"Come and listen…and I will tell you what He did for me." Ps.66:16

Living in the Light

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

light_1015Praising God and sharing how HE moved me from living in the dark to LIVING IN HIS LIGHT today with Renee Swope.  Thanking God for how He used Renee’s story of grace, love and forgiveness in A Confident Heart  to transform my heart along with lots of prayers.  Renee and I would love for you to share your story on Renee’s blog today.

Thank you Renee for sharing my story with your readers and Online Bible Study Group.  But most of all thank you for sharing your story and for allowing God to use you to transform my hard heart to a heart filled with His confidence and forgiveness.

“There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” ~~ Philip Yancey

They howl. They bark. They are loud! One starts and the second one soon joins the chaos! They howl when I walk to the end of the drive to check the mail.  They howl when I’m out mowing the grass.  Sometimes, they howl at just the sound of the garage door going up. They even howl when I slip downstairs to work in my office. And I’m not even trying to hide from them – I just need to work and they are free to join me. But they don’t! They sit at the top of the stairs and howl at the top of their lungs because I left their line of sight. I left their presence. 

And yes, it sometimes drives me a little nuts and you can often hear me beating on the walls to get their attention to let them know that I’m there – only just a few feet away. Sam and Charli – my two unbelievably spoiled wiener dogs – suffer from separation anxiety! What pet parent knew that such a thing exists – not this one!

I covered my ears this morning as I shut the door behind me. Got in the car and was hit in the heart he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not-1with these thoughts – how does God react when I shut Him out – how does God feel when I tune out His voice – how does God respond when I choose not to enter His presence or I choose to leave His presence – how does God react when I start the day that He has given me without Him?

Please note, I’m the one taking the action – not God! I’m the one shutting God out! I’m the one tuning out His voice!  I’m the one ignoring His presence in my life! I’m the one that started my day without Him! I should be the one suffering from separation anxiety! I should be barking, howling and yelling at the top of my lungs because I have separated myself from God!

Then I hear my friend Cathryn’s voice during our small group prayer time – “Grace, give yourself grace”. Why do we find it so hard to give ourselves grace? Is it our lack of trust? Do we think that He is going to walk away – never to return? Or do we react in our unbelief of His promises? Do we truly believe that He loves us unconditionally?

Paul shares with us in Romans 8: 38-39 the following words, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I reflect on Paul’s words after his conversion, I can’t help but think about how God proved this to be true for Paul. And if it’s true for Paul, then it is true for me! And true for you! I’m ready to take this promise from Paul. Claim it as my own. And live like I believe it!

How about you?

Father God, thank You for your gift of unconditional love.  Thank You for first loving us. Help us to love You as You should be loved – with our WHOLE hearts.   Cause us to live our lifes in ways that will bring you honor and glory.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let the Popping Begin!

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  (Psalm 62:8)

It wasn’t my regular Monday morning routine.  Seven inches of snow covered the ground. I opted for a later start to my day.  First stop, the post office.   Two books and a gift needed to be mailed.

The books were easy.  Stuffed them in mailing packs, completed the required paperwork and off they went down the mail chute and on their way to Canada and Australia.

Next in line – the gift for Susan.  Not so easy – as it was a Pig Popper Think Nerf type toy in the shape of a pig that shoots out fluorescent lime green ping-pong balls from its mouth. Do I know how to pick gifts for my girlfriends or what?  ( I might need to start re-thinking my gift giving talents, hire a personal shopper or I may be looking for new girlfriends!)  I know – a weird gift for a girlfriend – but to get the why of such a whacked gift – you will have to read Susan’s book Farm Days.  Trust me. You’ll get it!

I needed to come up with a way to protect the Pig Popper so that it wouldn’t get crushed or broken in transit.  I scanned the shelf finally picking out an extra Pig Popperlarge bubble-wrapped-lined-envelope.  Addressed the envelope.  Stuffed the Pig Popper into the envelope, head first of course!  And down the mail chute it traveled to take up residency in Illinois.

As I tromped my way through the snow to the car, I couldn’t help but think how much I was trusting the bubble-wrapped-lined-envelope to protect the precious cargo – an envelope that cost a couple of bucks.

I opened the car door to a beeping phone, signaling an unread message. Grabbed my phone.  Glanced at a message from Susan, hesitating to read the message in full as I wasn’t quite ready to go there. I knew it was a response regarding a message that I sent as I was struggling BIG time through her Bible study – Pure Emotion  Just saying, it’s not an easy study nor a pretty study for me!  It’s a challenging study and I’m not even through week one!

