Monday, August 31

A Music Lesson

In writing musical compositions, the composer will sometimes insert a mark called a “rest.” The dictionary defines a rest as an interval of silence between tones, marked with a symbol. Several signs are used and each one corresponds with a note value to indicate the length of the pause, in other words, a silence of a certain duration.

In the perfection of the composition, the rest must be observed, during which the beat still continues. After the rest, the next note is played right on time and the music resumes. The break is a part of the arrangement; nothing is lacking. On the contrary, interest and attention are heightened.

Each instrument must be played according to the timing and notes written for it for the melody to be evident. Though the composition for each instrument is different, each note written for that instrument must be followed in order for the conductor to orchestrate the harmony.

David knew his compositions needed these pauses, these rest periods, and sprinkled them throughout his psalms. The word is ‘selah,’ which, in Hebrew, means suspension or pause, to lift up or exalt, a technical musical term possibly showing accentuation or interruption.

God writes a composition for each of our lives for His purpose of alignment, direction, and harmony. And in His design of things, a rest is occasionally necessary.

When our lives are interrupted with some conflict, some heartache, it is as the pause in the composition, a break in the rhythm of things, and, if we are attuned and fitting into His timing and His plan, the sweet melody of life will play on. Each trial or anguish has its own length of duration, during which, God continues to conduct the rhythm of our lives. And the beat goes on.

As His instruments, we rest in His timing, His direction, stopping to pay attention to every stroke of His Conductor’s baton and following every note (as every command) of His Composition (His Word). When the hiatus is over, the harmony of life begins once again.

As the music of the composition comes from within an instrument, so the music of life comes from within your soul. The Master Conductor writes the composition then conducts it upon your life. Are you following His Composition or playing your own tune?

The Master Conductor says to you…

“I use only those instruments that are in tune with My great purposes.

“I choose My special instruments and give them the vigorous training that only I know they need. They must become very adept at the music they play. They must practice - practice - practice. Then and only then are they sensitive enough to know the tune I want them to play.

“Beautiful sounds can come only from one that is so completely attuned to My every wish, to each stroke of My baton. The pause for suffering makes very special instruments. They bring beautiful music not only to the ears of others but also to Mine. These are the ones that are very precious to Me.

“You are one of the precious ones. You are a special instrument that is being fine-tuned for great service, to play beautiful music for the Master Conductor.

“My harmony is the sweetest when played on the instruments that lay closest to My feet. And I know that you sit adoringly at My Son’s precious feet - in true worship and praise.”

The greatest joy, success, achievement, and satisfaction can only come when we learn our music lessons and allow God to conduct our lives. That we might make melodious harmony in before His throne.

“All these were under the direction of their father for the music in the house of the Lord.” 1 Chronicles 25:6a NKJV


Sunday, August 30

Prayer Power...Interview with Author

Today, it is my pleasure to bring you an interview with Peter Lundell, author of Prayer Power. Leave a comment, and if there are five or more comments, your name will be eligible to receive the following…

Prayer Power by Peter Lundell
When God Turned off the Lights by Cecil Murphey
Committed but Flawed by Cecil Murphey
Also includes: Prayer Journal, Pen, and Candle

*Many Christians don’t talk about hardships with prayer. Why do you open up about the struggles you have had drawing close to God in prayer?

My first draft of the book read like an instruction manual of all the things you ought to do to be spiritual like me. I realized that the more spiritual I tried to sound, the less honest I was being. I was hiding behind my words. No reader should have to put up with all that. And besides, it was boring.

So I determined to be totally honest. I rewrote the book and openly shared my doubts, struggles, and failures, because everybody goes through the same things. And if I’m not honest with readers, how can I expect readers to be honest with others or even themselves?

I take sort of an “I mess up and you mess up, but God loves us anyway, so let’s connect with him” approach. Readers often tell me how much they identify with that. And when they read about how God still worked amazing things in my life and in others’, it gives them hope.

I’ve discovered two things: First, honesty is liberating, and I don’t want to live any other way. Second, when we stick with prayer and don’t give up, answers and victories rise from our struggles. Answers and victory never rise from pretending.

