Monday, December 3, 2012

Womb With A View ~ Christmas 2012

“And now the LORD says—He who formed me in the womb to be His servant…for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength.”
Isaiah 49:5

"...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28

As God knits together His precious handiwork in a mother's womb, the Creator ordains the days and knows His purpose for His creation.

”For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)

I think of the miraculous first offspring of Mary’s womb. The One who was with God in the beginning, the One through whom all things were made (John 4:1-4), was now being knit together by our Heavenly Father’s hands as a Babe.

Mary’s womb was a womb with a view.

God formed Jesus in Mary’s womb to be His servant, our Savior and our Redeemer. Jesus loves the people of the world perfectly and completely. We need a Redeemer because of our sin, rebellion and independence from God.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

His view from the womb: the redemption and salvation of a people whom He loves. His purpose: our new life made holy in Him, to know Him through the gift of eternal life.

“‘Here I am. I have come to do Your will.’ And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Hebrews 10:9, 10
"Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." John 17:3

As we celebrate our Savior’s birth this Christmas season, may we  remember the sacred “Womb With A View”. With humility, reverence and awe, may we completely yield and surrender our hearts and life to His view for our lives. Just as Christ was our servant, may we serve Him with surrendered hearts in obedience.

Our Savior, thank You that we were and are in Your view since the beginning. Thank you for Your obedience in coming to earth as a Babe and then redeeming us by Your death on the cross and Your resurrection. By Your grace and strength, may our lives be marked by humility and obedience, just like You. This is not a prayer we pray lightly, but one we pray with great reverence and trust. We are humbled that You came to save and serve us. Fill us so that we may be surrendered servants for You. Thank you that You had a womb with a view.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.  

Blessed, Merry Christmas
from our family to yours!

"In that day, the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath...He will be a spirit of justice...a source of strength..."  (Isaiah 28:5-6)

Friday, November 9, 2012

You Are A Promise

Pull up a chair to the table today as my friend Tammie shares from her heart and from Isaiah 43.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine." ~ Isaiah 43:1

Bob and Tammie and their beautiful family

Here's Tammie ~

One of my favorite books to read to my children is "You Are Special" by Max Lucado. The story is about a small village of wooden puppets all made by Eli the wood carver. The little wooden people in the town put stars on their fellow man if they look good or had a special talent or just had a lot of stars stuck on them.  But if they had no apparent talent or didn’t look like everyone else, they would stick grey dots on each other. 

One little wooden boy was tired of all the dots he had stuck on him by others.  Then he saw a girl whose stars and dots wouldn’t stick to her. When he asked why, she told him to go visit Eli the wood carver, and he would explain it all to him. Eli represents God.

The Biblical truth of this beautiful story is that God loves you just the way you are.   He created you with all your imperfections, all your talents and abilities.  It simply doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It only matters that our hearts are humble before Him and that we want to honor and please the Lord.

All the things that frustrate us about ourselves and all the things we like about ourselves, we must surrender them to the Lord. We tend to look at the outward things, but the Lord looks at our heart. He doesn’t see the stars and dots that we place on ourselves or that others try to stick to us. He sees His Son's shed blood. The redemptive blood of Jesus is what He sees when He looks at us.

"For the Lord sees not as man sees:
man looks on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks on the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

Am I a good enough mother, wife, friend?

Do I look OK?  

Am I overweight? 

Am I smart enough? 

While it is good to search our hearts before the Lord because we want to honor Him with our whole life, we can't place our comparisons and dissatisfactions on the altar of our hearts and displace our Creator, the One who formed us.  

"Fear not, for I am with you...
everyone who is called by My name,
whom I created for My glory,
whom I formed and made."
Isaiah 43:5, 7

I am not an expert in this area. In fact, it is one of the issues with which I have struggled the most. Looking at others and wishing I had their gifts, talents and abilities. Wishing I was "better".

But the Lord is teaching me through His word that I am just who He wants me to be. He alone gives me my strengths and my weaknesses.  He transforms me. When I surrender them to Him, He establishes and blesses the things He wants to accomplish in my life. He uses my weakness and my strengths to glorify Himself. 

