Saturday, March 31, 2012

When Words Leave a Scar~

Lord, guard my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Rusty Nail
{Photo Credit}
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.

 Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all.

He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. It won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry', the wound is still there." ~ Author Unknown

Heavenly Father,
Words spoken in anger can never truly be "taken back". In Proverbs 18:21 your Word tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. We desperately need you to be the guard at the door of our lips. May every word that we speak be pleasing and acceptable to you. May every word that proceeds out of our mouth be a word that brings life!
In Jesus' name, Amen~


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Friday, March 30, 2012

Morning Glory~


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Thursday, March 29, 2012

That Could Be Me~

That could be me.

I reach for my water and take another sip. As the water wets my mouth and slips down my throat, I am overwhelmed by the presence of the Living Water dwelling inside me and my eyes start to water.

Seated at a cantina, I watch, and listen, and marvel at the grace of God.

We are here to celebrate a birthday. As the beer and wine flow, and the laughter gets louder, my heart grows more keenly aware of the favor of God in my life. As I scan the room, I just keep thinking over and over again:

That could be me.

"What a lousy day.  Hey, can I get another beer?  It's probably too early for tequila."

"Oh, yeah.  We go way back.  When my first husband died, I started hanging out at the bar down the street and that's where we met, and that's still where we hang out!"

"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to step outside for a smoke.  Crowds make me nervous and the fresh air will do me good."

"I'm glad it's your birthday.  Finally, I had something to look forward to and a reason to celebrate in my life."

"Hey, take is easy with those shots.  You want to make it home, don't you?" 
"Oh don't worry.  I just live a couple of blocks away, and believe you me, I've made my own little trail from here to my front door."

As bits and pieces of conversation float by my ear, I realize how very blessed I am. 

Hurting hearts seated all around me, looking for healing, searching for acceptance, desperate for purpose, drowning in pain. 

I look out the window.  The wind is starting to pick up.  Small leaves begin to swirl in circles in the corner of the courtyard. 

T-Bar Interior shot
{Photo Credit}

If only they knew Jesus.

If only they knew of the love, forgiveness and joy He brings.

If only they, too, could be living the abundant life He came to give us - the abundant life I'm now living.

Someone needs to tell them. 


I look around the room. Conviction, wrapped in an invitation, is starting to bubble up. The Holy Spirit begins to stir a passion in the deepest part of my heart.

But by the grace of God I am what I am. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10
Freely you have received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:8

I take another sip of my water, and thank God for His grace. I hear HIS invitation and I can't help thinking,

the person to tell them...

That could be me~


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You're Worth It~

This morning for breakfast, I had the most amazing dining experience.

I was seated at a quaint little outdoor patio table, surrounded by beautiful flowers and the soft fragrance of jasmine. The air was cool and fresh, and soft music could be heard in the distance. My meal was prepared to taste, and was absolutely delectable from the first bite until the last! Truly, it was an extraordinary way to start an ordinary day. But then again, I'm worth it!

OK, before this starts sounding like a Loreal commercial, let me explain. I had breakfast at home, out on our patio. Our rose bushes are in full bloom, right along with our jasmine, which is slowly climbing it's way up the trellis which shades one end of our patio. Birds perched in nearby trees were sweetly chirping their "Good mornings".

As the chef for the day, I had prepared my breakfast just the way I like it... a fluffy spinach ,black olive, green chile omelet, slightly buttered toast, and Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Tea with a smidgen of honey....all delicious, if I do say so myself! A dining experience fit for a princess....even it that princess just happened to be me.

The idea to enjoy a breakfast extraordinaire came to me earlier this morning while I was in the shower. Today had started out like most days. My alarm, not aware that I was happily asleep, had rudely awakened me at 5:30 a.m. I then somehow managed to get up and walk to the kitchen where my programmable coffee maker already had a nice pot of hot tea waiting for me. I poured myself a cup, stirred in a little honey and headed for the shower.

As the water tried to do it's part to enliven my senses and wake me up, an image slowly started appearing in my mind. I found myself thinking how nice it would be to be somewhere else starting this day in a totally new and different way. I pictured myself vacationing in Paris, or perhaps Venice, enjoying breakfast at a quaint little outdoor cafe.

The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Why wait for someday, I thought. Why not today?!

Granted, I couldn't make it to Paris in time for breakfast, but I could make the time to treat myself to an out of the ordinary breakfast. Usually, breakfast and I are simply two ships that pass in the night...well, ok, day. We never have time to actually connect and enjoy each other's company.

And why?

Because I'm too busy, of course! Busy living life.

But wait! Is that what life is all about? Being too busy to actually enjoy my life?

This is the thought that hit me while I was in the shower. Not only did the water wake me up, but my gracious Heavenly Father awakened in me the desire to not just live life, but to enjoy it.....ALL OF IT. Even breakfast!

So...I treated myself to breakfast...and felt absolutely spoiled by it.

Imagine that! The simplest thing, fueling my body for the day, became something that brought great pleasure to me and totally changed the "feel" of my entire day.

I have a feeling this is what God had in mind when we created us.

He didn't create a beautiful world just so we would have an address - a place to be. No. He created this world so we would be surrounded by an environment that would enliven our senses, tickle our nose, delight our eyes and revive our spirit.

We werern't created to simply "get through" life.

We weren't formed by his hands to simply exist in a world that we never enjoy.

We werern't placed on this earth to just "be busy".

We weren't given life just to "get through" life.