I hope to connect with readers so that they’ll in turn connect with me and the victories I’ve experienced—so that they will experience their own victories.

*What are some of the things God has taught you about prayer over the years - especially from the perspective of your leadership roles?

It’s good to listen before I talk. If I always dive into prayer and never spend time listening, I only dump my own “give-me list” on God. But his word says in 1 John 5:14–15 that when I seek and pray according to his will, my prayer will be answered. So the key is to first get in sync with God.

We’ve got to have a hunger, or thirst, for God. Without hunger, no program or technique or anything we learn will go anywhere. But with hunger for God, we could know almost nothing and still have a great prayer life. Hunger is singularly important—which is why it’s the first chapter.

When I pray with faith and don’t get what I ask for, God will soon show me why. There is always something to learn in unanswered prayer.

*What do you mean by "praying boldly" and how can Christians learn to do that?

Praying boldly is the opposite of excessively polite prayer and of—I’ll just say it—wimpy prayer. Praying boldly is praying without intimidation, not caring what other people think, expressing ourselves to God without concern for being appropriate or religiously correct but rather with a passion from our guts that pours out, unashamedly. Bold prayer is not arrogant. It’s humble and faithful, because of its self-abandoned focus on God and expectation of what God will do.

People often assume they must be polite or solemn before God. Nowhere does the Bible teach this. Two thirds of the Psalms are complaints, and they are not polite. Most prayers in both Old and New Testaments are bold, expectant, and to the point. When Jesus teaches on prayer in Luke 11:5–10, he talks about an obnoxious guy who bangs on his friend’s door at midnight. Then he says we should bug him the same way by continually asking, seeking, and knocking. I often wonder if God gets tired of diplomatic prayers. Why else would he actually tell us to be bold and persistent—and use examples that, if we were on the receiving end, most of us would say are obnoxious.

There’s no real method to doing this. It’s a mindset that chooses to free itself from previous assumptions and uses the Bible as a model of how to pray.

*How can we practice the presence of God and include him in everyday tasks?

Practicing the presence of God primarily has to do with developing an attitude, a continual awareness that God is always with us, and that in turn, we always incline our attention toward him.

The first thing most of us need to do is to slow down or cut unnecessary activities from our calendar. Busyness is an enemy to practicing the presence of God. Jesus repeatedly blew off other people’s agendas for him and continually focused on his purpose for being here. Pastors who do the same are always happier, closer to God, and more effective. And when we practice the presence of God, we increase our ability to be intimate with him when times do get busy.

Here are some practices that may help develop that attitude: My last thought before I sleep and my first thought when I wake up is centered on God. When I get mad or stressed, I try to see things from God’s perspective. When I am waiting for someone, I use that time to pray. I do menial tasks with an awareness and love of God. I often have a praise song on my mind as I go through the day.

*What advice would you give to people who struggle with God when they pray?

True men and women of prayer will sometimes struggle in prayer, as did many figures in the Bible, like Jacob’s symbolic wrestling with the angel and Jesus’ wrestling over his fate in Gethsemane.

Like anyone else, I struggle with unanswered prayer or major decisions to do something by faith, when tragedy strikes, problems of injustice, and healings that take a lot longer than I’d like. The key is to keep struggling—don’t give up and too quickly assume something is God’s will before you know for sure. The angel commended Jacob for not giving up until he got a blessing. God the Father actually sent an angel to help Jesus wrestle in Gethsemane. Sometimes wrestling in prayer is God’s will for us.

Wrestling in prayer is actually a good thing. It draws us closer to God. And it changes us in the process. And that’s what most of us hope for!

Prayer Power can be purchased at Amazon

Peter can be found at his website

Tuesday, August 25

Not a Day for Words

Today is one of those days. You know. You’ve had them. Your heart is aching because life aimed its fiery darts at your heart and set it on fire and you need to hear some precious words of comfort from the Lord.

Maybe you tossed all night, kicking off the hot covers, turning over the tear-stained pillow a thousand times, hearing nothing but the beat of your own heart.

Maybe you watched for the first glint of dawn, as the clock seduced you to check it every fifteen minutes.

Maybe the words you need to hear are not for yourself but for someone you love dearly who is hurting, deeply hurting.