Me sitting here writing this and sharing my heart with you is one of those personal moments of glorifying the Lord. For years, this struggle of comparing myself to others gripped me. I allowed what others thought of me to define me rather than allowing God's truth and perfect love to confirm who I am in Christ.

I am not "just a hair stylist" or just this or just that. I am His child.  He has called me to share my faith, to give, to love, to be loved.  He wants me to trust in the living God and His plan, not what I see when I look in the mirror or how others define me.

He gently reminds me daily through His word that I need to surrender my will and follow His. 

Be encouraged!  Whatever His plans are for you, seek Him with all your heart. Ask Him to free you from the untruths that are holding you back. Just like the children’s song, “ I am a promise, I am a possibility. I am a promise with a capital “P”. I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be."

You are God's promise and He loves you. 

~ By Tammie Dowd

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our Potter;
we are all the work of Your hand."
Isaiah 64:8

" will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Do You Bring To The Table?

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:10

God has entrusted each of us with being stewards over our hearts, minds, bodies and our families. He has also entrusted us, at such a time as this, with serving Him in whatever ways He leads.  He has gifted us each differently to complement one another and to serve as an extension of Him.  From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.  ~ Luke 12:48  We have been given and entrusted with much.  Much more is being asked of us.
Personally, in one sense I feel like a fish out of water in some ways God has required me to obey Him and serve.  In another sense, I feel completely comfortable with whom God has made me, how He continues to grow me and who I know I am not.  We will each use the gifts He has given us and continues to develop in us for His glory as He blends them together beautifully around the table of service.  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  ~ 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

Our greatest strength comes through humbly recognizing our own weaknesses and acknowledging Christ in them.  Christ’s power rests on us when we know it is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9~  He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  

Our greatest strength: CHRIST’S POWER RESTING ON US!

Here are some Greek roots words from 2 Corinthians 12:9 from  Take a look!
  • POWER:
  • 1) strength, power, ability
  • a) inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
  • b) power for performing miracles
  • c) moral power and excellence of soul
  • d) the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
  • e) power and resources arising from numbers
  • f) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts
  • RESTS:
  • 1) to fix a tent or habitation on
  • a) to take possession of and live in the houses
  • 1) of the citizens
  • 2) of the power of Christ descending upon one, working within him and giving him help 

  • So, Who and what do we bring to the table as we serve the Lord?  We bring Him and His power.  I love that His power rests on us.  Comforting.  Freeing.  Peaceful.  

    With hearts poised in humility, He gives us His strength, His power, His ability, His influence, His resources for excellence of soul.  He shelters us, descends His power upon us, works with us and gives us help.  As we honor Him, He has unimaginable, exciting and fruitful things in store for His glory!!  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  ~ 1 Corinthians 3:7

    With the entrusted responsibilities He gives each of us, I believe it all comes down to humility and reverence.  Reverence for God, His Word and the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.  Our greatest strength:  recognizing our weakness apart from Him and therefore His power resting on us.  You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing. ~ Psalm 16:2

    Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.  Let’s serve Him together with excellence of soul, with His power resting on us and exalting above all things His name and His Word.

    "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, 
    let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” 
    Hebrews 12:28

    " that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 
    ~ 1 Corinthians 2:5

    “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” 
    ~ Zephaniah 3:9

    “I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.” 
    ~ Psalm 138:2

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Just Carrying A Pitcher of Water

    "And He said to them, 
    'Behold, when you have entered the city, 
    a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; 
    follow him into the house which he enters."
    Luke 22:10

    Welcome to the His Table Tor Two!  I am humbled today to have a truly sweet girlfriend, Jennifer Roche, serve you some refreshing truths from His Word.  Jen is a continual vessel of encouragement, love and friendship to me.  Every single time we are together, even if just for a moment, she encourages me with sincerity and truth.  She is an angel in my life, and I am forever grateful that the Lord has blessed me with her friendship.  She is a treasured sister in Christ.  Have a seat. I know you will be blessed by Jen's amazing heart for Jesus.  (Jen is also a very talented jewelry designer.  And I have a special give-away for one of you!  Check out her beautiful work here at Etsy:  Bezalel Jewels!)

    Here's Jen!

