MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 12 - Go Somewhere that You Have Never Been!

You have never been to Niagara Falls?  Make plans to go in 2013!

Never been to the Empire State Building?  Why don’t you make plans to go this year!

The Grand Canyon?  Never seen the Mississippi River?  How about the State Fair?

I know that some places are out of our budgets and ability to visit - but there is always someplace new that you can go!  I bet that there is somewhere within a day’s drive of your home that you have never been!

The Baseball Hall of Fame!  Nashville!  Vermont!  Mount Vernon!

Vacations don’t have to be expensive or long to be refreshing.  All it takes is a little planning ahead both financially and with time.  Stay with a friend rather than stay in a motel!  Pack a cooler filled with sandwiches and a car-filled with snacks to cut down on food expenses.

Never been to a baseball game?!  GO!!

Never been to the opera?!  GO!!

Never been to the ballet?!  GO!!

Life is short so add an adventure or two to your life and make firm plans to visit someplace that you have always wanted to go.  If you have never had lunch downtown in your city ... you can do that next week!  How about to the state capitol?  Or to the college campus only 2 hours away?

One of the most exciting parts of the trip just comes in planning it!  Let your imagination run wild and determine to fill your mind and your heart with a new adventure or two this year.

Me?!  Where do I want to go?

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead.

Prince Edward Island.

The Holy Land.

Hawaii.

Always the beach.  ALWAYS the beach!

Who knows?!  Maybe I will see you there in 2013!

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 11 - Give more than you can afford to give.

If you are judging by the health of your checkbook whether or not you can afford to give, you will never give the amount that Jesus requires.  Sincere believers never determine their ability to give by their income, their savings account, their retirement funds or by the state of the national economy.  Sincere believers determine their ability to give by the size of the God that they serve.

“And He sat down opposite the treasury and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.

A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.

Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury;

For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” -

Mark 12:41-44.

How much have you given to the Kingdom of God this year?  What you could afford to give?  Have you given merely out of your surplus?

I believe that tithing to the local church is only where it begins in our commitment to giving.  Everything that I have and own is His!  It is my delight to give my time ... my finances ... my home ... my talents and gifts ... in service to His Kingdom.

If you gave 10% last year - then in 2013 make it your goal to give 11%.  Then in 2014 - give 12%

Or perhaps take a bolder, more audacious, approach to giving:  if you gave 10% in 2012, then give 15% in 2013 and give 20% in 2014!

This is what I know ... you can never out-give the Lord!  God always takes care of givers so give away!  Be a lavish and extravagant giver to the Kingdom of God!  Sing and laugh while you give to His work at this time in history!  I don’t think that it is possible to give until it hurts ... because whenever I give to Him ... He gives more abundantly back to me!  There is nothing painful about that relationship at all!

So ... in 2013 ... resolve to give more than you can afford to give!  After all, you can’t afford not to give!

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Day 10 - Serve Someone Every Day!

In this world of “me first” ... “I know best” ... and “it’s all about me” living, servanthood is not esteemed nor embraced.  Servanthood is actually looked down upon and thought to be a weakness not a strength.

Not so in the Kingdom of God.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them and their great men exercise authority over them.

“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,

“And whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” - 

Matthew 10:25-28

The message to the disciples of Jesus in the 21st. Century remains the same.  If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, learn how to serve somebody.  Every day.

Let someone else go first in traffic.

Pay for someone’s coffee in the drive-through line.

Volunteer to clean the bathrooms at church.

Do the dishes.  Wipe the counter.  Fold the laundry.  Sweep the floor.

Take a meal to a friend.

Slip a $20 bill to a young family.

Shovel your neighbor’s driveway or mow their yard.

If your heart’s desire is for 2013 to be the GREATest year of your life, you will lay down your own agenda, your opinions and your sense of entitlement and learn the nobility of serving others.  It is, after all, what Jesus would do.

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 9 - Invest in Something Greater Than Yourself

If we are not careful, our lives can evolve from one season to another with only the remembrance of gray mediocrity.  We can spend a lifetime doing nothing more than driving to and from work, wondering if the coffee pot is turned off and fretting about the upcoming and daunting insurance payment.

Life is meant to be so much more than all of that ... but you must be the one to make it more than all of that!  

Invest in something greater than yourself!

Discover a cause, a person or a ministry that resonates with your soul and then become involved in it.

