Monday, January 30, 2012

It's time to go shopping...

The day before I go to the grocery store each week I take the old, (sometimes moldy) bad food out, to make room for the new, good food. I can't eat and grow from the old food, it would make me sick. But my problem is, I don't know how to make all this good food that I need on my own. I have to go shopping!

What if you found out that there is someone who can (and wants to) replace your bad with His good, would you jump at the chance, or would you sit around in your comfortable complacency and choose not to clean out your fridge?

What if I told you that He is offering to replace your worry with His peace? What if I shared with you that He is inviting you to experience gratitude (thankfulness) instead of your complaints? What if I told you that you can experience joy instead of discouragement? I know, that His store has the freshest fruit available because I've tasted it!

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."Psalm 34:8 NIV

I want to encourage you today that there is someone, a very big someone, who wants to bring you shopping (at His store)! He paid the highest price so you could get His food for free! If you invite God in to clean out your fridge, He won't leave you empty....

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

TODAY is a new day, now is your chance, accept His gift to wash you, to prepare you, and to fill you up with good "food"!

"This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones". Proverbs 3:8 NIV

Friday, January 27, 2012

One Step At A Time...

There have been moments in my life when God has whispered to me, "just take one step at a time, Amy". In order to share one of these moments with you, I'll have to take you on a trip down memory lane, back 6 months ago...

I was getting ready for a short term missions trip to Guatemala... I had just received the "green light" to go the night before, and now I was out on my morning run. But I was distracted, I knew I only had 3 weeks to pull all the details of the trip together... yikes! I got to the point in my run where I needed to decide if I wanted to keep going or cut it short and head for home. Lord knows, I had so much to do, plan, and pull together in such a short amount of time! p.s. Not to mention that I had never even traveled outside of the country before (when you live in Maine, Canada does NOT count!) But then something in me changed, God suddenly overwhelmed me with His presence. It was as if he smiled and whispered into my ear... " don't worry, take one step at a time". I think it was then that I felt a burst of energy, and peace come over me, and my run turned into a sprint! And guess what, I didn't have one second of stress planning that trip after that moment! Over the course of the following weeks, it appeared almost effortless how God provided more than enough money for our trip... one donation, one prayer, one step at a time (not to mention a few hundred pair of shoes, underwear, socks and even a few soccer balls donated by so many generous people). I got to leave and go with 3 girl friends to Casa Bernabe' Orphanage in Guatemala, on July 27, 2011! I was excited! We spent 8 days there. It was 8 days packed full of hard work, babysitting, gardening, devotionals, and well... trying to learn a little Spanish! Also, I got to experience a little shopping in the beautiful and historical city of Antigua. Casa Bernabe' Orphanage is packed full of God's love and 160 orphans! I can't even describe to you what it's like to go into a different culture, but I'll try... it's eye opening, it's beautiful, it's inspiring... it gave me a new perspective on how overly protected I am here in America, and how little I really "depend" on God! If you want to know more, start by visiting the orphanage at their website at foce.orgWHAT A PLACE! Thanks to my husband for the excellent video, and to my daughter Haley for singing the sweetest song for me... watch and enjoy a piece of my journey!

"We can make our plans,but the LORD determines our steps" Proverbs 16:9 NLT

One step, towards Faith... One step towards Trust... One step towards thankfulness...One step at a time!

Have you experienced a situation in your life when God has guided you one step at a time?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Practicing Gratitude...

Have you ever thought about practicing gratitude? It doesn't seem to come "natural". I know for me, I have to ask God to change my mind, to train my mind, to renew my mind. And I have to do this every day! p.s. DON'T WORRY, it's a fun thing to do every day!!!

"Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts". Colossians 3:16 NIV

Practicing gratitude every day is making a big difference in my life... and in my mind! Here's a little of what I've been up to. For the past few weeks, I have gotten into the habit of speaking OUT LOUD,

"This is the day that the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it". Psalm 118:24 NIV

I am amazed at how this starts my day off with a smile! I also, am enjoying working on my own list of "gratitudes". I have been writing down 3 gratitudes in my journal each night before I go to sleep. I have noticed that I fall asleep at peace and that I have been waking up with more joy! Here is my list of gratitudes from last night. Some are little (sometimes it's the small stuff) and some are big. I choose to write down whatever comes to my mind!

1. I am thankful that my children were happy and healthy today!
2. I am thankful for a peaceful and refreshing run this morning!
3. I am thankful for feeling God's presence and direction in my life today!

"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving." Colossians 2:6-7 the message

What are some small ways that you can begin showing gratitude in your life? I would love to hear your ideas and what is working for you!

Make the decision today to live with gratitude!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Be The Nourishment!

