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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Find Your Voice

It never fails that whenever I leave North Florida, and all those who know me well, I ALWAYS get asked the question, “Where are you from?”

Not because of the way I look or the way I dress, it’s all because of the way I talk. With my, shall I say, ‘Southern Belle’ accent.

From California, to Chicago, to the Big Apple I have been asked this question. One place I NEVER thought my red-neck (I might as well go ahead and call it like it is) southern drawl would be brought up in conversation was in the Czech Republic. Most of these people don’t even speak English and the ones who do probably don’t even notice I am saying words with long vowels. But, believe it or not, it did come up in conversation, ON THE FIRST DAY HERE.

Anyway, I shared with the fine people who were commenting on (nice way to say “making fun of”) my speech, how there was a time that I really disliked the way I talked. When you are a public speaker you want to sound a little sophisticated and maybe even a little educated.

I even attended a Speakers class about 6 years ago and the only “advice” the leader gave me was a card with a phone number on it of a voice coach who would teach me to not sound so much like a hillbilly. (No offence if you consider yourself to be a hillbilly, I are one too)

Anyway, tonight in our last session, the speaker was telling us we have to be one of a kind. To find out who you are. Don’t try to be like someone else. God put a lot of time planning who you would be, where you would be born, and what your gifts and talents would be.

And yet we find ourselves not liking our voice, our gifts, or our heritage and we try to change it. And as we do we just end up frustrated and disliking ourselves even more because you will only master being who you were designed to be.

God put something in you that He put in no one else. For me, one of those things is the way I speak. For you it may be the way you care for those close to you. But when we all, who are uniquely gifted and designed, come together, we all become a part of God’s greatest symphony.

And we complete each other.

I had to learn to be myself, and to be myself in the Lord.

So, no matter if I am in Indiana or the Czech Republic, I am proud to use MY southern voice. It has become my badge of honor.

Blessings from Europe!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dreams Do Come True

Everyone has a dream. Young boys dream of owning Cherry Red Corvettes. Young girls dream of marring Prince Charming… with Cherry Red Corvettes.

Adults dream of spending endless hours at their vacation home in secluded locations.

So, what is the one thing you dream about doing?

Three years ago if you had asked me my dream, the one thing I REALLY wanted to do, it was to see New York City.

March 2007 it became a reality for me.

As we flew in to JFK I could not believe I was actually living the dream I had dreamed for so long. And as we took the 30 minute journey into downtown Manhattan I felt like a little kid sitting in the back seat of her parent’s car heading down I-4 to Disney World for the first time. I was so excited. I had so many hopes and so many expectations for the next three days of my life.

But my excitement was quickly turning down Disappointment Boulevard. It was 1am and as we got closer and closer to the city I was studying the skyline as hard as I would to get a glimpse of some of its famous buildings. Not one could I see. As we drove and drove and I was not seeing one thing I recognized.

The driver was taking every back road he knew. I thought we would at least take Park Ave, Madison Ave, Broadway, or even 34th Street. Or go by Central Park and the Plaza Hotel. We didn’t.

The anticipation of my trip of a life time was beginning to turn to utter disappointment. I was so afraid this trip and NCY was not going to be everything I built up in my mind for it to be. So I quickly told myself, “Tina, even if this is not what you dreamed of and hoped for, just make the best of it. It will all be ok.”

The second I finished my little pep talk to myself, the driver, who was driving like he was in the Daytona 500, slammed on breaks. Simultaneously, I looked out my right window and Mark looked out his left window. I almost screamed as I said, “Mark, look at this!” and pointed out my window. Mark at the same time was saying, “Tina, look at this!” pointing out his window. I know the driver was thinking, “Country has come to town.”

We were slap-dab in the middle of Times Square and it was lit up like the noon day sun. Thousands of people were walking the streets, taking pictures and having the time of their lives.

My disappointment left so fast I did not get a chance to tell it good-bye. The trip was more than I ever dreamed it could be and I have been very blessed to go back two more times. My husband even took me the week of Christmas this past December.

