Praising the Lord

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Your Turn to Talk

NADM Praise

Somewhere along the way, I was taught that when life seems out of control, the best medicine is simply saying the name of Jesus and considering HIM.  Just His NAME is powerful!  Imagine how our days would change if we considered His character, grace, blessings, love and on and on and on before we thought of anything else.  Spend some time today considering Jesus, praising Him, and speaking His name.

Some ideas

  • WHO HE IS!  Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler is a great resource for delving the character of God.  Some names to consider: Creator, the God Who Sees Us, Almighty, Provider, Peace, Healer, Rock, Strong Tower, Shepherd and Father.
  • Your health – just opening your eyes this morning is a gift!
  • Your family – all they are and all they aren’t
  • The Little Things – how God winks in ways that are just for you
  • Answered prayer – give credit where credit is good; remember
  • His faithfulness – when others falter, He never will
  • Your salvation – Where would you be today without Jesus?
  • Grace upon grace upon grace
  • The Word – what passages of scripture has God used to minister to you recently?

God Does NOT Make Mistakes

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 6

I could go on and on about my kiddos and how much they have taught me and how much I love them and don’t even get me flipping through all the pictures that I could find and post to go along with this particular devotion.  Instead of all that, though, I have to highlight the most important thing:

God does NOT make mistakes.

When I brought my first-born home from the hospital my life changed in a million ways that I never even thought of.  (For the record, Mom tried to tell me about 700 thousand of them, but I wouldn’t listen… KIDS!)  The biggest issue I faced was wanting to be the “perfect” mother to this precious little squirm worm while simultaneously having no idea what I was doing.  As they say, “Babies don’t come with manuals!”  Or maybe that’s just my mom again? Anyway… a sweet friend gave me the one piece of parenting advice that actually matters. It is the only one that I purposely pass along to other mommas who are just trying to navigate the rapids of parenthood.  She said, “God gave you Caleb because YOU are the perfect mother for him. Period.” Wow. Whew.

Aside from the sweet story of my perfect babies – I’m a little biased! – THAT is the whole point of today’s reading.  No matter what it is in your life that has you questioning God’s wisdom in giving you the assignment, GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES.  Every single person, situation, issue, occurrence, moment, relationship, etc. etc. etc. is intended for your good and His glory.

He has you where you are by design.  Trust Him.  He hand-picked you for the life you are living because there’s good work for only you to do.  Remember that he makes wise choices and He always picks perfectly.

And, now, without further ado, the pictures!  You knew they were coming!!  LOL!

NADM My Perfect Babies4

Never Say Never

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 5

So, here’s the thing: back when I wrote “Flabby or Fit” every single word of it was 100% true.  I was absolutely certain that I would NEVER run a marathon; that I would NEVER have a “26.2” sticker on my car.  At that point, I had never taken my body farther than 6.1 miles by foot… on purpose, BUT NOW I do all kinds of crazy things that I NEVER thought I’d do.  I’ve spent 12+ hours “rucking” (carrying a weighted ruck sack and various large objects over long distances with physical training thrown in for fun!) over 18+ miles.  I have completed the Palmetto 200, a long distance relay race from Columbia, SC to Charleston, SC.  True, my portion was only 9+ miles, but STILL… I ran it!  Now, a half marathon seems doable and maybe one day I WILL sport that 26.2 sticker on the back of my “mom mobile!”  What made the difference?  I found a group of women who motivate and inspire me, who constantly talk me into things I NEVER thought I’d do and because we do them together, they don’t seem scary or impossible to me.  They pushed me to push myself and now, I know that I CAN DO lots of things I used to think were impossible.

The same is true of our spiritual training. What are some things that you think you could NEVER do?  Read the entire Bible in a year?  How about in 90 days?  Fully commit to a group Bible study – filling in every blank and making it to every class?  Get up early to have a consistent devotional time with the Lord, keep a prayer journal?  Memorize a passage of scripture or a whole book of the Bible?  Go on a mission trip?  Give your testimony?  Share the Gospel?  NEVER SAY NEVER!  Nothing is impossible with God!  Find yourself a group of Jesus lovers who will encourage you to do things you never thought you would EVER do and go for it!  Set some goals, pray over them, ask God to open doors and bring opportunities for His glory and your good.  Be fearless and know that God will equip you for every good work He calls you to complete.  Let’s exercise daily in God, with no spiritual flabbiness.  Let’s go the distance and make sure that others see the results of our spiritual efforts… our Trainer is a master at creating beauty from ashes and masterpieces out of clay.

