Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is Your God

Welcome - if you'd like to leave a prayer request for a sin or tempation you are trying to lay down, I'm happy to pray for you this week.

At the P31 blog today I was talking about how the power to overcome sin is rooted in the love of God. “We love Him because He first loved us.” Had He not loved us through the cross – we would have no hope of overcoming sin. We’d be enslaved to it.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34-35). Author Jennifer Kennedy Dean writes, “We would never sin freely. If we saw things as they are and knew the reality behind the appearance, we would never choose sin. Sin doesn’t make sense. If we could see as God sees, we would not freely choose sin. So, when we sin, we are not acting freely; we are already acting as a slave to the sin that has infiltrated our core” (Life Unhindered).

Dean doesn’t mean that we don’t have any choice but to sin, or that we hold no responsibility for our choices to sin. We do – especially once we know the commands of Christ. However, those very teachings from scripture can set us free from sin. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

"By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence." (2 Peter 1:3)

This glorious, most excellent God has loved you so totally- despite your sins and propensity to disregard Him - that He Himself died in your place to wash away your sin record. And He supplied you with the guidance of the scriptures – the truths that lead you away from the path of sin and into His arms. What’s more, He’s given you full access to His Spirit while He prepares a place for you in eternity.

This is your God. May your love for Him be stirred today.

Thankful for the love of God extended to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Money, Books, Dinner and Guns

How's that for a post title?
gold coins stack My friend Marybeth Whalen interviewed a gal on her blog today who raised her own funds to go to a conference, just as I suggested yesterday for those of you seeking a She Speaks scholarship - check it out.

Also, props to my friend Marybeth as Publishers Weekly just gave her debut novel, The Mailbox, a favorable review.  I read an advanced copy a couple months ago and really enjoyed it.  It will make for good summer reading when it releases in June. Great for reading poolside or at the beach, and if you can’t get to the beach, the book will supply it  - it's setting is a beach just a ways south of me.

I'm busy today making edits on my own book, It's No Secret, which releases in September.  I'm thinking I'll lead an online Bible study with it here in October -you're invited.

Speaking of books, my to-read pile keeps growing.  I have a stack of 8 books on the floor to the left of my desk awaiting my attention. I think I need to buy one of these plastic book-holders for my treadmill. But I suspect reading will slow down my pace.  So much of life is a trade-off.

Had a most interesting dinner this weekend - was entertaining life-long journalist Jonathan Broder who'd come to the university to give a lecture Thursday night and then went out to eat with us on Friday evening. Broder is currently the editor for foreign policy and defense with Congressional Quarterly in D.C. But he's worked as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, South Asia, and the Far East for the Associated Press, NBC News, and the Chicago Tribune. Oh the stories this man can tell! Having been to journalism school myself, his tales of the trade thrilled me. Plus, he's got a great sense of humor.

I'll share one of the stories he told us - you may need to be over 30 to appreciate this. A couple decades ago Broder was traveling with a few other U.S. foreign correspondents (I believe he may have said Thomas Friedman was one of them) when they were stopped on the road at a military check-point. Broder explained to us how important it was to show the right ID depending on who was running the checkpoint. In other words, you didn't want to show the Palestinian guards your Jewish-favorable ID and vice versa.

They weren't sure who was running this particular checkpoint. 

"What is your religion?" an armed guard asked them.

"We don't have religion; we're journalists."

"Who do you work for?" the guard demanded.

"One of us is with the New York Times, one is with the Dallas Morning News, and one is with the Chicago Tribune," one of them answered. 

"Which one of you is from Dallas?"

"I am," the reporter reluctantly offered.

"Come over here."

They all felt the tension ratcheting up.

Broder watched as the guard held an AK-47 to his friend's head.

Then the guard asked, "Who shot J.R.?" 

It took a moment before the belly-laughing began.

Thankful for those who risk their lives for the greater good.

Monday, April 26, 2010

You can go to She Speaks

One of you is waking up to happy news today – news that she has been randomly selected by P31 Executive Director LeAnn Rice to receive a She Speaks conference scholarship. She will probably jump up and down at the news.  And I will be celebrating right along with her.

All the other entrants will wake up to the disappointing news that their name is not posted on P31’s homepage as the winner.  Your shoulders may slump. Tears might brim your eyes. And you might feel all hope is lost.  I would commiserate with you, except that all hope is not lost!

