Saturday, December 31

New Year's Soup

Last year, I read a post and the last sentence made me think, “And the empty pot awaits, ready for a fresh batch.”

It reminded me of the story of Stone Soup. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a synopsis of this version of the story:

Many years ago in Eastern Europe, people hoarded their food in a time of famine. One day, a soldier wandered into a village and asked to stay for the night. The people told him to move on as there was no food.

“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.”

Pulling out all he needed from his wagon, he filled his cauldron with water and built a fire for it. Then, he took a velvet bag and drew out an ordinary stone and dropped it into the water.

The rumor of food spread and the villagers came to the square to find out.

As the soldier sniffed the broth, he said, “Ahh, I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage – now that’s hard to beat.”

Soon a villager brought him a cabbage he’d been hiding and added it to the pot. Then, the soldier said, “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”

The village butcher brought out some salt beef and added it. Over and over, the soldier raved how good the soup is with added potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on.

Villager after villager brought out the necessary ingredients until there was indeed a delicious meal for all.

With all the added ingredients, the soup turned out to be delicious.

If your year was anything like mine, the cauldron of 2011 contained a variety of ingredients, some positive, some negative, and flavored with a dash of hope and a soupcon of joy or maybe even en grande quantité.

Now, the kettle for 2012 is empty and sits waiting to be filled, ready for all the ingredients of a new year.

What ingredients will fill your New Year? What will fill your heart?

I pray the Lord will fill your New Year with hope, peace, comfort, joy, and an abundance of blessings.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13 NKJV)


Thursday, December 29

The Golden Ornament guest post

I hope you enjoy today's guest post by a sweet cyber friend, Kristin Bridgman...

As I contemplate taking down the Christmas tree and all the decorations, packing and putting away, I wonder about the New Year and what it holds in store for me. What circumstances will I be a part of? What people will come into and or leave my life? How will the devil try to attack me this year? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worrying, just pondering.

As I see the packaging boxes in my garage waiting to be filled with Christmas, it’s always a little sad. So, last year I kept one of the golden ornaments out and left it hanging in my entryway all year. It will stay there from now on. Even though the Christmas holiday is coming to an end, the Christmas spirit can go on forever and the glistening of that ornament is just a symbol of that.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I never need a reminder of my Lord. He is with me always, but when those hot, humid months roll around, the feeling of Christmas, good tidings, good cheer, the giving spirit that we feel in December, somehow gets lost by June.

I must not be the only one with these thoughts because of the quotes I found. Here are just a few. . .

“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” Charles Dickens

“Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Calvin Coolidge

“Keep your Christmas heart open all the year round.” Jessica Archmint

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Charles Dickens.

Christmas is not just a time on the calendar; it is the baby in the manger who came to save mankind. Peace and joy is not just for December but for always if we accept the one who came to offer it.

As I think about the coming New Year, I look at that golden ornament with the light flickering from it and know that the true light of Christmas is within me. So I look forward with anticipation and eagerness to start it, knowing that Christmas is with me always.

Let’s not say farewell to good tidings, Christmas cheer, a giving spirit, peace, and joy. That can be with us for 12 months, year after year.

I have seen people I know along with strangers come together in love and compassion to help the less fortunate this Christmas season. My heart leapt for joy every time I saw a new donation for the homeless and needy children. That is truly a gift; a compassion flowing forth to those who need help, need love spread all over them, need the touch of Christ from another fellow human being. May this keep going on month after month.

And if I ever start to forget, may the Lord use the sparkle of light from my golden ornament to remind me of Christmas, Christ in the every day, of giving, spreading good cheer, feeling joy that only comes from Him, and peace that passes all understanding, reaching out and loving the lovables and the unlovables.

May you all have a bright and shining New Year. And don’t be surprised if you hear me say “Merry Christmas” in June.

~Please visit Kristin's great site Ponderings.


Monday, December 26

When the Temples of Heaven and Earth Converged

“Unto us a Son is given...and His name will be called Wonderful,Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.”
(Isa. 9:6 NKJV)

Many prophecies given. Many generations came and left. Until, the prophecies came to pass.

When heaven’s Temple came down...

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Gal. 4:4-5 NIV)

...a Son was given to Mary and Joseph. “...the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2 NKJV) The One Who was “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” (Col. 1:15 NKJV)

The begotten of Eternity. God come in Person. The Ancient of times.

...and the Temple entered a temple. The collision of Divinity and humanity!

