Monday, August 10, 2009

The Longest Mile

As I was looking back at my inactive blog I realized I had begun a post last August but never finished it. As I sat here reading I nearly deleted it but feel as if the Lord would want me to go ahead and post it. I continue to learn that our transparency as Christ-followers is not only refreshing, but encouraging. There's nothing fake or phony about what you are about to read. It's the journey of then ... and when you get to the end, I'll bring you to now.

If you know me very well at all, you know that I absolutely LOVE to exercise. One of my favorite things in the world is to power walk with either one of my besties, or my daughters. This summer the heat has been beyond HOT, so needless to say that last mile is by far the longest.

You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven't blogged in nearly four months. I have felt like this past season of my life has been the longest EVER. Not that it's over, by any stretch of the means, but there is a heaviness that has been lifted and the freeze I've felt from expressing my heart on this site has been overtaken by a sweet desire to let some of this out.

I'm liable to start squalling at any minute ... so it's a rather good thing that you're on the other side and can't see my tears. The past week or so, I've had more than my fair share of outbursts of what I call "the ugly cry." But I've also learned that tears are a good thing (Jesus wept for crying out loud) and there is tremendous healing in allowing the pain the is felt within the heart to be poured out.

I don't want, or need to give you details of where I've been, all that I've been walking through and the many ways I've seen my faith be tested -- but what I will tell you is even through this painfully hard season of surrender and letting go, I have found Jesus Christ to be nothing but faithful.

And let me mention tender. On Saturday, I realized that for the first time in 20 years as a Follower-of-Christ that I was actually angry at God. Now don't fall off your chair and scream "blasphemy." I was angry at man ... and as I allowed myself to get real with the woman in the mirror, I also acknowledged that I was marginally angry at God. Okay, I was full-blown MAD at Him. As I beat my hands into the carpet and sobbed before Him, I literally felt Him hold me and tell me that He understood. Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth, okay with me, His child ... being so angry over His decision that surely wasn't mine.

If you're reading this, you are just going to have to trust me when I say that I'm not quite there yet, but I'm wrestling this thing through with Him so that eventually, I can rest in Him. I trust His heart. I believe He is good. I know Him well enough to know that He is working ... even though I can't see.

Several years ago while participating in Beth Moore's "Believing God" Bible study, I learned some of the most powerful statements of faith. I want to close with where I'm standing firm:

God is who He says He is.

God can do what He says He can do.

I am who God says I am.

I can do all things through Christ.

God's Word is alive and active in me.

I'm believing God.

Life is a journey, friends. It's up and it's down. It's the good, the bad ... and the ugly. It's seasons of sweet victory and it's seasons of potential defeat (thanks, Satan). But this I know for sure: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Six months have passed since I put ink (or keys) to what was stirring in my heart. What an incredible journey it's been. God's taken away ... and He's given. He's brought change. He's made new assignments. He's blessed. He's also chiseled and sanded - beyond painful at times. The past six months have felt like the very last mile on a blistery-hot day. The pain from some wounds cut deep. The doubts and, yes, even fear that closed in at times made me question many things. But God remains God. Faithful, loving, tender, merciful God. Fully aware of where I've been, and even more aware of where I'm headed.

The lessons learned during this time, both about self ... man and God have been many. What a work in progress I am. So far to go. But this one thing I know: I will go. I will not quit. I refuse to give the enemy the pleasure of knowing that in the midst of his havoc, that he won. I am more than a conqueror because of Christ Jesus. I will no longer put my eyes on man, but on God. I am resolved, that no matter what, I will serve Him with my whole heart. Wherever He leads me, for how long He leaves me. I will serve Him.

Life is all about seasons, friend. So whether you've got one mile left in front of you or 100, grab His hand and go for it. You may not have any idea what's ahead or around the bend ... but He does. Hold on tight for the journey and trust Him every step of the way. And don't forget the water. You'll need lots of water!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today is the Day ...

If you're like me, time ticks by too quickly and the turn of the calendar from month to month happens in the blink of an eye. We aren't aware of time, though, until we "think" it stands still. For most of us, we live life going about our daily routines and attempting to accomplish all that we've piled on our plates. Until something is thrown on the calendar that causes us to unplug from what we consider the norm, I don't think we pay much attention to this thing called time.

Here's a few facts about time:

1) We are all given 24 hours in one day. Although many of us (self included) try and cram a few extra hours in there ... time has been set and we are each given 24 hours before a new day dawns. Time zones don't change this fact. There are 24 hours in one day. No more, no less.

