One in a Million Dad!

This Sunday is Father’s Day which has become a bittersweet holiday for me on two fronts.  Let me explain ...

My father went to heaven in 2002 and I remember one of the first thoughts that I had was, “I will never get to buy another Father’s Day card for my Dad.”  I had always been a “daddy’s girl” and something precious and stable was gone that day from my life.

It hit me in that moment that the man who had loved me since the instant I was born, although no longer with me in the physical, would ever live on in my heart.

Norman Frederic Burton was just a month short of being 81 years old when he died and how I loved every minute spent in his presence!

I had a Dad who loved the Word of God and taught me to love it as well.  He believed that the Bible was the final authority on everything.  I believe it, too.

I had a Dad who was a giver ... he generously gave to the Kingdom of God even when it meant personal sacrifice for him and for our family.  I hope that I am as generous as he always was.

I had a Dad who loved creation and the wonder of God’s world.  He took me to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, the Grand Tetons and to beaches along both shores.  He taught me to love the rich, dark soil in our yard and to cultivate things of beauty from that soil.  Whenever I spend time outside drinking in all that God created, I somehow feel closer to my Dad.

I had a Dad who believed in honesty and integrity.  He not only believed in it but he lived it.  He was a man who never lied and paid his bills on time.

I had a Dad who loved my mom.  He was crazy about her from sun-up till sun-down.  He never spoke an unkind word to her or about her.  I loved watching them dance on our 1960’s gold carpet in the living room.

I had a Dad who could fix anything.  From flat bicycle tires ...  to overflowing toilets ...  to leaky roofs ...  to removing splinters from my fingers.  He even had the knack of mending my broken heart a time or two.

I had a Dad who was never ashamed to go to the grocery store ... canned an entire year’s supply of tomatoes, green beans and applesauce in our pink and green kitchen ... and rocked babies to sleep in his arms while whistling.  He made donuts and zucchini bread.  He created gorgeous needlepoint pictures and did the dishes every night after dinner.  He was the manliest man I have ever known.

I never thought that I would find a man who could live up to the reputation and example of my Dad.  But I did ... which brings me to the second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet for me.

The second reason that Father’s Day is bittersweet is because our children are all grown now.  We no longer wake up to homemade Father’s Day cards, burnt breakfast in bed or Father’s Day crafts made in Sunday School.  Our three boys are now fathers themselves and our daughters are still praying for the men who will father their children.  I gave my children the greatest gift I could find ... a man who would father well.

mcleod family young
mcleod family young

Craig, the father of all 5 of my children, is a one-in-a-million kind of Dad.

He coached too many baseball teams to count.

He played endless games of H-O-R-S-E and P-I-G in our driveway with three little boys who grew up too quickly.

He went to ballet recitals and piano recitals with no complaints but with bouquets of flowers in his arms for little girls who are now beautiful young women.  (I only had to pinch him a time or two to stay awake!)

He read books time after time after time.  French Fry Forgiveness ... Peanut Butter and Jelly Secrets ... The Door in the Dragon’s Throat ... Carry On, Mr. Bowditch ... Charlotte’s Web ... Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea ... The American Girl Books ... Little House on the Prairie ... and any book at all by an author by the name of Matt Christopher.

He played Monopoly, Clue, Chess, Checkers, Trouble, Uno, Kemps, Mau, Speed Scrabble and Candyland until other fathers would have been writhing in pain.

He has watched “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”, “The Sound of Music”, “Hoosiers”, “The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe”, “Mary Poppins”, “Remember the Titans”, “Star Wars”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “Little Women” and “Father of the Bride” when lesser men would have been screaming, “UNCLE!”

mcleod kids adults
mcleod kids adults
craig and joy
craig and joy

He stood with me in prayer and encouragement through long days of depression and infertility.

When the money was tight and bills were ferocious, he never asked for anything for himself but gave and gave and gave to this family.

He has discipled his children with love, integrity and the power of believing in their dreams.

He has loved them through wins and losses, A’s and F’s, and popularity and loneliness.

He has led by word and by example.  The 5 children who have grown up in our home have seen a man who has relentlessly followed Christ every day of his life.

My 5 children have seen their father refuse to speak ill of those who have mistreated him.

They have seen their father walk in victory and joy during days when other men would have given in to depression and discouragement.

Matthew, Christopher, Jordan, Joy and Joni have all been fathered by a man of God ... that is no small thing in a culture of compromise, moral mediocrity and the relentless call of busyness.  Their father has stood head and shoulders above the rest while cradling their 5 precious lives in his heart.

craig with sleeping sons
craig with sleeping sons
craig helping chris
craig helping chris

Most of all, our 5 children have been raised by a prayer warrior.  Any success or accomplishment in their lives has happened because they had a daddy who knew the power of prayer.

And so I face Father’s Day 2013 with both joy and a touch of sorrow.  I am so grateful for a father and a husband who loved with their whole hearts.  I am eternally thankful for two men who chose to submit their lives to the greatest Father of all.

Happy Father’s Day!

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The Other Women

baby hand
baby hand

When Matthew, our oldest son, was a mere 24 hours old, my husband, Craig, found me sobbing in the hospital rocking chair.  I was holding my new born baby boy and crying my heart out.  Just literal gut heaves ... it wasn’t a pretty sight. Craig came into the room and rushed to my side, “Honey!  What’s wrong?!  Is something wrong with the baby?”

“No,” I replied through gulping sobs, “Someday ... I’m going to have to give him to another girl!”

And so it began ... the dread that someday Matthew ... and then Christopher ... and finally Jordan would no longer belong to me.  I was their first love and ached to stay in that place of prominence.  Someday, I mournfully realized, another woman would take first place in their hearts.  I would be relegated to the back seat.  Good ole’ what’s her name.

The years of learning how to tie shoelaces, shooting baskets in the driveway and family game nights quickly passed by and we sent our boys off to college.  I knew that as they began this new season in life, a new season in my life had begun as well.  It was only a matter of time and I was a goner.  Finished.  Washed-up.

Matthew called during the first semester of his Junior year in college and told us that he wanted to invite a girl to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s with us.  Her name was Emily.  As this blonde girl from Minnesota walked into our front door, she also walked into my heart.  I immediately knew that I could love her like she was my own.  She played games with the younger kids, fixed the little girls’ hair and helped like a champ in the kitchen.  Yep ... she was a keeper.