Pray for this cause!  Add this ministry, person or cause to your daily prayer list and commit to invest yourself in longterm prayer for its longterm success.  Nothing ever happens of any eternal value without people who are committed to prayer.  Billy Graham had 3 women who prayed for him from the time he was a young evangelist.  Although we don’t know their names, how great is their reward!!

Give financially to this cause!  We can all give something, isn’t that true?  Sometimes it is not how much you give but just that you give.  Not all can give large amounts, but we can all give something.  I love writing checks to young people going on missions trips!  I feel that I am investing in their God-ordained destiny!  I almost feel that I am going with them as they go to feed their hungry, love orphans or build a new school on foreign soil.  Sometimes my checks are as little as $10 ... rarely are they written for more than $50 ... but the joy is there in the small and large gift!

Become personally involved with this cause, person or ministry.  Volunteer to stuff envelopes.  Go on a missions trip.  Send someone else on a missions trip with this ministry.  Tell other people about this ministry or cause.  Give of yourself, your time and your talents.  Call the office or the person in charge and ask what you can do to help promote the ministry.

When you look back at your this year, it won’t be the hours spent in front of the TV that will make it a memorable year.  It will be the time that you invested in something greater than yourself that will determine the value of how well you lived.  Trust me.  I know.

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 8 - Read Great Books!

One of my very favorite things to do every day of every year is to curl up with a great book.  I confess ... I am a read-aholic and every time I walk into a bookstore or library, I find myself praying the same prayer that I did in the fifth grade, “Jesus!  Let me live long enough to read all of these books!”

Let me challenge you in 2013, don’t just read the “twaddle” of the day but read books that will stick to you ... like oatmeal does!

I love the taste of Chinese food but I am always ravenously hungry about 20 minutes after I eat it!  But now ... when I eat a bowl of tasteless oatmeal, there are no hunger pangs for hours.

It is the same way with books:  if you only read “twaddle” you will never be filled up nor satisfied.  However, if you challenge yourself to read some of the greatest books ever written, there will be a satisfaction and completion about your life that will astound you!

“He who walks with wise men will himself be wise.” - 

Proverbs 13:20.

One way that we can walk with the wise men and women of the ages is to read the books that have been written by the greatest minds and hearts of every generation.

My challenge to you, as you ponder with what you will fill your mind and heart in 2013, is to read a life-changing book every month.  Not all of these suggested books are “easy reads” but I can guarantee you that they are all “worth-it” reads and that each book will add wisdom to your life. These are my suggestions for 2013:

January

: “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson

February

: “A Severe Mercy” by Sheldon Vanauken

March

:  “Not My Will” by Francena Arnold

April

: “The Applause of Heaven” by Max Lucado

May:

“Stepping Heavenward” by Elizabeth Prentiss

June

:  “Ruth, A Portrait:The Story of Ruth Bell Graham” by Patricia  Cornwall

July

: “I Declare” by Joel Osteen

August

: “Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas

September

:  “The Pursuit of God” by A. W. Tozer

October

:  “When I Lay My Isaac Down” by Carol Kent

November

:  “Evidence Not Seen” by Darlene Rose

December

:  “Two From Galilee” by  Marjorie Holmes

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 7 - Develop a Lifestyle of Prayer!

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” - Luke 18:1

Jesus wanted to teach His disciples the importance of persistent and enduring prayer and told them a story about a judge and a widow.

The judge was a Godless man who didn’t even like people.  The widow was in some type of legal battle and she repeatedly kept coming to this judge asking for legal protection from her opponent.

At first, the judge ignored her but then he said to himself, “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.” (Luke 18:1-8)

I believe that Jesus is challenging believers of every generation to 

wear Him out in prayer!

  Is that even possible?!  To wear God out in prayer?  I don’t know ... but I can tell you this ... I am going to try!!

Why worry when you can pray?  God has given us the vehicle through which we can change not only our own circumstances but also the world.  Prayer has the power to change people, circumstances, events, times and even history!

Worry never changes one circumstance, situation or person!  Worry puts you in a tenacious stronghold and in agreement with Satan, the deceiver of believers.

You were not created for worry but you were created for sweet communion with God on your knees in the prayer closet of your heart.  One of the most marvelous aspects of prayer is that you can do it any place ... any time ... any where!

In 2013, learn this lovely secret of prayer: People can run from your words but never escape the impact of your prayers!