This Temple, destined to be destroyed, torn down, ripped apart, by the hands of earth’s religionists, would one day speak these words, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19 NKJV)

Raise up. To arouse from sitting, reclining, sleep, or even death. But they didn’t get it, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” (John 2:20 NKJV)

But this Temple was no ordinary earthly temple. This Temple was of divine origin. (John 2:21)

The heavenly Temple was presented in the earthly temple...

And “when the days of [Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were completed, [Mary and Joseph] they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22 NKJV)

The Firstborn, not only of Mary but of all creation, was nestled in the arms of His earthly mother and dedicated to His heavenly Father.

“Oh my Lord...You sent Your Son to save us
Oh my Lord...Your very self You gave us
Oh my Lord...That sin may not enslave us and love may reign once more
Oh my Lord...When in the crip You found Him
Oh my Lord...A golden halo crown’d Him
Oh my Lord...They gathered all around Him to see Him and adore”
(Some versions of Mary’s Boy Child contain these ending words)

Heaven’s Temple entered earth to give those on earth an entrance into heaven’s Temple!

“Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King.”

May the Temple of heaven fill the earthly temple of your heart with Joy!


Wednesday, December 21

Christmas Gift of the Heart

My all-time favorite Christmas movie, well, of all movies, is The Bishop’s Wife. (Not The Preacher’s Wife!) I watch it a couple of times throughout the year.

If you have never watched it, I highly recommend it. Hearing Cary Grant tell the story of David and the lion and then reciting Psalm 23 is wonderful.

If you’ve never watched it, here’s a synopsis of the movie...

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) prays for divine guidance as he is troubled about the building of a large cathedral. The answer to his prayer comes in the form of an angel named Dudley (Cary Grant), initially known only to the bishop.

Everyone, except for Henry, is charmed by the angel, even the non-religious Professor Wutheridge.

Dudley’s mission is not to help with the funding of the cathedral but to guide Henry and the people around him. Henry becomes obsessed with the building to the detriment of his marriage to his neglected, unhappy wife, Julia (Loretta Young).

Dudley persuades the wealthy parishioner Mrs. Hamilton to contribute the needed funds but not to build the cathedral. He helps her decide to give her money to feed and clothe the needy, much to Henry’s displeasure.

As Dudley spends time cheering up Julia, he finds himself becoming strongly attracted to her. Sensing this, Henry becomes jealous and anxious for his unwelcome guest to finish his mission and depart.

After talking to his friend Professor Wutheridge, Henry stands up to Dudley, who realizes his mission of guidance is now complete and promises never to return. He tells Henry that all memory of him will be erased, and on Christmas Eve at midnight, Henry delivers the sermon that he believes he has written.

Since I’m part of’s blog chain this month, and the topic is Gift of the Heart, the sermon the bishop gives at the end of the movie instantly popped into my mind.

It goes like this...

“Tonight, I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts.

We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on the Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts. But especially with gifts.

You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe.

Oh, we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up: the stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s His birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then, let each put in his share: lovingkindness, warm hearts, and a stretched-out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts make peace on earth.”

The Father shared of Himself and sent His Son into the world.

The Lord gave of His heart; what gift of your heart do you give Christ this year?

Do you bring sacrificial gifts to the Christ-child out of your heart’s treasury? Gifts like the purity of holiness? The costly fragrance of continual prayer? A cleansed soul, preserved from eternal death?

Do you offer Him your heart as His manger, as an empty vessel for His resting place? Or is it full of jealousy, envy, hatred, unforgiveness, self-pity, lust, anger, or prejudice?

Do you leave Him no room to “lay down His sweet head”? Have you said, “Sorry, there is no room for You in this inn”?

Give the Babe of the manger the lodging place He deserves. Give Him the gift of your heart.

May your Christmas be blessed with a special touch of the Lord’s presence.

***This is part of Christian Writers. Please visit the great sites in the blog chain listed in the right sidebar.


Sunday, December 18

A Christmas Word from the Lord

“My dearest one,

This is the season for giving thanks for the greatest Gift ever given, My One and Only Son, Jesus Christ. In Him is to be found all the gifts of the Spirit. All His gifts are truly yours, if you are truly Mine. You must present yourself as a gift given humbly to Me. This is the great Gift Exchange. Only when your heart is truly given to Me can this exchange be utterly completed.

The Holy Present was first given and made His home in a lowly manger in a barn. The Holy Present is now given to make His home in the hearts of men, but His home still needs to be a humble dwelling place. This Holy Present cannot live in a place where man wants to be the ruler. There can only be one Ruler of each heart.

The Gift was given in order to bring peace into the heart of the recipient, but only when one gives all of oneself back to the Giver can this Gift Exchange take place and peace be found.