My point in saying all this is that today at 6:10pm I am boarding a plane headed for the Czech Republic. Mark is preaching at a Pastors Conference for a group of pastors from Budapest, Hungry and Poland.

We will be in Prague for four days of our trip. I have been told it is the NYC of Europe. But this time I have no idea what to expect. But I know that this too is a trip of a life time and no matter what happens I will not be disappointed.

More importantly than all of this, God has plans, hopes, dreams and expectations for my life. Oh, I pray I do not disappoint Him! I don’t want Him to ever settle for having to make the best out of my life because I didn’t. I want to knock His heavenly socks off with what I do with the dreams He has dreamed for me and the plans He has planned for me.

Times Square

Next post I'll be bloggin from Prague!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Life Interrupted

December 26, 2004 a killer Tsunami claimed over 225,000 lives. Trees were uprooted, telephone poles were snapped off, homes were destroyed, and people drown. One moment they were enjoying their life, the next…calamity.

Suffering and tragedy wears many masks…lost Jobs, dissolved marriages, rebellious children, disease, pain, death. Everything we thought we knew about life, God, and Faith, seems irrelevant in those moments.

When the dust settles, the questions start to flood in and the doubts start to surface. Why God? Why me? What did I do so wrong to deserve this? And to make matters worse…no immediate answers! Where is God, anyway?

So, we make up our own answers. We come to our own conclusions. And they’re usually wrong.

In reality, only God knows exactly why things happen as they do.

Job lost his kids, his wealth, and his livestock all in one afternoon. Satan would have loved nothing more than to drive a wedge between Job and God. He would love nothing more than to drive a wedge between You and God too!!

Job NEVER understood why such tragedy had befallen him and I suspect there will be times we too will not understand our interruptions on a seemingly normal average day. But although our day may change, GOD NEVER DOES. He is the only constant in our lives. He is the only constant in our lives. Yes, I said it twice.

When things are dark and unclear, don’t turn away from God. Although God may seem distant, He’s not. And we have to be careful we don’t place that distance between us and God either. Only He has the answer. Only He holds the truth. We, like Job, may never have it revealed to us. But know this, even when we cannot trace God’s hand, we can trust His heart!!

Job, David, Moses, Abraham, Daniel, Joseph, Paul, Esther, Noah, the Disciples… ALL had their own moments of ‘Life Interrupted’; things that changed the course of their lives forever. ALL were better for it. ALL were closer to God because of it. None of them wasted the rest of their lives as a result of it.

Lord, please help me to see life’s little, and sometimes big, interruptions for what they are, opportunities to see you do something only you can do in my life!!

I hope that's your prayer today too!

Trusting God's heart,

Monday, April 20, 2009

You Get what You Pay For

Have you ever tried to save a buck by buying a cheaper product?

Me too. And the same thing has probably happened to us both. We regretted it.

Last week, in my constant desire to conserve money, I purchased some Dollar General Paper Towels. And as you can guess, Bounty they are so not.

When I used these newly purchased paper towels to clean my glass-top coffee table the strangest thing happened, they fell completely apart under the stress and pressure. Investing a few more dollars would have helped me successfully clean and not waste more towels than I would have with the pricier towels.

Which got my spiritual mind running wild; when we don’t invest our time and energy into growing our relationship with God, our lives will not hold up under stress either and we end up wasting time, money and our sanity in the process.

Girls, this life of ours is not going to get any easier so we HAVE to be in the Word. We HAVE to draw as close to God as possible. We HAVE to be prayed up and prepared for when the pressures of life invade us.

As you read each of these scriptures, let their truth settle in your heart today...

Joshua 1:8
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so
that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and

Proverbs 4:20-22
Pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.

Romans 10:17 (NAS)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Psalm 119:28
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

The Word will give you strength, faith will give you hope and your prayers will fortify your relationship with God not only for our good times in life but especially for the times we are put under stress and pressure.

Off to buy some Bounty,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Life Wide Open

Has something ever been rightfully yours and yet you were robbed of it? How do you handle a situation like that?