Christopher brought home “just a friend” during one of his Christmas breaks as well.  Liz joined 2 or 3 other college friends at our home and even though Chris didn’t see it yet ... I loved this girl!  She had sparkle and compassion.  She was obviously head over heels in love with our son and we thoroughly approved.  The night that Chris proposed to Liz at Rockefeller Center beside the Christmas tree by singing her an original song was a night of joy and dreams coming true for the entire family.

chris and liz
chris and liz

And then ... my youngest son left me!  He, too, went to college thousands of miles away from home and fell in love with the girl of my dreams for him.  Allie’s zest for life and commitment to be a prayer warrior wiggled its way into my heart and I couldn’t love her more if I tried.  Jordan needs Allie like the flowers need the rain and the earth must revolve around the sun.  She is his perfect match.  Head to toe.  Heart to heart.

jordan and allie
jordan and allie

What was I so worried about?  Why did I think that gaining a daughter-in-law meant losing a son?  What it really meant was enlarging our family - and I love big families!  What it really meant was the opportunity of seeing my sons so gloriously in love and so completely fulfilled.

Each one is a gift and yet so different ... Emily, Liz and Allie.  The girls that I prayed for from the days that my boys made their grand entrance onto planet earth are the girls that God chose for each beloved son.

“Emily ... my prayer for you is that you will find daily joy in the smiles of your children and the strength of your husband.  I pray that God would reveal Himself to you in miracles big and small.  I pray that you would know that God is enough in each season of life and that He would give you the capacity to love like He loves.  Thank you for loving Matt.  I love you dearly.”

“Liz ... my prayer for you is that you would allow God to use you to the maximum!  I pray that you would feel the compassion of His heart and be a vessel for His love on planet earth at this time in history.  I pray that Jesus would fill you with wisdom, with discernment and with the joy of His presence.  I pray that His Word would come alive to you. Thank you for loving Chris.  I love you dearly.”

“Allie ... my prayer for you is that time spent on your knees would be the most productive moments of your life.  I pray that God would enlarge your capacity to hear His voice and to obey His leading.  I pray that your desire to go to the mission field would be fulfilled in His time.  I pray that you would be a missionary at home, at school, at work and in the neighborhood. Thank you for loving Jordan.  I love you dearly.”

If I could tell that young mom in the hospital rocking chair anything that I have learned in  giving my boys to “the other woman”, I would tell her that life is sweeter and richer because of the girls that God brought their way.  I would tell her that when you embrace the girl that your son chooses that it brings no pain but the fulfillment of a dream and the answer to a prayer.

I would tell that young mom in the hospital rocking chair to get a grip ... God is extraordinarily good in all seasons of life.  We don’t raise our sons to keep them locked up - we raise them to give them as a gift to the world and as a gift to the girl of God’s making and choosing.

Well done, God.  Well done.

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Sheltered in His Arms -by Lisa Buffaloe

winter ashberry snow
winter ashberry snow

The call came late at night. ‘One of the boys is missing … It’s Jack.’ Hastily, my dad put on his coat and drove to the Boy’s Home where he worked as Executive Director. Rain and ice pelted the car and the windshield wipers brushed away furrows of frost. The tires struggled for traction on a glazing coat of ice covering the bridge. The Christian home offered refuge and safety for children and Jack was one of their best kids. Dad arrived at the home. Shielding his head, he dashed for the covered porch. Nothing had changed, the boy was still missing. Grabbing a slicker to put over his coat, he stepped back into the rain.

That week, Jack had been given a new calf by the ranch manager and told if he cared for the calf properly, the animal would be his.

Flashlight in hand, my father ran and slipped his way to the fenced area at the barn where the calves were kept. Icy rain slid down his neck as he searched for Jack’s calf. Dad climbed the fence to look farther and stumbled over a broken bale of hay.  After spotting a crumpled coat on the ground, he reached to pick it up. His throat tightened as salty tears mixed with rain.

Inside the coat, Jack lay asleep. His back to the rain, ice crystals forming on his jacket, he sheltered the only thing he had ever owned of value—a small red calf.

Years later, my dad continues to share this true story. Other than groggy and cold, Jack was fine.   And the calf received the royal treatment with a bed made from bales of hay. Like Jack did his young calf, God wraps us tightly in His love, protecting us through the storms and cold of this world.

You are cherished by the God of the universe.   No difficulty or problem will ever keep Him from your side.

Heavenly Father thank You that we are safely sheltered forever in Your loving arms.

Devotion taken from

Living Joyfully Free

by Lisa Buffaloe, page 33

Lisa Buffaloe October 2012 headshot
Lisa Buffaloe October 2012 headshot

Lisa Buffaloe is a writer, blogger, speaker, happily-married mom, founder and host for Living Joyfully Free Radio. She is passionate to tell others about God’s wonderful love, healing, and restoration. Her past experiences—molestation by a baby-sitter, assault, rape by a doctor, divorce, being stalked, cancer, death of loved ones, seven surgeries, and over eleven years of chronic illness from Lyme Disease—bless her with a backdrop to share about God’s unending love and that through Him we find healing, restoration, and renewal. She is the author of Living Joyfully Free, Nadia’s Hope, a  2010 Women of Faith Writing Contest Finalist,  Prodigal Nights a 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest Finalist, and Grace for the Char-Baked.

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Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Children

Happy Mother's Day!!  I want to share some mothering encouragement with you today...whether you are in the early season of mothering...the season of sending your babies off to college....or holding grandbabies...this is for YOU! 

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1000 Lives to Give

Inscribed on a missionary’s gravestone are these words, “If I had a thousand lives, Korea would have them all.”

This one woman had more dreams and vision for Korea than one lifetime could accomplish.  I don’t know her name, but her words move me deeply.  Her passion for Korea brings my heart to its knees.  Korea would have her first life ... and her thousandth life.

Her life was lavishly poured out for the people of Korea and I believe emphatically that this woman died with no regrets.  She only wished that she could give her life for Korea again ... and again ... and again.  One thousand times over!

I feel the same way about motherhood.  Perhaps my tombstone will boldly proclaim, “If I had a thousand lives to give ... motherhood would have them all.”

I was raised in the baby boom years of America;  my role models were my mom and her friends who cooked dinner every night while wearing high heels.  These women made enough spaghetti sauce in one week-end to feed the entire state of Rhode Island!  The coffee pot was always warm, the clothes were perfectly folded and the kitchen floor was wet-mopped every morning by 8 a.m.  “Success” to my mother and her friends was being president of the PTA and chairing the annual church turkey dinner.

I was sandwiched between that sweet, stable tradition and the voices of Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinham.  While Jane and Gloria were burning their bras and protesting the war in Viet Nam, I was being taught the proper etiquette of how to write thank you notes while wearing proper white gloves.