We were knit together in our mother's womb so we might enjoy life.

When was the last time you gazed at the sky? When was the last time you felt the sunshine or heard the song of a sparrow? When was the last time you ate breakfast in the morning & actually tasted it 

Today, take some time to enjoy your life~

You're worth it!

(Reposting from March 2011)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Keeping It Real~

Ok...let me admit it right here and now! I have a problem - a HUGE problem - with keeping it real.

Abraham Lincoln is attributed with having said: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

And yet, we try, don't we? Maybe not intentionally, but speaking for myself, I have to admit, over the course of my life thus far, there has been a lot of fooling going on. Don't get me wrong. I don't intentionally try to fool anyone (or on second thought, do I?) I don't view myself as a dishonest person. It's just when it comes right down to it, I have to admit, I am not living an authentic life.

And who knows this better than God. For unlike people, we can't fool God.....any of the time! He sees our heart. He sees the real us.

According to Dictionary.com, the word authentic carries a connotation of authoritative certification that an object is what it is claimed to be. I claim to be a Christian, but am I really what I claim to be? This is a sobering question, isn't it? And, I have to admit, this is a question I am very uncomfortable asking myself.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:3, 9-16 (NLT)


Paul is urging us to wake up and see our self for who we really are. He is forcing us to take off our spiritual blinders and look beyond what we are doing (our actions) to the reason behind it (our motives). He is provoking us to step up to the call on our life and to live like Christ.

And yet, my life, the who of who I am, is so unlike Christ. For years, literally most of my life, I have tried to live like Christ. But, try as I might, and hope as I may, I was never able to do it.

Until recently, that is.

Do you want to know my secret?

Do you want to know how I was finally able to live up to living like Christ?




Well, here it is in a nutshell-




I gave up.

I quit trying.

I died to the notion of me ever being able to do it.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20, The Amplified Bible

I stopped trying to be Christ and instead invited Christ to start being me.

It is by "adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in" God that I can be Christ to the world. It has nothing to do with me, and EVERYTHING to do with Christ living in me and through me.

When I can't, Christ can. When I die to self-reliance and start living in reliance on Christ, Christ shines through. When I stop being fake, and allow Christ to be real, the world will see an authentic Christian. The world will see Christ.

But, I might add, this is a day to day surrender. Each moment of each day, I have to choose to get me out of the way so Christ can reign supreme.


I have to remind myself that it is not my might, or my power, but by His spirit.(Zechariah 4:6)

I have to remember that without Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Christ I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

I have to bring to mind the glorious work Christ has begun in me and His faithfulness to complete it (Philippians 1:6).

And, when I become disconnected from my Heavenly Father, I have to run to His side and once again abide in the vine, so He can bear fruit in my life (John 15:4).


To call yourself a child of God is one thing. To be called a child of God by those who watch your life is another thing altogether.~ Max Lucado

Yes, it's time to get authentic in our Christian walk. It's time to move out of the way and to let Christ have His way. It's time to stop pretending and to start abiding. It's time to say not me, but you, Christ.

It's time to get real!

(Reposting from 3/4/11)


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Monday, March 26, 2012

I AM~

What did the Lord call you to do today?

Are you feeling as though the task is much greater than your ability to accomplish it?

 If so, be encouraged, my friend. God will never ask of you what He is not wiling or able to do through you. Simply trust in Him, allow Him to work out His plan, and through you, the world will see the great I AM. This is the theme of the following song by one of my all time favorite Christian artists, Ginny Owens, and my thought for you today.


I Am
No Lord, he said, you've got the wrong guy
Simple conversation gets me tongue-tied
And you're telling me to speak with a maniac king
Or could it be I've lost my mind


Besides, I am weak, don't you want someone strong
To lead them out of Egypt when they've been there so long
And anyway, they won’t believe You ever spoke to me
It's not your problem, God replied
And the rest is history’


Cause there's a bigger picture you can't see
You don't have to change the world, just trust in Me
'Cause I am your creator, I am working out my plan
And through you I will show them, I Am


Now Lord, are you sure?
He's just a shepherd boy
Too small for battle gear with a giant to destroy
What on earth can he do with five stones and a sling
It's not your problem, God replied
'Cause I can do anything


There's a bigger picture you can't see
You don't have to change the world, just trust in me
'Cause I am your creator,
I am working out my plan
And through you, I will show them


I am the first, I am the last

I am the present and the past

I am tomorrow and today

I am the only way


Great Lord, she said, I'm just a simple girl
You say that I will bring your son into the world
How can I understand this thing You're gonna do
It's not your problem, God replied


'Cause, there's a bigger picture
And you don't have to change the world (oh no)
I'm your creator, I am working out my plan
And through you, I will show them

I Am

I AM


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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let's Talk About It~

It was BJ's first day at preschool. He was only two and this was his first adventure away from the familiarity and security of his mother. As soon as his mother walked out the door, leaving BJ behind, his tears had started to flow. And flow they did....on and on and on, like a steady river.

I tried everything I could think of to bring comfort to this precious little boy. I tried showing him around the room, pointing out fun toys and puzzles. He wasn't interested. I tried introducing him to some of the other children. He wasn't ready to make their acquaintance. I tried reading him a story. He was only interested in his own story....life in a new place, without his mom.

All through out the morning, BJ would cry, then stop momentarily, only to stammer, "I want my mommy" and then, start crying all over again. If only I could get his mind off his mom and onto something else in this room, I thought.

