It's the most expensive cream I have ever purchased for my feet. I was hesitant, but certainly a necessary decision because I discovered a heal fissure on each foot. Not a pretty sight, and might I add a bit painful.

After a couple of weeks of only applying it at night after a shower and right before bed, without socks, my feet are baby soft and the heel fissures are healing. This hydrating body cream with advance ULTRAPLEX formula does what it promises -- it heals severe dry areas, smooths, repairs, and softens. 

Who knew? My condition is such that it's summer with dry heat and wearing flip-flops daily.  Furthermore, while using this particular AmLactin product the use of a pumice stone is hardly needed.

If you have a sensitivity to smell like me, then you may want to make a note that though the product claims to be fragrance free, I find there is a subtle smell. It seems to me neither perfume based nor plant based. Regardless, it's not bothersome at all. Still, it's worth mentioning here.

As women get older everything changes, including the skin's youthful and hydrated condition. Invest in yourself—you're worth it! Take a leap of faith and get this for your bedside table. You won't be disappointed.

Sign up to become an AmLactin® Believer to keep you posted on insider tips, coupons, and updates.

7.07.2013

Paying Off Debt

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.

Today I paid off a credit card balance of over six-hundred dollars, and it feels great (insert happy-dance). Paid in full! I'd like to celebrate with spending, but I won't.

Since 2010, I carried a balance and have added and subtracted to it. Auto fuel was a big chunk of that balance to get to and from a freelance job, which happened to be quite a distance away from home. Instead of allowing part or most of the income for fuel costs I took a sneakier way out and charged it, thereby giving me a false sense that I was getting the added income with no personal expense.

Lie! Lie! Lie!

How many times have I done this throughout my lifetime? Too many. I think back when I had a bank loan to consolidate my debt in the late '90s, and in the middle of it a credit opportunity came in the mail. It was bait from the devil, and I took it.

I recall in 2009 when an instant credit balance offer (genius marketing) might be advantageous when I opened a new credit card, but it only proved to be another way to tempt me into borrowing from my future.

Yes, that’s what we do when we spend beyond our income, and worse yet, when we owe others for what we want to enjoy now. It’s sounds absurd when you read this bold face truth, but for most of us we have become programed that now counts, and our desire for instant gratification outweighs the bondage we’ll eventually experience.

"The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender." Proverbs 22:7

Thinking back, I could have had an easier time and been debt free long ago if I made different choices along the way. Still, I don’t beat myself up because I’m finally learning hard lessons, and not on my own either. When I told the Lord I wanted to be free, He knew that included being financially free as well. And He's a man of His Word! 

I can attest that one right decision at a time will ultimately lead you to financial freedom. Take time to peruse my blog and see what I’ve done.

My Right Decisions:

- Ditched the paper towels.
- Gave up pedicures years ago and do my own at home.
- Found ways to ask for discounts using cash. CA$H is KING!
- Use an energy efficient plan for summer A/C usage.
- Look for deals online.
- Look for free stuff to do locally.
- Buddy up with friends to share costs.
- Have a shrinkage plan for my cell phone.
- Do without going to the movies.
- Watch movies online and on cable.
- Cook Crock-Pot (slow cooker) meals that last for days.

Please use the search box on the home page or use the tags associated with this post to find out more.

6.29.2013

Financial Responsibility

"There is desirable treasure, And oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man squanders it." Proverbs 21:20

It’s the end of June and the joyful feeling of “summer is here” has subsided along with a huge reality check regarding the negative number on this month's cash flow. I’m not thrilled with it at all, and come July we’ll have to make adjustments. Like a rubber band sooner or later we get snapped back! It was fun for my daughter enjoying activities, outings, and camp, but it’s not free and everything adds up.

Unfortunately, last week, I had to make the decision to skip a movie outing as I guesstimated that we had spent enough. At first it wasn’t received well, but after a quick rundown of the expenses, gas prices, and a scheduled doctor’s visit for ear piercing she eventually saw it from my view point.

As parents we need to share the big picture concerning fiscal responsibility with our kids. It’s the least we can do next to good hygiene, the Golden rule, and being self-reliant. Children truly have no concept of how long and hard it takes daddy to bring home a salary. Furthermore, how his salary has to be stretched or calculations adjusted on the monthly budget depending on urgency, season, and needs. They have no idea.

For some families it’s a desperate situation where bills are in a lottery -- a lucky bill gets picked to be paid without regard. Most of us have a sparing monthly income and after food, gas, and housing it leaves little for outstanding bills. If a family has medical bills that’s a whole other circumstance that can be distressing and frustrating, and could bring any joyful household to the edge of hopelessness quick.

Prepare your children and don’t make purchases an isolated event. Yes, make a celebration of getting their first scooter or a desirable American Girl doll, but don’t omit the facts on how much it costs with accessories, and if there be shipping and tax. High-priced technology is not off-limits either, no longer are these items reserved for adult wish lists. Make sure you know what you’re committing to as far as maintenance, insurance, and monthly costs to run digital devices.

Parents, hold out as long as you can. Once we agree to get a digital device for the kids it might be difficult to disagree when the newest version comes out while they’re honing their skills at negotiating.

After much practice and discipline, and with the help of my God, I have learned much about dismissing instant gratification to witness a bigger pay off down the road after more than a year. My testimony includes paying down significant credit card debt and using cash only simultaneously. Yes, don’t think it impossible, because “with God all things are possible!”

Getting free from the lender takes one right decision at a time.