In 2013, buy a prayer journal and be consistent.  Write down the people, desires and events for which you are praying.  Pray every day!  Wear God out!  I dare you!

Resolve to be a prayer warrior that hell fears and that heaven applauds!

Resolve to be a prayer warrior that Satan himself runs from when he hears you coming!

Resolve to have such a commitment to prayer that heaven taps you on the shoulder at all times of the day and night and places a prayer request in your heart and mind.

Prayer should never be your last response ... it should always be your first response!  We are the first responders!  We are the people of God who believe in the power of prayer!

I resolve to pray in 2013!  Every day!  Every where!  At all times!

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” - Philippians 4:6

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Day 6 - Celebrate Life in Your Corner of the World!

Let me challenge you to live well every single day of 2013.  Live wholeheartedly on ordinary days.  Live passionately on mediocre days.

Don’t be filled with worry and fear.  Reject worry and fear!  Ignore worry and fear!  Ban worry and fear!  Be filled with joy and grand expectation of all that God has for you this year.  Live in constant and breathless anticipation that the God of all hope has something good up His miraculous sleeve with your name on it.

You choose your heart attitudes although you don’t always get to choose your circumstances.  What you do choose are your responses to your circumstances and don’t waste one day of 2013 with a critical spirit, regret or blame.

Don’t waste one minute of 2013 in boredom or shame.  One of the greatest miracles of a life well-lived is that you can make a conscious effort to celebrate every day of your life as a rare and priceless gift.

Declare with me today, “I will not waste one day of 2013!  Not one hour!  Not one minute!”

I will not take for granted the miracle of an ordinary day.

I will use my fine china and buy flowers for no reason at all.

I will smile at strangers and hug children.

I will not correct, critique or criticize my friends and family but will look for opportunities to encourage them daily.

I will listen to Christmas music on October 1 ... or whenever else I feel like it!

I will go for walks while there are still dishes in my sink.

I will tell my husband ... or wife ... “I love you dearly” every day!

If I don’t have a husband or a wife ... I will tell SOMEONE that I love them every day.

I will cheer for my favorite teams whether they win or lose.

I will celebrate life!

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The Miracle of The Season

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” 

Now ... if that ain’t the truth, I don’t know what is!!

What?!!(She said incredulously and with disbelief in her voice!) You don’t agree?!!  You don’t think that it’s the most wonderful time of the year?!!

If you find yourself raging in religious disagreement with my heartfelt love of and for all things Christmas, then this blog is for you today.  I want to help you with your aversion to mistletoe, holiday cheer and with the decking of the holiday halls before you deck somebody!

It’s true ... I am a Christmas-aholic.  The resounding reason that I love Christmas so utterly and completely has nothing to do with overfed octogenarians in red suits trimmed with white fur, snowmen that dance at street corners or cups of holiday cheer.

The reason that my heart stops at the thought of Christmas is because I am in love with the Savior of the world.

The reason that my eyes fill with tears every year the day after Thanksgiving is because I love babies.  Especially a certain baby Boy born in a manger.

The reason that my heart sings with heaven and nature is because my world was dark and hopeless and it has now been filled to overflowing with the Light of the world and the God of all hope.

The reason that I believe this season to be so earth-stoppingly spectacular is because I really do hear the song of the angels in my Christmas-infested heart.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.” - Luke 2:10 & 11.

The mistake that many Christian Scrooges make is that they confuse the magic of the season with the miracle of the season.  The magic of Christmas holds no eternal beauty or significance for me, either.  It is the miracle of the season that causes my flesh to stand in amazement at the Gift that I have been given.

The magic of the season centers upon toy-making elves, flying reindeer with red noses and presents wrapped in silver and gold. 

This is what I believe ... either the manger should be placed in the same category as elves, jolly old Saint Nicholas and flying reindeer ... or it is absolute, divine and eternal Truth.

Christmas is not about the holiday spirit that rushes toward us the day after Thanksgiving and compels us to shop, spend, and eat. 

Christmas is about the Holy Spirit bringing peace and joy through a Baby Boy to the mess that we have made of planet earth. 

It is about the power of heaven’s reality invading one life. 

It never ceases to amaze me that most of humanity pauses to celebrate the month of December.  That’s nothing short of miraculous!  School children have concerts ... offices close their doors ... neighbors decorate with lights ... high school friends put long newsy letters in the mail ... and grocery stores offer treats offered at no other time of the year.