When I started college in the fall of 1973, I had grand anticipation in my heart!  What was God’s destiny for me?  Would I marry a pastor or be the next Barbara Walters?  Would I teach third grade?  Or be a Pulitzer Prize winning author?

I asked God to challenge me to stand on my tip-toes every day of my life.  I promised the God of Creation that I would never settle for mediocrity but that I was His girl at this time in history to make a profound and lasting difference.

What I didn’t realize was that His idea of making a difference ... and my idea of making a difference ... were 2 completely different things.

baby
baby

On January 29, 1981, at the University of Alabama Medical Center, I discovered the reason for which I was created:  as Matthew Craig McLeod was placed into my arms, I knew that nothing would ever be the same again.  I was a mom!  I was a mom!!

As I looked at his miraculous little face and counted his ten tiny fingers and toes, I realized that I was responsible for his soul.  God, the Creator of the entire universe, had put me in charge of his gifts and talents; I was responsible for discipling this little man who was filled with heavenly potential.  In my arms was God’s answer for the next generation.

After giving birth to my first taste of heaven on earth, I became pregnant 9 more times.  5 of those babies died in my womb; 4 of them completed our clan of boisterous, creative and energetic McLeod’s.  The ones who went to heaven taught me to appreciate the ones who were left under my care.  The ones who danced in eternity taught me how to be a defiantly joyful mother ... while the ones on earth have made me happier than one woman deserves to be.

Moms ... next time someone asks you, “And what do you do for a living?”

Don’t ever say, “I am JUST a mom.”

The words “mom” and “just” are mutually exclusive ... they contradict one another at the very core of meaning.

If you are a mom, you are a teacher, mentor and coach.You are a nurse, a chauffeur, and an administrator.You are a counselor, a best friend and a psychologist.You are a pediatrician, a pastor and a maid.You are the a CEO ... a CFO and the FBI!You are on the maintenance staff, the executive staff and the creative staff of your corporation known as “Family”!You are responsible for Homeland Security.You are raising up the next generation who have the capacity to change the world.

In every generation, mothers must answer the call to be what no one else can be for their children and to do what no one else can do for their children.  The future of the church, our nation and the world depends upon what we do with the children under our care.  What could be more significant than that?!

What will be written on your gravestone?

“This was one busy lady!”

“This woman knew how to make money ... and spend it!”

Or, perhaps, like me, you will be gratified with these simple words,

“If I had a thousand lives to give ... motherhood would have them all.”

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Counting the Stars

ヒ マ ワ リ

Do you feel discouraged today?  Are you wondering where God's promises for your life are?  Listen in on this conversation between Abram and God that took place over two thousand years ago...and let it sink into your soul today...because it also applies to YOU.

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Living to Inspire

Frisches Grün an altem Baum 1

A while back, I was stopped at a red light waiting to pull out of Wal-Mart. I noticed a homeless man in front of me holding a bucket and a sign that read, “Please help.” As I sat there those couple of minutes, I began to think about this man.

I wondered why on earth wouldn’t he just get some sort of job. He looked strong and healthy enough to work, but instead, he stood there all day asking others for help.  After awhile, I concluded that this man was simply lazy and wanted others to take care of him.

While thinking these critical thoughts about this poor man, I watched the gentleman in front of me roll down his window, smile and drop some money in the man’s bucket. When I saw this, something in me changed. Compassion welled up inside of me. Before I knew it, I too, was rolling down my window, smiling and putting money in the man’s bucket.

I no longer cared what this man had done or not done. I just wanted to be kind to this stranger. Why?  Because I was inspired by someone else’s act of kindness.  Their actions changed my outlook and my attitude. This is a simple illustration with a profound truth - we all have the ability to motivate others to do good things.

Hebrews 10:24 tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” As a Texan, I know what spurs do. They are those uncomfortable nudges that cause us to move in the right direction.

God has positioned us as women to help move each other and those around us in the right direction. We are wives, moms, co-workers, friends and sisters, and our lives have incredible influence to those in our world. In doing so, it’s important to remember that it’s not all in what we say, but it’s in what we do day in and day out that makes the greatest impact.

It’s how we treat our husbands and care for our kids. It’s in how we encourage our friends and reach out to those in need.  It’s how we choose to do the right things when we feel like doing something else. It’s how we stay committed and faithful to the people and place God has called us.

Today, let me remind you of this: every day we are spurring someone on to become a better person.  If we’ll seek to motivate others, we’ll be amazed at what our right actions will produce and inspire in the lives of those in our world.

Tamara Graff - white chair
Tamara Graff - white chair

Tamara Graff

Victoria, TX Faith Family Church

www.faithfamilyvictoria.org

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When We Don't Understand

day 13 email pic
day 13 email pic

The Body of Christ across the world has been weeping this week ... weeping for a family whose son is no longer with them. Rick and Kay Warren are generals in the Church at this time in history.  Their leadership, message and integrity have made a profound and lasting impact that will long outlive their days on earth.

But today, they are simply grieving parents.  I grieve with them.  Although I don’t know them personally, I am committed to holding up their arms in prayer.  I am committed to standing with them in these dark, dark days of their life together as parents.

Have you ever been so desperate that you contemplated taking your own life?  Do you know someone who stands at that crossroads today?

I know that people identify me as “that joy girl”.  Some people don’t even call me “Carol” ... they call me, “Joy”.  Some people believe that I am Mary Poppins with a Bible ... or Pollyanna with a glad purpose.  But those sweet identities don’t begin to describe my call or my beliefs.

I know that life is real and hard and can be devastating at moments.  I also know that we serve a God Who cares more than we can imagine.

I also know that we are all wired differently  ... some of us can let the sludge of life fall off our emotional shoulders without a second glance.  Others of us, take the grime and disappointments of life and keep it forever in our hearts as a defining component of our souls.

I am not a doctor, a psychologist or a counselor.  I am just a girl in love with the Bible.  I have experienced the stabilizing difference that consistently reading the Word of God has made in the roller coaster that my emotions had constructed.

This is what I want to say to you today ... if you are depressed.  Get help.  Talk to your family doctor or go to a Christian counselor.  Do everything that they tell you to do.  But don’t ever forget the part that your spirit plays in your emotional health.  Take the best advice of doctors and counselors, but also take my advice.  Read your Bible every day.  Meditate on it.  Worship your way through the storm.  There is healing and miraculous power in that place.

If you have experienced mental illness, there is no cause for shame.  Find a medical professional whom you can trust and build a professional relationship with this person.  Take their medical and professional advice and take my advice as well.  Read your Bible every day.  Meditate on it.  Worship your way through every storm.  There is healing and miraculous power in that place.