6.04.2013

Forks Over Knives

Watch for FREE Forks Over Knives on Hulu

This got my attention! I need to eat more whole fruits and veggies in my daily diet.

The heroes are nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell and surgeon Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., their combined decades of research reveal the harmful effects of animal proteins, along with an in-depth look at our dietary decline.

It may just save your life!

The China Study
No More Heart Attacks -- Ever

5.31.2013

Check Your Electric Bill

Summer is fast approaching, June 21, and if you're paying monthly tuition for your child's education like I am it's a welcome absence from the checking account. However, the summer means more paid out in electricity to keep me and my family cool during the lazy summer days.

I've never really paid attention to utilities before accept when visiting a new friend's home last spring. I noticed how chilly it was in the mornings—and so chilly that I had to start wearing a jacket. Brrrrrrr!

Well, it wasn't long after that I started the same routine when moving into a more spacious home with high ceilings. Now before breakfast I crank the air-conditioning on to an uncomfortable cool until just before lunch. The unit works quite a bit, but after that it gets a needed seven-hour break until after dinner. Meanwhile, the house slowly heats up as the day progresses, and only towards the last hour do we start to feel overheated.

The purpose is using ample amounts of electricity at an hour when it's at a lower kWh rate rendering a substantial savings each month. Our first full monthly bill showed that 14% was on-peak use. What?! We paid 86% off-peak use in the midst of summer when our temperatures reach high 3-digits and remain that way. It's all expected for desert weather.

Off-peak rates are certain times during the weekday, which you may be able to choose from. Not randomly, but they may have two set times, and you'll make that decision depending on your family's needs and activities. It also includes all day Saturday and Sunday and certain holidays.

The fact is that during the summer we tend to use more power because we're home more with television and small electronics, but being comfortable and making wise choices has been a win-win for us. What could be a burdensome summer electric bill is now manageable.

It takes a bit of adjusting realizing any laundry or dishwashing cycles are to be done in the evening or early morning. Again you can regulate that according to your calendar and commitments.

When implementing the new set-up for coolness at your abode let your children in on it. It's a great conversation to have over dinner, explaining that budgeting and being good stewards over our finances are commendable traits—being fiscally responsible.

Tip: Don't implement without a warning.

A related article:
Ten Strategies For A Fiscally Responsible Life


5.30.2013

Which Way Do I Go?

Thankful that after eight years and counting motherhood still has me at the feet of Jesus. Yes, there are days when I have it together and it’s effortless, but there are times when I can not possibly make big decisions without the Word and His nudge. At times I have done it thinking it looks right, and God permitted it. Nevertheless, His permissive will and His perfect will are both a blessing and time of growth, but the latter a more seamless experience. I can attest to that. Still, God’s grace is sufficient for me, and His power made perfect in my weakness.

As an older mom with life experience along with maturing in Christ -- through failures and victories -- I realize the weight of my preference or intentions could be good for my daughter but not necessarily beneficial for her. My wisdom and understanding though plentiful is limited.  I know only in part, but God sees the bigger picture. 

I’m thankful that The Helper is guiding me, and a comfort when I feel overwhelmed at crossroads or in the midst of changing course.

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

5.28.2013

Eyes Wide Open

It was a usual morning—a store errand after dropping off my daughter at school. However, I wasn’t prepared for the display of pride and roaring as that of in the jungle as I did on the checkout line. Two grown men -- easily pegged as grandfathers to any youngin’ -- going back and forth on whether the milk was on sale.  It all had to do with price matching and flyers. One tried to one-up the other with a bet of $1,000 to his $100, and it was uncomfortable for all. Neither was taking the high road.  Each defiant that he was right and the other was wrong.

I was an observer and so thankful, because we can all share at least one account whereby we made a stink that was depleting to ourselves and most likely others in our midst. Yes, our selfish pride to be right sucked the life out of a moment that had every possibility of being a life-giving-room-to-grow moment.

What struck me to the core was how the Holy Spirit continued to burden me with this episode that it left me in tears as I exited the parking lot. The whole drive home He was teaching me. My heart surrendered as His Spirit showed me with spiritual eyes how displeasing this behavior was and how it should look.

I was singing a familiar tune earlier the same morning that came back to me as I began to minister aloud to the Lord what He wanted me to pass on, “We are to be Jesus in disguise.” We are not to be pointing and mocking with our words, or the more subtle with our actions. It’s not a God-trait to do so. Rather, we are to give others who stumble and fall room to grow, speak few words, give a genuine smile, hug, reach out our hand in a truce, and whatever else the Holy Spirit unctions us to do.

Will it hurt to subject our pride to the refiner’s fire? Indeed it will. Nonetheless, it’s crucial if we are determined to follow Christ and be His disciple. We are to stop being imitators and ask Jesus to come into your heart and change our perspective, actions and reactions—giving Him full control. Even if dying of the flesh is painful it doesn’t outweigh the freedom in being in a realm of grace where offense is no longer an issue, or to have a spiritually healthy stance to forgive because we ourselves have been forgiven. None of us are perfect, and all have fallen short.

Jesus in Disguise - Brandon Heath
So open my eyes
Wide as I can
Blind as I am
Blind as I am


Psalm 119 the longest psalm and chapter in the bible. It has 22 sections each corresponding to a different letter in the Hebrew alphabet and each verse beginning with the letter of its section.

God's Word -- the Holy Bible -- is true, and a sure guide that leads us to freedom in this life and in the next.


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