Archives for category: Grow Your Faith

Lately when I sweep my kitchen floor I want to cry. It’s not because I hate cleaning my kitchen. I actually like having a clean kitchen. I want to cry because my floor had a hidden kitchen sweeper that I am reminded of when I sweep. It was my nearly 13-year-old dog, Kondi Wilson.

Kondi on the way home from the groomer, 2016

Kondi on the way home from the groomer 2016

Kondi was a Wheaten Terrier. She was loving, kind, funny, loyal and protective. Whenever the doorbell would ring, she was over the top crazy, making sure we knew a possible intruder could be at hand. But if we allowed the person to enter, she was a friend.

We got Kondi in May of 2004 and she was named after Condoleezza Rice. My husband bought her for me as a surprise, a few months after our oldest daughter, Kennedy died. He thought Kondi would be a good distraction for me over that first mother’s day weekend without our infant. She was.

Of her many talents, Kondi was a great vacuum sweeper.

I candidly didn’t realize how much she did to help me keep the floor clean. She must’ve licked up millions of crumbs over her 12 years of being our pet. I never noticed until now, how fraught with crumbs the kitchen floor is and has been. It makes me miss her even more.

Kondi was a really good friend. She was always optimistic, believing the best of me. She was always available to play or just sit next to me while I worked on my laptop or read my Bible in the early morning. She was quirky, loving to lie on stinky clothes that she dragged from the laundry room. The worst the smell, the better it was to her.

I suspect that my human friends and loved ones have value that is hidden too. I am afraid that I overlook or take for granted so many of the wonderful things that they do – and I don’t fully savor the quirky and unique ways that they are. Or worst, I get impatient and annoyed.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, this will be a great time to acknowledge many of the wonderful people in my life. Maybe I will make them a treat. I trust Kondi would approve.

 

My command is this: Love each other as I [Jesus] have loved you.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:12-15 NIV

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I love CHRISTmas. I am grateful that God choose to come to earth as a man. Sometime that love gets lost in the buying, wrapping, cooking, decorating, hosting, cleaning, driving and every-other-thing-ing.

This year, I didn’t feel like putting up decorations when I typically do it. But I heard God say in my heart, “you like it when people celebrate your birthday. I like it when you celebrate My half-birthday.” (Jesus was likely born in the spring.) I laughed, because He is right. My birthday is on Halloween and I always say that everything that happens – is happening – for me. So this season, I tried to remember that everything I did was for Him.

I put wreaths in the dining room, garland on the stairs, and fresh evergreens in vases. We put up two trees. The small one is in our family room. It’s pretty and delicate, but had no gifts under it. One morning while sitting near it, I came across a Bible passage that noted how God gives us grace and peace and boy do I need grace and peace.

It dawned on me that the very best gifts I have are not things at all, but salvation, hope and love.

So I decorated empty boxes with oversized tags that remind me of the gifts God gave me in sending His son, and placed them under that tree.

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I encourage you to strategically place a few “labeled” boxes in your home to remind yourself of His great love. I know you will be blessed for it.

Wishing you a Merry CHRISTmas & Joyous New Year

Kelly

I had the honor to speak at chapel for my daughter’s school on 11/16/16. I love speaking to the 4th 5th and 6th graders at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and their teachers and administrators.

This time I was assigned “thanksgiving” as the topic, which was way better than “forgiveness” which I had last time. Or so I thought…

The presentation started really well as I shared the meaning of the word “thanksgiving” as found in Psalm 95:2 and Psalm 100:4. These were the anchor verses I’d been given. But, because my daughter Koah warned me to “not be boring,” we added a short skit with 13 students from her religious studies class. Two teachers had even given all of the “actors” a tunic from another event. We were doing a skit from a day in the life of Jesus, as He healed the Ten Lepers.

ten-lepers

Ten Lepers By Larry Patton (www.larrypatton.com)

As background leprosy was/is a devastating disease of the central nervous system. It made the body numb and caused lepers to injury their limbs, eyes, faces. Often they had sores and deformities. To make it worse the disease was highly contagious. If a person contracted it, he or she was banished from society. The afflicted loss their family, friends, job, synagogue, wealth… lives. Lepers often lived together, but isolated away from everyone else.