    Luke 22 tells us of one of the most significant days in the life of Jesus.  He is preparing for a special dinner with His disciples.  It would be the last time they would be all together on this earth.  Jesus is teaching them a significant way to remember Him and His sacrifice He was preparing to give for them and for the world.

    Jesus instructed the disciples to prepare for the Passover dinner, where He would then institute The Lord's Supper.  In preparation, He gave His disciples specific instructions on where to go and how to get ready for the dinner.  Verse 10 says, "when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters."

    This man carrying a pitcher of water unassumingly stepped into one of the most historical events ever.  Though his name is never mentioned in scripture, he did an incredible service for the Lord and was used mightily for eternal purposes.  The man carrying a pitcher of water led the way for the Living Water to serve His disciples...and ultimately us.

    This nameless man, carrying a water pot, was to lead the disciples to where they would eat Passover with the Lamb of God.  We don't give the man much thought, but you see in that day it was not the job of a man to be carrying the water pot.  If men carried water, it would be in an animal skin, NOT a pitcher of water. That is why this man carrying a pitcher of water was a unique sign for the disciples.

    Carrying pitchers of water was a woman's chore.  The women would carry clay pots on their head or shoulders to the well and bring back the water for their households.  

    Why was this man doing this job on that day?  What had happened in his life?  What was his story? Had he lost his wife?  Had he experienced a tragedy that left him brokenhearted?  Was his wife chronically ill? Had he made a mistake that left him alone? Was he wondering why life had turned out that way?  Had he lost everything?

    There had to be a reason for this man to be there on that specific day at that exact time...doing a woman's chore.

    We don't know the details of this man's life.  All we know is that the Lord used him as a sign that day and that it would be for a significant reason that he was carrying the water pitcher.

    God took note of this man's life and circumstances.

    God took note and used this man's weakness, vulnerability and willingness.

    For in this man's circumstances, weaknesses, vulnerability and willingness were the exact things that made him useful to the Lord that day.

    Maybe this man had felt unworthy to be used by the Lord.  Too crushed to be able to serve.  Maybe he had been praying to be used by the Lord.  Perhaps he stopped praying because it seemed impossible.

    But God chose to use him through a mundane chore of life:  carrying a water pitcher. Right there! God meets this man right where he the mundaneness of carrying water.  Such a typical chore.  It certainly didn't seem glorious at the time.  But water is necessary for life.  And this man was used in God's plan of salvation.  The Lord didn't have to use him.  The Lord could have used anyone.  But God chose this unnamed man to carry the water pitcher.  

    There are many people the Lord used as His vessels along the way that are not mentioned in scripture.  This man is.  He is written about in God's Word and remembered all these years later.  

    Remembered for carrying a water pitcher.

    Were there painful struggles in his life that led up to this day where he was carrying a water pitcher?  Were they worth it?  I bet he sits on the other side of eternity and says "yes"! If his circumstances of life were difficult, they are insignificant to him now.  He was honored to be used by the Lord on a special night.  

    This is the character of God!  He is still like that with us.  He still uses us in our state of brokenness.  He uses us because of our brokenness.  His gracious hand is involved in the whole process.  

    May the Lord use us more in the seemingly mundane acts of life.  May we sense His hand in our trials.  May we be more useful to Him because of our mistakes, our tragedies, our broken hearts.  Let Him use them in your life, too.

    Carry the water pitcher today. It may seem like a meaningless and mundane task that no one values or notices.  But be faithful to carry His water pitcher.  Perhaps others are following you where you are going.

    Be the broken but willing vessel available to the Lord.

    ~ by Jennifer Roche

    "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, 
    that the excellence of the power 
    may be of God and not of us."
    2 Corinthians 4:7

    As a special gift to one of you, one of Jen's beautifully designed and handmade Woman of Virtue pendants will be given away!  Just leave a comment mentioning a mundane task you are doing today as unto the Lord.  Ask the Lord to use your faithfulness and obedience for His glory!  The winner of the pendant will be announced later this week!