Speaking, Listening, Trusting & Honoring

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 4

Speak Lord

If any story had a “rest of the story,” this selection certainly does.  The Sunday morning in the choir loft I recollect in today’s reading just happened to be my family’s last Sunday morning at the church I grew up in, the church I was married in and the church both of my babies first visited after their Momma determined they were old and hearty enough to leave home.  I was looking around, sure nothing important would be said – Ha! – willing my mind’s eye to memorize every color in the beautiful stained glass windows and every smile on the faces I’d known since I moved to SC.  We had been called away… “sent out on mission,” my Pastor had said.  Thank God He jolted me out of my nostalgic fog to hear the message He’d prepared just for me that morning.

On the cusp of such a huge change, sure of our decision and the Lord’s leading, but still emotional enough to wonder if we were really, really, sure… what a blessing to know that obedience does not mean always staying in the same place and doing the same thing you were called to at some point.  Obedience is never boring.  It does not mean staying comfortable or even stable.  Sometimes it means taking chances and getting REALLY uncomfortable.  Sometimes it means leaving what you love, knowing it will never be exactly quite the same again and being strangely at peace with the change you know is coming.  Sometimes it is sweet and special.  Sometimes it feel more like what I call “the BOOT of God” on your back shoving you out of your cushy little nest.

As many times as God calls you to act/speak/go on His behalf… that’s how many different feelings I guess you’ll have and ways the obedience will look.  In my estimation, only one thing is the same across the board: you’ll only know you’re being called if you’re listening and you’ll only be obedient if you’re listening carefully.  You’ll only reach your promised land if you trust God enough to honor Him… no matter how you feel, no matter how you did it yesterday, no matter what they all say.

O Lord Jesus, teach me to listen and to know when to strike the rock and when to simply speak to it.  Teach me to TRUST YOU and HONOR YOU even when it’s scary, when the crowd is getting on my last nerve, or I feel like I’ve been down this road before.  Lead me to the Promised Land.  Don’t let me miss a single adventure!  Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.

Resting In The Lord

NADM Is30_15 BNever A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 2

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. – Isaiah 30:15

I’m just going to stop saying how cool it is that God is so CLEARLY orchestrating each of these days we are walking together.  The idea for today’s reading came from an article I wrote in 2003 when Caleb was just a baby and morphed into what you read earlier today two and half years ago.  My quiet time this morning was all about repenting of my tendency to wrestle control from the Lord, releasing my desire to be the “queen” of my own little kingdom to fully embrace the Lordship of Christ and His Kingdom.  Gracious… clearly, I am still learning and I praise God that He has not given up on teaching this ornery daughter!

Have you ever noticed that in your own life?  As amazing as it is when we see themes in our times with the Lord, when God is clearly speaking to us about a certain issue, sin or circumstance, it still kind of means that we just haven’t quite gotten it yet, right?  LOL!  Bless your hearts… you’ve seen first hand in just these last 9 days that I am very often not the best student.  Trusting God, fully releasing my own grip in favor of His sovereignty is just not an easy lesson for me to learn.  My Sunday school curriculum asked just this morning, “what needs to be repented of and forgiven in your own life?”  My answer?

Death grip control, waking up (and lying down) in anxiousness rather than trust.  O Father, I repent of trying to be my own little “queen,” running “my own little kingdom.”  My time, talents and treasure… it’s all yours.

God is so good.  Where I would have given up long ago, He keeps teaching, encouraging, and reassuring.  I’ll get it eventually.  Today is a new day.  His mercy and grace greets me with MORE THAN ENOUGH.

The Button Pusher

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 1

Gracious!  I so wish I had no experience with “button pushers,” don’t you?  Unfortunately everyone of us has at least one in our lives and, frankly, we probably do some button pushing of our own.