A short while later, another student, five year old Benjamin, walked over to where we were sitting. BJ, still visibly distraught, had for the moment at least, hushed his crying and I was hoping to keep this tear-free moment going for the rest of the day!

"What's wrong with him?" Benjamin wanted to know.

"Oh, he'll be fine," I said, "It's his first day, so everything is new to him and he's just feeling a little uneasy about being here.".

No," Benjamin replied. "That's not what's wrong with him. He misses his mommy."

In a split second, the word I had been trying so desperately to avoid was out there. I was sure at the near mention of the name, "Mommy", BJ would once again burst into tears.

"Uh, let's not talk about that, OK, Benjamin? I think talking about it will only make BJ feel worse. Let's talk about something else, OK?" I now found myself feeling just as uncomfortable as little BJ.

"NO. I can tell this is really bothering him and I think we should talk about it" Benjamin said, as he moved right up next to his brand new classmate and looked him straight in the eye.

"You miss your mommy, don't you? Well, you know what? When I first came here, I missed my Dad. But don't worry. My dad always comes back to get me, and your mom will come and get you too. Now, dry up those tears. Wanna play with me?"

To my utter amazement and total surprise, BJ wiped his eyes, climbed off my lap, then took hold of Benjamin's hand as they wondered off to play. I sat there totally speechless. For hours, I had tried to bring comfort to BJ, yet foolishly, I had totally missed the mark. Instead of tackling the issue head on, I had tried to skirt around it, and avoid it completely. Who says we can't learn from children?


Benjamin, having gone through a similar experience, was well equipped to handle this situation. He knew exactly what BJ was feeling, and spoke to the heart of what was bothering little BJ the most -fear of abandonment. Once Benjamin reassured BJ that his mom would eventually come back for him, he was free to play and have fun.

How many times have you and I skirted around issues, not wanting to bring any more pain or discomfort to those around us? We casually talk about the weather, share in politics, or talk about the cost of groceries, all the while missing the mark totally. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to talk about it.

Counseling
{Photo Credit}
Yes, it might be awkward at first. And yes, it may stir up painful memories or buried hurts, but in the end, it will bring comfort and healing. There is something powerful in talking to someone who has been there and experienced first hand what we our self are going through. There is also something equally powerful about sharing your own experience and your testimony with someone who is now walking down a road you have already traveled.


I am a firm believer that pain has a purpose. We will all suffer pain in some form or another in our lifetime.The choice, then, is not will we hurt, but rather what will we do with our hurt. We can choose to allow the hurt to take root in our heart, producing loneliness, bitterness or apathy, or we can choose to find the purpose in our pain, and instead use our own experience to help someone else. Then, and only then, will our pain begin to reveal it's purpose. Purpose, in turn, will brings with it strength, restoration and healing. The Bible tells us to comfort one another with the comfort we have been given. The only way we can do this is to talk about it......openly and honestly.

Is there hurt in your life you have been carrying around way too long? Why not find someone whom you trust, and talk about it? Is there someone you know who could use a listening ear and an understanding heart? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words they need, and then approach that person. Let's quit ignoring the issues of our hearts. Why should we choose to settle for only pain, when God has so much more in store for us, if we are simply willing to talk about it.

(Reposting from 4/28/09)

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Shameful Confession~

God has given each of us the privilege of being His hands and feet to those in need around us. Just open your eyes and you will see opportunity for giving and sharing everywhere you look. I have always been keenly aware of these opportunities, yet shamefully, I must admit, I have usually turned my face to these calls for help and avoided them altogether.
No, that's not exactly true.

Whenever I've been given the honor of helping someone in need of food, clothing or money, I have always been more than willing to share what God has blessed me with. This kind of giving is easy. It's not hard to drop off a box of food, or write out a check. I guess the type of giving I'm referring to is the kind that requires giving of yourself.

For the past six months or so, my neighbor has been courageously fighting a battle with cancer. I know this not because I have spoken to her, but because her husband has been sharing her struggle with my husband during chats over the fence that separates our yard from theirs. Knowing she has been facing this, you would think I would be doing whatever I could to help her, right? Wrong! I have instead willfully chosen to turn my face to her and her obvious need.

Do I feel guilty about this? You bet! Yet, day after day, I remain silent, doing absolutely nothing to help her. Why? It's simple. Fear. Fear of invading her privacy. Fear of saying or doing something wrong. Fear of making her uncomfortable. Simply put.....fear of making her situation worse and not better. I rationalize my total complacency to her need by convincing myself she would be much better off without me. And believe it or not......I actual believe this to be true. So, I stay away.


More than ten years ago, my mother in law was fighting her own battle with cancer. Her eyes were growing dim and her strength all but gone. While her family was in the kitchen sharing in a meal, I was sitting at her side. Feeling so incompetent to be in this position, it wasn't a place I would have chosen to be. Yet, God placed me there for this moment in time.

As I gazed upon her frail body, lying there in her bed, I noticed her neck, which appeared to be in an awkward position.

"Are you OK?" I asked. "You don't look very comfortable. Would you like me to try and adjust your pillow so you can rest your head more comfortably?"

With all the energy she could muster up, she nodded her head "yes".

Immediately, fear flooded my entire being.
What am I going to do?
How can I possibly move her without hurting her?
 If only someone else was here with me. I don't know what to do.