You yell out, “Lord, where are You?”

Then comes this whisper from the Still Small Voice…

“Today is not a day for many words. Just believe and sit quietly before Me. Open your heart and be aware of My Presence.”

After that, no more words. Nada. Zilch. Zippity-do-dah!

But then, verses bubble up from within…

*“Be still, and know…” (Ps. 46:10 NKJV)

*“But He answered her not a word.” (Matt. 15:23 NKJV)

*“She came and, kneeling, worshiped Him and kept praying.” (Matt. 15:25 Amp)

*“And behold, a woman…stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.” (Luke 7:37-38 NKJV)

How often do we sit at the feet of our Lord just to feel His nearness, His heartbeat, His love? How often do we seek a handout rather than to hold His hand? Do we open our hearts and pour out upon Him that precious perfume of our love…without saying a word?

David wrote, “What a blessing is that stillness as He brings them safely into harbor!” (Ps. 107:30 TLB) When you experience His stillness, may it be a soft resonance within you as harmony, safety, and peace.

Oh, Lord, when in the blackest hours of my pain, when adversity attempts to overwhelm me, and there is no word from You, I will believe You are still near. I will believe You linger by my side, though unnoticed, holding my hand, though not felt. I will believe You gently wipe away all my tears. I will believe You lovingly hold my heart in Your nail-scarred hands. I will believe You soothe all my hurts. Lord, may I sit adoringly at Your feet to seek Your Presence rather than Your hand, to seek Your heartbeat rather than Your words. Amen!

Friday, August 21

The Old Oak Tree

“The tree you saw was growing very tall and strong, reaching high into the heavens for all the world to see. It had fresh green leaves…Wild animals lived in its shade, and birds nested in its branches.” (Dan. 4:20-21 NLT)

That was our tree. Now gone. Only emptiness remains. A void in the beauty of the yard where the once grand, old oak tree stood. Disease invaded the rings of his time-worn torso. Even so, cutting him down seemed cruel. He existed only for the service for others.

In the hot, summer sun, his leaves unfurled like a canopy of shade for everyone’s comfort. The full breadth of his limbs became a playground for the silly squirrels, as they hopped from branch to branch, playing Run, Chief, Run.

In the humid evenings, while the tree frogs croaked their lullabies and the crickets joined in the chorus, the fireflies blinked their dance of the nightlights, lulling him to sleep.

In the midst of fall, as the sunlight emblazoned his boughs, he put on a multicolored coat of beauty, just for our enjoyment. Seedlings of hope fell from his limbs to the ground, spreading out his tiny descendants of the future.

When the brisk winds of fall whipped around him, he dropped his radiant coat, standing naked to greet winter’s chill. Then, the delicate snows dressed him in a gown of white.

In spring, he blossomed with new growth and fanned out like a peacock, exploding with pride as he became the stage for the birds’ annual songfest. Transformed into the local bed and breakfast for all the nestmakers, he opened his arms and welcomed them into his home.

He loved the fragrance of the floral bouquet that grew at his feet. The neighborhood cats sought their refuge in the security of his heights. And the dogs, well, let’s just say they kept his sod turned over.

Years of growth created roots that spread out deep and wide, keeping him firmly planted. He laughed at the winds and shook his branches at them, as if to scare them away. When storms came, he bowed only slightly to their strength, standing immovable in his place. His strength was born out of testing.

As time passed, he grew knotty and hard, dried out and rough. His sickness, once internal and secret, became external and open. Disease took its toll.

The arborist came and, after cutting him down, left behind some remnants, which we laid to rest in the fireplace. The arborist’s saw revealed his inner progress as ring after ring attested to his stamina throughout the years. Once again, he gave himself for the use of others, as we warmed ourselves in front of the blaze.

As the flames began to engulf him, there came a sound, a whistle. No, it was a melody. The song of the tree. From within the tree’s heart, the fire released all the sweet songs of the birds singing amongst his branches, the sounds of kids giggling as they raced around him, the twitters of the squirrels running to and fro, and the hubbub of the cicadas and the tree frogs.

Remembering all these sounds, he began to sing in the fire, his song of praise drawn out by the flames. But if not for the fire, the song would not have been released. A song of praise to glorify his Creator.