Why?  It’s because built into each one of us is the desire to celebrate!  God made us to celebrate the miracle of Christmas!  And, as believers, it is up to us to demonstrate to this lost, dark world exactly what they are celebrating!  It is up to me and to you to reveal the joy of this season in extraordinary and miraculous ways!

It is up to you and I not to BECOME Scrooge but to OVERCOME Scrooge with the peace that was announced that night that stars exploded over the shepherds and their flocks.

It is up to us, with a smile on our faces, to shake our heads in agreement with the perky lyrics to songs that are sung only once a year, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

And then ... it is up to you and I to live out the truth of this divine season ... He came so that my life could be wonderful.

God sent His Son so that I would have something to celebrate.

My entire life has been changed because of the most miraculous event in all of recorded history.  God became man so that I could sing with the angels a song so victorious and hopeful that the world must listen.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it?

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 5 - Worship in spite of! Now ... this is where that stinkin’ rubber meets the infamous road of life.  This challenge to “worship in spite of” determines exactly of what stuff you are made!  This “very favorite thing” demonstrates the difference between a common man or woman and an uncommon Christian.

“Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” - Psalm 42:11

When life doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to ... will you worship still?

When you are waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting ... for God to answer a prayer ... will you worship still?

When your circumstances are rotten and people are cantankerous ... will you worship still?

When you are in pain and your heart is broken in a million little pieces ... will you worship still?

When you are all alone and no one seems to care ... will you worship still?

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love HIm and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” - I Peter 1:6-8

If you long to guarantee the hope that 2013 will be a year like no other then you will resolve in your heart not only to “worship because of” but also “in spite of”!

Worship in spite of!

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Day 4 - Worship because of! Worship because Jesus is Lord!

Worship because you are loved with an everlasting love!

Worship because you have been forgiven!

Worship because He is worthy!!

“I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” - Psalm 7:17

Worship, like forgiveness, has the power to change your life dramatically!  Worship is what will take your focus of you and place it on the God of eternity and creation.

“I will be glad and exult in You;  I will sing praise to Your Name, O Most High.” - Psalm 9:2

Worship because He is the God of miracles!

Worship because He hears us when we pray!

Worship because His mercies are new every morning!

Worship because He gives strength to weary pilgrims!

“And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness and Your praise all day long.” - Psalm 35:28

Awake every morning of 2013 with a song in your heart and then let it come out of your mouth!  Sing out loud!  Sing in the shower and while the coffee is brewing!  Worship in the car and while you are putting your make-up on!  Praise the Lord while you are wiping the kitchen counter and folding laundry!

If you want to ensure that every day of 2013 will be a glorious and great day ... you will open your mouth in worship!

“My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long.” - Psalm 71:8

Worship because of!

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 3 - Forgive Daily!

This is a different “favorite thing” than yesterday’s call to forgive someone from your past who has dreadfully wronged you.

This, my friends, is a daily choice of power and purpose!  Forgive daily!!

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” - Matthew 6: 14 & 15.

Never allow an offense to grow, then to fester and finally to become infected.

When someone pulls in front of you in traffic ... bless them in Jesus’ Name!

When your husband forgets your birthday ... or to take out the trash ...forgive him and fix his favorite meal!

When your mother-in-law steps on your feelings ... forgive her and be sweet!

When your best friend talks too much the very day that you are in pain and need her listening ear ... forgive her and listen with interest while she jabbers away!

When your pastor’s wife walks by you in church without smiling ... forgive her and take her a meal this week!

When your boss overlooks you for the raise or for the bonus ... forgive him and work even harder!

Make it one of your most important and significant New Year’s resolutions to forgive daily and forgive quickly.  You will feel lighter and healthier than if you had lost 50 pounds!

Forgive daily!

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Day 2 - Forgive Someone! If you desire to live the life of your dreams in 2013, you will absolutely and totally forgive someone from your past who has wronged you.  You will forgive someone who painfully mistreated you and wrongly abused you.  You will completely forgive someone who has ruined your reputation or used you and then threw you away with the day’s odious trash.

Forgiveness truly is the key to victory in every area of your life and it just may be the way out of your depression.  It will certainly be the escape route from your bitterness and your anger.

Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it!!  No one actually “deserves” forgiveness, do they?!  Forgiveness always happens when the innocent one lets the guilty one go free.

