Saturday, March 18, 2017

Much Beauty in "Beauty and the Beast"

Of all the talks I'm asked to give, my favorite is "Everything Leads to Jesus." I'll ask my audience to place items in a box without my knowledge, and later, I will pull those items out one at a time and present the Gospel from them.  I've found musical instruments, a checkbook, toy robots, and even a rock.  However, I've always been successful in bringing the item to my Savior, and I know that I always will be.  He wants me to speak His name.  He wants me to share His love.  He wants me to be intentional in turning everyday conversations to His grace.

When Christians were up in arms over the Harry Potter franchise coming out, I was simply impressed with the number of children wanting to read! I thought, "Good for J. K. Rowling!" On my sister's recommendation, I read the first book and was immediately hooked.  Not only did Rowling create heart-felt characters, but she also laid a perfect groundwork for sharing the Gospel.  Harry is alive and untouchable by the evil one because of the sacrificial love of his mother.  She laid down her life for him.  Her blood covered him.  All throughout the series, Harry is reminded that it is love that separates him from the bad guy, Voldemort.

Love separates me.  The blood of my Savior covers me and makes me untouchable to the evil one.  Satan cannot have me because Jesus died for me.  He willingly laid down His life for me.  The correlation between the Gospel and Harry Potter is evident and easy to use.

Today, Jackson, Chloe and I went to see "Beauty and the Beast." I have read all the outcries that have been written.  I have scrolled right past all the "Boycott Disney" posts on Facebook knowing full well that I would be going on opening day.  Seriously! Who doesn't absolutely adore a book-loving heroine who will sacrifice herself for her daddy?! I remember the character Lefou as infatuated with Gaston.  He did everything for that conceited, prideful, self-absorbed man.  Lefou withstood all the bullying and abuse that Gaston threw his way, and stayed for more.  Even as a young girl, I thought it was odd behavior for a man.  Today, Lefou was exactly the character I remember with a little more gumption added into the mix. At the end of the story, he recognized the "bad" in Gaston and separated himself by helping to save the castle.

While others are calling for a boycott, I'm going to call for less judgment and more love through sharing the Gospel, and there are many ways to use "Beauty and the Beast" to do so.  Belle sacrificed herself out of love for her daddy, realized the importance of seeing the real person on the inside over the rough exterior, and understood the impact of words.

John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Belle laid down her life for her father's.  She willingly traded places with him in the Beast's cage.  She didn't know the Beast's backstory.  She didn't know the good that would come from her actions.  She only knew that the love she had for her father was too great to allow him to die.

People say, "Actions speak louder than words." However, a former sixth grade student once said, "Actions give volume to our words." I have always loved that interpretation.  We can say we love people all we want, but if all people hear and see is judgment and boycotts then our words of love are muted.  Let's sacrifice  ourselves to share God's love.  Let's sacrifice our righteous indignation to embrace opportunities to build His Kingdom.  Let's lay down the hatred in order to offer His grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Remember, Jesus shared a meal with a sinner in the home of that sinner.  How can we reach the world if we are not willing to befriend the world?

Once Belle sacrificed her life for her father's, she was faced with another choice.  Judge the Beast based on his exterior, or take a moment to see beyond.  I Samuel 16:7 says, " looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." Belle was intrigued with stories; she loved books; she loved words.  Listening to the Beast's story made him real to her and not just a terrifying monster from which to cower.  Belle allowed herself to know the inner beast and found compassion for his pain.  Because she was able to see his heart she was able to love him.  I am so very thankful that God is able to see my heart, to see my true self and love me in spite of it all.

After sacrificing herself for her father and looking beyond the rough exterior of the Beast, Belle spoke the very words which had the greatest impact in the story.  She said, "I love you." She spoke the words we all knew to be true.  Her actions throughout the story told us she loved him.  She saved him.  She nursed him.  She laughed with him.  She listened to him.  She taught him.  She learned from him.  She returned for him.  She fought with him.  Her life spoke of love, but it was the power in the spoken words that ended the curse.