I don’t like ‘dealing’ with anything that mentions the word emotions.  I don’t like talking about emotions.  I don’t like expressing emotions – unless of course, it’s all the good ones  – love, joy, peace, calmness, happiness, kindness  – just to name a few. Those I can do!

The kicker is – I don’t like to cry!  I don’t like for my friends to see me cry!  I don’t like to hurt! And I don’t like my friends to know I’m hurting.  I don’t like having conversations where I might loss control of my emotions!  I usually avoid them at all costs – especially if they involve conflict! (I know – a lot of exclamation points and don’t likes in that paragraph – just trying to keep it real!)

As I dredged my way through four days of week one of Pure Emotion – which took me two weeks to complete – the following lines caught my attention:

“Our emotional responses can make us vulnerable.”

“Emotions expose us.”

“Subdued emotions help us maintain control.”

“Consider that feelings might not reflect the reality of a situation.”

OUCH!!   Those four lines summed me up and what I didn’t like about emotions.  Susan’s words popped several layers of  bubble wrap – bubble wrap surrounding my heart – bubble wrap that needed popping!  Layer after layer of protection allowing me to “stuff” and “hide” emotions deep in the crevices of my heart – only to seep out during the most inopportune times – with seep out – usually meaning blow-ups down the road on some unsuspecting soul!  Emotions that I had not yet yielded to God.  Emotions that I needed to yield to God. And yes, some emotions that I still need to yield to God.

So how does one pride-filled individual tell her friend that she doesn’t like talking about her emotions because of her lack of trust?  Her lack of trust in God . . . Her lack of trust in her friend . . . Her lack of trust in herself?

One doesn’t – or maybe I should say – this one didn’t – until God spoke to me through the bubble-wrapped-lined envelope!  As I reflected on stuffing the  Pig Popper in the envelope, I realized that I needed to trust God with my emotions like I trusted the bubble-wrapped-lined-envelope to protect the Pig Popper. I needed to trust Susan.  And I needed to trust myself.

His Word tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  I needed to lean into God’s understanding.  I needed to submit my ways – my thoughts – and most of all my emotions – to Him. I needed to obey God. I needed God to take my crooked ways and make them straight. Flat out – I need to trust God with all areas of my life – including my sometimes crazed emotions.

Not sure about you, but I am so thankful that I am a work in progress. Progress – not perfection. I am not where I should be – but I’ve taken those first couple of steps forward or as Susan replied to my post, “Hard to put in print, but the first step in growing – in faith! God wants us to yield EVERY area of our lives. Including emotions.”  So won’t you join me in yielding our emotions to God?  Yielding our emotions in such a way that honors and glorifies God?  Yielding in such a way that our trust increases in Him, our faithful friends and ourselves?

Father God, thank You for the gift of forgiveness. Thank You for making us in your image – emotions and all.  Forgive us for “hiding” our emotions from you.  Forgive us for “stuffing” our emotions.  Forgive us for not trusting you with our emotions like we should. Fill us with Your courage and boldness to yield to You – to yield EVERY area of our lives to You.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Share the most whacked out  gift that you’ve ever given to a girlfriend and why for a chance to win one of three copies of Farm Days or Pure Emotion – your choice!

A Love Like His

The prayer of my heart ……. to love without hesitation!  To love like Jesus!  To love unconditionally! 

But God had other plans! And yes,  He does know best! macnjac

Check out His plans for me during my first visit to Haiti!

I’m guest posting today for Susan at Pure Purpose.

And Susan will be giving away a ticket to Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live event in Springfield, IL.  Leave a comment on Susan’s blog for your chance to win.

And yes, sometimes it is better to receive than give!

The Silent Sales Partner

st_francis_of_assisi_quote_round_stickers-r24f64cbb605a4311b1d014c30a0d95b1_v9waf_8byvr_512“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Francis of Assisi

Dog food, cat food, dog treats, cat treats, cat litter and yes even a few bags of dog litter are a few of my favorite things to sell.  And it’s always a great thing to get paid to sell these things so I can pay my mortgage, my car note, my grocery bill – a girl always has to eat – or this one does!

A few of the tools my corporate office provides me with to help sell our “stuff” include coupons, t-shirts, brochures, Frisbees, hats, poop bags, key chains and miscellaneous promotional items.  I’m also required to design and develop promotional sell sheets for my accounts.  Promotional sell sheets include the features and benefits of a particular product along with the cost of the product, a suggested retail price, margin, and a suggested order for the account – otherwise known as Silent Sales Partners.