This will be the most potent and long-lasting New Year’s gift that you can give yourself: the gift of forgiving someone in your past.  Forgiveness has the intrinsic power of impacting your life in a multitude of other areas.

I used to teach that “forgiveness doesn’t change your past ... it changes your future!”  But now I realize that forgiveness, does indeed, change your past.  It releases you from the pain of your past and the vice-grip of your past.  Forgiveness changes your perception of the past!

Forgiveness changes how you treat people today and how you process today’s pain.  Forgiveness sets you into your destiny with a power and a joy that only heaven could deliver!

I said it before ... and I will say it again ... 

forgive someone!

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MY VERY FAVORITE THINGS

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DAY 1 Change your focus from temporary to eternal!

We get so caught up in the temporary, don’t we? From TV shows ... to elections ... to the weather ... to sporting events ... to diets ... to offenses ... to disappointments ... to careers.

When Jesus walked on planet earth, He realized that human beings had a disconnect between that which was temporary and that which was eternal. He saw that we, the object of His creation and His great love, were not only focusing on the wrong things but we worried about them!

“... Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? ... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Matthew 6:25-27, 33In 2013, absolutely refuse to allow your flesh to take you down the dead-end street of focusing on the wrong things or worrying about temporary things.

The word “seek” is the Greek word “zeteo” and it describes a person who is so intent on obtaining the object of his or her affection that absolutely nothing will distract him or her from this sole pursuit. Does that describe your attitude toward your pursuit of the Kingdom of God?

Starting on January 1, 2013, every morning ... before your feet hit the floor ... pause for a minute and pray this prayer:

“Lord, I will seek You first and foremost today! I will never give up my pursuit of all that You are and all that You have for me.”

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Joy That Only Thanksgiving Can Bring

Peanut butter and jelly ... little girls and ruffles ... springtime and the smell of hyacinths ... the Fourth of July and fireworks.

Just like all of those things ... and so many others ... thanksgiving and joy are intrinsically and eternally woven together in my soul.

What do “Thanksgiving” and “joy” have to do with another you may ask?  Allow me to explain:

I have always loved Thanksgiving day! From the parades to pumpkin pie ... from corn pudding to a Christmas movie in the evening ... from left-over turkey to a deep and heart-felt awareness that I have been blessed so much more than I deserve. 

I have relished sitting around a family table with people who are so dear to my heart that it makes me cry even now to remember each one.  I have treasured the atmosphere that only a multi-generational scene can evoke. 

Grandparents with pride on their faces and contentment in their hearts as they gaze at this crew of humanity who came from their own genetic pool.

Middle-aged mamas and daddy’s who are thankful for a moment when everyone’s knees are under the same table again if only for one meal.

The younger generation up to their eye-balls in daring dreams, new marriages and the delight of babies in the womb and in their arms.

College students home for a long week-end who are completely thankful for this conglomeration of eccentric people that they lovingly call “family”.

And ... the little ones ... rife with mashed-potato faces and bringing laughter to the entire day.

“You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths drip with fatness. The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.  The meadows are clothed with flocks, And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for JOY, yes, they sing.” - Psalm 65: 11-13

And yet still ... what does the fourth Thursday in November have to do with joy?

“Joy” is my passion.  It is my message and addiction.  It is the call to joy that gives me a reason to live beyond my own preferences and selfish agenda.  God has called me to a joy so rich and deep that it is my one assignment in life to convince all others that joy is a sure and certain possibility in the midst of disappointing elections, failing economic systems and hopeless health challenges.

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” - Psalm 16:11

I dream day and night about how to communicate the strength of joy.  I study Scriptures, classic writings and new-found truths concerning joy.  I ask questions of those wiser than I.  I glean from other hearts, testimonies and stories what it means to be a person of joy.  And this is what I now know.

If you don’t love thanksgiving ... you will never experience joy.  If you are unable to conjure up a moment of gratitude ... joy will ever be the illusive butterfly of your soul.  If you have never discovered the high and holy purpose of worship in spite of your pain ... then you will never know the strength of this three-letter word.

Joy.  Thanksgiving.  Two words that are forever bound together because of the presence and purpose of One Man.  Two words that are the theme and message of One Book.

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.” - Psalm 100

My prayer this year is that you will know the joy that only a life of thanksgiving can bring.  Thanksgiving is not a season or a day ... it is lifestyle that ushers in the joy of His presence!  What a gift!

