John’s Head, Yummy Bread and Almost Dead

One of my new favorite chapters in the Bible is Matthew chapter 14. From start to finish, it is packed with action, and its three stories force me to take acton when:

I doubt God’s heart,

     I doubt God’s fairness,

          and I doubt God’s plan.

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Would God really send you into a storm?

Jesus and Peter Walk on Water (Matthew 14:22-32)

It’s a story you hear as a child if you grow up in church. It was stormy. The disciples were rocking back and forth in a boat. They look out and think they see a ghost, but it’s Jesus walking on the water. Peter yells, “If it’s really You Lord, tell me to come out to You.”

(Which by the way, I’ve always thought if I were Peter, I would’ve picked something entirely different to ask of Jesus by which to assure me it was really Him. Anyone – or any ghost or any alien – could’ve replied to him, “Sure Peter, come on out!”)

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s ever been caught up for at least a minute by this one very insignificant thought about Peter in this story. 🙂

But back to the story:

Peter gets out of the boat, and finds that he too can now walk on water. But then he takes his eyes off of Jesus and lets doubt creep in, and he starts sinking fast. Jesus catches him, asks him why he has such little faith, they get in the boat, Jesus calms the storm and all is well.

The moral of the story is twofold: Don’t be afraid to get out of your boat (AKA, comfort zone) and  when you get out, don’t take your eyes off of Jesus. Or more simply put – don’t fear, and don’t doubt.

And if we end it there, I would wholeheartedly agree that I need to hear this most important message over and over. I need to let it ring in my heart and mind each and every day.

Don’t fear. Get out of your comfort zone.

Don’t …

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3 Tips to a Happy New Year

It’s still January. New Year’s Eve was a mere 25 days ago. I’m still wanting to raise my drink of choice – a mocha-chip milkshake – and festively shout, “Happy New Year!” and really mean it.

This past Sunday in the kids church where I serve, God used two kids to cleverly speak to me about happiness, and to put a full-length mirror in front of my soul.

The first messenger came to me with her friend during prayer time, right after worship.

“What would you like for us to pray about, Sweetie?” I asked.

Without hesitation, she answered, “I’d like a swimming pool, a trampoline, a new bed, some Barbies, clothes for them, another dog, and toys for him.”

A bit taken aback by her extensive list, I looked to make sure I wasn’t wearing a red and white suit, and that Rudolph wasn’t playing reindeer games in the background.

Before bowing my head and closing my eyes to pray, I conveniently noticed the speck of dust in one of her eyes.  I turned up the sweet-tone volume coming out of my mouth to override the judgmental heart volume that I feared would escape through my ears or nose.

I prayed and said “Amen”, and as she and her friend returned to their seats, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Your wants list is just as long.”

Right after that, it was time for the story, to be followed by ten minutes of small group activities, and the hour would be over.

As the storyteller began, another leader pointed out one of my favorite little guys to me. This boy steals my heart all the time, and at that moment, the poor guy had tears flowing down his cheeks.

“What’s …

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Pretty People Pleaser?

Last week I gave three reasons why we sometimes say yes to things we should’ve said no to. 

  1. We aren’t crystal clear on what we really want.
  2. We choose urgent over important. And,
  3. We slip into “auto-pilot mode”.

I invite you to check out last week’s post if you missed it.

This week, I want to bring into the light one more reason we sometimes say yes to things we should’ve said no to, along with some possible solutions.

It’s simply this: We want to be liked by certain people.

Are you a people pleaser?

I think a lot of us church people fall into this category. As a kids pastor who is constantly looking for more volunteers, I’ve had amazing people on my team over the years, and there have been a few of these amazing people who I knew simply could not say no to any request. I can spot them because I’ve been one of them, and I’ve tried really hard to not take advantage of their no-saying disability.

How do you really know when to say yes or to say no to opportunities to serve in your church, community, or family in light of God’s Word that tells us to think of others as better than yourselves, or to not look out only for your own interests, or to do to others whatever you would like them to do to you? (Philippians 2:3,4 and Matthew 7:12)

This might make us feel like we can never say no.