Peace came that Holy Night and filled the world with wonder and joy. Its Light not only illuminated the entire sky but it also lit the way for the entire world to be saved, if they would only have eyes to see.

Remember this Christmas, when all the presents are under the tree, that the Greatest Gift of all drew His first breath of life in a manger made from a tree, and drew His last breath of life on a cross made from a tree. So, when you look at your Christmas tree this season, see it as a cradle of love and a display of agony; both held the true Gift, the Gift of Life.

He came into this world as the Gift of Life and gave back that Life as a Gift to all mankind.

Oh, My children, do not miss the true Spirit of Christmas, My Gift to you. Whether you have presents under the tree or not, the True Presence shall be alive in your heart, if you will just receive your True Gift.”

May each of you know the joy of unwrapping the True Gift of Christmas...Jesus!


Stirring Coffee guest post

Today, I’m happy to bring you another sweet cyber-friend, Sylvia Stewart. Sylvia grew up in the (then) Belgian Congo. She spent 21 years as an Assemblies of God missionary in Malawi, East Africa, with her husband, Duane. While there, she taught some writing workshops, which are now bearing fruit. She started writing Kondi’s Quest hoping to weave a story for the children of Malawi.

Here’s Sylvia...

“Honey, stir your coffee silently -- like this,” Daddy admonished with a gentle, loving smile. He swirled his spoon in the very center of the cup two or three times, then placed the spoon in the saucer. No clattering nor clanking!

I grew up in Africa where sugar granules were very large and stirring one’s coffee or tea was either a vigorous or a prolonged business. I preferred to hurry things up. However, Daddy wanted me appear to be a lady instead of a girl who came from an end-of-the-road mission -- a from-the-jungle girl who didn’t understand the demands of “polite society.” He wanted me to conform to actions approved by those I presently lived among.

Although learning to stir my coffee without a clatter hasn’t helped me rise very far on the social scale, a certain amount of conformity is good. Jesus conformed to ceremonial washing before a meal. He also attended the synagogue even though He acknowledged that some of the Jewish religious leaders were like “whited sepulchers” (Matt 23:27), appealingly clean on the outside but full of decay and rot.

God asked a lot of people in the Bible to act in non-conforming ways:

Abraham – to go to an unknown destination. He could have replied, “A place You will show me, Lord? I have no idea where I’m going!”

Moses – to speak to a rock to find water in the desert. He could have said, “Speak to a rock, Lord? The people will think I’m crazy!”

Noah – to build an ark on dry land. He could have said, “Lord, there is no sea – not even close to here! And rain? I’ve never heard of it before!”

Jocabed – to put her baby in a basket in the river. “God, put my baby in the river? There are crocodiles in there!”

Ruth – to stay with her mother-in-law rather than return to her own home. “I don’t know anyone in Israel!”

Rahab – to hide spies when it would have been more politically correct to expose them. “Hide them? I could be killed for doing this!”

Hosea – to marry Gomer. “But Lord, she’s a harlot and I’m set apart to be your man of God.”

The penniless widow of a prophet – to gather many pots in which to pour her dram of oil. “Yeah, right! How far will this little bit of oil go? And then I’ll look ridiculous to all my neighbors when I have to return these pots – empty.”

Radical non-conformity, if God has required it of us, is right—providing, of course, that we’re sure it comes from God. Here’s an example: When we taught in Bible College in Ethiopia, a student came to our school with lumps and scabs on his head. He had constant headaches because he had been beaten and stoned by his village. Even members of his own family participated.

His offense? -- preaching the Gospel.

Toward the end of his first year, he stood in chapel and requested prayer for his vacation ministry. “God is telling me to go back to my village and preach. I know it could mean I will die.”

When we respond in faith, we will be blessed. It requires a leap of faith. I read recently, “Both fear and faith believe what the mind envisions will happen.” Will I cower or consent? Perhaps I do stir my coffee more silently these days. However, if God requires us to do something unusual for Him, something no one else has done, let’s respond with a leap of faith.

And a step of obedience.

~~About the book...

Kondi, a 12-year-old Malawian girl, is sure her father, Bambo, doesn’t love her. He seems to care more about the secret brown envelope he carries with him everywhere than his own daughter. She’s convinced things will improve, though, when her mother’s baby arrives.

Then one night Bambo beats Mai in a drunken rage, and neighbors rush her off to the hospital. Will Mai and the baby live? Will Kondi be sold off by her uncle Kakama to a rich man to be his third wife? And what could possibly be in Bambo’s brown envelope?

The secrets are about to be revealed.

~~I hope you’ll visit Sylvia’s site and her book Kondi's Quest.


Tuesday, December 13

Secret Santa

Jesus is the Reason for the season. We know this to be true if we are Christians.