This story also confronts what sounds like 21st century bigotry. One of the lepers in the story is noted as a Samaritan. To our modern ears we hear this in context that is much different than the original audience. Samaria was at one time the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. But it fell quickly into sin and was judged by God. It was captured and its enemies moved in and took over. In time the Jewish people intermarried with the Gentile captors. The rest of Israel referred to Samaria’s citizen base as despised half-breeds. The Jewish people in the southern Kingdom hated the Samaritans so much that they would walk miles and miles out of the way to avoid going through Samaria, even through it was the direct route through the territory.

With this said, the actual story is short so I’ll share it directly from Luke 17:11-19 (Amplified Bible)

While Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing [along the border] between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” Jesus said to him, “Get up and go [on your way]. Your faith [your personal trust in Me and your confidence in God’s power] has restored you to health.”

Lessons:

  • Jesus is available to those who seek Him

When the lepers cried out, He was listening and responded

  • Everyone Needs Jesus

Whether we know it or not, we all need His offer of salvation

  • Jesus is willing and able to help/heal

What ever your situation Christ has the ability to make a difference

  • It is wise to ask for His help
  • We have a role – to obey

The lepers were healed as they walked. Obedience to His instruction is crucial.

  • Thankfulness is a choice

Only one person who was healed choose to thank Jesus

  • Those who are thankful get closer to Him

The Samaritan, was in a sense the furthest from Christ as an “outsider” but he was the only one who was healed of leprosy, but had the privilege of having a true and conversation with Jesus. He was brought closer, by expressing thanksgiving.

  • When we give thanks we lift Jesus up and encourage others to receive Him

By sharing our thankfulness with others, we have the opportunity to tell them about Christ and how good He is

As I was sharing the above lessons from the story I was hit with a big aha… I asked the student why did the others not come back. And God said to me… maybe they think they DESERVED to be healed. Kelly, maybe this why YOU are not always thankful. You believe that you deserve my grace.

Yikes!!!!!  As I heard God’s words to me, I’m sure that my expression was that of horror, sadness, and conviction. I was so taken aback that I just shared the revelation with the audience right then. And they looked the same way. Am I really one of the nine?

I am. But prayerfully, not going forward. From now on I am the tenth. I am going to thank God privately and publicly for what He does and I am going to praise Him for who He is. (Because He does what He does, because He is, who He is.)

Here is my challenge to you and me. It’s called 1-4-2.

Praise God at least 1 time, before you start your day. Ideally when you open your eyes and realize that you are awake and lived through the night. Some days I do this. But candidly some days I am downstairs in the kitchen having a cup of coffee and it is not until 15-20 minutes that I say, Good Morning Father. Thank You for giving me life. Some days, it’s much later.

4 is thanking God, four times throughout the day while you are at school, work, running errands, raising your kids. I asked the kids and parents that day for ideals on what we could thank God for: passing a test, pizza for lunch, no homework, enough money to get a full tank of gas, for health, a new pair of show, that we can read, we have enough food, our family, our jobs, etc., etc., etc.

2 encourages us to thank God, at least two more times when you get home or in the evening. Ideally one of these times is when you climb back into bed, as you are grateful to have survived another day.

On this Thanksgiving-Eve in the United State I challenge you to give thanks using 1-4-2 daily between now and CHRISTmas.

If you don’t do it, no condemnation, just try again when you remember. And if you do, no haughtiness, because it is only by God’s grace that we do anything well.

I’d love to hear what you think and how it goes… Thank You Lord, for allowing me to share what You told me to share. May if bring people closer to You, myself included.

Happy Thanksgiving, on Thursday 11-24-16 and everyday!!!

Kelly

I have a soft place in my heart for Halloween. Maybe it’s because October 31st is my birthday. When I was a little girl, back in the stone ages, we dressed up as princesses or cheerleaders and paraded through the neighborhood with parents watching. Today the world has more risk and caution is needed. Some in the Christian Community think it is “ungodly” to celebrate.

candy-cover

Several years ago I read an intriguing book called, Redeeming Halloween, Celebrating without Selling Out by Kim Weir and Pam McCune. They discuss the origin of the holiday and its tie to All Saints Day, which was a time to remember and celebrate Saints and martyrs from Christian history. In a practical sense it is a perfect opportunity to show the love of Christ to the people who ring our doorbells.