    "I have chosen Bezalel...
    and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, 
    with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts -- 
    to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 
    to cut and set stones..."
    Exodus 31:1-5

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    My Shepherd's Bag

    "Then he took his staff in his hand;
    and he chose for himself
    five smooth stones from the brook,
    and put them in a shepherd’s bag,
    in a pouch which he had,
    and his sling was in his hand.
    And he drew near to the Philistine."
    1 Samuel 17:40

    David's first beckoning to the battle field was foundational in his calling as warrior and king.  A shepherd at heart like his Father, David was encountering a human giant named Goliath.  His confidence was this:  "I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts...the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (vv. 45, 47)

    His foe, Goliath, who was heralded a "champion" by those in his own camp, made an impressive appearance.  He was bigger than life and was decked out in bronze and battle finery. He was intimidating and defied the Israelites to send out their best warrior (v. 10).  For forty days, this giant provoked the Israelites, and not one was willing to meet the challenge. 

    Enter David. 

    Fresh off the sheep pasture, David didn't seem like much of an opponent for Goliath.  The youngest in his family, David prepared for and approached the challenge with simplicity and with child-like trust in God.

    “Let no man’s heart fail because of him;
    your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
    1 Samuel 17:32

    Not classifying himself as a champion or warrior, David contently lived and responded like a "servant".

    Uncomfortable in the battle gear provided for him for the battle, David took them off the metal and bronze.  He preferred his shepherd's staff and his shepherd's bag.

    His shepherd's bag.

    David chose five smooth stones for himself and put them in his shepherd's bag.  And then David drew near to his enemy.  Courage while carrying the shepherd's bag.  This moves my heart.

    My shepherd's bag.  When God presents me with a challenge or a battle, I want to put my smooth stones in my shepherd's bag.  Couched beautifully in His care, those precious stones will bring His victory. 

    I want to bring honor to God by how I respond to and handle challenges and battles.  With my Shepherd's bag in my hand, and knowing the battle is really the Lord's, His purposes will be accomplished and His name will be magnified.  Doing everything in love for the tender care of His sheep, as I carry my stones in my own shepherd's bag, His peace will prevail.

    The stone of God's Word, carried in my shepherd's bag.

    The stone of worship, carried in my shepherd's bag.

    The stone of prayer, carried in my shepherd's bag.

    The stone of loving face-to-face conversation, carried in my shepherd's bag.

    The stone of surrendering to His perfect plan, carried in my shepherd's bag.

    As I draw near to a challenge in a response of obedience to God, I will cling tightly to my shepherd's bag filled with smooth stones for battle.  Confident that the battle is the Lord's, may He strengthen me as His servant and may He be honored.

    My shepherd's bag...that's an accessory that will always be in style!

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Relationship Requirements

    I love friends who are honest and who don't keep you guessing where you stand with them.  You know. They communicate.  They nurture.  They endure. They are for real.

    My fun, prayerful, gracious and loyal friend, Tammie, is that kind of person.  Tammie is fervent in pursuing her relationship with the Lord.  She wears her beautiful heart on her sleeve and is a treasured "iron sharpens iron" gal. She's honest about her own struggles and will challenge you with God's truth with yours.  Tammie and I define loyalty the same way:  love each other with endurance in God's grace and His truth.  I just love her.

    Pull up a chair to the table today as my friend Tammie serves up some truth from Micah 6:8 about Relationship Requirements.   

    Joshua, Bob, Tammie, Daniel
    and Olivia (on mommy's lap)
    The Dowd Family

    "He has showed you, O man, what is good. 
    And what does the Lord requires of you?  
    But to do justly, to love mercy
    and to walk humbly before your God."
    Micah 6:8

    (By Tammie Dowd)

    I love how God gives us verses that stir our heart. Verses that challenge our walk with Him and leads us to a place where we are on our knees. Micah 6:8 has stirred my heart over the last few weeks.

    What does the lord require of me in my relationship with Him and with others?

    My heart really wants to understand God's requirements.  I want to be obedient to what He is asking of me. In my quiet time, I am in search of what the Lord means when He says these words through Micah.

    One commentary said:  "God asks this of us:  To be just and merciful to our fellowman and to live in humble obedience to God. What does that look like in our life?  If we were to take inventory of these requirements, how are we stacking up?  He speaks to our hearts about issues of our heart. He is only asking us to give to others the same as He gives to us.  The same love, the same mercy." 