God gave Christ; Christ came to give His life for us. If He lives in our hearts, we possess this God-giving characteristic within us. To me, this season is about giving.

One of the Christmas movies that I watch, and I watch almost all of them every year, is called Secret Santa.

Each Christmas, the “big city” newspaper, the Indianapolis Sentinel, runs a fluff story. This year, the editor wants Rebecca to do the story on Secret Santa. The Secret Santa who resides in the humble hamlet of Hamden, Indiana. The one who anonymously gives a large monetary gift to a member of the community in need.

But Rebecca is tired of reporting fluff stories and doesn’t want the assignment, until she realizes that she can prove herself by making the story more than a fluff piece.

Setting out for Hamden, she’s eager to discover the man or woman behind the gift giving, but bad luck meets her along the way: her car breaks down, she can only get lodging in a home for the elderly without internet, and nobody wants to help her unmask the mysterious Christmas benefactor.

In her search, she meets the citizens of the town and those in the nursing home, gets to know them, and opens her heart to them.

Making wrong guesses about Secret Santa throws her boss into a panic, and Rebecca is resigned to the decision to return home defeated. However, just before leaving town, she discovers the true identity of Secret Santa, but she doesn’t guarantee him anonymity. Saddened, Secret Santa continues to work in his workshop.

Reading the article in the Sentinel, Secret Santa smiles as he reads aloud the last paragraph and is reassured that his secret is still a secret...

“He asks nothing in return, save one request that the secret he has kept so faithfully remains just that, a secret, for it is in his anonymity that Secret Santa sends a message to us all: giving in its purest form expects nothing in return.”

And there’s the gist of it all, the heart of the matter: giving in its purest form expects nothing in return.

Do you give and not wait around for any accolades? Any thanks? Any back-pats?

If you have a heart that is willing to give, then the next time you are in line at the grocery store, why not pay the bill for the woman with a baby on her hip and food stamps in her hand? When you are shopping at the mall, pay for the shoes of a teenager of a different race. Pay for the gas of one whose car is held together with bumper stickers. Pay for an elderly person’s medicine at the drugstore. Pay for the meal of those in the car behind you in a drive-through restaurant and maybe put a note with it. Buy gift certificates or pre-paid credit cards and give them to whomever the Spirit leads while you are out shopping.

Find someone to whom you can play Secret Santa. Make a mortgage or rent payment for a struggling single mother or father. Leave groceries on a widow’s doorstep. Buy Christmas presents for a battered wife and her children living in a shelter.

Use your imagination. Better still, listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit; He will tell you who needs a gift.

Proverbs says...

“Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.” (Prov. 22:9 NLT)
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and He will reward him for what he has done.” (Prov. 19:17 NIV)
“He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” (Prov. 28:27 NKJV)

Remember, we are never more like God than when we love others by giving to them...

...and expect nothing in return.

***A portion of the above is taken from my upcoming book, Ready or Not...Here I Come!


Monday, December 12

Reverse Polarity guest post

Today, I bring you a guest post for the book blog tour of CJ Hitz, the co-author (along with his wife Shelley) of Forgiveness Formula: Finding Lasting Freedom in Christ...

I know, I know. Reverse polarity…what’s that? I wasn’t familiar with those words either, at least when they’re used together. I am now.

A few weeks ago Shelley & I came out of Panera Bread in Lancaster, PA, and prepared to leave when our Toyota RV wouldn’t start. Completely dead, not a peep when I turned the key. Fortunately, we also had our car with us which Shelley was driving.

“We’ll just use the car to jumpstart the RV battery,” I confidently told my wife.

I proceeded to put the cables on each of the batteries, looking to make sure the black cables were placed on the negative terminals and the red cables carefully placed on the positive terminals.

I should have gotten the hint when sparks flew upon attaching the cables to the RV battery but after a second or two, the sparks ceased. Seeing a black cover on one of the RV battery terminals, I assumed that was the negative. The other terminal didn’t have any cover. Did I mention it was 10:00 pm, rainy, and dark outside?

“Go ahead and start the car, Shelley.”

We let the car run for 30 minutes and prayed before attempting to start the RV again. Nothing. Zilch. Dead.

“Maybe we need new jumper cables,” I said, trying to sound like a man with a ‘sure fire’ back up plan.

Unfortunately, we just missed getting into the Wal-Mart next door before they closed. So we’d have to sleep in the Panera parking lot until they opened the next morning.

We awoke the next morning and grabbed some fresh Panera coffee and bagels before heading into Wal-Mart for those brand new cables which would surely do the trick. Again, I placed the cables on each battery as I had the night before…yes, some sparks flew. Hint not taken.