As I listened to his song, I asked myself: Do I exist to serve others? Do I welcome others into my life? Do I open my arms to comfort and care for others? Do I display a beautiful exterior while my interior is knotty, hard, and diseased? Do I plant seeds of hope for the future? Do beautiful things grow around me?

As the years pass, do my roots grow deeper and wider, giving me stability? When the winds of adversity come, do I laugh at them? When the storms of heartache beat upon me, do I stand immovable? Do I gain strength out of my testing? Have I allowed my hidden sin to become visible, or have I repented of it? When I am tossed into the fires of affliction and the flames lap up around me, do I sing sweet songs of praise and thanksgiving to my Creator?

Oh, Lord, let me grow to be a true testament of Your love and compassion. Let my branches reach out to those around me and bring them comfort in their trying times. Make me into that beautiful creation You intended me to be. Let my strength be born out of my testing. And Lord, if the only way my heart will sing its melodies to You is when I am in the fires of affliction, then fan the flames ever hotter.

Thursday, August 20

Exceeding Your Expectations

It is my privilege to present an interview with Linda Olson, inspirational speaker, leadership coach, and author of Exceeding Your Expectations.

Linda, you have a strong leadership background. You have served for more than thirty-five years both in Canada and the United States as Dean of Women, Marriage & Family Therapist, Women’s Ministry Director and a Creative Memories Director. Recently you founded a program called, Made for Something More. Share with us how that came about?

LINDA: I served as Women’s Ministry Director at three churches over a fourteen year period. As I was invited on full time staff to entrepreneur a women’s program with over 5,000 attendees, I knew this was more than a position, it was a calling. During that time I searched for resources to develop my leaders and came up empty-handed. It was at that time God laid on my heart to begin developing a program for Christian Women in Leadership. In the program, Made for Something More, I was developing a five-part series with books, teleseminars, DVD’s and other resources. When it came down to getting my first book published, God laid on my heart a sixth book, Exceeding your Expectations.

Why are you passionate about the message in this book?

LINDA: Like many people today, I didn’t have any dreams or expectations. Growing up on the farm in mid-west Canada, life was more about surviving than it was thriving. It seemed the biggest expectation was to bring in a big enough crop or sell enough cattle to pay the bills and cover basic living expenses. I learned to survive rather than thrive.

When did that change for you?

LINDA: I entered Bible College as a shy, inhibited teenager seeking God’s direction for my life. It was there that I met students with dreams and aspirations. They were enjoying life and had a purpose. It triggered something in me that made me realize I was made for so much more. During those three years at a dormitory college my life blossomed.

So, how did that change things?

LINDA: I knew God had a special purpose for my life. I had gained confidence, self-esteem and many leadership skills. Big doors began to open. At 21 years of age I was invited to become Dean of Women at Trinity Western University on the west coast of Canada. It was the beginning of a 35-year leadership journey where God has exceeded my expectations beyond my wildest dreams.

We are all affected by our present economy in one way or another. Besides a job and enough money to hang on to our home what are people looking for and how can we help them?

LINDA: Besides the tangible things people are looking for encouragement, hope, peace, health, and security. When the woman at the well said to Jesus, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep”, she was looking to the well for practical answers. It’s the same thing we do when we look to our circumstances hoping for changes that will transform our life. The answers are not in the well nor are they in our circumstances. They are in the Almighty. We need to look to Him and trust Him to fulfill the many promises He has given us.

What was the turning point for the woman at the well?

LINDA: The turning point occurred when Jesus brought her face to face with her fear. He said, “Go call your husband and come back.” Jesus knew her struggle with relationships, so why would He ask her to call her husband? He needed to know if she was willing to confess her situation and take responsibility. She needed to face her fear and know she could move beyond it.

How can we learn to exceed our expectations?

LINDA: Before Jesus exceeded this woman’s expectation with living water she had to:

*Recognize her need for change
*Be willing to take responsibility for herself (take down emotional barriers)
*Commit herself to Him (believe in Who He was and What He had to offer)

It isn’t any different for us. We need to be open to change (recognize our need for change), be willing to take responsibility and commit our day and our situation to Him (and leave it in His hands). When we do that He will exceed our expectations.