At least not to some people.

Some have said no to my invitation to serve, and quickly followed it up by saying they could never have said no to the lead pastor – that if he would’ve asked them the same thing, they would’ve …

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Why did I say yes to THAT?

“You need a plan, plan. Yes, you need a plan, pretty mama –

to stop sayin’ yes to all the wrong.

You need to hear some funky insight and…

pretty mama, I’m gonna help you make your plan.” 

– Lyrics to the Newbie Doobie Brothers song, “You Need a Plan”

We say yes to a lot of things we should’ve said no to.

So why do we do that? Why do we say yes, when we should’ve said no?

I can think of a lot of hair and clothing styles I’ve had over the years that I should’ve never said yes to, but I’ll save that for another day.

Here are 3 reasons why we say yes when we should’ve said no.

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One Thing to Leave Behind in 2017

In twenty-two years of marriage, my husband and I have changed locations seven times. The location changes were way more frequent in those early years. I can’t say I ever enjoyed the packing process, but my favorite part of heading to a new place was making the decision to get rid of stuff that was only there to slow us down.

The wedding bouquet petals my non-sentimental self got caught throwing out on year #5 weren’t really slowing us down, but that’s another story for another day. 

I look at a new year like a new move. I want each year to be better than the one before, so in a sense, I want to move to a “new location” in the things that are most important to me.

In twenty years of research, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck discovered that success, and how people respond to life’s challenges don’t depend upon their natural talents or I.Q., but on their mindset.

According to her, people either have a fixed mindset – where you are who you are and your talents and abilities never really change, or a growth mindset, where life is full of opportunities to learn, grow and succeed.

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The Best of 2016

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I sure hope you had an enjoyable Christmas, and in the midst of all the “extras” you were able to celebrate Jesus, and cherish His presence in your life.

I’m taking this week off of work and blog writing to:

  1. Evaluate my choices and actions in 2016, and
  2. Find out how I can even more intentionally grow closer to Jesus in 2017, and do all He wants me to do.

In the process of evaluating 2016, I thought I would share my personal favorite posts, where I learned the most, and want most desperately to live out the truth shared.

Here they are – I invite you to check them or “recheck” them out. (Click on the title to see the post.)

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What’s on your mind this Christmas?

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Behold.

I really never thought about this word that means “to think about”.

But the angel who shocked the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth found it important to include. He wanted the shepherds “to think about” the Good News of Jesus.

I “think” he’d still want us to think about the Good News today. A lot.

The shepherds saw an angel, and then they saw Jesus face-to-face.

It’s easier for me to think about things or people I’ve seen.

Have you ever thought, “Oh if only I could see Jesus face-to-face! I mean, the shepherds got to be with Him, but if I wanna get to know Him, I’ve gotta read this big book that I often don’t understand.”

Likewise, shepherds can easily spend all day thinking about Jesus. All they do is watch sheep. I’m a lot busier.

I think the two main obstacles to our “beholding Jesus” and getting to know just how good of news it is that He came to save us are:

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Overcoming Rejection this Christmas

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When I read Bible stories, I always wonder what every character in the story is thinking and feeling. I always wonder how I would have felt if I would’ve been in their sandals.

This week, I did a lot of thinking about the shepherds. For some reason, I always picture them around a campfire at night, like in a good western cowboy movie. I pictured the shepherds around the fire on the night of Jesus’ birth, and imagined what must have been going through their minds, like on any other night, just before the angel appeared.

I think we can learn 4 things from what the shepherds where possibly thinking:

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What does God want for Christmas?

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It’s Christmas. Time to give gifts.

Have you decided what you’re going to give God yet? 🙂

It’s a lot easier to come up with gift ideas for people you know well than it is for mere acquaintances, isn’t it? Thankfully, we can know God through His Word, and here’s what He says in His Word that He wants:

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