“Go ahead and start the car Shelley.”

We let the car run for 30 minutes and prayed before attempting to start the RV again. I slowly turned the key while pushing on the gas…


“That must be one dead battery,” I said. We decided upon a local towing company who also happened to have some excellent mechanical skills. They took the RV back to their shop and, upon inspection, we indeed realized the cables were backward on the RV battery. This is also referred to as…

Reverse Polarity.

Google these words and you’ll see anything from minor damage to your electrical system to frying the whole system and more. After looking everything over, the mechanics determined we were somewhere in the middle. We basically fried the alternator and needed it replaced along with some fuses.

The Worst Damage…

…occurred as I beat myself up over and over again in my mind for the next 24 hours. Isn’t the damage we inflict upon ourselves always some of the worst? Especially for those of us who have a tendency toward perfectionism.

Some of the thoughts I was chewing on included…

“You idiot, you can’t even jumpstart your own car correctly!”
“Because of my stupid mistake, we’re out $350 more than we should be.”
“We could be on the road to Florida by now, but you screwed that up, CJ!”
“Just another failure in a long line of them, huh?”
“Maybe this whole ‘living in an RV’ thing was a dumb idea.”

You can see how things could continue to spiral downward in a hurry. Thankfully, the Lord broke through and rescued me from that “stinkin’ thinkin’.” These thoughts aren’t the sum total of CJ Hitz but choosing to believe them put me into a temporary prison.

With the help of my wonderful wife, I was able to forgive myself for this costly blunder and move on. When you’re able to look back and get a good laugh, it’s a sign you’ve been able to let it go. In fact, I think Jesus got a chuckle out of the whole thing from the beginning. He was never mad at me for royally screwing up. It was simply a learning experience. A chance to let good triumph over evil within my mind.

And what else did you learn, CJ?

Confusing the positive with the negative can certainly create sparks.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

~~I hope you’ll visit their book website to check out the full virtual book tour schedule and special gifts with purchase at The Forgiveness Formula.


Friday, December 9

He Came!

I grieve when I fail the Lord, when my obedience lacks its first response.

But then I remember it was for failures that Christ graced a waiting manger. It was for failures that He breathed His last earthly breath as He hung in disgrace on a wooden cross.

It was to a failure, one who penned the precious psalms that touch our hearts in time of need. And, yet, as a man after God’s own heart, sinned and ripped apart his fellowship with the Lord, then repented and repaired it.

It was to a failure, one who had denied Christ three times, that the command of “feed My sheep” was given.

It was to a failure that Jesus gave His first greeting in the Garden of Gethsemane on that initial Easter morn.

It was to a failure who had been the foremost despiser of believers yet became one of the greatest servants of the Gospel, the Lord blessing his ministry and his writings for all time.

I think, no, I know my greatest failure is in closing the inn-door of my heart, telling the Christ-child there is no room to live in my heart, in my circumstances, in every moment of my life.

But He came…

...amid a firmament full of celestial singers and the cries of an infant. And in the lowly stable, Mary lovingly swaddled the future Sacrifice of the world; her gentleness contrasted with the roughness of the hand-hewn trough in which she placed the tiny Child.

There, the miracle of the manger took place: the empty manger, the harbinger of a destined, wooden cross cradling the tiny body of mankind’s salvation, became full - full of love, full of expectation, full of holiness, and full of humanity.

He came, confined by the boundaries of time and limitations of a physical body.

For failures, He came. For me, He came. For you, He came.

But where does He go to be cradled today? In the manger-hearts of believers.

“How silently, how silently the wondrous Gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
(Third verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)

Is the rough manger of your heart cradling the Babe of salvation?

God still seeks His mangers…hearts willing to hold Him. For this...


Wednesday, December 7

A Child is born...

Today, it is my pleasure to bring you an important post, one from a special cyber-friend, Diana Scimone. She fights diligently for those children who are sold into sex trafficking. She has written a book just are Diana’s words from her site...

“Most kids are lured into sex slavery because they don’t know the deceptive tactics of traffickers. Wherever awareness training takes place, the rate of trafficking plummets. There’s just not enough, nor is it available in the languages of most at-risk kids.

The Born to Fly Project is a strategic 4-stage plan to educate kids, parents, and teachers about the dangers of child trafficking—with the ultimate goal of ending it.

Stage 1: Write a children’s book called Born to Fly, an allegory about the world of child trafficking that teaches kids to make wise choices as they pursue their dreams.

Stage 2: Develop a wordless book based on the Born to Fly storyline and distribute it to kids worldwide. Why wordless? So we don’t have to translate it into hundreds of languages—saving thousands of hours and dollars.