"The lips of the righteous nourish many"....
Proverbs 10:21a NIV

Are you a fruit salad or a dozen doughnuts? Are you a warm bowl of oatmeal or a package of twinkies? Are you a bran muffin or a brownie? Are you beginning to wonder where I'm going with this post? This is not a post about what you're craving... or, maybe it is?

Do you bring "nourishment" into people's lives when you're around them?

So many times we can complain about how bad the world is around us instead of choosing to bring to the world what we hope to see! So, the next time that you feel a complaint exiting your mouth, choose to serve up a colorful crispy salad instead!

"Be the change you want to see in the world" ~ Ghandhi

Because of the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we can bring good into our world today!

"So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up." Romans 14:19 NLT

Friday, January 20, 2012

What's love got to do with it ~ Part 2

Self Check! Sometimes, I have to do a self-check... OKAY, let's keep this real! A LOT of times, I have to do a self-check! What are my motives? Most of the time I do "good" things to get something back for myself. How often do I do good things when....

"But I tell you, LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44 NIV
.... when that happens?

I live a very safe and sometimes overly protected life living in America. For now, as a Christian I am not being imprisoned or tormented in any way. I get to come and go, in and out of my church building without being challenged. But I wonder, have I breezed over this verse too easily, thinking that I didn't need it... enemies, what enemies? I don't even know what persecution feels like. Let's break this verse down and see how it applies to me. Who are my enemies? I will boldly say my enemies are any one that I hold judgement towards. People like this pop up in the strangest places! The grocery store, the highway, even my own home! A lack of love can rear up it's ugly face and rest right on mine without a moment's notice! I do have enemies. I seem to be very good at creating them on my own actually. My enemies don't attack me physically, they get to me in a much more subtle (deceptive) way, they get in through my mind. My prayer today is that God gives me a vision of what His love looks like. It's EASY to "love" someone I like!

Seek God on purpose and ask Him to show you more about love today!

Let's look at what LOVE IS...
Love is PATIENT ~ Love is KIND ~ Love rejoices with the TRUTH ~ Love always PROTECTS ~ Love always TRUSTS ~ Love always HOPES ~ Love always PERSEVERES!
Now let's look at what LOVE is NOT....
~ Love does not boast ~ Love is not proud ~ Love does not envy ~ Love is not rude ~ Love is not self seeking ~ Love is not easily angered ~ Love keeps no record of wrongs ~ Love does not delight in evil.
LOVE NEVER FAILS~ taken from 1 Corinthians 13

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

my in between...

"Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."Philippians 4:11-12 The Message

When I look back at my childhood one of the things I remember is that I was always excited to get to the next big thing! A trip to the playground, a McDonalds treat, a friends sleepover, a dish of ice cream (okay, so I still look forward to my dish of ice cream with Ben and Jerry). I think back and feel like I can't remember half of my childhood and I just have to wonder if it's because I was rushing through most of it... anxious to get to the next "thing".
So, now I am 30 years old and I am feeling more comfortable in my own skin than ever before! I am learning that the journey down the road is just as important (sometimes, more) as the destination. It's in this kind of moment when I get a glimpse of what real peace and contentment tastes like.
So much of life is living the "in between" time, the middle time... the waiting... these are the moments that we are truly meant to learn how to LIVE! I am learning that God is not a wasteful God. He loves to use all of our moments, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, in my waiting I can wish for something more or I can ask Him to fill me with a knowledge and sense of His love just sitting, waiting.

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God, may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."Psalm 143:10-119 NIV

We always have a choice to make. When discontent creeps in we can say, "welcome, come on over and sit down with me" OR we can say, "no thanks, I don't want any".

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21 NIV

Monday, January 16, 2012

More God, anyone?

Sometimes, I feel like I am tapping into only a small part of God! This has been the consistent thought rolling around in my mind for the past week... and it's not going away. I believe that the Holy Spirit is patiently persistent! I think God is trying to tell me something...
I am now at the point that I have heard this little voice in my head enough times that I am ready to start doing something about it. But what is a girl to do? I have been a "Christian" since I was a little girl. I have had almost 30 years of time to "tap" into Him more. When I look around me at the condition of the church I wonder, what's wrong. Why is God not bigger in our lives?
First things, first. Be still my soul, I say. He is my center...He is the creator of me. He gives me the confidence to get up and go for it today! ... in me, there is a part of Him.

"So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27 NLT

He created us to seek Him, to want more God. Today I repent of any sin or stronghold in my life and invite God in to every part of me... not holding anything (anyone) back for myself. I have great expectations of a great God to show up and make Himself known today!

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

In a way, I pray that I always feel this way... a longing in my soul, to know Him more.

More God, anyone?