Where do we often fall short?

LINDA: It’s not in having an expectation we go wrong, but rather in hanging on to our expectations. We want something to happen at a particular time and we hang on like it is our right. The other area where we often fall short is NOT being willing to wait silently. If we are willing to submit our expectations to God every morning and wait on Him, He will far exceed them.

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my (personal responsibility) expectation (hope) is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense.” Psalm 62:5,6

What resources do you have available for us?

LINDA: There are several things available that you can find on my website which is

*Coordinating Journal, Goliath Challenge – My gift to you.
*My new book & DVD, Exceeding Your Expectations
*Capturing your Vision – is a program where I will work with a leadership team and teach them to Capture their vision, Explode their influence and Bring $ back to their organization. As part of that program I speak to their group equipping and empowering women to recognize their value and their potential. Teleseminar Series – for anyone who wants to go deeper. This series consists of 6 teleseminars as well as time for leaders to ask their personal questions.

Thanks, Linda! God bless!

Friday, August 14

Have You Taken Out the Garbage Lately?

Have you ever been asked this question before…

If you were a book, what would your title be?

I have, several times, and my answer has always been…Taking Out the Garbage!

Having junk in my life that displeases the Lord is of great concern to me. I want to take out the garbage!

So, I ask myself…

* Do I recognize all the garbage that I allow in my life?
* Do I know how to rout out the unholiness and get rid of it?

Holiness is not an option, for, without it, the writer of Hebrews says, “Seek to live a clean and holy life, for one who is not holy will not see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14 TLB) Yikes!

As God fills each of us, as His temple, with His holiness through Christ’s salvation, He cleanses us of our sins. However, the upkeep of holiness depends solely on us.

The book of Hebrews also says, “We Christians are God’s house - He lives in us!” (Heb. 3:6b TLB) So, then, do we give Him a clean place to live, or is it all filled with trash? If we are His temple, we must be diligent in routing out all unholiness in our lives.

Hezekiah knew how to get rid of the unholiness in the temple.

When King Ahaz ruled, his tenacious mission consisted of destroying and removing all things holy. He turned away from his religious heritage and built heathen altars to worship Baal and Molech, which he did by sacrificing his firstborn son by throwing him into the fire.

When it came to the temple in Jerusalem, short of pulverizing it, he rummaged through it, gave away its treasures, removed all the sacred utensils, and bolted its doors.

After his death, his son Hezekiah, obviously not the firstborn, was made king. In the first month of his reign, he called all the Levites and priests back into service and told them, “Our ancestors were unfaithful to the LORD our God and did what was displeasing to Him. They abandoned Him and turned their backs on the place where He dwells. They closed the doors of the temple, let the lamps go out, and failed to burn incense or offer burnt offerings in the temple of the God of Israel.” (2 Chron. 29:7 GNB)

Hezekiah then reopened the temple doors and repaired them. After he commanded the Levites and priests to cleanse themselves, he told them to cleanse and purify the house of Jehovah and to “carry out the filth from the Holy Place.” (2 Chron. 29:5 Amp) The Message version states it this way, “Give this much-defiled place a good housecleaning.”

What did they find when they entered the temple?

* The court permeated with garbage and vermin.
* The altars absent of their aroma of burnt offerings for sin and for worship.
* The sweet smell of the incense of prayers dissipated.
* The laver’s bowl depleted of its last drop of water.
* The table emptied of its fellowship of sacred bread, the crumbs carried off by rats.
* The lamps stood cold and dark, doused by an evil blast of air.
* The vessels of service no longer adorned the veiled recesses.

The house of God had been ransacked, stripped of its illumination, revelation, and glory.

Haven’t we all done the same thing at times to God’s temple within us? We permit looters to ransack and haul off His precious treasures from our hearts; we slam the door shut and bar His presence, allowing the world’s garbage to accumulate and quenching the Holy Spirit by dousing His light.

We disregard the well of Living Water, letting it go unattended and dry up. We acquiesce to the snatching of the Bread-Word right off the sacred table by the rat-enemy. We ignore burning the sweet incense of prayer or offering the sacrifice of praise, leaving our altar empty.