Romans 10:14 says, "How can people call on Him unless they believe in Him? How can they believe in Him unless they hear about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?" Someone has to TELL them.  Someone has to use words to express the reasons for their actions.  You can live a righteous life and be the best person in the world, but if you never tell anyone why you live as you do no one will ever know Jesus.  At some point, someone HAS to open their mouth and speak His name.

I encourage every single one of you to go watch "Beauty and the Beast," and then talk about it with your neighbors, co-workers, facebook friends, and family.  Discuss the ridiculous, frivolous boycott.  Elaborate on the incredible soundtrack.  Gush over the beautiful costumes.  In all of the talk though, be sure you turn the conversation to Jesus. Be sure you parallel the plot of Belle and the prince to the greatest story ever told.

Remember, everything leads to Jesus!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finding Freedom

"Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us..."  Hebrews 12:1

The sin that so easily ensnares... entangles... traps... complicates... perplexes... snarls... tangles... burdens me.  The sin that bewilders me.  The sin that ruins me and the "us" that my life represents.  Even though it isn't the same for everyone, we all have a sin like this.  That one thing that continually creeps back into our thoughts and actions.  That one sin that captures our attention and makes us believe that it is necessary for whatever reason. 

I have one of those sins.  It has been a struggle for me since I was a young girl and introduced to a world I shouldn't have known about at that age.  Innocence intermingled with imagination, and my world changed.  The world inside of me changed while the world around me stayed the same.  The struggle, the battle for my mind began, and I guarantee you that my Savior will win! It's getting to that win that leaves scars.

Scars...Jesus' are visible as His body was pierced and ripped open.  Mine are invisible as I allow my heart to be shattered by my own choices.  Sometimes, mine are also visible as the entrapment of sin affects the ones I love and cherish.  I see the ugliness of heartbreak and pain, and I wonder how in the world I let that happen! When I have the power of the Almighty God living inside of me, why would I choose anything else? When I have the tools at my disposal to defeat the enemy who wants to destroy me, why would I not whisper the name of Jesus? One little word with great impact.

Words...powerful, life-changing, inspiring, imaginative words.  I love words and their ability to move me and create emotions as they are built upon one another.  Not only do words have the magical ability to transport me to another world, they also captivate my attention and lead to an escape and release from stress and even reality. And while I advocate for the use of the most excellent words, my perplexing sin can lead me straight to words that are not consistent with my teaching. They are not consistent with my Savior.  My Savior who provides freedom from this burden loves me and calls me to be free.

Freedoms...the blood of Jesus has set me free.  I am free from the chains of sin, even the most tiresome, complicated, familiar sin.  I am free from the harassment of Satan as he tries to lure me back in and destroy my world.  I am free from the heartbreak of disappointment in myself.  I am free from humiliation of admitting my addiction to the entanglement.  This freedom is sometimes only in knowledge as I search for it everyday. 

Everyday I must trust my Savior to guide me to His Him as He is Truth.  Everyday I must rely on Him and His precious name to remain free from the grip of sin and live in the grip of His grace. Everyday I am finding freedom.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lucky #13

2013! Happy New Year!  A new year brings an opportunity to begin again..just like every new day, and every new six weeks in school!  It is an opportunity to start something fresh and new; a time to reflect and refocus.  The Bible says that "Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning."  Psalm 30:5  God points out to us that He has provided moments to choose a new path, a new discovery, a new attitude.  So, what will you choose for yourself today?  Will you embrace the joy that our Heavenly Father is willingly providing for you?  It can be found in Him alone.  Choose to be in His Word today and everyday.  Choose to meet with Him and gain the wisdom that only He can grant.

Most people view 13 as an unlucky number.  Scary movies have been made based on the belief.  However, I don't believe in luck.  I believe in the power and sovereignty of an almighty God.  So, I believe that '13 is going to be a blessed year!  Lucky '13 is going to be everything I choose to make it!  That's the thing about a person and as a Christian.  I get to choose.  God allows me the freedom to make my own choices.  He has graciously provided His wisdom and instruction that comes with a fabulous set of outcomes with every choice to assist me in my decision making.  (Love that!)  Another thing He has gifted us with is an incredible book full of stories of other men and women who received the same freedoms.  We can learn from their successes and failures.