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation". 1 Peter 1:3 NLT

Friday, January 13, 2012

Facing Fear

Isaiah 41:10 - "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."NIV

I have a passion to encourage women to not be held back by fear. I actually get excited just thinking about this (if you could only see my face right now!). I know what it is like to grow up being a "people pleaser". If there had been a contest for this, I think I could've won... but of course, I wouldn't have entered it because I would've been too afraid. In my past, I was gripped with fear of failure. There are so many things I would've loved to try in my childhood if I wasn't afraid. I obviously had not heard Joyce Meyer's quote yet, "feel the fear and do it anyway". Praise God, fear of failure is something that I am learning to overcome. I understand that fear is something that I will always have to address as I meet new challenges or move out of my comfort zone; however, I now know that fear does not need to paralyze me any longer.

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 1Timothy 1:7 NKJV

I have grown into a new understanding and respect for fear. The emotion of fear is normal. I can clearly see that God has built us with a capacity to experience fear. If I see a grizzly bear, I'm going to run! The purpose of fear is primarily for protection or discernment, right? But, my problems begin when I allow fear to overstep its God-given purpose. It is then that my fear can quickly get out of control and become toxic to my growth and well-being. Instead, I am learning to use fear as a motivator towards change and growth rather than allowing fear to rule my thoughts and run my life.
Meditating on scripture is a powerful way to renew your mind as you work through your fear. I can't fight fear for you, but I can encourage you to face your fears head-on. I recently heard an analogy on fear that I really liked...fears are like weeds in a garden. I find this so helpful in my growth and understanding of how fear can choke out your life. If they are not tended to, weeds will keep coming up. With the right tools we can pull them out and move towards freedom. As women of God let's continue to grow strong community and pull out our weeds together!

Romans 8:37 -39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thank God... and ask Him today to begin replacing your fear with faith.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's love got to do with it?

I am not a Bible scholar or a very intellectual woman. In fact, there has been times in my life when I have felt well, "unimportant".... nothing special. I used to feel like I didn't have any specific thing that I was really good at. Who am I as a woman in Christ? What is my purpose?

"A new command I give you Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men (women) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -John 13:34-35 NIV

God hasn't called me to try to find something impressive about myself to show off to the world. He has called me to love. This is the purpose for every person who calls themselves "Christian". This is important. No matter how smart, talented, or pretty...when it comes down to this, we're all in this together. I first, willingly, ask myself "do I do this well"? I have known a lot of Christians in my life! I have been raised around Christians. And I probably have heard as many complaints about "Christians" in my "Christian" circle as anywhere. Are we loving each other well so the world will come to know God? Am I loving well?

I believe that we first have to begin to know how God loves us....experience it, in order to love each other. His love won't be contained. How can it be? It's too powerful, it's too different from anything we know. It will overflow out into the world around us. At first, it may be without words... it will be with listening, with kindness, with service. One of my favorite quotes is "Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words." ~ St. Francis of Assisi. LOVE is our calling! But how do we individually live love out?

What is the desire and passion of your heart? What gets you really excited? I believe the areas that you discover about yourself, are the avenue in which you are designed to love through. I challenge you today to take the desire of your heart seriously. Begin putting prayer and time into developing it.... this is your gift for the world, your purpose, for the glory of God!

Be purposeful, and ask God to give you a specific way to live love out today.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Soul Exercise!

Good Morning Ladies, "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." (3 John 1:2 NIV)

I am here to admit that I am an exercise junkie. I am also an ice cream junkie (Ben & Jerry's in particular). So far, the two have kept each other balanced out! I get up religiously 5 mornings a week to run and walk (just ask anyone who lives with me!). I love the fresh air, the alone time, and the added bonus of fitting into my jeans! But, here's my problem... I was reading "Flourish" (by the lovely Catherine Hart Weber p.23) the other day and she spoke about "spiritual carelessness"; the idea of neglecting to nourish our souls. Whoa, stop the treadmill! This concept jumped off the page and hit my heart! I need more "religious" exercise... I need more soul exercise! In caring so much for my body, have I neglected my soul? Exercise is good. In fact, God encourages us in the Word to take care of our bodies. My concern is, I have put so much more time and energy into my body that my focus has been off balance. It feels as if I am not "stretching" before my run! What about the other part of me? Do I neglect my soul simply because I can't see it? I am going to continue exercising, I love it for all of the above stated reasons. But, somehow in this new year, as I ask God to continue to "renew my mind", I have faith that He will show me what my whole body needs. Right now, I am doing daily devotions and my husband and I are also in the word together every day as we are in the middle of a 6 month Bible reading plan. But, I wonder what it would be like to get up in the morning and intentionally exercise my soul before I do any other exercises. I want more of God. With anything good, we always want more... right?
By the way, having the faith to believe that God will show me what my whole body needs is realizing that He already is... Be blessed!

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

Leave a comment and let me know...
How do you "exercise" your soul?

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Mind...

Why do we as women seem to focus more on our weaknesses rather than on our strengths? Is it because our confidence isn't coming from this...