With a whirlwind of thoughts, doubts and fears racing through my mind, I leaned over this precious woman, gingerly placing my hand under her head. As I tried to figure out how best to reposition her on her pillow, she reached out with her own hand, placing it firmly on my shoulder. Then, using what little strength she had, she said slowly and deliberately, "DON'T BE AFRAID".

I lifted her head, readjusted her pillow, and gently laid her head back down once again. She looked up at me and smiled. Those three words, DON'T BE AFRAID, were the last words she spoke to me. Two days later, she passed away.

I have carried those words in my heart ever since. Dying words meant to speak life. Yet, unfortunately, I have allowed these words and the power they bring to lie dormant in my heart. Ten years later, I am still choosing instead, to listen to the lies of Satan. Lies that only serve to imprison me in fear and render be totally useless as God's hands and feet to those around me. My neighbor needs me, and I am not there for her.


And that is my whole point in writing this. I want to be used by God no matter HOW he chooses to use me. Be it lending a dollar or lending my heart. Until I am willing to give of myself, I will never be able to live up to the true potential of my calling...to serve my fellowman. This giving of myself will most likely not be easy and will most likely make me extremely uncomfortable, but then again....it's not about ME, right?! It's about forgetting all about me so I can instead focus fully on the one in need.


{Photo Credit}
It's also about forgetting my obvious incompetence and instead, focusing on the Lord, who IS able. He is able to do all I could ever thing or imagine and then some!!! I know I am not able to meet the needs of others.....but the great I AM certainly is! All I need to do is surrender to my need for Christ to work in and through me, and He in turn, will be faithful to use me to meet the needs he brings before me.

I love 2 Corinthians 4:7 -

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

No, it's not about easy and it's not about us. It's about surrender. Surrender to all that is holding me back, and possibly holding you back, too. Be it our pride, our selfishness, our laziness or our fear. All are simply tools of Satan to keep you and I turning our heads, and walking away. It's about surrendering

I've wasted the lasted ten years of my life, and countless years before that. I don't want to waste one more second.

Do you?


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Friday, March 23, 2012

God's Workmanship~




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Thursday, March 22, 2012

No Expiration Date~

While waiting in the drive thru lane at the bank this morning, I just happened to gaze down at my billfold resting on my lap. As my eyes fell on my driver's licence, I removed it from its usually spot and began scrutinizing my photo.

"WOW. I looked so young then," I thought. "Let's see. This photo must have been taken in...OH NO! What's today? March 22! EXPIRED! This license expired January 19!"

Suddenly, all my fears about growing old gracefully were replaced with new fears.

"What will they do to me?"

"Will I have to pay a fine?"

"Will they make me take my driving test all over again? Oh, I hope not. Almost 30 years later I still haven't mastered the art of parallel parking!"

I completed my banking business and headed straight for the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Thankfully, my fears never materialized. No fine. No parallel parking. Just a brand new license with a brand new "older" looking photo.

As I drove away and headed to work, I gave God thanks.

Even in this, I saw the Heartprints of God.

"Lord, thank you for being so beautiful to me. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Thank you that I didn't have to pay a fine or parallel park. Most of all, Lord, thank you that your love for me never expires."


Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good.
His faithful love continues forever.

~ 1 Chronicles 16:34




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1 + 1 = Far Better~

Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work. If one falls, the other can help his friend get up. But how tragic it is for the one who is all alone when he falls. There is no one to help him get up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I spotted them the moment I turned the corner and headed down the street. Two elderly ladies, walking along the sidewalk, hand in hand. As my car inched closer, I realized these ladies were sisters: twins to be exact. They had on the same tan-colored pants, the same floral-designed shirts, the same straw hats, and even the exact same sunglasses.

Despite their age, which I would estimate to be in the 90's, they were moving right along. Slow and steady, one foot after the other, smiling and talking as they meandered down the street. Instantly, the scripture passage from Ecclesiastes popped into my mind.

Two are indeed better than one, I thought as I passed them by. I couldn't help thinking that these two elderly ladies might even owe their longevity, in part, to the fact that possibly, they had walked through their entire life together, side by side.

Fast forward to our church staff meeting later that same morning...

With summer approaching, the Pastor led us in a discussion on spiritual rest. As he read a passage of scripture, he asked us to reflect on several questions. One was this:

As you look at your own life, who are the people God has used to bring rest to your spirit?

Instantly, I saw the beautiful face of my sister.


Then, each member of my family came to mind. Then, the faces of dear friends. Surprisingly, I smiled as I thought of the three precious boys God had lovingly brought into my life when He had opened the door for me to leave teaching and serve as their nanny. The two young boys, along with their precious little baby brother, had brought much-needed laughter to my parched soul.

Two are indeed better than one, I thought as precious times with each of these people passed through my mind.

We need each other. God never planned for us to go it alone. We need the support, the encouragement, the helping hand, and the accountability that comes from having another in our life.

What a gift God has given us in each other.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of marriage, the gift of family, the gift of friendship, the gift of children. In each of these relationships we find strength, comfort, acceptance, honesty, and the help we need when we fall down. Thank you for the gift of your son....the ultimate lover of our soul. May we seek to develop each of these relationships to the full, to realize the gift we have in each, and to keep holding on to those you have placed in our life, those who come along side us and walk together with us through this journey of life. Thank you for always being by our side. In Jesus' name, Amen.~


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't Miss God's Glory~

Isn't it funny how a song can suddenly pop into your mind? From out of nowhere, you absentmindedly start humming the melody or singing the lyrics. Then, for the rest of the day, the song keeps on showing up, time and time again. This happened to me today, and I had to laugh! You will, too, when I tell you the name of the song. It was none other than......the Arky, Akry song! You know the song I'm talking about.