I’m thankful for the reminders throughout the New Testament that we do not fight against the powers or the people of this world.  I am thankful for Jesus, who shows us how to fight against our true enemy and always makes a way for us.  Flip with me to Luke 4 and take note of a couple things to keep in mind as you walk through this day.

  • Notice that the Devil came to Jesus after he’d been in the desert for 40 days.  When we are tired and hungry, at the end of our ropes in our humanness, we need to be extra vigilant in our awareness of the enemy.  He’s pretty savvy and he’s been doing this tempting/warring thing for quite some time now.  He may come at you when you are well-rested, fed, prayed up, and feeling strong, but chances are really good, he’ll wait until you’re already a little off balance and then strike at your weakest point.  Don’t forget, his goal is to kill, steal and destroy us.  Nice.  Be on the lookout.
  • Those of us who regularly sit under a steeple have probably heard at least one sermon on Luke 4 focused on how Jesus combatted Satan: He used scripture.  I’d like to further point out that Satan did too.  The Devil tempted, Jesus retorted. So, Satan came at Him again.  Again, Jesus pulled out the Word to counter him.  The third time – tenacious, right?! – Satan clearly thought, “Alright, you want to talk scripture, let’s go.”  For the third temptation, instead of simply offering to meet the Messiah’s physical needs or appealing to His rightful place as King, the Devil pulled out a Bible verse. Jerk.  Isn’t that the way He works?  Twisting and manipulating even that which God has intended for our good to battle us?  Jesus never wavers – nor will we, in His strength! – and finally, Satan leaves Him alone.
  • BIG NOTE FOR US: sometimes Satan tempts us to rush ahead of the timetable God has set. Check out Luke 4: 4-8.  Remember, Jesus IS the King.  All the kingdoms of the world ARE rightfully His, but had He bowed to Satan here, rather than waiting on His Father’s timing, all would be lost.  WE would be lost.
  • When you feel weak and ill-equipped to fight, remember that, as a believer in Christ, you have His very fullness within you.  In HIS strength ALL things are possible.  Remember, the end of our passage today: At HIS word, “the demon came out of [the man] without hurting him at all.”

Thank You, Jesus, for coming and showing us exactly how it’s done.  Remind us, teach us, who we are in You and let us never forget the sacrifice that You made so that we can live victorious, abundant lives HERE and live with You forever when we get THERE.  We love You, Lord.  Amen.

There Are No Mundane Tasks

Never A Dull Moment – Week 1, Your Turn to Talk

We made it: one whole week of journeying together, seeing God in the daily, being consistent (for me… sort of!) in our times with the Lord!  Don’t miss the key point wrapped up in that little parenthetical, my Friends.  We do not have to be perfect.  It is OK when things don’t go exactly as planned.  There are days when we are going to feel overwhelmed, but Isaiah 43:10 says we WON’T BE.  I have a business partner who says, “overwhelmed is a choice” and she’s right.

Did you keep going?  Did the Holy Spirit remind you of Himself?  Did you throw up a prayer as you were running out the door?  Are you reading this today?  Good for you!  Way to persevere!  Running the race looks gangly and awkward sometimes, but you just don’t stop.  There’s a reward waiting at the end AND there will be lots of awesome along the way!

So… your turn to talk.  The challenge for today is to consider the “mundane” tasks for which you are responsible and then open your eyes to see the blessings they represent.  I love looking at life this way.  After all, if we are created to do good works which God planned in advance for us to do (we were, see Ephesians 2:10) and if all our days are ordained (they are, see Psalm 139) then there are no mundane tasks, right?

Happy journaling!

All In The Family

Never A Dull Moment: Week 1, Days 4 & 5

Two facing pages: both sweet recollections on being adopted into the family of God and my own earthly family; relating to God as Father and allowing Him to teach me how to mother.

When “I Love You” is Enough

I love seeing God parenting Jesus in scripture!  I don’t even know if that is a legitimate thing – theologically – to say, but it sure resonates with me!  As a “quick to speak” girl, I do an AWFUL lot of talking, reminding, and guiding where my kiddos are concerned.  I am by NO means a parenting expert.  Heaven knows a truer sentence has never been written! But, the older Caleb and Keppley get, the more I am learning to measure my words.  They don’t NEED constant reminders of what to do… that might be construed as nagging in some “tweenage” circles.  LOL!  It also might ultimately drive their Momma insane and undermine my goal of turning out two independent, Jesus-loving, contributing members of society!