2) Time never stops. Even though circumstances cause our lives to "stand still" or unplug from our normal routines or situations, time does keeps on ticking.

3) Our priorities dictate what we do with the 24 hours in each day that we are given.

Case in point:

Sleep is not a huge priority for me. If I get 6 solid hours a night, I am good to go. For others, they will swap hours with something less important so they can catch more Z's. Exercise is VERY important, so I'll give up TV time in order to make time for it. Time with family is huge to me ... so I'm willing to sacrifice "self" time in order to spend time with loved ones. What we do with our day speaks volumes about who we are and what is important to our lives. There will be times in our lives when our priorities suddenly change, and times when what we thought mattered, matters not. Life is funny that way.

King Solomon spoke specifically of this mystery called time in the book of Ecclesiastes. I especially love the New Living Translation of Chapter Three, verses 1-8:

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time for harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrance and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to lose.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

I've learned a good lesson recently about the importance of time and making it count. I've learned that giving up my time for the sake and good of someone else really is worth something. I've learned through the loss of a loved one that yesterday is gone, tomorrow isn't promised and that I only have today and that God wants me to make today count.

Friends, we have 24 hours in this day. What will we do with the time given to us? We can't steal time from what's already ticked by and we can't borrow time from what hasn't been given to us yet. We have today ... we have this moment in time to make it count.

"God has made everything beautiful for its own time." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Sting

Okay, so I know you're wondering what in the heck I'm doing with a picture of a wasp on my blog and why would I bother to write a whole entry based on these scary insects, right?

Well, truth of the matter is ... I'm scared to death of them. Seriously. As far back as I can remember, I have always feared them. Maybe it's the big bulging eyes, or the long dangling legs OR the fact those legs stick to whatever they land on. It could be the loud buzzing noise they make when they are coming in for a landing or just doing a fly-by. And since I know their sting is worse than their song, I just steer clear of them at all costs. As a matter of fact, I can vividly remember running away from the swingset when my daughter was about two years old (sorry, Ashley), leaving her to fend for herself. I was a horrible mother.

As much as I love spring, what it brings with it is a fresh batch of wasps who have been couped up all winter long just waiting to get out there and scare the heck out of folks. I think wasps are like horses, too. They know when we are afraid. I think they laugh their heads off when we run (okay, when I run) and swing my arms and scream. Whoever said, "Just be still and they won't bother you" has totally lost their mind. Trust me ... they WILL bother you. There were created to bother us.

Just today, I had so much "conflict" with wasps. They were everywhere. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to them right now, but I swear ... no matter where I went or what I did, a wasp was flying by or hovering around and it was a solid reminder how something so small, has the potential to not only hurt so bad, but have a huge impact on how I live. Sitting in the yard, I ended up going inside until it moved away from my chair. As I walked, I began to RUN in order to get away from one. I couldn't get my car windows up fast enough as I waited in traffic and saw one buzzing the car in front of me. Ridiculous, I know ... but true.

I think there are some big spiritual parallels to this as well ... but I'll save that for another blog.

Bottom line: I hate wasps. I hate that I'm afraid of them. But I've got my can of Raid and I'm determined to face them head on. And if one lands on me and I die of a heart attack before it stings me, you have a good laugh at my funeral, okay?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Miracle Called Maca"Roni"

It was one year-ago this weekend when Macaroni or "Roni" for short, came into this world as a small kitten. What you must know is that for years, my daughter Cara has always wanted an orange kitty. So when their hearts collided last year ... it was love at first sight. What's even sweeter is Nolan is an animal lover so the idea of adopting a feline into their family was nothing shy of, well ... purr-fect! (smile)

From the time they brought Roni home, he had a rough go of it. He stayed sick ... and was weak, and just wasn't doing well at all. After much time and money invested in his health, they got the horrible news of a dreaded cat disease. To say that Roni fought for his life would be a BIG understatement. We cried over this baby kitty. We prayed for this baby kitty. We were just sick because of his suffering and yet, in our hearts, we felt hopeful of his slight chance for recovering.

Celebrating Roni's first birthday this weekend was so much more than the Weeks' clan coming together and singing happy birthday to one great cat. It was the fact that Roni was alive, in spite of the odds against him ... in spite of a dreaded disease that doesn't allow most of it's victims to live longer than a few weeks. You must know that for me, a whole year later, Roni's life was a tremendous reminder of two great truths about this God in whom I profess to believe:

1) He does answer prayer: God doesn't always answer the way we want Him to, but He does answer. I can't tell you how many of my animal loving family members and friends who also asked God to strengthen and spare the life of His furry creation. In this case, God nodded and brought healing.