Stage 3: Produce a companion curriculum to teach children the important concepts found in the wordless book, and distribute it to schools, community centers, and NGOs worldwide.

Stage 4: Create multimedia awareness materials including posters, fliers, DVDs, web-based games, etc. to supplement and expand on the B2F message.”

And here is her message...

Christmas is all about One special Child. I’d like to tell you about another child—actually 1 million of them. That’s the number of children who are sold into sex trafficking every year. Some of them are just 4 years old. They’re in your city and mine.

I know, this is not your warm, fuzzy 3-weeks-before-Christmas blog post, but it’s a story that must be told. Lynn has written about this subject before here, here, and here, and to help with my organization, The Born2Fly Project, to stop child trafficking.

Most anti-trafficking organizations rescue kids, which of course is needed, but B2F works to cut off the supply line of kids—by reaching kids before the traffickers do. They do it through an awareness and prevention program that they’re testing in 5 countries right now.

To raise funds for this, B2F has published a delightful e-book for children called Born to Fly: The tale of a dream that would not die. Here's a taste...

"Blossom is in big trouble. Her grandfather warned her not to go beyond the village gates. After all, no caterpillar in Twig Valley has ever ventured there and returned to tell.

For centuries the caterpillars of Twig Valley have lived with a Dark Cloud over the land. For as long as anyone can remember, no caterpillar has ever become a butterfly. In fact, no one thinks about being anything more than a bug that crawls in the dust of the ground.

Until Blossom."

Proceeds from ebook sales go to the Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking. A companion website,, has games and activities for kids and a free reading guide/curriculum for schools.

You can purchase Born to Fly for Kindle, iPad, Nook, etc. (links are here). (Or download it on the Kindle PC.)

It would be a great Christmas gift for some young child and you’ll be helping to stop child trafficking with every word.

***I pray you will visit and support Diana’s site Born2fly and her blog Diana Scimone.


Sunday, December 4

The Checkout Lane

One of my favorite Christmas stories. Hope you don't mind the traditional rerun...

With the parking lot full, finding a space was almost impossible. Shopper after shopper filed in the store’s front door, list in hand, and most lacking the Christmas spirit.

The lines at the checkout lanes stretched halfway through the store. As angers were on the verge of erupting, loneliness carved a swath through the throng of shoppers, fighting for a place in each line.

“Why don’t they have more checkout lanes open?” complained one shopper.

“I don’t know. This is so depressing,” grumbled another nearby.

Each lane had its share of Grinches and lonely hearts, each moaning over all the congestion. In one lane stood a mother with three small children in tow, all whining and wanting everything in sight.

In the next lane stood another mother with her three little ones, all in a joyous mood. Six year-old Olivia asked her mother, “Mommy, why is everyone so grumpy?”

Lowering her voice so others wouldn’t hear their conversation, Olivia’s mother whispered, “I’m not sure, dear. I think everyone is in a hurry and they don’t know the meaning of Christmas.”

“Don’t they know it’s Jesus’ birthday?”

Trying to shush Olivia, she lowered her voice again, “I guess not. Some people just don’t know.”

“Well, why don’t we tell them?”

“I don’t think this is a very good time, dear.”

“Why not, Mommy? Didn’t you say it’s always time for Jesus?”

“Well, yes, I did, but…”

“Well, let’s tell them.”

Overhearing their conversation, those standing near this family began shifting their weight from one foot to another, uncomfortable as to what they might hear next.

The mother began to silently pray, “Oh, Lord, if You desire others to know it is Your birthday that they’re supposed to be celebrating, then please resolve this situation.”

Olivia bowed her head and thought for a moment. Then, a very soft, little voice began to sweetly sing…

“Away in the manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head;
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

Silence fell on the checkout lanes. All that could be heard was the whirring of the cash registers. No one said a word.

Then, that sweet little voice began to sing again…

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.”

Just as a place was made for baby Jesus to be born so many years ago, a place was made for Him in the checkout lanes. Smiles erupted across the stone-cold faces of the Grinches. Peace swept across the store, carving a swath through the crowd of shoppers and banishing loneliness and the Grinch from the checkout lanes.

As you weave your way in and out of the stores this Christmas season, remember the Reason for the Season…it’s the celebration of Jesus’ birth!

May the blessings of the manger find a place in your heart.


Wednesday, November 30

Struggling for Words


They do not come easy for me.

Penning several monthly columns, devotionals for other sites, and my own blog posts is definitely very frustrating. With a couple of learning disabilities, I struggle to craft the right words, but I do it in obedience for, to this, the Lord has called me.