When I’m not selling dog food and all of that other “stuff”, I sometimes stalk soon-to-be-friends on Facebook.  I know …. most would freak …but I’m a harmless stalker. I promise.

I’m not even sure how we connected, but as I stalked from a safe distance, I couldn’t help but notice how she lived her life out on FB and her blog.  I think I was reading her blog before I even knew what a blog was.  (I know, I’m late to this whole blogging thing!) All I knew was  that she was living out her faith on both her blog and her FB posts.  And they matched up! 

We began to talk through FB posts and email. Soon to be followed by texts and voice to voice calls. With every topic of discussion or question, she would point me to God and His truth.  Then with the help of God and His divine calendar, we meet face to face over a three plus hour lunch!  No judging, you’ve been there too with your girlfriends! Besides, we had a lot to talk about! And don’t you just love talking Jesus with your girlfriends?

I even got to hear my friend teach on the topic of “Forgotten”.   Love God’s timing!  She had no idea how much I needed to hear the message that God had given her to share weeks prior to our anointed appointment.  (I know – a blog post for the future will soon be in the works for that one).

As I watch my friend walk her talk and talk her walk, I can’t help but notice the similarities between her living her faith out loud; how she constantly reflects the benefits and features of living for Jesus; and my Silent Sales Partners.  The light bulb went off!  My friend is a Silent Sales Partner for Jesus.

I watch, up close and personal, as she lives out the scripture in 1 Peter 3:15-16, “but in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

She will be the first to tell you that she is nowhere near perfect in her walk with Jesus.  She will tell you that she messes up on a daily basis but her goal is to “live a life worthy of the calling that she has received and along the way she will try her best to be humble, gentle, patient bearing with another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2) as she pours herself out into the lives of other women, including myself.

Not too sure about you – but like my friend – I’m ready to live a life worthy of the call that God has placed on my life – a call of living a life that honors and glorifies God in all that I do a walk that includes following God’s example by walking in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 )

I’m ready to be a Silent Sales Partner for Jesus! A Silent Sales Partner who puts Jesus at center of her life! A Silent Sales Partner who preaches Jesus at all times with her life! A Silent Sales Partner who tries her hardest to love like Jesus.

Lord, thank You for loving us.  Thank you for calling us and giving us a purpose – a purpose to honor and glorify You with our lives.  Thank you for girlfriends that bring out the You in us.  Thank you for girlfriends that point us to You.  Thank you for girlfriends that hold us accountable to our walk towards Your heart. Make us into the type of sales partners that You desire – sales partners that love like You.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Enter a comment below for a chance to enter a copy of Susan with Pure Purpose’s Bible Study “Pure Growth”.  Just completed it.  Loved it.  And would love to bless someone with a copy!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8)

Monday through Friday, I have the glamorous job of selling pet food for Nestle Purina. Love my job!  Love the flexibility that comes with my job and I really love my six weeks of vacation! And I love my spoiled puppies!

My job often requires overnight travel to exotic places like Wichita, KS, Des Moines, IA and Omaha, NE. So I leave Sam and Charli at home to fend for themselves.  And yes, I have a doggie door so they can come and go as they need.  (Sometimes they actually make it outside … sometimes not so much! Don’t ask – just always know wiener dogs have to be the most-strong-willed-dogs EVER!)

As I prepared to travel out of town this week, I poured water and food into bowls – enough for three days, just in case I got delayed.  My kibble of choice is Purina’s Pro Plan brand – one of our shredded formulas.  Shredded as kibblesin it contains both “hard” and soft kibbles.  ( I’ve gotta get my plug in for Purina … best dog food on the market…all dog food manufacturers can’t claim that they feed seven out of seven of the Westminster group winners including Best in Show.) Buy Purina – I could use a raise! Okay, done with the plugging.

I returned home to find that not only had Sam and Charli eaten, they had eaten out of all three bowls.  The only problem being they had picked out the soft kibbles and left the “hard” kibbles behind.  So I combined the three partially eaten bowls into one and placed it back on the mat next to their water bowl in anticipation that they would return and eat the leftovers!

But not so much!  Later that night as I sat on the couch studying, Charli proceeds to go into the kitchen and begins rattling the kibbles around in the bowl.  A few seconds later she comes and stands in the doorway and whines which is her cue of letting me know that the bowl is empty.