2) God does care about the things I care about: I know some folks who absolutely HATE cats and would say that God could care less about them (oh, be still my heart). But what I do know, and what I am a concrete believer of, thanks in part to Roni ... that God cares a tremendous amount over EVERYTHING that I care about. Absolutely everything.

"Cast all your anxiety [troubles, cares, the things that burden you] on the Lord because He cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7)

I believe with all my heart that the God of this Universe, the Creator and Sustainer of my life and yours, cares deeply about each one of us ... our lives ... and everything we care about.

He proved that to me through one scrawny orange kitty name Roni. He winked as He reminded me a whole year later so that I'd never forget it.

"O LORD [Covenant Maker/Promise Keeper God], what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? (Psalm 144:3)

He cares for you, friend ... He really, REALLY does.

"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." (Nahum 1:7)

Monday, March 16, 2009

M is for M O U T H

You can bet your bottom dollar that long before I put ink (or keys) to this blog page, I have been living and learning (sometimes wrestling) this topic out with the Lord. So, on this particular blog, I'm going to toss out a disclaimer and say that if you never struggle with the part of your body that sits on the lower part of your face, then by all means, click the red box in the top right corner.

However; if you're still reading, my guess is that you've found yourself in some hard places due to your mouth. Not just what you put in it, but what you allow to come out of it.

I think if we are to ever get a grip on our mouths, we're going to have to go a bit deeper ... down into the heart. "For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34b)
So, just how rotten is my heart ... is your heart? "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT)

If you've ever been on the receiving end of someone else's "run of the mouth" then you know how bad it is. If you've been the one where the mouth is open and "junk" flows out ... trust me, you know. The past few months have been a season where the Lord is continually chiseling away ... you guessed it, on my mouth. And much deeper and bigger than my mouth ... it's my heart.
Listen to these incredible challenges that focus on this very thing:

"Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing, I have resolved that my mouth will not sin." (Psalm 17:3)

"These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." (Isaiah 29:13)

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

The hard core stuff comes from the book of James. If you're still with me, get a load of this:

"If anyone thinks he is religious, without controlling his tongue but deceiving his heart, his religion is useless." (James 1:26, HCSB)

"With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brother, this should not be." (James 3:9-10)

Last week God showed me something pretty profound. He said, "Rhonda, part of the reason that you can't get control over what you are putting in your mouth is the fact that you aren't controlling what comes out of it." One word: Ouch.

Within 48 hours of this "ah ha moment" I had not only poked fun at a loved one and hurt their feelings ... but I snapped at a dear friend. I broke my number #1 rule ... and voiced my opinion where I hadn't been asked. I called someone "jerk" in traffic. I uttered some "not so kind" things about someone who was driving me nuts. I even voiced some negative frustrations to someone. All the while, the Lord kept whispering to me, "Please be quiet. Please don't. Please close your mouth." You could call me butter, cause I was on some kind of a roll!

And most recently, it was another spoonful of a bitter lesson learned as the toxic poison of man's heart oozed it's way out. In listening, God said, "Now you know what it sounds like. Now you hear how bad it hurts. Maybe, just maybe ... you will think before you speak."

The tongue has the power of life and death ... (Proverbs 18:21)

I've got a long way to go, friends. I peck on these keys as a very humble woman who wants her mouth to line up with the faith she professes. I want my words to point others to Christ ... not away from Him. I want what pours off my lips to reflect a heart that has truly been changed by the power of Christ.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. " (Psalm 19:14, NLT)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Growing Up ...

So, I've been studying and preparing some lessons for a class that I'm about to teach at my church on parenting. Let me say that those who are given the opportunity and privilege to teach a class aren't asked because they are so great or have it all together or know all the answers. In my case, the timing was right and I guess because I have two great kids, folks assumed I did something right. I take ZERO credit. In fact, I failed as a parent in so many ways while raising my children ... there's just not enough room here and I won't bore you with all the bloody details. What I can say is that, praise God, I've learned SO much while looking back on my parenting adventure that God has placed me in a position in which I can share with others.

But before I get totally side tracked and away from what's on my heart this morning, I need to stay focused and let my fingers do the talking.