Besides writing, talking is made more difficult because the greedy fingers of fibromyalgia grab at my brain, snatching out words, even the simplest ones, and leaving behind gaps in my memory. Completing a sentence is sometimes impossible.

But do I wrestle to craft those words that will jump off the end of my tongue as much as I wrestle over my writing?
Do I think before those words leap out? Usually...but sometimes, I don’t and I get into trouble.

Should I be concerned about finding the right words to say? Jesus says I should, “On the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak…Your words now reflect your fate then: either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned.” (Matt. 12:36 Amp, Matt. 12:37 TLB)

Wow! That is truly hard to comprehend, isn’t it?
If we are required to answer for our speech, then we need to be cautious of what exits our mouths, for, as Jesus said, “Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.” (Luke 6:45b TLB)

The English biblical commentator and Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry wrote, “The heart is the root, the language is the fruit.” We cannot have the sweet nectar of a fruitful, positive confession if the root system of our hearts maintains sour or rotten thoughts. A change in the root system will produce a change in the fruit of speech.

Consequently, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth…and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].” (Prov. 18:20a NKJV, Prov. 18:20b Amp)

Solomon warns us, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23 Masoretic Text) Another version says, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (Prov. 4:23 NCV) And will jump off the end of your tongue!

Some say, “I don’t see that my words matter that much.”
Well, our words do matter. If our tongues speak from the abundance of our hearts, and if Jesus and Scripture say our words are critical, then, our words really have extraordinary power and effect, embodying life and death, just as Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov. 18:21a NKJV)

The Message version puts it this way, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” So, who in their right mind would choose death over life, poison over fruit? We do!

The words we speak can set our lives on fire for harm or for good.
Our words can bring others to tears or lift their spirits. Our words can even change the atmosphere around us.

Therefore, Paul urges us, “Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.” (Phil. 1:27a KJV) This means we are to behave and speak as a citizen of the Kingdom and worthily reflect on the Gospel.

Knowing the consequences of his thoughts and words, David prayed, “Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.” (Ps. 141:3 NLT) Therefore, “we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5b GNT)

My prayer is this:
Lord, in my word struggle, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14 NLT)

What about you? Do you struggle to carefully craft those words, taking captive those thoughts, before they roll off the end of your tongue?

***A portion of the above is taken from my upcoming book Ready or Not...Here I Come!

Today's post is part of...


Sunday, November 27

Christmas Wrapping

I am happy to bring you another cyber friend today, the author of the site called Blue Cotton Memory. Enjoy...

Unconditional Love = Gives up What One Cherishes Most With a Generosity of Spirit Shown Over 2,000 Years Ago

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

This Christmas season, are you willing to love your neighbor enough to give what you cherish most?

What I Cherish:

My Husband
My 5 sons
My motherhoodness
My individuality
My freedom
My Family
My books
My grandmother’s tea-cup
My Christmas Oysters
A card sent when one of my sons was born quoting Dickens, “It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”
My marble Chess Set given on my birthday from my sons

But maybe the most important possession I have, would be my Faith in My Father who gave me Salvation, which made me a Daughter of The King (the guy who created the universe), who healed my heart, who saved my son’s life, who has angels encamped about me protecting me, who showed me that He made me - and that I am to Him what the Mona Lisa was to Da Vinci (and that goes for every one of you, too), and that when I cannot find my life plan, He let’s me know He’s got the Plan so I don’t have to worry, and showed me that my heart’s love capacity is not limited to just my household, or those easy to love, and that it’s going to be o.k. when I do not love perfectly as long as I am trying to love unconditionally - all of which would never have been possible if He had not given the world His son!

Is there anyone you love so much, that you would send your children away from your protection so they could save another’s life?

Is Our Father Not Totally Amazing in His Love for Us?

God’s love humbles me when I really try to wrap my mind around it,
and since I cannot successfully wrap my mind around it,
He graciously wraps His love around me!

*I hope you’ll visit Maryleigh’s wonderful site Blue Cotton Memory. You’ll be glad you did!


Wednesday, November 23

Happy Thanks-living!

"I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord." (Ps. 69:30-31a Amp)

I realize that not everyone will have a happy Thanksgiving, but I pray that each of you will experience the presence of the Lord in your life. May praise and thanksgiving fill and overflow your hearts! May you always experience Thanks-living!


Sunday, November 20

The Blessing of the Thorns

Maybe you've read this story before, maybe not. It is a wonderful reminder to be thankful. Enjoy!

Sandra felt as low as the heels on her shoes as she pushed against a November gust and opened the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week, she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then, her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called to say she could not come.