Before you start typing a rebuttal email, I ask you to consider two passages from the Bible:

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJ) and Jesus says of Himself, in Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In a nutshell the first verse says that the enemy has not created any days. October 31 is NOT his day. God is the Creator of time and every day belongs to Him. 10/31 is no different. So I am going to rejoice by giving out candied blessings to the people who come to Trick or Treat.

The second passage is where Jesus quotes Isaiah stating that He is now on earth to do what was promised. In the great commission Jesus extends this work to all His followers. Because of the Holy Spirit we now have the ability and responsibility to share the good news of His love with other people so that they can be fully connected with Him. One simple way to share this message is with the treats you giveaway.

A few years ago, our church provided stickers to place on candy that said “Because God Loves you BIG! (Not just fun sized.)” And they encouraged us to buy large sized candy bars to give away. You can create your own version on your computer and tape them to the candy and maybe include the website URL for the place where you worship or your address.

oyddesseyOur family often gives a sample Adventure in Odyssey CD to the first 20 families along with some candy. (Adventures in Odyssey is an outstanding children’s radio program that teaches faith-based concepts in a creative storyline. Check your local radio station for air times, or listen online at http://www.whitsend.org.) You can get samplers online.

If you’ve already bought a bunch of fun sized candy packs, maybe you can bundle them with a note that says – Here’s some Fun Sized Candy to say, “I love you” from a Super-Sized God.

I think this is a great way to show the generosity of our Father.

As you give out treats at your door or walk in your community, you could dress as a person from the Bible… or some other positive role model in history as you smile and share His joy. Who knows, your Queen Esther or Prime Minister Joseph costume might spark great conversations.

Please let me know how you decide to celebrate the Lord of the Harvest, with Halloween babies everywhere.

big-time

Blessings to you and yours,

Kelly

 

 

You are not pretty and you don’t belong here.

These would be really harsh words if I were talking to a person. But I am saying them to weeds in my front yard.

Sometimes several days go by when I don’t notice the front entrance to our home. This is because I typically enter through the door inside the garage.

But, because we have guests at least a few times a month and they enter the front en they door, I want it to be welcoming and look nice, so I garden every couple of weeks…

For the most part, the plants in our yard are easy to take care of and not elaborate. Maybe that’s why the ugly uninvited weeds look so bad when they inevitably show up. I hate them because they are growing all proud and strong like – I’m cute. But they are Not!  They are not pretty and they don’t belong.

weed

I was recently having this discourse with myself and realized that I sometimes have thoughts like the weeds. They are not pretty and don’t belong. Sometimes they are ugly because I am judging someone else or being a hypocrite. Sometimes they are ugly and full of self-pity, which keeps me stuck in bad behavior. They don’t belong because they are not consistent with my faith in Christ.

By His grace, when I ask Him, He takes a divine trowel and digs up the nasty thought weed. He puts down a version of “Preen Weed Preventer” so they don’t grow back as fast. He can do the same thing with any kind of sin. He can do it with anything that keeps us away from Him. Though the weeds are unattractive and create work, I’m grateful that God is using them to help me grow in Him.

 

As Easter approaches or as my Pastor calls it Resurrection Sunday, I see people being more open to teachings from the Bible.

I am so glad that the Bible speaks about all aspects of life, including our dwelling places.

In Deuteronomy 6:9, it says that believers are to write God’s commandments “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”

One modern way to do this is with art and décor. Here are two ideas…

FOS Art FOS Chair Jeremiah Vertical Jere

As you celebrate the glory and joy of the risen Savior on Easter, capture the season by hiding His word in your heart and displaying it in your home and office. This is a great faith builder.

 

The church we attend has a time of praise and worship at the beginning of the service. There’s a lady I love to see there. She is humble and kind and truly depending on God. I’ll just call her Sister-Sister. I noticed Sunday that she was singing with such passion and and love for the Father. She was balancing her Bible in the air as though to offer God her greatest possession, His word. Oh that her example would encourage me and you to seek to give Him the praise He deserves… Because no matter what else, I have salvation… and all the oxygen I need.IMG_1474 Do it Sister-Sister!   Kelly