I don’t understand why the heartfelt prayers of Godly parents were not answered in the way that they had hoped.  But I do know that we serve a God, filled with eternal loving kindness and compassion, Who is weeping with those parents today.  He knows what it is like to see His Son die.

God knows the pain of the Warren family and is with them even in the valley of the shadow of death.  It’s a promise that He would meet us there in that place that no parent would ever choose to walk.

I can also tell you that as Rick and Kay Warren, mommy and daddy to Matthew, walk through that dreaded valley, that when they look behind them, they will see something else.  They will see the goodness and loving kindness of the Lord in hot pursuit.

There is so much about this life that we don’t understand.  I don’t understand war ... or bulimia ... or abortion ... or sex trafficking.  I don’t understand adultery ... or child abuse ... or cutting ... or tragic accidents.  You can add “suicide” to that list, too.  I don’t understand suicide, do you?

But I do know that God has a plan for each one of our lives.  His plan trumps pain, discouragement and depression.  God, in His omnipotence and eternal kindness, will use even the brevity of Matthew Warren’s life for His purpose and plan.  God really is that big and that good.

I don’t believe that using phrases like “God works all things together for good,” are platitudes at times like this but that they are precious promises meant for application at moments exactly like this.  Knowing that God really does work all things together for my highest good and for His eternal glory, have kept me going in the darkest days of my life.  God promised that when we didn’t like life or understand life, that He was behind the scenes touching life with His eternal goodness and glory.  I can worship a God like that!  I can worship Him in spite of my human questions.

Let me tell you one last thing that I believe ... you may not believe this but I do.  I have thought long and hard about it ... prayed about it ... and studied the Word of God concerning it.  I have talked to great men and women of the faith about it.  This is what I have come to believe about suicide ...

rapsfeld mit sonnenstrahlen
rapsfeld mit sonnenstrahlen

Matthew Warren walked into heaven’s entrance on Saturday morning.  He was welcomed home by God, Who loves Him unconditionally, and by Jesus, Who paid the price for his sins.  Why do I believe that?

Because I don’t believe that suicide is the unforgivable sin.  I believe that God understands the desperation of mental illness and chronic depression.  I believe that God’s love for me is greater than my most desperate moment in life.  I believe that His forgiveness overrules my choices.

This blog post may have left you with more questions than it does answers ... but my prayer is that you will read these few things between the lines:

God loves desperate people.  He loves desperate people who choose well and He loves those who decide to be with Him rather than continue on this journey known as “life”.  His love for us is not based on our human choices but it is based on His eternal nature.

God’s forgiveness covers all of our sins.  Past, present and future.  The cross changed everything for people.  The cross changed everything ... even for desperate people.

There will always be somethings about life on planet earth that we don’t understand.  We are humans.  But in those moments when confronted with that which we are unable to understand, God has given us a greater gift.  He has given to us His peace ... the peace that passes understanding.  I am praying that is what He gives to Pastor Rick and Kay in this moment.  Not understanding ... but peace.

Ciel d'orage
Ciel d'orage

Would you join me in praying for them today?

“Dear Jesus, I love You so much.  I come to You today on behalf of my brother and sister in the Lord, Rick and Kay Warren.  I pray that You, the God of all comfort, would comfort them today.  I pray that Your gracious Holy Spirit would be their constant and kind companion.  I pray that You would give them strength for the journey.  I pray that You would use them mightily in the days to come.  In the powerful Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.”

Oh ... and one more thing ... if you know someone who is depressed ... be their friend.

If you know someone who suffers from mental illness ... love them and their family without judgement.  Spend time with the person who is struggling.  Words of encouragement and genuine acts of friendship may be all that they need to just keep going one more day.  It is, after all, what Jesus would do.

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You Are A Valuable Vapor!

sky_night_theme_from_here_this_has_a_static_wallpaper-other
sky_night_theme_from_here_this_has_a_static_wallpaper-other

Do you know how valuable your life is?! The Bible says that "one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day". Life is a vapor...it passes by with the blink of an eye! BUT, we have the opportunity in one day to make it worth a thousand years of living! Make today count!  

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It's All That Matters!

cross
day 21
day 21

The cheering, worshipping crowd.A farewell dinner.

What kind of man betrays a friend?!

Prayers.  Desperate prayers.  Earth-shaking prayers.  Blood dripping prayers.

An trial rigged by the father of all lies.

A ruler in confusion.  He should have listened to his wife.

What kind of friend denies a friend?!

Beating.  Scourging. Bleeding. Whipping.

Did He scream?

A painful crown meant to ridicule not define.

A cruel walk up a triumphant hill. One. Agonizing. Step. At. A. Time.

The jeering crowd.

What kind of friends run and hide?  Were they only in it for the miracles?

Inhumane soldiers gambling for a piece of His clothing while He hung nearly naked.

Course jesting. Raucous laughter.

A mother’s broken heart. Heaving.  Remembering His little boy ways.

A desperate thief who believed at last. He breathed out earth and breathed in heaven.

A Centurion understands and believes.  Truly.

Darkness at noon.  The roar of the earth.  The ripping of history.

It is finished!  Complete!

A borrowed tomb.  After all, He wouldn’t need it for long.

the west at south

A brilliant morning.  The day breaks and all shadows flee.

Nothing ... nothing ... absolutely nothing ... would ever be the same again.

An angel’s announcement, “He is not here ... but HE IS RISEN!”

Women who were told, “Go Tell!”

Some call it “Easter”.  That works, I suppose.  Easter, for me, conjures up a black and white picture of a blonde little girl sandwiched between 2 siblings.  This little girl, now her in her late-50’s, was decked out in white, ruffled socks, a pink polyester coat with a matching pink straw hat and lacy gloves.  Everyone in the days of black and white wore gloves on Easter Sunday morning.  It was requisite!

That particular little, blonde girl remembers those black and white Easter Sunday mornings as if they were yesterday.

We were always up long before dawn for the Easter Morning Sunrise Service.  It was the only day of the year I was out of bed before daylight began to slither its jeweled fingers across the inky sky.

The church smelled like pancakes, maple syrup and sausage when our sleepy family of 5 walked into the front doors.  My mom scurried to the organ and my dad got us settled somewhere near the front, left hand side.

Our Methodist congregation burst forth the news as the sun broke through, “Up from the grave He arose!  With a mighty triumph o’er His foes.”  I can still hear it.  I can still hear the voices of Duane Grehlinger and Shirley Green.  Bob Dix and Reverend Tauscher.  Although their voices broke on the high notes and struggled for pitch on the low notes, they believed what they sang.  That’s what counts about Easter...that you believe.