What was worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

She has no idea what I’m feeling. “Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered aloud. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?”

“I....I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra, “for Thanksgiving.”

“Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

Sandra regretted her outburst and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

The door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi, Barbara...let me get your order.” She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses.

Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped...there were no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers? She waited for laughter but neither woman laughed.

“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said, as she gently tapped her chest. She thanked the clerk and left.

“Uhh...” stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, flowers!”

“Right. I cut off the flowers. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that?” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk, “and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”

“So, what did you do?” asked Sandra.

“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the “flowers” of life, but it took “thorns” to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement...twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Are those for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?”

“No...I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from “thorny” times and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific problem and give thanks to Him for what that problem taught us.”

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all too...fresh.”

“Well, my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I'll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?” asked Sandra.

“Nothing.” said the clerk. “Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” She smiled and handed a card to Sandra.

“I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first.”

Sandra took the card and read, “Dear God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant. ~George Matheson”

Jenny said, “Happy Thanksgiving, Sandra,” handing her the special. “I look forward to knowing each other better.”

Sandra smiled. She turned, opened the door, and walked toward hope.

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns. God bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.

*the author of this piece is unknown

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Thursday, November 17

Praying for Our Children -That They May Know Him

Today, I bring you another sweet cyber-friend, Stephanie Shott. As Stephanie wrote to me, “Lately I’ve been talking to moms who need this more than ever! The enemy is working overtime to defeat God’s children by trying to take ground in our children’s lives and I just want to encourage the hearts of each mom who has a prodigal and the one who don’t to pray for their kids like crazy.”

Please leave her some comment love...

“I have no greater joy than to hear that
my children are walking in the truth.”
3 John 4 NIV

I remember when we were on the mission field and we were struggling with some issues in our family. I looked at my husband and said, “I will not win a nation and lose my own son!”

No matter how successful I am in life, if my children do not walk with God, I will feel like I failed in the most important role I’ve ever been given...the role of a mother.

I realize that our job is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that we are to live out loud for Jesus in front of them and that we are to equip them in the Word. I also realize they are responsible to God for the choices they make once they become adults.

But just because the clock of life ticks past the magic age of 18 and our children become adults, we never stop being their mothers...and so we never stop praying.

Whether your little bundle of joy still resides in your womb or lives in his or her own home, you are still a mom... and we all know - there ain’t no love like a momma’s love!

That means, no one will pray for your kids like you will! No one will love your kids like you will! No one will bombard heaven for your kids like you will!

And while we do a lot of things for our children, there is nothing greater work than the that of prayer; there is no greater way to spend your time as a mother than on your knees in intercession for your kids.

As Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer is the greater work!”

But as you pray, be specific. Cover them well in prayer. Seek God’s face for their future. Pray protection over them. Ask God to guard their hearts. Ask God to rebuke the enemy and to shield your children from every fiery dart he tries to send their way.

There’s so much to pray for. So many needs our children have. But the greatest and most important prayer we can pray is for the salvation of their souls.

So, here are a few verses we can cling to in prayer...claim by faith...and trust to come to pass. Here are some verses that we can pray knowing we are praying according to God’s will:

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15

“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4

“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” Acts 16:31

“And He said to them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within and say, “Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you”? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.’” Luke 11:5-10

There are a host of other verses you can pray for your children...but hopefully, these will get you started.

Go back over those precious verses, sweet friend. Look at how many times it talks about the will of God. When we pray God’s Word back to Him in accordance to His will, we know He hears us - we know He is working behind the scenes of our children’s lives to bring about their salvation.

Hold on to heaven with all you’ve got and bombard the throne of God for the salvation of your children. Whether they’re a newborn babe or an adult, you’re still their mom and no one is going to pray for them like you are! Absolutely no one!

If your child is saved, you are surely blessed! You have the joy of watching your children walk in the truth. Pray for those who don’t have that same joy. Pray for their children. Join them in prayer as one mother praying on behalf of another!

Join hands and hearts for the salvation of the next generation and let’s see what God will do when we do our greatest work...on our knees!

Are you praying for your child? Are you praying for someone else’s child? Would you like to add some verses for mothers to cling to and claim as they pray for their children’s salvation?

If you’d like to list your child’s name in the comment section, I’d be honored to pray for them. No one will ever pray for your children like you. But no one will ever understand the prayer of a mother’s heart like another mother!

Let’s pray for our children – let’s keep knocking until the door opens – let’s keep trusting God to part the Red Sea of their lives and my He give us the privilege of seeing the salvation of the Lord in their lives!

~Please visit Stephanie’s wonderful site.