The Lord said to Noah:
There's gonna be a floody, floody
The Lord said to Noah:
There's gonna be a floody, floody
Get those children out of the muddy, muddy
Children of the Lord

I hear you singing along......

So Noah
He built him, he built him an arky, arky
Noah
He built him, he built him an arky, arky
Built it out of gopher barky, barky
Children of the Lord

Rise and shine
And give God the glory, glory
Rise and shine
And give God the glory, glory
Rise and shine
And give God the glory, glory
Children of the Lord


Ummmmm...I wonder if this song will make another appearance in your mind today?

I have to admit as a child, I never really understood how the chorus fit into this song about Noah. Now, I get it.

God asked Noah to rise and shine and give Him glory, and Noah did just that. He rose to the occasion -building a boat - (where there was no water) - for an upcoming flood -(when until now, no one had even had reason to break out their umbrellas!)

He shined his life of faith for all to see, yet sadly, those watching him day after day, totally missed the boat. All they saw was the arky, arky and the gopher barky, barky! They never saw God's glory! They even saw the elephants and kangaroosies, roosies, but they never saw God's glory! God was actively working in their lives, through the obedience of His faithful servant Noah, and they never saw Him.

Not a day goes by that God is not actively at work in your life and mine. Long before we ever even know we have need of something, God is already on the job, planning, constructing and building. He alone sees the end from the beginning. All He asks us to do is to see Him. After all, it wasn't the ark that saved Noah and his family, it was God's hand of protection. Noah and crew found themselves in the grip of God's grace. Isn't that where you and I long to be, too?

God's Glory Ormond Beach, FL
{Photo Credit}
When you look at your life, what do you see?

 Do you see circumstances that are hard to understand....(a boat? Here?)

Do you question all that God is telling you....(a flood? Are you kidding me?)


Are you in jeopardy of missing the boat?


How we need to focus on His glory.

But how? How do we look beyond what is in front of us to see God's glory?
By looking into the face of Jesus.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)


The answer is Jesus.


The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Through His life, death and resurrection we have seen the glory of God. You and I have experienced His all consuming, stop at nothing short of death, love for us. How can we not expect God's glory to show up in every single moment of our life?

By keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, through eyes of faith, we will see the glory of God at work in our life. Maybe He is building an ark in a dry and barren place in your life right now. Don't be afraid to heed His call, and climb aboard. When you do, like Noah, you will find yourself in the grip of His grace, mercy and love. I can't think of anyplace I would rather be, can you?

Through the life-giving death of Jesus, God is now dipping the pen of His grace, into the blood of His Son and writing our life story. We can believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, that in the end, everything will be fine and dandy dandy. We can trust God with our lives. We can rise and shine and give Him the glory, all the while resting in the beautiful truth that our life story IS and always WILL BE hunkey, dorey dorey!

Let's not miss the boat.

Let's not miss God's glory!


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Monday, March 19, 2012

Nothing Without Love~

If I wash dishes, fold laundry and scrub the tub,

laundry day stacks
{Photo Credit}
but don't have love....




If I drop off at soccer, pick up at the cleaners and feed the dog,

Florida Trip 115
{Photo Credit}
but don't have love...



If I pack lunches, fill the ice tea glasses, and watch football,

Hungarian Iced Tea
{Photo Credit}

but don't have love...



If I answer the phone, answer the email, and send the fax,

LG Cookie Fresh - Email Accounts
{Photo Credit}

but don't have love...



If I pay the cashier, hold open a door, and smile,

Smile!
{Photo Credit}

but don't have love...



If I donate clothes, drop coins into the offering plate, and attend every service,

1943 Steel Penny
{Photo Credit}

but don't have love...



If I do anything at all, but don't have love......


I am...




I have...







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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pause, Maybe...but Fast Forward, No Way~

“Stacy, I need you to fast forward this part.”

The request came from a four year old. He and his older brother were watching a movie we had checked out from our local library earlier that morning. Even though both boys had seen this movie several times before, it had still made its way into their book bag and now, into their DVD player.

“Why, honey?” I asked. “Is this part upsetting to you?”

“No. I just don’t want to watch this part. It’s boring. I want to hurry up and look at the funny part.”

“Well, you can’t hurry up!” His six year old brother now jumped into our conversation. “You have to go through the part you don’t like so you can get to the funny part. It’s all part of the movie and that’s just the way it is.”

I never cease to be amazed at the simple, yet profound words of wisdom commonly spoken by children. Countless times, my heart has been pricked and my thoughts sparked by their keen observations and raw honesty.

Ohhhh kaaaaaaaaaaay,” the younger brother replied. “I’ll look at the TV, but I’m not really going to watch it!”

And so it is with life.

blur
{Photo Credit}
How many times have you and I wished we could simply hit the fast forward button and speed through a time in our life that wasn’t exactly pleasing to us? How many times have you and I looked at life, but not really lived it? If the truth be told, most of us, whether we realize it or not, are inevitably living our life in fast forward.

“What?” You say. “Not me.”

I hate to burst your bubble, but does T.G.I.F. ring a bell? Thank God it’s Friday? I thought so.

If you are like me, there have probably been numerous times in your own life when you have climbed out of bed Monday morning already thinking about the upcoming weekend. If I can just make it through the week, then I can enjoy the weekend. Sadly, five whole days – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – are passed over in an effort to hurry through the part we don’t like in hopes of getting to the part we do. Before we know it, our entire life has passed before us or worse yet, passed us by.