I ran across this list of seven "marks" that our children are growing up and maturing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. As I read the list, I thought, "The heck with parenting, this is a powerful list for EVERYONE ... with or without children." I am a firm believer in asking the hard questions, so this list hit me between the eyes long before I share them here.

So ... let's me and you take a little self "am I a big boy/girl" evaluation:

Answer the following questions, not as you WISH you were, but as you are. Remember, "as a man thinks in his heart, so he is."

Here we go:

Are you able to keep long-term commitments?

Are you unshaken by flattery or criticism?

Do you possess a spirit of humility?

Do you base decisions on character, not feelings?

Do you consistently express gratitude?

Do you prioritize others before yourself?

Do you seek wisdom before acting?

No doubt, I could have used this list while raising and training my daughters. Sometimes as parents, we do the best we can with what we have and end up missing the mark in crucial ways. As I read over this list of seven powerful challenges, the Lord said to ME that I need to do my own check list! I hate when He does that -- it's always easier to challenge others than to have to take a look within.

As parents, we can never expect our kids to be something that we are not.

As people, God calls us to a higher ... better way of living.

Sometimes the better way always starts with a look within because who we are always has a way of oozing out. I want to be better, don't you? Whether raising kids or God raising us up ... it's time to grow up!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hidden Within the Pages of Esther ...

For the past six weeks or so, I've been journeying through Beth Moore's newest Bible study, "It's Tough Being a Woman" built around the 10 chapters of the Book of Esther.

I have to tell you that I've known of Esther's story ... even read the book several times over the past 20 years. I've heard sermon's revolved around it, and talks given on it. But never have I taken a daily journey of digging the book apart, verse by verse. And I'll just tell ya ... never did I think there would be so much tucked within these pages that had to do with Rhonda Weeks. Boy, was I wrong!

I'm hoping to entice you enough that you'll want to read it and study it for yourself, so here's just a few life lessons that are carved into my heart now:

There is no place God can't go with a willing vessel.

Nothing happens in my life by mere chance.

God wants me to be a dangerous woman for His Kingdom.

God won't fulfill my destiny without me.

God is attracted to weakness; It leaves more room for His strength.

God wants me to forget pride and position = leads to nowhere.

To obey is always better than sacrifice.

I'm never more prone to attack than when God has taken me out, but I'm not where I'm going yet.

The best thing I can do to drive a mean person crazy is be nice!

One of the most important parts of my destiny is transparency.

It will often be crisis that God will use to pivot my direction.

Courage comes from a heart that is convinced it is loved.

I will never fulfill my God-given destiny if I straddle the fence.

The longer God is taking the more He is working.

Battles that really matter aren't won in a day.

God is never inactive in the wait.

Small seeds of pride, ambition and prejudice can grow into something appalling.

We can base inappropriate presumptions primarily on self-consumed thoughts.

Bent minds don't think straight.

Satan promises life and delivers death.

One of the things God wants to withhold from my life is havoc from self-choices.

So, I've only studied through the sixth chapter, but that's just a speck of the truth that's pounded in this head and heart. The real challenge with God's Word isn't just to know it ... but to live it. If all I do is study and know the Truth but don't allow God to change me, then I believe I've missed the heart of God all together.

The Book of Esther isn't just about a Queen saving her people. The providence of God weaves through the entire 10 chapters. God shows His heart ... God shows His power. God shows how He works and moves, even when folks don't acknowledge that it's Him.

What's so neat to me is that God's name isn't mentioned in the Book of Esther ... nothing penned with His name on it; and yet His heart and His power are all over it. In the midst of God being on it ... you and I just might find ourselves in it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trust His Heart ...

As my heart has stirred this early morning, I've almost laughed out loud ... thinking about this particular song and the words that bring me much comfort. It's not that the song is funny, it's just that I can hear my daughter sing it to me, as she heard it [in her head] when she was a child. The song has been around forever, but time doesn't take away the message that continues to weave its place within my heart:

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When you don't see His plan
When you can't trace His hand ...
Trust His heart.

It seems that my life has been on this perpetual journey that finds itself somewhere in these powerful words. So much that I don't understand. Places where I can't seem to "see" what is going on. Areas where, try as I might, I can't seem to trace His hand in the midst of it. I would be lying through my teeth (or keys) if I told you that this has been the most wonderful season of my life. To be honest, it's been one of the hardest chapters of my entire faith walk. I won't try to put ink to everything that's gone on within this heart of mine. I dare not express the lows as this pilgrim has traveled. Pain and heartache come in all ways, shapes and forms. Some of the hardest lessons come from circumstances ... while other life lessons come from those with skin.