If God has truly called you to the conference at this time, He will make a way for you to attend. I firmly believe that.  And the team at P31 is praying for God to gather all the gals He would have attend this year. I want you to know it was so heart-warming reading everyone’s posts entering the giveaway, and so heart-wrenching knowing we couldn’t give each of you a scholarship. But it drove us to many prayers for you.

So here’s my suggestion - set up your own scholarship fund. We have already put together an amazing letter you can send to your family, friends, church leaders or members, small group, etc. They can then send tax-deductible donations to Proverbs 31 Ministries designated as scholarship money for you. Each year 20–30 women attend She Speaks because they set up their own scholarship like this! Some are called to speak or write. But some are blessed to give – called to  financially help someone else answer the call to speak or write.

To learn more about that, go to and find the green button that says “Scholarship Info” at the bottom left of the page.

Also, stay tuned because we just may have another scholarship giveaway opportunity soon.

Giving thanks for God’s provision.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

She Speaks (for Him)

The morning before I attended my first She Speaks conference, I hadn’t heard of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I got up that morning, tended to my two preschoolers, and then plugged a clock radio in at my bathroom counter. Tuning in the local Christian station, I heard the P31 radio spot.

I don’t recall who was speaking or what they said, but I made mental note of the web address and checked it out that afternoon while my kids napped. Opening the home page, I saw She Speaks advertized. As I read about the conference, my heart skipped wildly and I had the strongest sense that I should go.

I wasn't looking for something like this, yet this wasn’t out of left field for me either. I had earned a masters’ degree in communication from a Christian university. I was teaching public speaking at my local university. And I was writing a monthly column for a local parenting magazine.

Plus, there was that day at the neighborhood pool a couple of years back. I was attempting some semblance of a quiet time while my husband and kids swam. Sitting on the lounge chair under the shade of the arbor with my Bible and journal, I came across a verse in the Old Testament. The words promised Jeremiah would be a prophet, and they spoke straight to my heart. It was as if God whispered, "Remember this." I had no idea why.

There was only one problem with the text I read on the She Speaks banner at the P31 homepage that day – the conference began tomorrow, and it was completely sold out. “Oh well,” I tried saying as my excitement evaporated. But it wouldn’t leave my mind. So I called my husband just to tell him about it. He prayed on the phone with me, and then said, “Call them and see if you can come.”

“But it starts tomorrow.”
“Call them.”
“But it costs several hundred dollars!”
“Just call and see if it’s possible, Rachel.”
“But you’d have to keep the kids all weekend…”
“That's fine. Just call them.”

So I dialed the number. A cheerful voice answered. Admitting this inquiry would sound crazy or presumptuous or both, I told her of my discovery of P31 and She Speaks that day, and my conversation with my husband that afternoon. (I sort of blamed it on him.) She put me on hold. For about 3 minutes I sweated the possibilities of her answer. Then she returned and said, “We had a pregnant woman registered, who went into labor this morning. She just cancelled. So if you can get here tomorrow, come.” (They now have a waiting list for such situations.) I remained calmly professional while on the phone with her, then called Rick and squealed the news.

I drove the four hours to Charlotte the next morning, having no idea what I was getting into. For some reason, they put me in the advanced mentoring group lead by Lysa TerKeurst (hadn’t a clue who she was). There I found out I’d be required to give a speech the next day in front of Lysa and the advanced gals– a speech all the other women had been preparing for months.

I attended every session, overwhelmed by both the amount of information, and my sense of who-am-I-to-do-this. But with each session, I also sensed growing confirmation this was God-ordained. I remembered that verse I’d read and journaled by the pool three years prior:

"Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.'"  ~Jeremiah 15:19

I went back to my hotel room between most sessions, cried, prayed, questioned God, praised Him, cried some more, and then applied fresh makeup before rushing back down the elevator to the next session. Friday night, I called my husband for prayer, then stayed up until 2:00 AM writing my speech.

I love when it is so clear I'm on an adventure with God. This was also the year the ministry decided to form a speaker team. Out of sheer conviction that God was ordaining this, not me seeking it, I applied to the team.

I’m so very thankful that my ministry work came to me in such an unplanned, unlikely, unexpected way. It's comforting on the occasional days when I still ask God and self: who-am-I-to-do-this?