After the Levites and priests made a thorough housecleaning, they took all the debris from the temple to the Brook Kidron to be washed away.

Are our efforts exhaustive enough to rid ourselves of all the unwanted garbage in our lives? Have we taken the debris and dumped it in the stream of God’s forgiveness to be washed away, never to fish it out again?

When all had been cleansed, including the people, Hezekiah told the people to bring their sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the Lord. So, the house was returned to its holy order.

After taking the garbage out and cleansing our temple, do we return it to its holy order…

* asking for forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice,
* refilling the well of Living Water,
* replenishing the table of fellowship with the sacred Bread of Life,
* relighting the lamp of the Lord with the oil of the Spirit,
* and returning to our knees to fill up the heavenly, golden bowl with the incense of our prayers, offering the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving on God’s holy altar?

May our hearts be so averse to the slightest thought of unholiness that we constantly keep our temples swept clean and in holy order.

Thursday, August 13

Sweet Recognition!

In one sense, this is a pleasurable post for me. I have received several very special awards for my blog from some very special people and I would like to thank them for their generosity. This has been a long time coming for some of them because, unfortunately, the fibromyalgia caused me to forget about them. And for that, I deeply apologize to these precious people.

They have touched my heart with their kindness. I know I’ve probably left someone out. I know for sure that one was lost when my computer decided to conk out.

In another sense, it’s not that pleasurable because I hate to talk or write about myself. But here goes! The following are the awards and the people who have given them…

1) Proximity

This award is Proximity, which is explained this way: “This blog invests and believes in Proximity - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

* Deb Burton at The Greatest Mission Trip You’ll Ever Take

2) The Premio Dardas Award

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among bloggers. It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the web.

* Julie Arduini at The Surrendered Scribe

* You can find Rita Gerlach at Inspire, The Musings of a Historical Romance Writer

* Tammy Hensel can be found at Dedicated Writer

3) Lemonade award

“When Life Gives You Lemons, make Lemonade” Award, for short, The Lemonade Award.

This is from Lynda Schab, over at On the Write Track

4) One lovely blog award

This award is self explanatory. It was given by…

* K. M. (Katie) Weiland can be found on one of her sites, such as Wordplay

* Connie Arnold can be found on one of her poetry sites, such as Inspirational Poetry of Joy and Peace

* Sarah Bolme can be found on one of her sites, such as Marketing Christian Books

* Tamera Lynn Kraft can be found on one of her several blogs, such as WordSharpeners

5) The Humane Award

The Humane Award honors certain bloggers who are kindhearted individuals who regularly support blogs with their sweet comments. They have tastefully done blogs that are updated on a regular basis.

This award is from Donna Shepherd, who can be found on one of her sites, such as Topsy Tales

6) Honest Scrap Award

With the Honest Scrap Award, the rules state that I must share eight things about myself and nominate a bushel of other people to the lofty heights of Scrap. Well, one of these said ten things, but I’m sticking with the eight!

This award came from…

* Alisa Hope Wagner at Faith Imagined

* John Long on one of his sites, such as Peace be the Journey

* Lorrie at Grow Up Deep

Since these last three are the latest ones, I’ll respond…reluctantly! ‘Cause you don’t know how much I hate talking/writing about myself and it’s not interesting anyway! Ugh!

1) My favorite colors are red, yellow, gold, some greens, and some blues.
2) I l-o-v-e my fruits and veggies!
3) Since my family were real estate developers, when they built the first large apartment complex in our city, they named it after me.
4) My favorite coffee is hazelnut, with half and half and a little sugar! Oh, yum! Be right back…gotta go get some!
5) I celebrated my 52nd spiritual birthday last month.
6) I was so skinny when I was younger that a good friend always teased me and said that when I stood sideways and stuck out my tongue, I looked like a zipper! Ha! Not any more!
7) I’m going to my 45th high school reunion next month. Yay! Gotta lose weight!
8) Whoever leaves our house gets waved at from the front door!

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of fluff and appreciation. I could never pass these on to all the people necessary to conform to the rules of these awards. So, I’ll just say, with a full heart, thank you all so much. You’ve touched me and honored me!