What they DO need is consistency and boundaries and the assurance that my love is not dependent on their performance.  They do need me to follow through when I levy consequences or put conditions on their behavior.  As my good buddy “Joe-Lee” would say, “I know I am their momma and I have got a job to do!”  But I can’t allow myself to get so caught up in trying to make them do or be whatever I think the moment demands that I forget to simply ENJOY and love them.  God made them who they are.  I need to let them grow into it even if it looks different than I at first imagine it.  It’s a hard balance to strike some days.  I’m exceedingly thankful that God gave such a precious example of it in His own parenting.  With His children, His love is a settled condition that He sometimes demonstrates by His discipline (see Hebrews 12: 5-7). To His One and Only Perfect Jesus, He said, “you are my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  Even on the Mulligans’ toughest days, THAT is the truth.

Running To Daddy

My monologue, “A Daughter’s Prayer” is all about how my earthly father reminds me of my Heavenly Father.  He may not be my “Daddy” – and I so hope what I mean by that comes across properly – but he is a GREAT DAD!  He loves me.  He taught, supported, encouraged and provided for me as I grew up and still does all of those things in many ways now.  He is the one God chose for me… there is obviously none better to accomplish what my Heavenly Father intended.

When I am tempted to see the little girl twirled and the adult daughter who still sweetly calls her father, “daddy” as something to wish for, I always remember that my dad had a different way of lifting me up and IT. WAS. AWESOME!  My dad was a diver and a pole vaulter in high school.  So, when it came time for him to interact with his little girl, he taught me to stand on his hands, focus on a point far away and balance while he lifted me slowly all the way up!  We started with him laying on the floor and worked our way up to me balancing on his hands, lifted high above the top of his 6’2″ head.  Ultimately, we almost gave my mother a heart-attack by WALKING across our front yard with me proudly balancing way up high on my dad’s strong, unfailing, “always ready to catch me” hands.  Don’t those hands sound familiar?  See Isaiah 41:10.  Fear not and be upheld, my friends!  God’s got you.  He never fails and when He lifts you up, IT. IS. AWESOME!

 

WWJD? Not. Rush!

Y’all.  I LOVE how God ALWAYS speaks right into out circumstances.  When I wrote Never A Dull Moment two years ago, I surely did not know I’d be reading through it with you now.  I didn’t know I’d be the PTA President, that Class Assignment Day would be upon me, that I’d be playing “catch up” and lamenting how quickly the days of summer flew past… but God did.

What a PERFECT devotional reading for this day!  And the super cool thing is, I know it is speaking to many of you in the same personal way this morning.  Life. Is. CRAZY!  Our kiddos grow up so fast, vacations fly by, it feels like we need to start putting the Christmas tree up in August!  Ok.  Maybe that last one is just me!  The point is, we are all so busy and time flies.  But, we can BE STILL and KNOW that God is GOD (Psalm 46:10).  And Jesus, as always, gives us a perfect example to follow.

  1. Cover your day in PRAYER
  2. CARE about the people who cross your path
  3. ALWAYS keep the main thing, the main thing

So easy to type.  So hard to DO!  I don’t know if y’all took the time to look up each of the passages mentioned in today’s reading, but I did!  Here’s the thing, Jesus was a VERY busy man!  I think a lot of times, we tend to think of Him as floating through life on this planet with maybe a cute little sheep near His feet and a halo around His head.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He didn’t live in peaceful, calm, orderly circumstances, BUT He is peace, stayed calm and keeps order.  See the difference?

PRAYER

Mark 5:15-16 says, “the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  YET He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.”  Even as people clamored for His attention, He withdrew for prayer.  That word: YET.  YET… even though people wanted Him to heal them, teach them, feed them, go with them, talk to them… He withdrew to pray.  He, better than anyone, knows exactly where our strength comes from.  Jesus was absolutely clear about WHO is in control.  We need to get there.  All of our striving won’t accomplish a fraction of what time in prayer will.  It simply can’t skipped.  No matter what.  YET… even though kiddos are clamoring, the phone is ringing or dinging or beeping or chirping or WHATEVERing; even though your head is spinning, the list is calling… YET she often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.  He must be our first report, not our last resort.