Every single day is a unique and precious gift from God. Just like a snowflake or the prints on your thumb, no two days are alike. We only get one chance to live this day. In the light of that great revelation, isn't it absolutely bizarre that we don't choose to be more selective and more intentional about the way we spend each moment God has so graciously given to us?

Sure, we both have obligations, such as work and family responsibilities, that may dictate to some degree how our 24 hours of time are spent, but ultimately, you and I are the only ones in control of our day. It is you and I who have been given the final say as to whether we will spend this never-to-be-lived-again moment of time

happy or miserable,
thankful or complaining,
giving or taking,
doing or watching,
enjoying or enduring,
living or going through the motions.

The choice is ours and ours alone.

“But wait,” you say. “That’s not true. You don’t know how demanding and difficult my boss can be. You don’t know the pressure I’m under financially. You don’t know about my illness. You haven’t seen my to-do list. You just don’t know what I am going through.”

You’re right. I don’t. But, I do know this. When the sun sets this evening, our today will vanish only to become yet another one of our yesterdays. It will be over, never to be lived again.

Life passes all too quickly. Each day begins and ends before we have barely had time to make its acquaintance. Shouldn't we choose to live every single moment of today, regardless of whether the moment is good or bad, happy or sad?

Why should we long to hit the fast forward button, when one day, we will inevitably long to press rewind and live moments of our life all over again?

Time is ticking.

 Let's start making the most of this precious gift and truly start living!

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.


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Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Problem With No~

As I phoned my husband on my way home from work, it was obvious to his listening heart that something was bothering me.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied.

“Are you sure?” he inquired further.

“I guess I’m just upset at myself,” I finally admitted.

“Why? What did you do?”

“I agreed to help out with an event in the park this weekend.”

“And you don’t really want to do it, do you?”

“NO!” I answered.

“Honey, you are just going to have to learn to say no.”

“Oh, I can say no.” I shot back. “But for some odd reason, when I say it, it is always followed by the word problem. You know, as in, ‘Oh sure, no problem.’ ”

“Well, see,” he said triumphantly. “That’s your problem. You need to just leave it at no.”

We ended our conversation and I continued my drive home.

Oh, if only it were that easy. If only I could say no. Why is it that when someone asks me to do something, I always feel compelled to say yes?

The light at the upcoming intersection turned yellow and the traffic slowed to a stop.

It’s the guilt. That’s what it is. If I say no, I feel so guilty, not to mention selfish. I always end up feeling like I’m a horrible person.

The light now green, I shifted into gear and continued my commute.

Lord, you have called us to be servants. You want us to be your hands and your feet to a world in need. You want us to say yes, don’t you?

Once again, the traffic slowed. Orange construction barrels now herded us into a single lane. Slowly the parade of cars crept through the work zone.

Lord, I’m so torn inside. I want to help people. I really do. Yet, at the same time, I honestly don’t. Sometimes, I just want to do something for me. How selfish is that! I feel guilty if I say no, but then when I say yes, I feel resentful. No matter what I do, I never seem to win. Please Lord. I need your help. Show me the right way…your way.

Having no other option, I continued to follow the car ahead of me as we slowly meandered our way through this work in progress.
{Photo Credit}

What’s that, Lord? What did you say? Yes, I remember. You told us to love our neighbor as we love our self. I’m trying to love my neighbor, Lord. That’s why I always say yes.

What, Lord?

Myself?

Do I love myself like I love my neighbor?

The lane I was driving on now became uneven, causing my car to tilt to the right. Driving at this new angle felt awkward and made me feel strangely uncomfortable.

What’s that, Lord? Hum…yes, I hate to admit it, but you’re right. When I say yes, I’m only giving lip service, and not truly loving from my heart. My mouth says “no problem”, but my heart doesn’t agree. But wait, Lord. What does this have to do with me loving myself?

Soon, the all too familiar pavement ended and we ventured forward over rough, dusty terrain. The previous pavement had been completely removed, allowing the workers to prepare this area for new improved lanes that would be wider and free of potholes.

Oh, I see Lord. It’s about finding a balance, isn’t it? You have commanded me to love my neighbor, but at the same time, you have also commanded me to love myself. You want my love to be true...both to others and myself.

Finally, we reached the end of the work zone. Once again, I found myself on smooth, even pavement and driving at ease. As I continued my commute, I realized the Lord had been lovingly guiding me through the confusion in my heart.

As I arrived home, my husband came out to greet me.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “Why the big smile on your face? Last time I talked to you, you were anything but happy.”

“Let’s just say I had a great commute home,” I answered.

“Didn’t you have to drive through the new construction zone? That section of the road is a mess!”

“Yep, but you know what? Surprisingly, it turned out to be 'no problem', after all."


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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Heart~




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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Delight~

Our sweet little Sally settles her furry self down,
her chin on paws that rest on my foot.
I reach down to stroke her back,
and before I even touch her,
she has comforted me.
I feel it in my heart,
delight.

A precious little girl in our church nursery lifts her tiny little arms,
her precious blue eyes reaching all the way to my heart.
I reach down, scoop her up,
and before I can even place her on my hip,
she has kissed me.
I feel it in my heart,
delight.

My "handy in the kitchen" husband  hands me a plate,
filled with my favorites, sprinkled generously with love.
I reach for my fork, scoop up the first bite,
and before I even have a taste,
he has nourished me.
I feel it in my heart,
delight.