    I read another commentary that said, "To do justice for others means to stand up for those considered by others as less than." How often do I stand up for others? I stand up for my children, my husband. But others?

    "If someone says 'I love God' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."
    1 John 4:20-21

    As I read these words I thought of the verse in Micah.  To love your brother or sister you have to be just and merciful. You have to be obedient to the Lord. That means whatever rights you think you have, well they just went out the window! It’s easy for our hearts to harden when we justify why we feel the way we do.  But our feelings should match up to what scripture says. 

    Forgiving others who have offended us is our responsibility and God's commandment to us.  It might be easy for some to forgive more than others. If the offense is great and the pain is deep, sometimes we wonder how we can forgive. But God calls us to forgive. He doesn’t say there is a scale with which you measure the sin of someone else.  The best part of forgiveness is God allows your heart to heal. 

    Forgiveness doesn’t always mean restored relationship. But it allows our hardened hearts to be opened, for God to use us for His purpose. Whether my husband hurts my feelings or if a friend lets me down, whatever the offense, I choose to give it to the Lord.

    Is it always easy? No!  God wants us to restore our relationship with Him so that He can commune with us, bless us and use us for His glory.

    When we are being obedient to His word, we can do justly, love being merciful, and we can walk humbly with our God. We can love the way God requires us to love.  

    I am so thankful for His word, that He daily teaches me how to live for Him.   

    Dear Lord, there are so many times when the offense seems too great to forgive. Help my unbelief, help me let go of my rights and allow You to shine through me, in me so the world sees You.  Thank You for being a just God and a God of second chances. Amen

    "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
    to know the word that sustains the weary.
    He wakens me morning by morning,
    wakens my ear to listen like one being taught."
    Isaiah 50:4

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Singing Through The Storm

    Gabrielle was the Flower Girl in my sister's wedding
    June 23, 2012

    "Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord.  Then some...stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.  Early in the they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, 'Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in His prophets and you will be successful.' After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: 
    'Give thanks to the Lord,
        for His love endures forever.'
    As they began to sing and praise, the Lord...He [brought victory]." 

    2 Chronicles 20

    A few times a year where we live, especially during the spring and summer seasons, we have a "severe weather/tornado warning".  My kids know the drill when the warning sounds:  quickly get your most valuable things and head to the basement playroom until the warning is over.  We all stay close together and, if the electricity hasn't gone out, we turn on The Weather Channel to watch updates on the unwelcome storm. 

    Being the The Weather Channel meteorological geek that I am, I find storms fascinating.  As long as nobody is being harmed, I love watching weather miracles unfold. 

    "He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
        He sends lightning with the rain 

        and brings out the wind from His storehouses."

    Psalm 135:7

    It is quite different, however, when you find yourself seeking shelter from a storm. Frightened and feeling vulnerable, watching a storm and being in its path are two different things.  

    My go-to passage when facing a storm or menacing enemy is 2 Chronicles 20.  Full of God's truth and His victory plan for battle, 2 Chronicles 20 reminds us to meet an approaching storm with prayer, fasting and praising the Lord in song.  I love that Jehoshaphat appointed a worship team to lead the people in song as they approached the vast army in front of them.  Hello life lesson.

    All of these three precious stones in our shepherd's bag keep our eyes fixed on the Lord:  prayer, fasting, praising Him in song.  Our eyes are not on the vast army before us, rather they are on our Defender.

    "For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  
    We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. ” 
    2 Chronicles 20:12

    Recently one evening upon hearing the storm/tornado warning on our television, my children and I went calmly but quickly into storm mode.  We grabbed our Bibles, the children's portrait above our fire place, our dog, a few of our favorite things and our electronic devices with chargers and headed to the basement.  Joshua and Gabrielle were frightened but knew what to do and handled the warning with great responsibility.  With pounding rain and clashes of lightning and thunder outside, Joshua and Gabrielle went to safe shelter in the basement.

    Realizing I had left a flashlight upstairs, I ran back up to the kitchen.  Gabrielle shouted, "Mom, hurry up. I want you with me."  Taking a little longer than Gabrielle would have wanted me to, she snuggled up with her blanket, pillow, Bible and flashlight while I was still upstairs.  Assuring her that I'd be right down to snuggle with her, I heard her start to sing:

    "Holy is the Lord God Almighty,
    the earth is filled with His glory."