CARE

Take a look at Mark 6:34 and let your eyes wander up the page to verse 30.  Please notice that Jesus and the guys were on a little vacay.  They had been commissioned and sent out back at the beginning of chapter 6 and upon their return, Jesus said, “Whew!  You guys were busy!  Way to go!  I think a boys’ weekend is in order (Mark 6:31, The Joeli Version)!”  They made their plans, but when they arrived, their fans had followed them!  Jesus didn’t freak out or cry or scream at His friends (for me, insert: kids, husband, mom, cashier at Wal-mart…).  He stepped ashore (They were at the BEACH, for heaven’s sake!) and “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd (6:34).”

Oh, how I love Jesus.  What a precious friend and savior.  I am like a sheep without a shepherd.  He took time for me and has compassion on me.  And every day He brings people across my busy path that I can, in turn, have compassion on.

Not too long ago, I was very upset/hurt/frustrated over a situation the details of which, honestly, aren’t even important.  I was talking it out with my kiddos because they were there for it.  They knew I was upset.  They understood WHY I was upset.  But after all my dismay and anger, my girl said: “Mom, you would never have [done that thing that upset you so] because you know Jesus, but maybe that lady is just tripping down the wrong path and maybe she just needs Jesus.”  Oh, my wise girl.

Y’all, every single person we meet every single day as we run through our crazy lives “just needs Jesus.”  We get to BE Jesus.  Oh Holy Spirit, wake us up.  Give us a YOUR compassion and care for the people we see.  Use us to love the wandering sheep and lead them home.

THE MAIN THING

One word for you: MISSION.  What is yours?  Jesus knew He was here to declare the day of the Lord and preach the Good News (see Luke 4:17-21)  We all have a mission too.  We are not all called to DO every thing.  We would do well to spend some time with the Father getting clear on what it is our “main thing” is and then keep it the main thing.  Just like Jesus, we need to allow for interruptions without becoming distracted.

Week 1/Day 1: Yet Another Reason to be Speechless

It is so fitting that this is Week 1/Day 1!  Holy moly!  If you know me in “real life” – or have seen me on a platform speaking somewhere, for that matter – you know that the whole “Speechless” deal is VERY tongue in cheek!  In fact, part of the reason my speaking ministry was christened “Speechless Ministries” is because I clearly am not without words.  If you invited me, you intended for me to SPEAK.  And, gracious, if you didn’t, well, bless your heart, you were surely shocked when I arrived!  LOL!  But here’s the thing: there is simply too much to say when it comes to how God blesses me, the life that He’s given me, and the doors that He’s opened for me.  Psalm 40:5 is the ministry’s theme verse: Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”  Indeed, that God loves and cares for me, speaks to me, and uses me… is almost the only thing that really renders me speechless.  Really.

My parents we NOT surprised when I declared a Speech Communication major in college!  My mother’s exact words were, “I always knew you would try to get someone to pay you for talking!”  LOL!  I LITERALLY have a magnet on my refrigerator that says “Dear Lord – Please put your arm around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth.”  If you’ve seen me perform “Southern Style” you are well acquainted with “JO-LEE!”  Lawd, that woman can talk!  😉  She’s a little over the top, but it’s ALL real life, my dears!

NADM Refridgerator Prayer

Who He is to me, what He has done for me; His faithfulness to me has made me BELIEVE.  And because I believe, I have to speak!  (2 Cor. 4:13)  What about you?  What has God had you “take note” of lately?  How has He made you believe?  Where are your words leading you these days?

O Father, our prayer echoes Proverbs 25:11.  Let our words be fitly spoken, like apples of gold in settings of silver.  Put Your arm around our shoulders and Your hand over our mouths.  May every word we speak, speak life and may the law of kindness be on our tongues for Your glory and for the benefit of the people You’ve given us to do life with.

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