I offer up my hands,
used by God to speak His words to my world.
I reach for His Word,
and before I begin to place fingers on keyboard,
He has instructed me.
I feel it in my heart,
delight.

So thankful for a God who delights in delighting me with His Heartprints of love~


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hearing God's Voice~

A few days ago, as I was waiting at a drive-up window, a phone call from my husband suddenly alerted me to everything and everyone vying for my attention at that particular moment. The list was long:

- the music from my own car radio
- the music coming from the radio inside the eatery
- the conversation of the workers as they prepared the food
- the voice of the person in line behind me as his order blared through the speaker at the window
- the chirping of a bird perched on a nearby tree
- the barking of two dogs in the bed of a truck parked nearby
- the roar of a military jet flying overhead
- the sounds of the traffic on the adjacent street


As I tried to talk with my husband, I found myself straining to hear his every word. Concentrating on what he was saying was almost impossible to do. I felt like yelling out my window, “Please World! I need you to be quiet. I can’t hear my husband!”

In frustration, I ended my conversation, promising to call my husband back in a few minutes. After receiving my order, I pulled into a vacant parking spot located at the far end of the parking lot. I rolled up my window, turned off my radio, and dialed my honey. When he answered, happily, his voice was all I heard. Unlike before, I now had no trouble hearing what he was saying. Our conversation flowed easily, untouched and uninterrupted, at least for a few moments, from the sounds of life. This time when I said goodbye, I felt satisfied I had truly communicated with my husband.

All too often, my times of communion with my precious Heavenly Father are sabotaged by all the noise in my life. Sometimes what steals my attention is from an outward source. Yet sadly, more times than not, it is my own thoughts that leave me straining to hear the voice of my God. Fear, worry and selfishness all push their way to the forefront of my mind, crowding out the still small voice of my Savior until hearing His voice becomes almost impossible.

Ear on a boat
{Photo Credit}
When you talk with God, do you find yourself struggling to hear God's voice? Like me, do your thoughts runaway with you, too? So often, time set aside for just God and me inevitably ends up turning into nothing more than time with just me, myself and I! I end up leaving God out of the conversation completely. No wonder I walk away from this time with the Lord feeling as though the Lord didn't bother to show up. No doubt, HE WAS THERE, I just didn't quit thinking long enough to give Him a chance to speak to my heart.

Conversation is a two way street. There is a time to speak, but then there is also a time to listen. I am learning that in order to truly hear the voice of God, I have to be intentional in my prayer time and disciplined with my thoughts. I have to do all I can to hold my thoughts captive so that the voice of God can be heard in the inner most part of my being. It is not easy. Yet, it is absolutely essential if I want to truly commune with God.

One way I have found to keep my prayer life focused on God is to direct whatever I am thinking to Him. For example, I might be right in the midst of thanking God for a brand new day when all of the sudden I remember that in a few hours I will be meeting with someone who can be easily offended and become angry at the drop of a hat. At this moment, I have a choice to make. I can allow these thoughts to steal my time with God, and take over my mind, filling my heart with worry and dread, or I can choose to include God by sharing this concern with Him.

Instead of allowing this thought to take me away from God, I can draw near to my Heavenly Father by first, thanking Him that He never leaves me or forsakes me. I can then ask God to go with me into this meeting, to surround me with His peace, and to give me the words to say. I can then praise Him for His faithfulness to work all things for my good and for His glory. As I share my heart with God, I find that God IS there, taking my worry and replacing it with a deeper understanding of His presence in my life.

Just like my husband was longing to speak with me, God is longing to speak to us. He desires to engage in intimate conversation with you and me. It is up to us, however, to remove our self from whatever may be wrestling for our attention at the time. If it's the hustle and bustle of the world, then we need to retreat to a place of solitude where God's voice can be heard. However, if it is our own thoughts that are vying for our attention, sharing them with our Heavenly Father just might turn out to be the best thing we could do!

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Tomorrow, TODAY~

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.
If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.” Proverbs 3:27-28, NLT


Every morning on my way to work, I see a woman standing on a street corner. Each day she is holding a cardboard sign, probably one of only a few things she can call her own. The lettering on the sign is awkward and the words are difficult to read. The need in this woman’s life, however, is clear to see and painfully easy to understand.

Yet, each and every morning, I drive pass without stopping to help.

Homeless
{Photo Credit}
As I see the look of desperation on her face, I once again remind myself to fill a bag with food and clothing to give to her tomorrow. But shamefully, tomorrow never comes. Each morning the woman is there, but my help for her, is not.

We are to be God’s hands and feet to a world in need. Our thoughts and our best intentions do not take away hunger pains.  Our sympathetic smiles do not bring comfort or heal the hurt of a desperate heart.  We need to take action. The time to for us to help is now.

Heavenly Father, This very day, at this very hour, may we be willing to be used by you to make a difference in the lives of those you place before us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Monday, March 12, 2012

I Can't, But He Can!

One of the biggest differences between my younger sister and me is this:
I believe I can't. She believes she can.

I still remember the phrase my mother and many a teacher quoted whenever can with an apostrophe t popped out of my mouth.

"Can't never could do anything."

As a child, this quote never inspired me to get out there and give whatever it was I couldn't do an honest try. It only discouraged me and reinforced what I already knew. I couldn't do anything.

Of course, now, I get it. Looking back, I realize I totally misunderstood what my mom and my teachers were really trying to tell me.