I laid my Bible and study book down to go re-fill the bowl only to find it full of “hard” kibbles.  The spoiled heifer dog wanted me to add a new scoop of food containing more soft kibbles!  So after three or so re-plays of the whining, Charli finally surrendered and returned to eat the remaining “hard” kibbles.  (Donna – 3 points; Charli – 0 points!)  And I returned to my spot on the couch to resume studying.

As I picked up my Pure Growth study book, it fell open to a mid-way point; a spot in the book that I had supposedly moved past – a spot in the book where questions should have been answered – but I was seeing white space!  Like Charli and Sam, I had moved past the “hard” kibbles leaving them unanswered – uneaten!  And I’m ninety-nine percent sure whining was involved when I read the questions the first time around.

I was mimicking Charli’s behavior!  I was refusing to eat the “hard” kibbles God had laid out for me through Susan’s questions.  I was dining only on the “soft” kibbles.  I was choosing to answer the questions that I found easy to answer – questions that didn’t require extra energy or extra “heart power” to answer.

Unfortunately for me, this behavior also carries over to my quiet time – my time of reading God’s Word – my time of hearing God’s voice.  Anytime, I come across a “hard” truth – a truth I don’t want to practice or a truth that I find hard to understand, I sail through it to the next “soft” truth.

Just as the “hard” kibbles benefit Charli and Sam by controlling tarter build-up on their teeth, God’s “hard” truths provide tarter control for our hearts; “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)  God’s truth – the “hard” and the soft – is beneficial to our growth in Him.  As we saturate our hearts with His truth, we become more like Him.  As we feast on God’s Words – all of them – they provide nourishment for our growth and become preventative and protective care as we face our daily trials in life.

God’s word also tells us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) How can we possibly see that the Lord is good when we skip over His hard truths – when we’re selective in the kibble that we want to eat?  How can we take refuge in Him when we’re not reading His Truth in its’ entirety? How can we receive God’s blessings in their entirety if we’re reading and digesting our hand-picked kibbles?

Father God, I thank You for Your truth – both the “hard” and soft kibble that you cho0se to feed us.  Give us the courage to taste the “hard” kibble – show us Your goodness in the “hard” spots.  Give me the tenacity to digest the “hard” along with the soft. Use all of Your words as a source of preventative and protective care for our hearts.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Rogue Visitor

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”    (Acts 7:51, NIV)

bugsMeet Bugs – the friendly Shih Tzu puppy who resides next door.  Bugs loves to run to the fence line and bark until Charli and Sam scurry through the doggie door to greet him.  Trust me, it doesn’t take but seconds for Charli and Sam to add their voices to the symphony as they partake in the loudest stand offs and longest stare downs ever!

Not only does Bugs bark, but he teases and goads Charli and Sam because he knows that the fence separates them as he runs up and down the fence line.  It’s like watching a game of Catch Me if You Can, with Bugs knowing that he will never be caught.

Bugs’ visits usually occur like clockwork  –  and usually at the most inopportune times – like  around 6am on Saturday mornings and 11pm on any given week night –  when I’m trying to get my much needed beauty sleep!  His barks – I mean visits – have become so frequent and so perfectly timed Charli and Sam have developed an immunity to his bark.  They have learned to tune out and ignore Bugs. Me – not so much! 

As I reflect upon the scene of Charli and Sam being able to totally ignore the barks of Bugs, I ponder the times I tune out the promptings of God – the times I ignore the whispers of God – the times I am immune to the voice of God – the times His voice lands on deaf ears – my deaf ears!

The times I tease and goad God with my prayer life – my quiet time – my walk with Him!  The times a fence – a fence that I construct – otherwise known as sin, comes between my fellowship with God and my fellowship with others – way too many fences to count!

Father God, thank You for your gift of forgiveness.  Thank You for Your grace when I ignore Your voice, when I ignore Your promptings, when I turn an ear away from Your voice.  Thank You for loving me through Your eyes and not through the eyes of the world.  Forgive me when I tease and try to goad you into a game that you never want to play.  Forgive me for being stiff necked. Forgive me for resisting Your Holy Spirit. Make me sensitive to Your voice. Thank You for always having open ears and an open heart towards me.  Forgive me God for the fences that I build that not only separate me from You – but that also separate me from others.  Circumcise my heart and my ears.  Father God, give me ears to hear, eyes to see and cause me to not merely listen to Your Word, so I deceive [myself] but cause me to do what [Your Word] says. (James 1:22) In the name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

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