I Chronicles 13:13 (13th book of the Bible, 13th chapter and 13th case you were curious!) " He [David] did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite."

In this chapter, David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.  He asked everyone their opinion; they all agreed.  So, he set up a big fanfare with a band and parade and everyone came out to celebrate!  They were dancing and having a grand time bringing the ark home.  However, they were not obeying.  God had specifically told them how to transport the ark; David did not pay attention.  He did what he wanted to do.  The ark began slipping to the ground; one of the men moving the ark reached out to grab it.  He died on the spot...just as God said would happen.
As you can imagine, that is the end of that party. 

David got mad at God.  Crazy, huh?  David was displeased that God did exactly as He said He would.  David was bothered that God didn't just go along with what he was doing. It was a good thing to bring the ark home.  It was a good thing to be celebrating the return of the very presence of God.  David was leading a fabulous celebration and everyone was there to witness the occasion.  But in the details David was careless and it cost a man his life.  In the details David rushed past and was embarrassed.  Instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness, he got mad at God and pouted.  He stored the ark and didn't follow through on the very thing he committed to do. 

He stored the ark in the home of Obed Edom for 3 months.  The ark of the covenant...the very presence of God was stored!  And the family of Obed-Edom was blessed!  Now, that is lucky! (if you believe in that kind of thing!)

Seek God's approval...not man's.  Obey completely.  Trust the outcome.  Do everything without grumbling and complaining.  Rest in the blessings that await when you obey.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Momma's Words

A couple of years ago I found a writing contest I wanted to enter.  As I begin to pray through and organize my thoughts I decided to use my mom's letters as the foundation for my article.  She died after my first semester of college so I only have 3 months of notes and letters but they are full of wisdom and love.  I went to the filing cabinet where I kept them, took out the envelope which held them all, and was devastated to discover it held other things.  I searched everywhere, but with no luck.  You can imagine my heartache as I cried over the loss of her last words to me.  One letter in particular included words of wisdom that I cherished.  I had her words memorized but seeing them in her handwriting made them a tad more powerful.

Last night I was going through some old things...tossing out what wasn't needed.  I came across some cards from dear friends, a thank you letter from a special friend for her 30th birthday party, pictures from college, and a picture with a note from my mom that I kept on my wall during college.  Another find was one of mom's letters!  And not just one of was the very one that I wanted most dearly!  Tears just flowed down my cheeks when I recognized her handwriting on the heart stopped in my chest and when I took out the letter and realized it held the dearest words of wisdom.  Let's just say, I nearly fell apart!

I read that letter aloud and was so moved by the timeliness of her words for today!  It might be 25 years later, but her words are fitting for me now because her wisdom was based on the word of God.  His words never change and they are always the answer I need.  He is always faithful to me the very things I desire without even asking for them. 

I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Who I Am

I am a girl who grew up with a daddy that told her she was beautiful everyday...he still greets me with a "Hi, beautiful!"  (Now, he says that to his wife, my sister, and my daughter, but that's not important right now!) He told me if I ever heard someone whistle to turn and wave because they were whistling at me!  I always heard people say I looked just like my mom and I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. 

I am a girl who always dreamed of being a mom...just like mine!  Playing games, riding bikes, going on picnics, playing cards and reading together.  I learned to bake cookies just like she did, gave my best effort at learning to sew (didn't take), and took to heart the importance of solid, strong friendships (II Timothy 2:22).

I am a girl who deeply desires to be on the heels of my Savior.  I cherish the few years as a teenager when I was blessed to attend First Southern Del City because that is where the passion for journaling my relationship with Christ began.  I knew that if God could and would speak personally through His word to the other girls in my small group than He would talk with me. 

I am a girl with faith larger than a mustard seed.  I believe!  I trust!  I take people at their word and expect them to follow through.  With God I never have, nor will I ever, be disappointed.  With people, I have had my heart broken more times than it can bear.  And yet, my faith continually puts me in the place of trusting and expecting.