Phil. 3:3
"We glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence (on what we are) in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances".

You know what I'm talking about, at times the list feels endless.
I'm too fat, I'm too short, I'm too oily, I'm too impatient, I'm too boring...I'm not what I wish I was.
I have many moments when I catch myself putting more thought, time, and energy into my physical self, instead of focusing in on how big God could be in me! His potential is endless! If I could "magically" fit and live up in my mind (that's a funny thought) for a day, I think I would feel like I was in a battlefield. I know this and yet I still get caught up in my mental battlefield! It's as if I need to re-train my mind? Or maybe, God needs to? Am I the biggest thing standing in the way of me and my own strengths?

Pay attention to your thoughts today. What kind of thoughts are you thinking? Ask God to renew your mind today. The secret is out... we don't need magic to show us what's holding us back. We have God on our side. He's better than magic... He's perfectly supernatural! Think good thoughts about yourself today (say them out loud) ... I know God is!

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will".

Romans 12:2 NIV

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spiritual Gifts

Living out the Christian Life is exciting! A few months ago I met a woman on a plane. I wasn't supposed to be on that plane, and she was supposed to have one of her friends in the seat next to her, not me (her friend had to stay home sick). To make an attempt at this post not getting too long I will simply tell you that we were meant to meet and I will keep the precious details to myself.

{ Insert "HIGH FIVE GOD!" Here }

We connected in a big way! After that, she invited me to a women's event right in my hometown and I decided to go for it! I experienced some new things that made me curious... like, "speaking in tongues" for example. It made me curious enough to do a search through the Bible about it. That few moments of quiet time, when I said to my husband, "please, get out of the room and take care of the kids because I need 20 minutes"! ( p.s. I said please!) was one of the best moments I've had with God in months! I quickly flipped to 1 Corinthians 12 (also some passages in Acts) and began reading...SLOWLY. Verse 7 stood out to me: "A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other." So, do you mean to tell me that God is giving us as Jesus followers specific ways of helping each other? WOW! I want to know what my spiritual gift is! I think I discovered one of my gifts that day (we'll just leave it at that for now). I also, discovered a higher acknowledgement of ALL of the gifts that day. We are the living, breathing church body today in this world! We desperately need each part!

Do you want to know what your spiritual gift is? Discover it with God and ask Him to begin growing it in you!

p.s. Read through the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 to get the list!

Monday, January 2, 2012

You Go Girl!

I want to live with passion, zeal and enthusiasm today! I want to encourage each of you beautiful women today to stop living to just "make it" through your day. Say out loud, right now, if you are able

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
Psalm 118:24

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW? I think that we as women experience a great release and freedom when we speak out loud.... when we get a thought, verse, fear, or idea... out of our heads and into our active living, something changes in us. Don't dread the day, attack the day! Live consciously, with a greater awareness of yourself and your God.

What do you want to do today? Now, go for it!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I have never been one to think much about the "new year"... it is just the next day on the calendar, right? I can't explain it, but for some reason I am very excited for what God is up to in me in this new year! Maybe it is because I just turned 30 and I am feeling extra motivated to live life to the fullest? I know, 30 is not that old but people seem to make a big deal about it! First, I am going to share with you ladies my favorite thing that happened in 2011 and of course ask you to look back and reflect on yours. Then, I am going to look ahead with a clean slate at some of my own personal goals for 2012! Just an fyi, with God, every day is a "new slate". I believe we call that grace!

So, here I go! My favorite thing that happened last year was that my husband Josh, got to resign from his almost 10 years of hard work at a local company to come home to work by my side full time! Now, just so you don't think that "the grass is greener on the other side" I will tell you that it's not all been a cake walk! For example, at first he thought that he had to always keep regular business hours instead of harvesting the benefits of working from home such as, flexibility and extra family time...( you can imagine my frustration ) and then it took God moving in both of us to understand that He is our provider, ( not Josh ) when a client doesn't pay up in a timely manner and our mortgage payment is coming due. Let's just say, Josh and I have both learned some things! I wouldn't have it any other way!

So, congratulations Amy, this is your first time EVER in all your 30 years on this earth to make "New Year Resolutions"! Like I said before, this new year thing is new to me but I like it! Here's my top 5 that I would like to share!

1. Start a blog ("check!" )

2. run a half-marathon!
(that's only about 10 more miles than I usually run. No problem right!?)
3. become a certified Life Coach!
(only five more weeks left!)
4. start a neighborhood Women's Bible Study!
("knock and the door will be opened to you" Matthew 7:7)
5. Hike Mount Katahdin! (to the top this time)

6. Travel outside of the country! (sorry, number five, I just can't help myself!)

What is your favorite memory or thing that happened in your life in 2011?

Share with me your 2012 resolution list... or at least your favorite?