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A Grateful Heart

What does it really mean to have a grateful heart...not just at the Thanksgiving holiday, but all year long? Carol McLeod is an author, popular speaker at women's conferences, and hosts her own radio program called Defiant Joy! She is the founder and CEO of Just Joy! Ministries. Visit us online at www.justjoyministries.com

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Little Girl Dreams

When I was a little girl I wanted to marry a pastor .... CHECK! When I was a little girl I wanted to have a lot of babies ... CHECK!

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a teacher ... CHECK!

When I was a little girl I wanted to write books ... CHECK!

Actually ... when I was a little girl I wanted to write books that would make a difference.  I wanted to write books that would be in every library in America.  I wanted to write books that would change people’s lives and take them places that they had never before been.  Even when I was a little girl, I wanted to write books that would heal people’s hearts.  I guess it is not time to “CHECK!” that one off my list just yet.

When I was a little girl I wanted to make a difference in the Kingdom of God .... but I didn’t know how that was going to happen.  H-m-m-m ... will this one ever deserve an emphatic “CHECK!”?

When I was a little girl, because my father loved the Lord so completely, I wanted to love Him, too.

When I was a little girl, because my father loved the Bible so passionately, I wanted to love the Bible, too.

It was really my father who put the dream in my heart to be a part of God’s strategy at this time in history.  However, being a child of the 1950’s and 1960’s and then a teen of the early 1970’s ... there weren’t many women in ministry.

Certainly, there was Kathryn Kuhlman who had a dynamic healing ministry and my parents took me to her meetings.  I experienced the power and the presence of God in life-changing ways in those meetings.  However, I wasn’t sure that I was called to do what Kathryn Kuhlman was called to do.  Although I certainly respected her anointing, I knew that Kathryn’s anointing was unique to her.

My dad would read me biographies and tell me the stories of great women missionaries.  He told me of the martyrdom of Betty Stam, of the calling of Darlene Rose and of the commitment of Elizabeth Elliot. (By the way, I highly recommend that you “Google” these women and read their life stories.)

It was exhilarating to realize that God used women!  God used little girls who grew up to change the world for Christ and His Kingdom.  However, I wasn’t sure that I was called to serve God on foreign soil.  I was certainly willing to do so ... but felt that perhaps my calling would be different than the call across the ocean.

And so, as my little girl years melted into the teen years and then as I faced college, I had no idea what to major in at my Christian university!

If I majored in piano ... I could be a great pastor’s wife, right?!  Don’t all pastor’s wife’s play piano and teach Sunday School?  Maybe I should minor in Christian Education?!

Were women even allowed to major in Theology?  In Hebrew or in Greek?  Or would that be perceived as too aggressive?  Too feminist?

And then, one day during my freshman year in college, Kathryn Kuhlman came and spoke in chapel.  This Kathryn Kuhlman of my youth prayed for a new generation of men and women to rise up and change the world for Christ.  She prayed, as only Kathryn Kuhlman could pray, with a waving of her white chiffon-draped arm over the entire 3,000 member student body.  I believed that her prayer was for me, and me alone.

A year or two later, Corrie ten Boom spoke at the college chapel service.  She told of her years of imprisonment in a World War II concentration camp and then she taught the Word of God.  She dealt with the sin of unforgiveness. Her teaching was rich with Scriptural references as well as personal illustrations.  She called herself “a tramp for the Lord” and at that moment, I wanted to tramp right along with Corrie!

And so here I stand today.  I have been married to a pastor for over 35 years and have raised 5 marvelous children to young adulthood.  I have taught high school Latin and English to hundreds of students over the years.  And, I have written 3 books that are my attempt at making a difference in women’s lives.

Life is a journey, isn’t it?  From the days of little girl dreams ... to big girl realities ... to adult check lists;  God is using each conversation, each prayer and each person to craft us into the women (and men!) that we are today.

The important reminder in all of my ponderings today is to keep on dreaming!  Don’t ever stifle the little girl dream that was early birthed in your young heart.

Keep on praying!  Keep believing God for great things in your life!

Keep learning and exposing yourself to people who are changing the world!

And now ... if you will excuse me ... I have to get back to studying the Word of God and to writing a new book proposal!  I have magnificent things to accomplish for the Lord before this day is over!  How about you?!  What will you spend your day doing?!

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How Are You Waiting?