After breakfast in the cold church basement, warmed by the steaming pots of coffee and laughter of friends who had truly become family, we traipsed home across the yards of our neighbors for an hour or so before Sunday School and the 10:00 service.  During that sweet hour, we would find our Easter baskets, have our hair re-fixed and listen to the Easter story read by my general of a father.

Dad loved the Bible, he loved my mom, he loved the garden and he loved us.  He was quite a man.  Dad believed in Easter.  He taught me to believe as well.  Did I mention that he was quite a man?

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; and He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” - I Corinthians 15:3-8

Paul, the one who was untimely born, calls Easter the event “of first importance” in anything that he has ever known or written about.  These are some pretty impressive words coming from one of the most learned men of the day.

Paul’s words echo through the ages, Nothing compares to the message of the Risen Savior.

When it comes down to it, there is nothing more important in your life than Easter. 

When you get to the end of your life all that will matter is Easter. 

There is nothing that deserves your earthly attention so much as Easter.

Oh ... I remember the days of white ruffly socks, little pink purses and lacy gloves.  I remember the thrill of finding the Easter basket and looking forward to the sumptuous dinner that was to follow.  I remember singing, “We serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today!  I know that He is living whatever men may say!”

Daffodil Cluster
Daffodil Cluster

What I didn’t know in those innocent days of celebrating a spring holiday was that someday ... I would believe, too.  And at the very moment that I believed, Easter changed from being a mere 24 hours in the early spring to a lifestyle of hope and joy.  I no longer refer to it, either mentally or verbally as “Easter Sunday”.  For me, it is “Resurrection Day!”  And, trust me, it is incomplete without that exclamation mark!

Jesus really was born in a manger ... He really did live among us ... He was put to death on the old rugged cross ... and He was buried.

But what happened next was the true miracle ... He rose from the dead!  He conquered death triumphantly! 

Jesus had the first Word ... the middle Word ... and the last Word!  Because death could not hold Him ... it cannot hold you either.

Will you stay in your world of black and white presumptions?  Or will you join the chorus of all the ages and sing with gusto, “Because He lives ... I can face tomorrow ... Because He lives ... all fear is gone!”

Because when you get to the end of your life ... the resurrection will be all that matters.  It was all that mattered to Duane Grehlinger ... to Shirley Green ... to Bob Dix ... and to Reverend Tauscher.  It was all that mattered to Paul and it was all that mattered to my dad.  He was quite a man.

And ... it’s all that matters to me.  It is my message of first importance.  Resurrection Day!

Please make sure that you don’t forget the exclamation mark ... while you’re at it ...let’s make it two!  It is, after all, the message of first importance.

Resurrection Day!!

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Are You Struggling with Busyness?

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Image

Do you feel like you are constantly trying to keep up with your daily "to do" list?  Are you feeling stressed out?  Listen to Carol's latest video blog as she shares a classic Bible story and helps us understand how to get "the good part" out of our day...

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Waiting for Spring

boy, summer, kite
boy, summer, kite

March is heralded as the month of kites, daffodils and noisy geese flying north. March is the month that trumpets the rebirth of an exuberant spring.

Daffodil Cluster
Daffodil Cluster

March is the month when the world breaks free from winter’s paralyzing hold and declares that He truly makes old things new.

I have always loved the promise of March whether it was announced by the sweet bleating of a lamb or by the dominating roar of a lion!

March is such an “in-between” month.  It is no longer the winter season of frigid days, frozen nights and long-range blizzards ... and yet ... spring seems unending weeks away.

Spring ... where are you?!

As I look out my window today, on the 12th day of this expectant month, I see grass that remains a woeful and winter brown.

I see trees that are bereft of greenery or even the hint of any pregnant budding.

I see little packets of snow spattered liberally across my neighborhood ... at the end of driveways ... around mailboxes ... and under bare trees.

My March sky, on this day, has not remembered what it means to incubate spring.  The March sky out my particular window remains gray and lifeless ... it only seems to promise either more snow or  more rain.  It can’t make up its March mind.

And so I sit and wait.

I wait for the daffodils to burst through what used to be frozen.

I wait for the glorious honking of geese as they boldly make their way toward spring. 

I wait for a sky so blue that it gladly embraces the brilliant yellow circle of sunshine.

I wait for confident and colorful kites to laugh in glee at what used to be winter. 

I wait not impatiently but with quiet and certain assumption of all that is yet to be.

What are you waiting for today?

A new baby?  A job?   A promotion?  A letter in the mail?  A doctor’s report?  A sweet visit from someone whom you love?  A change in an otherwise boring landscape of life?

As you wait today, I pray that you don’t merely see what you see.  I pray that you will focus on the glory of what lies ahead.

winter ashberry snow
winter ashberry snow

I pray that as you wait, you will wait not with discouragement but with the courageous  knowledge that your vibrant spring is not far behind.

I hope that you are not in bondage to the coldness of your past but that you will know for sure and for certain that God’s promises can never be locked in the frozen tundra of pain and disappointment.

Waiting is part of life.  So is expectation ... anticipation ... and a deep longing for what lies ahead.

I have learned that it is not enough to merely wait.  I want to wait well.

I will wait with hope and with strength.

I will wait with my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

I will wait with joy,  knowing ... believing ... and claiming ... the certainty of the promises of God.

How will you wait?

We all encounter March on our journey to spring.  We all must face a time of waiting with no visible signs of encouragement.  We all choose how to deal with the March grayness of life.

river angara
river angara

I believe that underneath every discouraging, dull March moment is hidden an indescribable glory reserved for those who choose to wait well.

Don’t be afraid to wait and don’t shrug off the call to wait well.

We honor God when we wait well  because in doing so we have made a conscious determination not to be discouraged by the gray, March seasons in life.

My life is not about getting my way, after all, but it is about honoring Him.

My life is not about what I see in the natural but it is about honoring Him ... even in the wait.

My life is not about demanding what I want now on my dictated time schedule ... but it is about giving all that I long for into His capable hands.

And so I not only wait ... but I wait well.

Frisches Grün an altem Baum 1
Frisches Grün an altem Baum 1

I wait well knowing that strength is always developed in the wait.

I wait well believing that joy is found in His promises.

I wait well with a heart focused on what is too beautiful to be seen today.

I wait well ... and remind myself ... that March is not eternal.  God is.