If you think you can't, you will never try, and as a result, you won't! Not because you can't, but because you simply choose not to try. You never start, so you will never finish. You never try, so you will never achieve. It's as simple as that!

My can'ts have never done anything. My sisters cans have.

Like the time she found the perfect bed for her toddler. While the bed may have indeed been perfect, the price for it was not. So, my sister started looking online to find a "blueprint" for this very bed. Fortunately, she found one and when she did, the very next words out of her mouth were "I can make that". Tonight, she will read stories, say goodnight prayers, and then kiss her little boy goodnight as he climbs into the bed his mommy made just for him.



"To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed." --Bernard Edmonds

This is a quote my sister has on her facebook page. It is obviously one she takes to heart and lives her life by. She believes she can and so she does. These aren't the only words, however, that breathe life into my sister's dreams.

She also lives her life by the words found in Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I love the way this verse reads in The Amplified Bible.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [a]infuses inner strength into me; I am [b]self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].

My mom was right. My teachers knew what they were talking about. Can't never could do anything. But God can do ALL things.

As a child, (and yes, even sometimes now as a 40 something adult) I doubted my ability to do. I knew me and because I did, I knew "me" couldn't! I failed to try because I knew if I tried I would fail. My reasoning was completely warped. My view of who I was was distorted. My can'ts never became cans because God was never even in the picture.

Philippians 4:13 brings it all into focus.

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [a]infuses inner strength into me; I am [b]self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].

I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency. In order to step out and do what God has called me to do and to be who He has created me to be, I don't need to be self-confident. I only need to be God-confident.

So, what can I do?

I can do ALL things.

Tonight, as a read my Bible, say my goodnight prayers, kiss my husband goodnight and get all tucked into my bed, I climb into the strength and the sufficiency of my Heavenly Father. With God, there are no can'ts in my life anymore. Only cans!

O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! Jeremiah 32:17



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Noticeably Different~

Police Car Lights
{Photo Credit}
When was the last time you looked in your rear view mirror and saw the unwelcome, flashing red lights of a police car, signaling you to pull over? You may need a few minutes to recall your last encounter; unfortunately, mine is still fresh in my mind.

I was on my way home a few weeks ago, when out of nowhere, a police car suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror. The flashing red lights not only alerted me to his presence but also ushered me to the side of the road. As I stopped the car and waited for the policeman to make his way to my car, I replayed my last few minutes behind the wheel.

Was I speeding? No. I just turned on to this street.

 Did I forget to use my turn signal when I made that last turn? No. I remember hearing the click, click, click of the signal while I sat at the intersection waiting for traffic to clear so I could make my way to the median.

When I merged into traffic did I cut someone off? No. I had waited for all the traffic to clear before I had ventured out into the street.

I was clueless.

"Good Evening, Ma'am. Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asked matter-of-factly.


"No, Officer," I answered, "I have no idea."

"Have you had anything to drink tonight?"


Drink!?   His question took me by total surprise.

"No."

"Nothing at all?"

"No."

"I need to see your driver's license and your registration."

I reached over, opened the glove compartment and quickly located the requested paper.


"Here is my registration. My driver's license is in my purse, which is in the trunk."

As he stepped away from my door, I exited the car and made my way to the trunk of my car, still wondering what this was all about and how he could possible think it had anything to do with my being drunk. As I reached for my purse, the officer started to explain the reason for this stop.

"Ma'am, you gave me every reason to believe you were driving under the influence. You sat at that stop sign a long time before you entered the roadway. Then again, once in the median, you waited an unusually long time before merging into the westbound lane."

The officer was right.

Well, almost right.

I had taken my time at that last intersection, but not because I had been drinking. No one was behind me, so I saw no need to dart out into oncoming traffic. I had opted to simply be patient and wait until all was clear.

"Officer," I answered. "I can assure you I haven't been drinking. I just decided to wait until all the traffic passed before I turned onto the road."

"Please have a seat in your vehicle and I will be with you momentarily."

As I waited for the officer to return, I realized I had caught this officer's attention simply because my behavior at that intersection was different from that of most other drivers.I had opted to be patient instead of whipping out into traffic. Unfortunately, he thought this difference was a result of me tipping the bottle.

"O.K, Ma'am", the officer said as he reappeared at my window with my driver's license and registration in hand, "You are free to go."

As I pulled away from the curb, I thought about this experience. I firmly believe life is full of teachable moments and I was pretty sure God was going to use this experience to teach me.

As Christians, we are called to live our life differently than those who have not yet been transformed by the power of Christ. There should be something noticeably different about us. Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us. I hadn't seen the policeman, but obviously, he had seen me! Fortunately, the officer wasn't able to arrest me for drunk driving because there simply wasn't any evidence for him to convict me. I was sober.

Gently, I felt the Lord prompting my heart. What if this officer had instead accused me of being a Christian? Would he have found enough evidence to convict me then? Do my words, my actions, the day to day way I live my life give testimony to Christ alive in me? What a sobering thought!

Arriving home, I pulled into my driveway and turned off the engine. Before heading indoors, I spent a few moments alone with the Lord, in the stillness of the night. As I opened my heart before my Heavenly Father, He brought the words of Matthew 5:16 to my mind.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Yes, the Lord had been faithful to use a routine traffic stop to remind me to live my life in a way that is anything BUT routine. Where ever I go and whatever I do, people are watching.

May the world see Christ in me (and you!).


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