I was waiting in a doctor’s office last week for a routine appointment and was prepared, as always, with my Bible, a notebook, a good read and my smart phone.  I always know that the wait will be long and so I come ready to use my time wisely.  It also helps with the frustration factor, if you know what I mean! Alas, another middle-aged woman was waiting with me ... and she had not come prepared for the delay of the all-wise doctor.  For the first 5-10 minutes, she chatted pleasantly and then read some recipes in a magazine that was on the seat beside hers.  After about 10 more minutes, she set the magazine down and went up to the sweet receptionist asking, “How much longer will it be?”

“The doctor has had several emergencies today and so it will probably be about another 20 minutes, “ was the reply of the voice behind the desk.

The woman sat down beside me and began to complain.  I tried to kindly remind her that the doctor was a busy man and no one can effectively plan for emergencies.  She turned her back on me.

I think that I should give her a name by now instead of only referring to her as the impersonal “she” and “her”.  “Maude” will do nicely, don’t you think?  There aren’t many “Maude’s” out there and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of offending a Maude.

After another 10 minutes, Maude opened her purse and began going through wrinkled receipts, old gum wrappers, out-dated coupons and wadded up tissues.  Rather than walk them to the waste basket that was a mere 6 feet from our chairs, she deposited her stash of personal garbage on the table beside her chair which held a plethora of magazines for waiting patients.

A few more minutes passed slowly by before Maude went back up to the desk and began to yell ... perhaps scream is a better word ... at the young girl who was answering phones, pulling up insurance files and dealing with the angry mob.  Maude was rude, aggressive and embarrassing.  The receptionist was in tears.  I was praying and asking God what I could do to relieve some stress in this room.

Finally, a nurse opened the inner door and said, “Carol ... it’s your turn.”  I got out of my chair, went to the waiting nurse, and said quietly, “Could Maude go before me?  She is not handling the wait very well.”

“Are you sure, Carol?  It might be a while yet.  I will do my best to get you back quickly but I can’t guarantee anything.”

“Let her go in next.  I don’t want her to have a heart attack in the waiting room,” I whispered with a wink and a smile.

“Maude,” the veteran nurse called.  “Mrs. McLeod has said that you can take her place and go next.”

Maude looked at me with red streaks on her cheeks and said brusquely, “Thank you,” and walked by me without making eye contact.

I am not telling you this story to make me look good or to make Maude look bad.  I am telling you this story to make us all think about the way that we wait.

We all have to wait for something or someone.  Not one of us escapes the growth experience of unending, eternal, nail-biting, heart-racing, boring, exasperating times in which we must wait.  Knowing that we all must wait more than once in a lifetime, here are a few tips that just might help you next time you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, held hostage in a doctor’s office or waiting for God to answer a repetitive prayer.

1 - Waiting can be frustrating (think about Maude) or it can be purposeful.  Which will you make it? You choose whether your times of delay will fortify you or frustrate you.  You choose.

2 - Find something interesting, missional and eternal to do while you wait.  It might be read a good book ... engage someone in conversation ... or pray for others.  Do not go inward while you are waiting but go outward.  It makes the time pass more quickly ... I know.  I have done it both ways.

3 - Don’t play the blame game while you wait.  Don’t blame the doctor, the car in front of you or God.  Rather than blame ... I like to bless!  I bless the doctor and his staff ... I pray for safety for those around me in traffic ... and rather than offer up prayers of outrage ... I offer up prayers of thanksgiving.  Blessing rather than blaming develops a nicer, gentler version of self.  I know.  I have done it both ways.

4 - Trust God with the postponements in life that you find yourself encountering.  Perhaps He is protecting you in traffic.  Perhaps there is someone with whom you are waiting that needs your smile and encouragement.  Perhaps God has just decided to strengthen your resolve.  Let your mantra in the wait be, “It’s all good because He is all good!”

5 - While you are waiting, find a Scripture that you can quote.  This works whether you are waiting for God to send you a spouse, bring a rebellious child home, heal a physical disease or send financial resources.  Because the Word of God is a gift from the eternal God Who doesn’t view time the way that we do, the Word always gives us God’s perspective on the wait.  And that, Maude, is exactly what you and I need.  We need God’s perspective on the wait!

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord!”  Psalm 27:14

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” - Psalm 62:5

“Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31

Do you have a favorite scripture that you quote when you find yourself in the wait room?  How about sharing it with us?!

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