“Wait for the Lord.  Be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the Lord.” - Psalm 27:14

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Perspective

white beach
white beach

I went to the beach last week!  The beach is my “happy place”! Every morning when I woke up, the first thing that I would do was to walk out on our fourth floor deck and just listen ... and then look.

Some days the ocean was turbulent and angry with white caps and high, threatening waves.

Other days, the surface of the ocean looked like glass - glorious in its hues of emerald green and peacock blue.

I love the sounds at the beach.  The never-ending call of the ocean surf reminds me that God never changes.  He is always calling my name ... trying to capture my attention.  God is relentless in his pursuit of me and the perpetual motion of the waves remind me of His eternal perspective on my life.

The weather was cold all week long so I wasn’t able to sit on the beach and soak up the sunshine but I took long, luxurious walks on the beach every day I was there.  I walked for miles and miles listening ... watching ... and praying.

I rolled up my sweat pants, dug my hands deep into my sweatshirt pockets and walked along the shore line.  My feet were always numb by the time I came back to the condo - but my heart was alive and warm!  I was filled to overflowing with the grandeur of creation and with a God Who loved me enough to create a beach!

My husband, Craig, joined me for the last part of the days spent in Florida.  He joined me on my daily walks where ocean meets land.  I know that he did it as a gift to me because it really was cold ... and he likes the beach ... but he doesn’t LOVE the beach the way that I do.  Some days we would talk as we walked ... other days we just walked.

walk barefoot
walk barefoot

One late afternoon, when Craig and I were out on our daily pilgrimage, we talked about 2 things that that I want to share with you ... so join us ... roll up your pant legs and get ready for the ocean surf to splash upon your soul.

“I have noticed that there are different types of homes on the beach,” I remarked to Craig. “On this end of the beach, there are homes worth millions of dollars, aren’t they?”

“At least a million,” said my dashing, no-nonsense husband.

“As you travel down further toward the west,” I continued, “the homes seem to be simpler and worth less, don’t you think?”

“That’s a nice way of putting it, Carol,” he responded. “I would call them run-down.  Some of them are not much more than shacks.”

“But do you know what they have in common?”  I persisted.  “Do you know what is the same with both the multi-million dollar homes and the shacks?”

“Tell me,” Craig said with his ocean-blue eyes penetrating my soul.

“They all have the same view,” I imparted.  “It doesn’t matter how much money the people spent to live here ... they all see the same ocean.  The same sand.  The same sunsets.”

My talkative husband was quiet and smiled as he thought about it.  We didn’t need to talk anymore that day.  We both knew what God was speaking to us.

Our view of life has been spectacular!

The next day we walked east along the shoreline so that as we turned toward our home for the week, we would be walking west and thus see the sunset.

panama city sunset
panama city sunset

Craig was kicking the sand like a little boy and I was just enjoying the moment.  The sun ... the white sand ... the depth of the ocean’s colors ... the roar of the waves.

I smiled at the heavens and said to Craig, “Did you know that this is one of my very favorite things to do in all of life?  I love walking on the beach.  I love everything about it.  My heart is so happy.  It’s right up there with Christmas music,” I said impishly.

My thoughtful husband replied, “What are your favorite things to do in the whole world?”

I didn’t need to think long about that ... this is what I said ...

  • Reading my Bible ...
  • Teaching the Word of God ...
  • Worshipping the Lord passionately and with reckless abandon
  •  Being with my children and grandchildren ...
  •  Preparing for Christmas ...
  •  Talking to my mom ...
  • Reading a great book ...
  • Writing a great book ...
  • Listening to timeless music ...
  • great hymns of the faith and contemporary songs of praise
  • the masterpieces of classic composers
  • scores from musicals and Broadway show tunes
  • Filling my soul with the glory of creation ...
  • walking on the beach ...

Then ... I looked at my husband with a twinkle in my eye and remarked to this great theologian of a man, “You know, I am a lot like Jesus ... because He loved the beach, too!”

splendeur matinale
splendeur matinale

We both laughed and kept walking toward the sunset.  The imprints of our feet were erased in the evening tide and our laughter was swallowed in the roar of the waves.

But our lives and our faith were both renewed in the joy

  • of the day.  In the glory of the moment.  In the security of love.  In the Reason we live.
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What is YOUR Book Title?

roomswomansheartbookcover
roomswomansheartbookcover

“The Rooms of a Woman’ Heart” ... That was the name of my first book ... “The Rooms of a Woman’s Heart”.

What a profoundly safe title for a book that truly was geared toward comforting, yet in a gentle way challenging, the heart of grown-up girls!  It just made me feel all fuzzy inside.  Secure.

However, it was after writing my first book that I discovered that I am not a safe Christian.  I am a peaceful Christian but I do not dally in the mundane world of “safe”.

I am not talking about my salvation ... my salvation is safe.  Immovable.  Eternal. Solid.  Irrevocable.

I am talking about the way I live out my life in Christ.  I don’t want safe.  I want what Paul had.

Shipwrecks because of passionately desiring to make hell smaller and heaven bigger.

Jail cells because no one can keep me quiet when it comes to Christ.

Beatings because of a passionate resistance to the mediocrity and sin of a heathen culture.

DefiantJoy_overlay.indd
DefiantJoy_overlay.indd

And so ... the name of my second book was “Defiant Joy!”

Because that is who I am.  I am a Christian who defies her circumstances with the joy of His presence.

I am not rebellious but I am defiant.

When it comes to the Gospel, I am humbly obedient and daily ache for more of Him.    My heart bows lovingly and longingly at everything that He is and every Word that He speaks.

However ... when it comes to fulfilling the call of God on my life and ultimately dealing with the culture ... it is then that this formerly fuzzy girl becomes fierce.

There are some days when you actually might feel that an appropriate description of how I live my life would be more accurately described as violent.  And, if you do use “violent” to describe me, I would consider it a high compliment.

These are the words that Jesus spoke to His culture while He was living on planet earth, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” - Matthew 11:12

Every generation needs a John the Baptist ... a Daniel ... an Esther or a Paul.  Every generation is crying out for men and women who are not silenced by the culture or by the call of mediocrity.  Every generation of believers is defined by their willingness to be defiant.  To be fierce.  Even ... to be violent.

I will not lay down or burn out.  I will not cave in nor will I compromise.  I am fiercely determined to fulfill the call of God upon my life at this time in history.  Fiercely.  Defiantly.  Violently.

I will not cross my finish line rusty but I will cross that line bruised, sweaty and violently victorious!

One of my friends says that she is so dangerous to the domain of darkness that her face is on a wanted poster in hell.  I want to live like that!