Please visit the sites of these awesome people! They’re all worth your while!

Sunday, August 9

The Sweet Aroma of Crushing

Have you ever experienced a devastating circumstance in your life? At one time or another, we all go through trials that attempt to crush us, squeeze us, bruise us, or set us on fire. Though these difficulties strike us, many times their impact will bring beauty out of chaos, if we allow it.

Some things only achieve their greatest design through crushing blows…

*The squeezing of grapes produces sweet wine.
*The pressing of olives extracts their delectable oil.
*Only when wheat is ground is it useful for making bread.
*The crushing of flower petals releases their oil for fragrance.
*Incense is useless - its purpose not fulfilled, its odors not set free - unless touched by fire.
*Only through great pressure, heat, and time does coal produce the gemstone of a diamond.

Just as many things of nature suffer contrary conditions in order to be expanded, strengthened, or enhanced, so, too, do we. Some circumstances only achieve God’s greatest purpose in our lives through pressure and crushing, through tears and suffering, allowing the pleasing fragrance of obedience and sweet graces of God’s will to be released.

But during these trying situations, how do we behave? Do we whine, kick, scream, question God or tell Him it isn’t fair? Or do we succumb to the Lord’s power to work, bow to His divine purpose, and submit our will to His, offering praise from lips of thanksgiving? Which behavior do you believe is the sweet aroma in His nostrils?

How did God’s children of the Bible react when they experienced bruising, crushing, or fires? Granted, some, such as Israel, were whiners. However, the Bible is filled with the accounts of great trust.

One is Paul. Of the multitude of afflictions he experienced, he said, “We were really crushed and overwhelmed, and feared we would never live through it. We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for He can even raise the dead. And He did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect Him to do it again and again.” (2 Cor. 1:8-10 TLB)

Another is the Three Amigos. You know, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. While they were in the fiery furnace, they believed their God would deliver them, and, even if He didn’t deliver them, they believed He would save them from Nebuchadnezzar.

As those flames lapped up around them, God rescued them and, when they came out, not even the smell of smoke clung to them. Their sweet aroma of faith was not changed.

Did you know God has sensitive sinuses? He anticipates our fragrance long before we emit it. So, during those times of adversity, do we present Him with a pleasant aroma in His nostrils or a stench stuck in His throat? Are we like Estee Lauder’s Beautiful perfumery or a men’s locker room? Like a flower shop or a machine shop? Like a bakery or a fertilizer plant?

Are our trust and faith as that sweet aroma of the alabaster passion box, lovingly poured upon Jesus’ head, which seeped into His beard and gently trickled down upon His shoulders, saturating His garment?

Prayer: Lord, may my life be broken open as a precious passion box, poured out to You.
May each burden of my life work as a weight to crush my disobedience, my instability to stand on Your word, and my inability to be used of You.

Crush me as the flower petals are compressed for their fragrant perfume. Crush me as the olives are squeezed for their valuable oil. Crush me and make my life into that delectable wine.

Let my life overflow with the sweet-scented oil of Your Holy Spirit, poured forth upon the hearts of others to soothe the hurts that the trials of this world have etched into their precious lives.

I pray that the things crushing each reader’s life right now will only work to bring out the precious fragrance of obedience and sweet graces of Your will. Amen!

Friday, August 7

Blog Tour for Kathryn Bonner

It is my pleasure today to have this interview with Kathryn Bonner, the author of Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife: He Speaks, Can You Hear Him?

Kathryn, when and how did you first get the inspiration to write “Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife”?

I write about this in the intro of the book. It was literally like a burning bush moment for me. In 2004, God gave me all of the chapter titles all at once. He was literally speaking this book into me! I never expected it! It’s one of the reasons the subtitle is “He Speaks, Can You Hear Him?” I literally ran into my office, grabbed my prayer journal, and began writing all of the chapter titles down as fast as He was delivering them to me.

They came in perfect speed – it was overwhelming and awesome! I stood there in amazement staring at each chapter title - knowing what would be in every single chapter! Of course, immediately thereafter, I began to have all of the feelings of being unable, unworthy, and unqualified to do this work. But it was God who gave it to me and He who made the way for it to be completed.