Three things I have resolved along the way that have EVERYTHING to do with the song:
1) God is wise.
2) God IS good.
3) I CAN trust HIS heart.

In building this heart on those truths, the next resolve is probably the hardest of all: I will not quit. I believe one of the biggest lies of the enemy is to hard press God's children into doing one thing: Lay down and just quit. Play dead.
I've seen it in my own life. He taunts me with lies that God is not wise and that He is not looking out for my best interest. He dabbles with my head and says that God is not good, because if He was, He would have blocked interference in ________ or He would have worked harder on my behalf. Satan's biggest lie of all is that God can't be trusted. He tells me over and over that God is no different than man and who can trust man? Enough, already.

So ... if he can get me to buy back into that crazy distorted way of thinking, the next step for me would be to just quit. To stop living life. To cease to reach out, to pull up my heart's "draw bridge" and never let anyone else in. To stop taking a risk and dare not take a chance. Is anyone connecting with what I'm saying?

Just recently, the enemy even tried to toss a lie my way about my blog. So, for his behalf, "Sorry, Satan ... you lose. Again." (I'm smiling as I type that!)

Just in case you, precious reader, have any of the same stuff stirring within, here's some more truth to paint the walls of your heart:

This I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him. The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.(Lamentations 3:21-25)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.(Proverbs 3:5-6)

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

And to borrow the words from one more song, "Life is hard, but God is good."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I Love About Babies and Dogs ...

So, I was thinking earlier about what a slob I can be at times. As much as I don't like to think I'm lazy, there are areas of my life that most folks would shudder if they could see ... or if they knew. Take my refrigerator for example. I honestly don't think I've really cleaned it out in like over a year. I mean, I don't really keep food in there (sorry, Mike) so it's not like I'm continually shuffling things around. And then, there's the shower. When mold turns from black to pink ... we've got issues. My closet is a ram-sacked mess. My dog needs a bath and my roots are showing. The dust bunnies on the hardwood are the size of Texas and the garage hasn't been swept in months. Get the point?

But when my grandson, Rowe ... or my dog, Sarah are around -- they could care less. I so love that about them.

I absolutely love the fact that babies and dogs don't care when you haven't had a shower. They don't care if your breath stinks. They don't care if you sing out of tune and it makes absolutely zero difference to them if your house is clean or if your yard is mowed. That's what I love about babies and dogs. I love the fact that they love me ... just for me. They like that I talk to them in my alter-ego voice ... squeeky and all. They love it when I'm so excited to see them ... when I squeeze him tight or pet her head. I love it that no matter what kind of day I've had, they smile when I walk into the room and it makes everything okay. Somehow, that makes all the other things that I fret about seem way small.

When I'm with Rowe, he's content laying on the couch while I smooch all over him or talk silly with him. Sarah waits all day long for me to come home from work so I can take her for a walk. Those are such simple things and yet to babies and dogs ... they are everything!

This weekend, I plan to rest. Hold my grandbaby MUCH, walk my best girl, Sarah. Enjoy my family and friends, worship my Savior and just be thankful. I could spend these next couple of days cleaning things out and fixing myself up, but I think what I'd really like to do is just "be still and know that He is God."(Psalm 46:10)
That's what matters most.

Life is short, friends ... make it count.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

He Knows ...

Psalm 139 is on my heart this morning. Maybe it's because I got to spend some time with my incredible three month-old grandson. As I snuggled and smooched on him last night, I was reminded of our faithful Creator God who "knit Rowe together in Ashley's womb." (vs. 13)
And what a beautiful job He did, I must say. Rowe is just plain gorgeous! What's even more amazing is that not only did God create Rowe and holds Rowe's life in His hands ... but "all of Rowe's days have been written in His book before one of them comes to be." (vs. 16)

God knows Rowe and God knows you and me.