I am a girl that was blessed to become a mom!  Many girls do not get to receive the joy and blessing of motherhood and I count it a huge honor to have Jackson, Cameron and Chloe entrusted to my care!  I love playing with them, teaching them (Proverbs 22:6), challenging them, and loving them!  Watching them grow and mature is humbling as they are surpassing me in so many ways!

I am a girl that has made mistakes.  I can pinpoint several times in my life where I ignored the escapes God provided from temptations and yet He saved me from myself.  I remember a time when I fully recognized the escape He was offering me and I ignored it completely. (I Corinthians 10:13) I am ever so humbly blessed that He is a forgiving God who overflows with love for me! 

I am a girl who is not defined by her past...even her recent one.  I am a daughter of the most high King!  I am loved and sought after!  I am valued and forgiven! (I John 1:9) I am the girl I committed to be on April 24, 1974, when I asked Jesus to be my Savior.  I am the girl I confessed to the world in September 1976, when I shouted by example through baptism that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus (Romans 1:16)!

I am a girl who is resting in the peace lovingly provided through the Holy Spirit as I make decisions to be the best me I can be.  (John 14:27)  I am a girl who will thrive through the fulfillment of the desires God placed in the depths of my soul. (Proverbs 13:19)  He knows me...He created me...He longs for me to be fulfilled and complete.

I am a girl that has found success!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What a Thrill!

Getting outside your comfort zone is refreshing and necessary.  Necessary to a life committed to laughter and fullness, that is!  Today, I stepped out of my comfort zone.  I danced...on myself (for a brief moment) front of Michael Jackson's Thriller!   I'm posting the video to prove I did it...but it isn't much to see!  You can't hear the music because the audience is going wild!!  (middle school and high school students after finals!  They would cheer for anyone! lol!) I also have no moves!  I watched the Thriller video this morning thinking I would learn some dance didn't work out! 

But I had fun and I laughed!!  I laughed before I got on stage, while I was on stage, when I was exiting the stage, and even now, I am still laughing!  It isn't much...but laughter is everything!  What a thrill!

Laughter is where life happens!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mama Cravings

I'm stealing...borrowing (because imitation is the greatest form of flattery! :) ) title today from a friend's blog (check it out! ).  Her title has truly intrigued me because I have some definite cravings.  I crave laughter...Coke...chocolate and coconut...quiet time to read...the presence of people I love...and, most definitely, my children! 

I remember when I had to go back to work full-time in 2003.  It broke my heart to leave my precious little boys at home...even though God had blessed me with a dear friend who loved them thoroughly! (Amy, I will always remember those years you gave me!  And I realize it was a gift because you worked for  nothing! Thank you!) Those years I prayed for God to honor the mother's heart that He, Himself, had placed in me.  He gave me the be home with them.  Yet, life had me working.  I cried many tears throughout those days begging for a way to satisfy my craving.

God answered with our precious Chloe!  He increased the depth of my heart and fulfilled a craving I didn't even realize I had!  I quit my full-time job the day she was born!  And, although I have continued working it has been in positions that have allowed me time at home.  Just not as much as I crave...

I have missed countless field trips, class parties and being in pickup lines after school.  I have missed out on the dream of having fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies on the counter when the kids get home from school.

Even right now, I am missing Jackson and Cameron's awards assembly at school.  I realize it isn't a big thing...and my sister is there with a camera...but I want to be there.  I crave the time to invest in my boys letting them know that I value them and their achievements.  Cravings are, at their core, selfish desires...even if they have healthy benefits for others.  A craving is something one desires from deep within.  Webster says it is an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing.

I have that longing in several areas of my life, but I pray with my children it isn't abnormal. :)  I have an intense desire to be successful in raising Godly children with strong work ethic and commitment to excellence in every area of their life.  I have an urgent longing to spend quality time with each of them individually.  I crave their love and respect. I crave their attention.

God created me to be a mother and I pray I honor Him with my cravings!