The five daughters of Zelophehad faced gender discrimination regarding their family inheritance in the promised land and refused to sit back and accept wrongs as part of their destiny. They stood their ground and faced a challenge most women in their day would have cowered from. (Numbers 27:2-4)

Too often people today are so passive that they do not seek out the power they need to press through the difficult obstacles of life. Therefore, the enemy walks through that open door, wreaks havoc in their lives, because they refuse to stand on the threshold and say, "Enough is enough!"

If you plan to win and succeed in life you cannot be passive!

Wouldn't it have been just great if when we become Christians everything fell out of heaven into our laps?

Read Joshua 1:8 and you will find out that has never and will never happen. It tells us we become prosperous and successful when we speak God's Word, we meditate on it day and night, and we keep and observe it. That takes effort to speak, effort to read and study and meditate on God's Word every day, day in and day out. You have to go for what God says.

When it comes to things that pertain to our destiny, our rightful inheritance before the Lord, we need to challenge the possibilities for our lives. God's Word says, "For a dream cometh through the multitude of business." (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

Dreams only come to pass when we work our dreams and our potential. Our human nature though, is to not want to work hard at something or to challenge the status quo. It takes effort, commitment and energy to get more education and more training that prepares us for the better future God has purposed for our lives.

It takes courage, sometimes a lot of courage, to step out of our comfort zone. And boy have I loved my comfort zones.

But, God always sets before us a challenge to do more, be more, and take on more. He gives us a challenge that requires us to trust Him and then to act on our faith. He never settled for less and does not expect us to either.

So today, stand up and step forward in God's boldness, love, wisdom, and kindness for your heavenly Father has imparted in you great potential and promise.

He has given you a tremendous inheritance in Christ Jesus. But it is up to us to lay hold of it.

Live your life in pursuit of the dream God has put in your life—a dream only you can pursue and only you can fulfill. Refuse to live beneath your covenant privileges. Rip off the limitations, challenge life, and it will change.

I love what one preacher has always said, "Refuse to be Refused and Deny to be Denied!"

Until next time, Live your Life Wide Open for Him!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Living in Good Friday

Since this Sunday is Easter that means that tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we remember and reflect on Christ's crucifixion.

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of us feel like every day of our lives we are living Good Friday. You know, like Bill Murray in the movie Ground Hog Day.

Let me summarize what Good Friday is known for and you will better understand what I am saying.

Good Friday is marked by betrayal, false accusations, beating, standing alone when you should be surrounded by friends, torture, pain, having to keep your mouth shut when you’re more than able to defend yourself, despair, shame, anguish, hopelessness, defeat and overall DEATH.

So, how do you celebrate Easter when you’re living Good Friday?

How do you dance for joy when you’re knocked down to the floor?

How do you live like He’s risen when you feel dead yourself?

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, you will go through times of weeping and times of laughing. You will have days that you want to mourn and days that you want to dance.

The same Bible that says in Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, also says in Job 5:7 You are going to have trouble as sure as sparks fly upwards.

It’s not a contradiction, it’s simply a fact of life that God has made us to have incredible victory in spite of our miserable failures or incredible sorrow.

Our Christian experience, no matter how powerful, is full of good and bad days: days when the Power of God is conspicuous and days when it’s not.

That’s kind of the difference between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday; one seemingly bad and one very good. But, THE POWER OF GOD WAS JUST AS REAL ON BOTH DAYS.

Now let me summarize the Resurrection Day for you…

It is marked by new beginnings, great hope and great joy, unexpected surprises, enemies defeated, you getting a clear word from the Lord, doors that you thought would never be opened are blown off of the hinges, stones are rolled away, the power of God shows up and is openly made manifest, what was once dead comes back to life…

And you are, once again, totally blown away at the Power of God!

So, if you are living Good Friday every day, hang on, your Resurrection Sunday is on it's way!

God is a God of the impossible. He, and only He, is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above ALL you could ask or think.

That's not just flowery words, that's the undeniable truth!

Has God brought you through some "death" in your life? I would love for you to leave a word of encouragement for our readers today who are standing at some unbelievable crossroads in their life. It's simple, just click on the word 'comments' below.