Now ... let’s talk about you.

If you were to write a book, what would it’s title be?

cover of the book with space for your title
cover of the book with space for your title

Because you are writing a book with your life.  The book of your life may never be published by a traditional publishing company ... but the story of your life is read every day by the people with whom you come in contact.  What kind of story have you written?

Will the story of your life be a passionate response to the cause of Christ?  Or will it be a  vanilla and lazy retelling of the life stories of thousands of others who chose safe rather than fierce?

If someone were to use an adjective to describe your life, what would that word be?

pink punch
pink punch

I want to live so violently that hell shakes with terror every time my feet hit the floor in the morning.

I want to live with a reckless abandon for the sake of the Call.  The One Call.  The Only Call.

I will be fiercely faithful and defiantly joyful as I serve my God at this time in history.

My call is to convince you that you, too, are called to live a life of extraordinary significance and violent choices.

If you are raising a child at this time in history ... then raise a champion!

If you are working in the marketplace ... then make it a mission field!

If you have free time on your hands ... then enter the battlefield of intercession!

If you have abundance ... then give generously and without reserve so that others may know your Savior!

There is no excuse for not giving all that you have and all that you are so that others may know Him.  It is why we live.

I live for a violent and fierce demonstration of His power and His glory being manifest through my life in even ordinary days.

And now, my friend ... let me ask you this ...

Why do you live?

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YOU Be the Blessing! (Happy Valentine's Day!)

Carol shares how YOU can be the blessing today.  Whether you love Valentine's Day or hate it...whether your are married or single...regardless of your social status - you can choose to make today GREAT!

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Make No Little Plans Here!

Stars-in-the-sky-daydreaming-26168115-1024-768
Stars-in-the-sky-daydreaming-26168115-1024-768

It has always seemed to me that in some unfortunate way the language of dreams, visions and setting enormous goals are the fluent vernacular of only the very young. When I was a little girl, it was so easy to say what I wanted to do ... who I wanted to be ... what I wanted to accomplish “when I grow up”.

I want to be a mommy ...

            a fireman ...

                        a doctor ...

                                    an astronaut ...

                                                president.

I want to write books ...

            sing songs ...

                        own a bakery ...

                                    travel around the world ...

                                                be a millionaire by the time I am 30.

How truly sad that we have minimized the ability to dream authentically and to plan prodigiously only to a certain immature and naive segment of the population.

I attended my university’s Homecoming celebration this past week-end and walking on that acreage which houses the buildings of a world-class institution of higher learning, always challenges me to dream again!

The sacred ground of my youth calls me to dream colossal dreams ... embrace a stupendous vision ... plan to move immense mountains!

And never, never, never use failure or your age as an excuse!

I serve on the Alumni Board at this Christian University and while there an generally ensconced in unending meetings, listening to financial reports and looking at the viability of 50 year old buildings.

However ... that’s not really why I am there.

I am really there to set foot on a piece of earthly real estate that stirs my heart to dream with the possibility of heaven’s involvement again.

Going “home” to my university, has the precise effect on me as would that intangible mirage known as “the fountain of youth”!

As I walk up the stairs of the library, sit in a front-row seat at chapel and visit with the current students in my old dormitory, my heart is rejuvenated and my mind begins to imagine all of the possibilities of life that yet lie ahead of me.  I am dreaming again!

Every time  I go back to ORU, I am miraculously 20 years old again and I begin to speak easily and fluently the language of dreams and visions!

When I pull up to 7777 South Lewis Avenue, my heart begins to beat rapidly and I initiate an internal inventory of “Let’s count your dreams!  Let’s take stock of future plans and visions!”

oru-make-no-little-plans-here-85736741
oru-make-no-little-plans-here-85736741

The motto of my University is appropriately this quintuplet of words: “Make no little plans here!”

Those 5 powerful words are everywhere!!

They are on the desks of professors.

“Make no little plans here!”

They are on t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters in the campus bookstore.

“Make no little plans here!”

They are on every 5-year, 10-year and 20-year plan of which the University has ever conceived.

“Make no little plans here!”

Those 5 words are written on my heart and on the heart of every one of the 26,000 graduates of Oral Roberts University.

“Make no little plans here!”

My prayer for you today is that you will return to a place that forces you to dream again.

My hope is that you will never be content with mediocrity nor with the status quo.

My challenge to all of you, regardless of age, is to dream again!

Make no little plans here!

Purpose in your heart to do something that is so grand and so impossible that without the help of God, you will sorely fail.

sky_night_theme_from_here_this_has_a_static_wallpaper-other
sky_night_theme_from_here_this_has_a_static_wallpaper-other

When Abram was weary with the constraints of age and saw no possibility of anything about his life ever changing, God took Abram outside to count the stars!

“And God took Abram outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.‘ And God said to Abram,  ‘So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:5

God still loves to take his children outside of their pain, their small thinking and their weariness.  He does it to me every time I return to my alma mater.

God still loves to confront each one of us with His vast plan and His infinite ability.

When God took Abram outside to play “Let’s Count the Stars!”, Abram and God weren’t actually looking at twinkling explosions of gaseous materials found light years away, but they were looking at the faces of all of the generations yet to come!  They were gazing at the lives of men and women who would exist because Abram’s tired, old seed  would come in contact with the miraculous power of God!

When you  play “Let’s Count the Stars!”  with God, what are you seeing?

Books yet to be written!

Songs yet to be composed!

Laws to be changed!

Orphans to be rescued!

Souls to be saved!

Businesses to be built!

Missions trips to go on!

I pray that you will take the time to go outside with God and count the stars of possibility with Him.  I can tell you ... there is nothing quite like it!

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To My Oldest Sons...

Dear Matt and Chris, This week you both had birthdays ... dates on the calendar that probably mean more to me than they do to you.

January 29, 1981.

January 27, 1983.

You were born 2 years and 2 days apart.  And so, every year as I mark the months of January and early February, my heart goes back to those days of being 9 months pregnant and waiting with such anticipation.

I recall counting your tiny fingers and toes and breathing in your new-born breath ... so fresh from heaven.  I would delight in the night time feedings and rejoice in the miracle that each of you were to me.

My heart remembers the joy of little boy birthday parties, the neighborhood friends who loved our home and celebrating all of the ways that I loved being your mom.  I remember hearing the constant pounding of the basketball on the cement of the driveway and the World Series grand slam home runs that were hit in our front yard at 803 East Academy Street.

Now you are men ... passionate in your callings.  You are husbands and fathers ... truly men of excellence who are making profound and lasting marks in your chosen professions.