    Her tender voice embraced me as I made my way down the stairs to the basement playroom.  With her blanket sweetly wrapped around her face and holding her Bible and flashlight in her hand, she sang praises to our Maker in the midst of the approaching storm.  

    "We stand and lift up our hands, 
    for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
    We bow down and worship Him now,
    how great, how awesome is He."

    She knew.  Instinctively, Gabrielle's heart knew to sing to the Lord as "the vast army" approached...or in this case as a dangerous storm ruthlessly knocked on the door of our home.  Joshua and I sat down next to Gabrielle and we joined her in singing to the Lord as the thunder roared and the lightning lit up the night sky.

    With a lump in my throat and tears streaming down my face, I quietly thanked the Lord for His faithfulness.  His children's battle plan is straightforward:  keeping our eyes on Him through prayer, fasting and praising Him in song.

    Like it did that day for Jehoshaphat and God's people, our storm ended and we were able to dwell safely in our home. Psalm 107 shows us that, as we cry out to Him in our distress, He stills the storm to a whisper and He leads us to our desired haven.  God is our Defender (2 Chronicles 20:29), who He gives us peace and rest on every side.  (2 Chronicles 20:30)

    Gabrielle reminded her mommy to sing praises to Jesus in the midst of life's storms.  Aside from Christ, I have no power to face a vast army.  Not knowing what to do in and of myself, my eyes are fixed on Him in prayer, fasting and praise.

    Then they cried out to the 
    Lord in their trouble,
        and He brought them out of their distress. 
    He stilled the storm to a whisper;

        the waves of the sea were hushed. 
    They were glad when it grew calm,

        and He guided them to their desired haven.
    Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love 
        and His wonderful deeds for men.

    Psalm 107:28-31

    Thankful that He stills the storm to a whisper 
    and leads us to our desired haven.

    Sharing the praise today!  Recently I was honored to assist Michael O'Brien at the She Speaks Conference in North Carolina.  Michael is an amazing worship leader who adores His God, his beautiful wife and his children.  I would love to share Michael's worship CD ~ Be Still My Soul ~ with one of you!  Just leave a comment (be sure to leave your email or contact information)!  I will pray for you, and the winner of the CD will be announced on Monday!

    Also, the winner of the Blackaby "Experiencing God Day By Day Devotional" from the Really Running With Jesus post is "Laurie" - runner and mom of four!  Laurie ~ email me your full name and mailing address so I can send you your devotional! 

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Really Running With Jesus!

    Good morning, friends!  Welcome to the table!  Pull up a chair and sit for a while.  If you have just come in from a run, grab a glass of water.  If you are just waking up (like me!), sit with a cup of coffee!  I am honored to have my friend Joanna share her heart and her love for Jesus today.  And to encourage you in  your daily quiet time with the Lord in His Word, I will be giving away a copy of one of my favorite devotionals!  Just leave a comment for Joanna and you will be entered to win!  ~ Sharon

    "...train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, 
    but godliness has value for all things, 
    holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
    1 Timothy 4:7-8

    I LOVE RUNNING!  Sometimes I don’t always enjoy the process, but I love the days when I feel like I can run for miles and miles.  

    I recently did a long run with my favorite running buddy, Mindy.  That particular day we were scheduled to run 13 miles and we had chosen to run along the Delaware Canal tow path.  The first miles were great.  We chatted as we ran along talking about our families and movies we had recently seen.  

    After completing 8 miles, we headed to the car for a quick drink.  As we went back out for the last 5 miles, we were feeling pretty good…and then it hit. My legs started cramping and I felt like I was running through wet cement.  Mindy was feeling the same way and we both slowed down quite a bit.  We barely made it the last two miles.  By the time my watch beeped 13 miles, I felt light headed and nauseous and had to sit down for a few minutes.  

    As we sat on the step of a local store, gulping PowerAde’s, I begin thinking over what went wrong.  I knew our problem wasn’t lack of preparation – we had diligently been following a training plan for the past 6 weeks – our problem was fuel.  You see, we should have known better than to try to run for that long with only a few sips of water.  In fact, we do know better.  Every athlete knows they need frequent hydration and nutrition.