How did your husband Bruce support your efforts with the book?

Bruce was totally supportive. He was an encourager to me. He prayed for me. He knew that this was something new for me and he enjoyed the process along with me. I think he was rather fascinated with the way that God had spoken this book into me.

Was he at all curious of just how much “confessing” appears in the book?

I’m sure he was a bit, but interestingly enough, he wasn’t asking to read it; he wasn’t asking me what I was writing. I found that interesting, because if it were him writing a book, I know that my curiosity would get to me, I’d want to read each page as it was written. He didn’t do that at all. He just watched me as I wrote, sat back and smiled at it all.

What, in your opinion, will readers find most surprising about the life of a pastor’s wife?

That we are just as human as they are; we make mistakes. I will make more mistakes, certainly not intentionally, just because I am human. I am very honest and candid in sharing my truth, my life, and my confessions of when and how I have messed up, done things the wrong way, and what I’ve learned from it.

I think that they can have certain expectations of who we are as a “pastor’s wife” or who we should be that, in reality, we just aren’t. And yet, they may also find that to be refreshing. I am a leader among women, and enjoy that role, and I am a woman who loves the Lord with every inch of myself and want so badly for the world to love Him as much as I do.

I hope that they find me to be normal, very real, and see that I am trying to walk out my faith the best I can. They may be surprised to note that, in my daily living, I am a bit ditsy. (Okay, maybe that won’t really be surprising!)

What are your plans for the future in the publishing world? Think you have any more books in you?

Oh, yes, there are at least four more to come. I have also written a Bible Study Companion to this book. It’s in the first stages of completion. I have written a guided Biblical Meditation entitled “In The Potter’s Hand,” which is derived from Jeremiah 18:1-5. It is beautiful, profound, and straight from God. It can be found on I am also in the beginning stages of the second book now. This is truly a calling the Lord has placed right in the middle of my heart.

My websites are (based on Isaiah 50:5 “He awakens me morning by morning…) and I am putting together Writers Retreat in September for Christian Women. They can register for this retreat and find out more about this opportunity by going to my website

Tuesday, August 4

A Glimpse of Father...How Do You See Him?

Have you ever noticed the difference in parents that attend a child’s softball game? Let’s look at three very different dads that have taken their sons or daughters to the ball field…

1. One stays in the car, reads a book and pays no attention to his son or daughter.

2. One sits in the bleachers with his back turned to the field, chatting with others.

3. One sits, perched on the edge of his seat, his eyes glued to the son or daughter that is so dear to his heart. He fervently watches the whole field to see how the game is going. With earnest vigilance, he scans the other players to make sure no one does anything to bring harm or is unfair to his precious son or daughter.

He is ever prepared to spring to his feet, jump up and down with total delight, and scream as loud as he can in utter enjoyment when his son or daughter makes the most incredible catch or tries to inch his way closer to home plate.

When the game is over, win or lose, the father puts his arm around his child, pats him or her on the back, and says, “Good job!” Then, he proudly takes his child out for a treat as the reward for a great performance.

Now, let’s compare these three dads to our heavenly Father. Which one sounds like your heavenly Father…

1. He sits on His throne in heaven involved in other things, not paying much attention to you. You wonder where He is. Sometimes can’t seem to find Him.

2. He sits rigidly on His throne, arms folded across His chest, sternly watching every move you make, ready to point His finger at you and to whack you with His rod. You wonder if you will ever do anything right in His sight.

3. He sits, perched on the edge of His seat, His eyes glued to the child that is so dear to His heart. He fervently watches the whole field to see how the game is going. With earnest vigilance, He scans the other players to make sure no one does anything to bring harm or is unfair to His precious child.

He is ever prepared to spring to His feet, jump up and down with total delight, and scream as loud as He can in utter enjoyment when His child makes the most incredible catch or tries to inch his way closer to Home plate.

When the game is over, win or lose, the Father puts His arm around the child, pats him on the back, and says, “Good job! I give you your reward.”

If you have never pictured God as being actively involved in what you do, begin now. He (along with the whole host of heaven) is ever ready to jump to His feet in pure delight over each step of your faithfulness and obedience.

Let His joy be your comfort.