He knows that I am scared to death of wasps.
He knows that I hate that people like to kill animals ... just for the fun of it.
He knows that I like new clothes.
He knows that I'm insecure about myself.
He knows that I love my husband and children and would give my life for any of them.
He knows that I can be impatient.
He knows that I am a sucker for stray animals.
He knows that I type VERY fast.
He knows that I am loyal and faithful.
He knows that I love to exercise.
He knows that I easily withdraw at times.
He knows that I guard my heart.
He knows that I don't wash my make up off at night.
He knows that I am trying to not give my opinion unless I'm asked.
He knows that I love Target.
He knows that I have been deeply disappointed.
He knows that I love to laugh ... and that my laugh is LOUD!
He knows I don't like to fly.
He knows that I love the early morning.
He knows that I have big regrets.
He knows that I love coffee. And chocolate.
He knows that I run like Forest Gump from little girl behavior.
He knows that I have a huge sweet tooth and would prefer dessert over a meal.
He knows that I don't like surprises.
He knows that I love animals and would work as an Animal Cop if I could.
He knows it all.

Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. (Psalm 139:1)

And because He doesn't just know me, He knows what the future holds for me! Which means I can trust Him with the things that I don't know:

Where will I live in a year from now?
Where will I work and serve in a year from now?
Who will be walking by my side in a year from now?
Will I be healthy in a year from now?
What will God be doing in my life a year from now?
When will God answer some of the things I've been praying for ... some for years?

So maybe I'm a little wierd and I do think about all these things from time to time. God bringing Rowe into our lives has been huge in reminding me that God is the Giver of life ... the Sustainer of life ... and the Detailer of our lives. Every bit of it. From what's on the inside to what we live on the outside. I love that about Him.

The LORD [Covenant Maker/Promise Keeper God] will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever -- do not abandon the works of your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

We are made in God's image and He cherishes us more than we could ever know.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14)

God knows Rowe McCoy. God knows Rhonda Weeks. And you ... He knows.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coco's Rescue

It never fails that if there's a stray or abandoned dog roaming in the vicinity of my house, I'll surely find it. Let me rephrase that so there's no confusion: The dog doesn't even have to be close to where I live. If I'm driving through town, it's like my eyes and heart will have a radar lock on one of my fury four-legged friends. It's seldom when I see one that I'm able to turn away, even though at times, I have tried. I have nearly been killed trying to coax a lost dog from the middle of Keith Street. I could have wrecked countless times when trying to pull off a busy road. It's sheer craziness, I know ... but I can't help it. Ask my husband or my kids and they will tell you that I'm telling the truth.

Yesterday was no different. I need you to know that I don't intentionally pursue lost or stray dogs ... it just happens. But here I was, minding my own business, making a turn toward home ... when in he middle of the road was the cutest little dog, stressed and making a bee-line toward the center of the intersection. Stick with me here because like always, I pull off, get out of the car and begin to call her. "Puppy! Puppy! Come here little girl. PUPPY!" With a look of hesitation, she got off the road and approached me in the bank parking lot. She immediately rolled over (total submission) and let me rub her belly. I was THRILLED to see that not only did she have a collar, she had an owner's tag. There it was: COCO, with her phone number.
Within minutes, I had Coco back with her family and I was on my way.

As I drove home, I was thankful that no matter how Coco had gotten out, she was safe at home, safe with her family that loves her.

Coco had no idea that she was putting her life in jeopardy by running down the middle of the road. She was clueless that just yards in front of her was a busy intersection. This dog was foot lose and fancy free, and even though there was a sense of panic about her ... she was on what may have appeared to be a "great adventure."

Sometimes we are like Coco. Determined to go our own way -- clueless as to what may be right around the corner that has the potential to hurt us. Hurt us bad. Coco would have been a smart dog to stick close to home that day ... and we will be wise people to not venture outside what God has deemed safe for us. The problem is that, like Coco, we want some type of adventure.

God knows the plans He has for our lives. They are plans to prosper us ... not to harm us. Plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

One thing is for sure: As we hold tightly to our Savior's hand ... He will lead us and He will guide us. He will never take us down a road that will lead to destruction. He will never point us in the wrong direction.

Just like I was calling for Coco, God will call for us ... urging us to come back. As I called and called (okay, I was yelling) for her ... I thought about the times He has called and called for me.
Countless times God intervened on my behalf saving me from disaster or destruction.

And if that wasn't enough, God showed me that as good as I felt about rescuing Coco, He also wants me to be on the lookout for brothers and sisters in Christ who also might be headed for trouble: "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."
(James 5:19-20)

I guess I will always be on the look out for dogs who need someone to rescue them. Yesterday, God reminded me that taking the time and investing in others who might also be headed for disaster is a good thing. In fact, it's a God thing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

One of the many perks from working in a church office is that we share chapel time together every Tuesday morning. It's a time for the staff to come together, hear a devotion, and pray for the needs within our church family. Last week, our guest speaker poured out such a tremendous challenge that it's been "chewing" on me ever since. Let me begin by sharing the text he used:

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love ..." (Ephesians 5:1-2a)

His challenge was two-fold, based on God's Word:
1) Imitate God
2) Live a life of love

If you're like me, you are already thinking one word: IMPOSSIBLE! When I consider my behavior at times, it is far from imitating God. And living a life of love? That's easy when it's people we like - but what about those who have done us wrong? What about people who have been intentional in taking a jab or a stab at our lives, or of those we love?