Until next time, know that if God is for you, who in the world can be against you!!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Things aren't always what they seem

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night at the home of a wealthy family. Sadly, the family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's exquisite guestroom. Instead they were given a very small space in the damp cold basement.

As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem."

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest.

When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field.

The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die.

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn’t find it."

"Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."

Sometimes we too can feel like the younger angel when our situations don't turn out the way we think they should. In these times it is paramount that we trust that every outcome is always to our advantage knowing some time may have to pass before we can see the unexplained purpose for our pain.

I can just imagine that is exactly how the disciples felt on the week of the first Easter. They never thought their teacher… their messiah… their friend would ever be arrested, tortured, and crucified for crimes he never committed. They watched him heal the sick, free the captives and raise the dead and now he himself is sick, bound and dead.

The disciples could not wrap their mind around what was going on in their moment of anguish, but sometime later, three days later, they fully understood.

God turned their mourning into dancing...

And their weeping into joy.

And God will take everything the enemy tries to destroy us with too and turn it for our good.

Satan thought he won when Christ died... but, God turned it for our good so we could live.

Things are not always what they seem. And I am so thankful for that!

Hope your Monday is filled with unexpected joy and blessings!


p.s. Speaking of things not being what they seem, when we got our cat last year, our daughter, thinking it was a boy, named it Stan. Well Stan definitely is no boy, he, I mean she, gave birth last Thursday to five of the cutest kittens you have ever laid your eyes on. Yep, I’m a grandma. Grandpa is not too thrilled, one "grandchild" is enough for him. So if you would just love one of these little darlings, in six weeks or so give ole grandma a call and you can be a proud grandparent too.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Little Spring Cleaning Anyone?

I think the Spring Cleaning bug bit me yesterday. This past year has been the most hectic of my life and with that came less time to properly scour my castle.

Yes, this Cinderella had to collect a few dust bunnies that have accumulated in places I have not laid eyes on for quite some time (like, a year). Not Pretty.

Homes are just more enjoyable to live in clean. Ya know what they say, cleanliness is next to Godliness.

So with feather duster in one hand and mop in the other, I set off on my rampage to get my house in order again. Pitching some junk, straightening some objects and organizing some materials so next time I need them, I won't waste precious time on a self imposed scavenger hunt.

I don’t know about you, but when my house is in chaos I feel like my life is in chaos. I know it’s just a woman ‘thang’ because my dear son informed me one time that living in his room, the one the cyclone hit, does not bother him one bit. He sleeps just fine. He can spend, I mean waste, hours of his life, never to retrieve again, looking for just one shirt or a clean pair of underwear, but he’s cool with that.

I, on the other hand, am not.

Some of my favorite words are structure, organization and time management. But, I will admit, and so will my mother, my room was pretty much a disaster area when I was a teenager too. So….. There is hope. Thank you Jesus.

Knowing how your home life runs like a well oiled machine when it’s clutter free I want you to think of your spiritual life. It too runs smoother clutter free.

Question….How much clutter do you have lying around that no one can see? That extra room in your heart where you throw your junk and slam the door and pray no one opens and sees your mess.

Oh, we all have them. But think of today as your Spiritual Spring Cleaning day. Haven’t you had enough of bondage? What about negative thoughts? Or maybe you’re ready to stop listening to the lies of the Devil telling you you’re worthless and things will never work out for you.

Then let’s get out our Formula 409, a.k.a. The Word, and get to work! Hebrews 12:1 tells us to strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

Stripping off our junk will be a process. Don’t get overwhelmed by the seemingly daunting task at hand. We won’t stay clean forever. Just like our own homes, tomorrow there will be more dirty dishes, laundry and dust bunnies but just doing a little cleaning every day will help your life run sooooo much smoother.

Amen Sista!

I want to give a shout out to Michelle Thompson in Dundee, FL. She is our book give-a-way winner!!

Hope you have a blessed Friday and a great weekend!!

p.s. I have an update on our cat Stan I will be sharing Monday.