    Sometimes my relationship with Jesus can be just like that run.  I am going along just fine, following my training plan – reading my Bible, doing my daily devotions – but in truth, I am not spending quality time alone with God.  Yes, I am reading my Bible, but am I truly allowing His Word to sink in?  Or instead do I just say a quick prayer – like those few sips of water – and try to go on my way?  When I rush through my prayer and devotions, I am not refueling my relationship with Jesus.  I am just crossing one more item off of my busy ‘to do’ list.

    “Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.” Psalm 4:4

    Am I taking the time to be still and listen to God’s quiet voice?

    “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
    I love the NIV translation of that verse.
    “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

    ‘Cease striving’ as I am running along, logging the miles in my busy life, do I ever cease striving long enough to be filled by him?
    So what did I take away from that grueling run?  I discovered that as much as I need to take in frequent, proper hydration when running, more importantly, I need to take in frequent “hydration” in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

    Quiet time alone with God is a necessity.  

    Frequent, heartfelt prayer is not an option.

    Dear Lord, as we ‘run’ through this life, let us never forget to spend precious time with You each day.  May we take time morning, noon, and night to dwell in Your presence.  Help us to remember we are never too busy, there are no items on our ‘to do’ lists, more important than spending time with You.  Amen.

    © 2012 by Joanna Lieberman. All rights reserved. 

    “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”  I John 5:20-21

    Leave a comment!  I will be giving away one of these:


    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Books and Beauties

    "A sweet friendship refreshes the soul."  
    Proverbs 27:9

    It was fun to have a few of my beautiful friends share their hearts for God and their devotionals here this past week. Their personal testimonies of God's faithfulness and their lessons they are learning from God's Word have refreshed my heart, as I hope they have yours as well.  I believe we are to tell and share of the good things God is doing in our hearts and lives and families!  "With all my heart...I will glorify Your name forevermore."  ~ Psalm 86:12

    God's Word is life.  God's Word is life changing.  Pure and simple.  Daily soaking in His Word is essential to our growth and vitality, and to our relationship with Him and our relationships with others.  "Your Word has given me life." ~ Psalm 119:50

    A good book can be refreshing as well!  My favorite books to read are life-application topical Bible studies, testimonial books of how God is transforming someone's life, a great devotional, inductive Bible studies and light-hearted, down-to-earth women's books that confirm for me that I am normal!

    Authenticity pursuing holiness.  I love those kinds of people and those kinds of books!

    We all need encouragement.  We recently had a guest pastor at our church who said, "If you are breathing, you need encouragement!"

    Giving away a book for each of my beautiful girlfriends' guest writing posts, I pray the winners (and all of you) are encouraged!

    For Jennifer's devotional "Sippy Cups and Surprises", the winner of "Out of The Mouth of Babes" by Wendy Pope is --- CHRISTA!!!!!!!   Wendy's book offers Biblical principals to apply to your life while raising children.  Holiness and motherhood are two high callings God places on our lives. Holiness can be pursued by making the choice to daily be in God's Word and applying His precepts to our lives.  I LOVE this book and I LOVE Wendy Pope!!!  She is one of my favorite sisters in Christ!  Congratulations Christa!!

    For Maria's devotional "Complete, Not Too Complicated", the winner of "Stumbling Into Grace" by Lisa Harper is DANIELLE!!!!!!!  Congratulations!!! This is my current favorite book!  The sub-title had me at "spiritually clumsy"...that's me!!!  Part diary and part devotional, this practical and often humorous book has a meaningful Bible study at the end of each chapter.

    For Heather's devotional "Baby Love", I have a surprise winner!  As a special serendipity, I am giving away another copy of "Stumbling Into Grace"!  That winner is ERIKA!!!  Congratulations!!!

    Winners ~ be sure I have your your complete name and mailing address!

    What fun!  I hope you enjoyed getting to know a few of my friends a bit through their writing this past week.  I hope you will continue visit!  We love making new friends!

    May He refresh you today!

    "...times of refreshing 
    come from the presence of the Lord."
    Acts 3:19