Sorry, Tina ... I just had to borrow this line from your ever so popular song from years ago because it's a question worthy of answering this morning.

Based on God's Word ... love has EVERYTHING to do with it. Listen to the rest of Ephesians 5:2 ... "just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." At some point in your life ... you must consider that God's love has everything to do with your life and how He wants you to live your life.

It was God's love that gave you life.
It is God's love that gives you each day.
It will be God's love that holds everything together.

And even more than that ...

It was God's love that created you and me with eternity in mind.
It is God's love that saves us and gives us a relationship with Christ ... both now and forevermore.
It will be God's love that lives in us and through us that can make a difference in this crazy mixed up world.

At some point in our lives, we are confronted with God's great love. Maybe it's through a difficult season, or maybe it's through a time of great celebration. God's love often sneaks up on us ... and other times, it pours out like a Georgia thunderstorm.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:9)

The best thing we can do with God's love, friends, is receive it. And upon receiving it, we can freely give it. When we give it, we are acting like Him. We are imitating God. I love that.

Love has everything to do with today. How we live ... how we react. How we respond has everything to do with what we think and believe about God's love for us.

"For God so loved Rhonda." (John 3:16) Go ahead and put your name in there. Think about it today. God SO loves you. I believe He wants us to love Him right back by imitating Him and living a life of His love this very day. His love ... not what we can muster up. His love isn't based on circumstances. His love isn't revolved on how we are treated by others. His love isn't tied to everything working out the way we want it to. His love is based on one thing: The Cross of Jesus Christ.

Next time you hear Tina's song, remind yourself that love has everything to do with it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's Your Sign?

After church, Mike and I headed to Chattanooga to run a couple of errands. As we came down White Oak Mountain toward Ooltewah, there were folks in the median cleaning up trash. Most of them wore the typical neon orange vest, no doubt it's a safety thing and they can be easily spotted. Mike said they were folks doing community time for one thing or another. What I saw next, has been churning around in my spirit for the past few hours. Several of them had on a neon green vest, and on their back it read, "I AM A DRUNK DRIVER."

It got real quiet in the car. After a few minutes, I said, "I am so glad that everything I've ever been ... or done ... isn't printed in bold letters on my back for everyone to see."

Now don't get me wrong. I think those who break the law should be punished. I think there is a price to be paid for crossing the line - especially where someone else's safety is concerned. I am begging folks to not leave nasty comments on my blog on how these citizens deserved it and have that and more coming to them.

For just a few minutes I want you to think ... like I have, about life. If I were to list all the stupid, idiotic things I've done in my life, there wouldn't be enough room here. If I had to make a list of some of the choices I have made that not only hurt me, but hurt someone else ... I'd be more than ashamed of myself all over again. Each one of us, if we were to "wear" the sins we had committed against God or someone else, we might be wearing all kinds of labels.
"I AM A MURDERER." (maybe not physically, but with words ... thoughts that kill)
"I AM A ..."

This list truly does go on and on.

So, what's my point? I am reflecting today and challenge you to do the same about the grace of God that covers our sin. For those who have accepted Christ's gift of salvation and are living in a personal relationship with Him, what you wear on your back is this: "FORGIVEN." Maybe your vest says, "PAID FOR." I'd like mine to read, "FREE IN CHRIST."

Aren't you so thankful that the penalty for every wrong you've done, every poor choice you've made, every blatant sin you have or will commit ... all of it, has been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ? GLORY!