So is my job done?  Am I finished with each of you?  I think not ... I think that there is still some wisdom inside of your mom that each of your lives might just ache for.  You might know that you are aching for what is in me ... and that is o.k.

You might believe that you are on your own with no need of maternal care or input but I know better.

I know that there will always be a part of you that grows when it comes in contact with me ... the one who nestled your life before you could live without my presence.

I know that although you have wives and children of your own there is a part of you that comes home when you look into my eyes.

And so ... on this the celebration of your 30th and 32nd birthdays, let me give you a few gifts.  Let me tell you why I believe you are here.

You are here to add to the grand legacy that is family.  You are here to carry on for your grandfathers.  You are here to live up to the McLeod and Burton names.  They are honorable names. Wear them well.

You are here to work hard and to make a difference with the gifts that are intrinsically “you”.

You are here to fall and get up again.  And again and again and again.  There is no shame in failure as long as you get up.  Again and again and again.

You are here to love unabashedly and passionately the lives whom you have been given.

Emily and Liz.  The wives for whom your Dad and I have prayed since the day you were each born.

Bring your wife flowers for no reason at all.  Do the dishes and let her relax.  Rub her feet when she is tired and tell her she is beautiful every day.  Read the Bible with her and pray for her.  Take her on dates and listen when she talks.

And then there are the little ones.  The next generation which you are producing.

Olivia, Wesley, Boyce and Amelia Grace.

Give to them the gift of your whole heart  ...  holding nothing back.  Laugh with them and play endless games together.  Read books to them when they should be in bed.  Hold them when they cry and kiss them when they are lonely.  Give them something to laugh about every day.  Make sure that the highlight of their day is when Daddy comes home.

You are the only husband and daddy that they will ever have.  Don’t settle for good ... be great at this!  If you are great at nothing else at all ... be a great husband and father.

You are here to be role models and heroes to your J’s ... those younger siblings who have always had each of you on a pedestal.  Jordan, Joy and Joni, although now young adults, still crave your attention.  You are here to nurture those relationships with your younger brother and sisters as if they were your best friends.  Because they are.

carol and matt
carol and matt
carol and chris

You are here to serve God at this time in history.  You are here to be a Daniel and a Joseph.  A David and a Moses.  In every generation, God needs men like you.  He needs men who have excellent spirits and men who refuse to cave into the call of their culture.  God needs men who will face giants and still sing in the night.  God needs men who will lead in the wilderness and hear His voice.

I loved being your mom then and I love being your mom now.  You are always in my heart -

All my love ...

Mama

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Never Give Up!

Image
Image

It’s the middle of January!!  How are you doing on those New Year’s resolutions?  Are you still going to the gym?  Losing weight?  Being sweet to your husband and mom?  Have you kept those credit cards effectively hidden?  Are you purposefully reading your Bible every day?

If you are anything at all like me ... this is the week that you lose the momentum concerning your New Year’s resolutions.  Mid-January is when our determination melts away into forgetfulness and half-hearted compliance.

Allow me to remind you that the word “resolution” comes from the word “resolve” which means: to come to a determination; to come to a definite or earnest determination about something; firmness or purpose of intent; to follow a course of action.

When you decided, the last week of December, to follow certain New Year’s resolutions, you came to a definite and earnest determination that you were not going to give up or be side-tracked.  You firmly purposed the solid intent to follow a particular course of action.

Don’t give up!!  If you have missed a couple of days ... start again today! 

If you have said the wrong thing to your husband or were short with your mother ... ask for forgiveness and move ahead into kindness and tenderhearted living. 

If you took those dastardly credit cards out of hiding and used them to fulfill some momentary desire, put them away!  Far away!!  Some of you may just want to cut up those credit cards and render them powerless in your life.

Unfortunately, our human response to losing momentum is simply giving up.  I have a few words for you today:  Never, never, never give up!

If you haven’t gone to the gym for the past 4 days, you can still go today and again tomorrow and surely for the rest of the week.  If you have blown your resolution to not eat sugar in the month of January, today is a new day!  Today is a brand new opportunity to pray for strength and to ask God to give you the focus concerning your new and healthier eating habits.

Will you join me in resolving to resolve again?  Will you search your heart, repent for your lack of discipline and then pray that God will give you the strength to be a healthier, kinder, more disciplined version of yourself in 2013? 

It has been my experience that my resolutions are never fulfilled unless I couple my annual resolve with daily and heartfelt prayer.  Every day, I pray that God would give me the strength to help me make healthy and righteous decisions in both the big things and in the small things in my life.

I believe that in your daily resolve lies your greatness.  It is up to you to pull out the weeds of compromise and weakness, of mediocrity and selfish thinking around that seed of greatness.  It is up to you to fertilize your potential of living a truly great life, which lies in your resolve, with big dreams and both short term and long term goals.

Every day is a gift ... an extraordinary gift from heaven.  There is no such thing as a bad day or even an ordinary day.  Resolve today that your New Year’s resolutions will not fade into the cemetery of out-dated goals and dreams that never came true.

Determine with passion and with action that you will stay the course and be the person that you have always wanted to be!  Pray when you feel your weakest and try again.  Again and again and again.

Ask God to give you His strength as you set your face like flint to stay the course with determination and with the power of heaven coursing through your human veins.

The good news is this:  God didn’t promise that His mercies were only new every January.  God promised that every day was a new day ... a new opportunity to try again ... a new chance to be filled with His great power.

“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease; for His compassions never fail:  They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness, Oh Lord!” - Lamentations 3:22 & 23.

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MY FAVORITE THINGS

Day 31 - Read Your Bible!

Of all of the choices that you will make in 2013, there is none so powerful as the choice to read your Bible!

Reading your Bible every day will cleanse you and direct you.  It will enable you and empower you!  Reading your Bible on a daily basis will strengthen you and give you heaven’s joy for earth’s journey.

A daily discipline of being in the Word of God every day will:

Deliver you from depression!

Help you to focus on the eternal!

Improve your prayer life!

Give you the resolve to forgive!

Remind you to worship!

This one choice of spending time in the Word of God every day will turn you into the very best version of yourself!

Reading your Bible is better than:

Losing weight!  Going to Hawaii!  Buying a new home!  Finding a husband!  Having a baby!  Winning the lottery!

Reading your Bible will quickly evolve from a “have-to” ... to a “want-to” ... to a “must-do”!

So ... after you get up every morning of 2013 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 ...”

Your next choice will be to open your Bible! Declare it with me now, “I resolve to read my Bible every day of 2013!”

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