"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man (or woman) whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
(Romans 4:7-8)

As God's children, you and I may make some crazy stupid choices that will leave us wearing a neon vest and picking up trash in the median. I hope not. Oh, but the good news is, as God's child, your life ... past, present and future, is being held tightly in His grip. Your transgressions are forgiven. Your sins are covered. What is written on your back was penned by the nail-pierced hand of our Savior.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained throug the law, Christ died for nothing." (Galatians 2:20-21)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

God's Covenant of Peace

I've been awake for a long time. You know how it is when your eyes open wide and hard as you try by keeping them closed, sleep just won't come. The brain is a complicated thing. Even though the body is tired, sometimes the brain just won't rest. It can't shut down. If your life is anything like mine, there is much going on. You're busy with the day to day demands. There's work. There's family. Then there's the things that trouble you ... weigh heavy on you. Maybe things you are wrestling through. Jesus Himself said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble [issues, tough circumstances, trials, burdens]. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

The peace of God. Four days of rain can't wash it away. Headaches and hassles won't overshadow it. Tough situations can't remove it. Difficult people can't squash it. Painful circumstances ... times of fear and doubt won't wipe it out. So, as I've been sitting here, there is one Truth which God has brought to mind that has brought my restless soul a tremendous amount of comfort:

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (Isaiah 54:10)

In the same way Christ spoke peace over the wind and waves (Mark 4:41), He speaks peace over our hearts and lives with His unfailing love and compassion. Doesn't that bring you tremendous comfort today? Even if you're not in a hard place - God's unfailing love will NOT be shaken nor will His covenant [binding promise/vow never to be broken] of peace with His kids ever be removed.

Even though I can't sleep ... I choose to REST knowing that God's got my life wrapped tightly in His grip. And yes, my mind is traveling at break neck speed ... but my soul finds great comfort in knowing and believing that His love, peace and compassion for my life will never change ... will always stay the same.

One of my most favorite sayings is, "Where there is peace, God is."

That, friends, gives me great rest for my heart, mind and soul. Maybe tonight, it will give me sleep for this tired body!

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD [Covenant Maker/Promise Keeper God] make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8) Listen to The Message's translation of this promise: At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, For you, God, have put my life back together.

Oh! What a Savior, gracious to all. Oh! How His blessings round us fall. Gently to comfort, kindly to cheer - sleeping or waking, God is near. (Fanny Crosby)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Question of the Day:

While on vacation this week, I've taken advantage of some extra time to read. Now granted, the stack of books that I'd like to read far outweighs my time to actually sit down and do it. But there is one book that has been calling my name: "The Most Loving Place in Town (Ken Blanchard/Phil Hodges) - A Modern Day Parable for the Church."

It's a real easy book to read and it has given me so much to think about. But tucked away in Chapter 7 was a question that has left my heart stirring: "How does God know you love Him?"

I think the author is so right. Often we focus on how we know God loves us. But if we take the time to turn the question around and be honest with ourselves and God, our answers might just shine some light on our journey with Him and what we may be seeking to do that has NOTHING to do with a genuine/authentic love relationship with God.

Some common answers might be, "I pray" or "I read my Bible" or "I go to church." We could even feel real good about ourselves and say, "I serve Him faithfully." Trust me, I've thought an awful lot about this question since I first read it. How does God know that I love Him ... really love Him? No doubt praying and reading your Bible and staying plugged into the local church will help you know Him more and help you grow in your faith journey ... but that still doesn't answer the question: How does God know you love Him?

The disciple John put ink to Christ's heart about this very thing in chapter 14, verse 15. Here is the answer, friends: "If you love me, you will obey what I command." I especially love The Message's translation: "If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you."

There are all kinds of ways that we can obey the Lord. As His child, He has given me His Word and the Holy Spirit to prompt me as I walk through this life. He wants me to obey Him in the big things ... and the little things. Lately, there's an area where He continues to hard press for my obedience and it revolves around forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a journey all by itself. It's not based on anything you feel. Just like love is a choice ... a decision, so is forgiveness. This has been an incredible year on the forgiveness road. Forgiving those who have hurt me or those I love. Just like Christ while on the Cross, I've had to ask God to forgive those who surely didn't have a clue as to what they were doing. And even if I thought they did know ... that was even more reason to forgive. Trust me when I say I've tried to go the other road and it just doesn't work. I can't walk close to the Lord and harbor unforgiveness in my heart. The two just don't mix.

Okay, back to the book. I don't want to spoil it for you in case you decide at some point to read it, but there is one more little saying that's a keeper: Forgiven much, love more.

One more concrete way for God to know that we love Him is by loving each other.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Surely to goodness there is someone you need to forgive. And by forgiving them, you are free to love them. Not based on how you think or feel ... but based on His great love for you that frees you to love and forgive. It really is a beautiful thing. Not always easy and not without a risk.
But I continue to learn that with Christ, all things are possible ... especially forgiveness.

Think about it: How does God know you love Him?