Listen up! We're offering one scholarshp to the She Speaks conference! Have you followed that link to see what it's about? You have until midnight on Thursday, April 22nd to post a comment here telling me what it would mean to you to be awarded this scholarship to attend the 2010 She Speaks speaker track. What are you passionate about communicating??

This scholarship is not just a give away. It is for women who have never attended She Speaks before, and would not otherwise be able to attend. If you can afford the $575 conference, please do not enter to win the scholarship - go register! A winner will be randomly chosen from all comments left here and on all the P31 blogs listed below - so go comment there as well to increase your chances. The winner will be announced on Friday, April 23rd at the P31 home page. I hope you win!

Wendy B
Wendy P
She Seeks
She Reads
Rad Revolution
Thankful that God welcomes each of us into His work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

One winner announced

Just did the drawing for the winner from yesterday's devo carnival.  Let me say thanks to each writer that participated -I really enjoyed your devotions!  And I know yesterday was a crazy day to do the carnival, what with taxes due, and entries due for the She Speaks scholarship contest thru P31 Woman magazine. So I appreciate everyone coming by here yesterday and this morning.

Next month the 15th falls on a Saturday so we'll do the devotional carnival that Friday, the 14th.
We'll write on the topic of stability - so start plotting your post.  :)

Here are your random numbers: 10 Timestamp: 2010-04-16 20:22:58 UTC
That means comment #10 - Kimberly at Sprinkled w/Cinnamon - wins her choice of the books.

Everybody else, well come back next carnival and try again.  Until then, practice JOY!

Thankful Tom Davis got one of the last flights out of Europe before the volcano erruptions grounded 17,000 flights - have you read his blog this week?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Devotional Carnival - JOY

Welcome writers and readers. Ready to meet by the Ferris Wheel and share a frozen lemonade? The last few months' devotional carnivals have been so great; we're doing it again. This month's topic? JOY - that particular brand of uplifted happiness God promises to richly supply the heart set on Him.

To participate, post a devotion about joy on your blog today. It can be anything at all (biblical) about this topic, just keep it around 650 words or less and include a key verse your devotion illustrates. Include a note with link back here that you're participating in this month's devotional carnival. Then come type in your name and the URL to your blog post below. Make sure you are entering the link to your specific devotion post and not just your general blog address. Mr. Linky does the rest.

Follow the links to read others' devotions if you just want to read today. If you're reading, I hope you'll leave some comments to encourage these writers.

Leave a comment below telling me which Bible translation you most often read and you'll be entered to win your choice of the following Chrisitan books: The Pastor's Wife a novel by Jennifer AlLee, or Awaken the Leader in You, non-fiction by Dr. Linda Clark. I'll publish the winner here on Friday afternoon around 3:00 EST, so jump in the carnival and comment before then! I'm off to the spinning tea cups ...

Thankful for the inspirational words of others.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House Thoughts

Welcome P31 devotion visitors. I thought I'd share another example of taking thoughts captive.

Several years ago all my friends seemed to move into new houses at the same time. Brand new houses. They were upgrading. I felt pressure to do the same as I attended get togethers in their pretty new homes.

I enjoy house hunting - I like to peer inside the places people live. I like to see where they hang their towels, have their morning coffee, and put on their make-up for the day. I also like imagining myself in that space - sipping latte and applying liner. Like trying on a house for size. So we did a little house hunting, but ultimately decided to stay put.

I don't think our income was rising at the rate my friends' was back then. Plus the thought of prepping the house, showing the house, packing everything up, unpacking everything, and getting a new space suited to us sounded like something I didn't have time for. (But truth be told, if I had the funds to swing a really swanky big home at the beach, I could find the time to move there.)

So we kept our current address. I'd visit my friends' spacious places with shiny hardwoods, scuff free walls, vaulted ceilings and new appliances. And then, when I went back home, all I could see were the imperfections. ... The fingerprints leading up the stairwell, the toilet that sometimes runs and you have to jiggle the handle to make it stop, and the light fixtures over the breakfast bar that are slightly off center because my brother called while the electrician was here.

He called to tell me he and his ex-wife were remarrying. It was tremendous news but that meant I wasn't really paying attention when the electrician asked me, mid phone call, if the lights were evenly spaced before he drilled the ceiling holes. 

And my closet space is seriously lacking. My coat closet, kitchen pantry, and linen closet are all 2 ft x 2 ft - tiny by modern standards. And that's how my house made me feel: sub-par to modern standards. Like I'm falling behind. In what race I'm not exactly sure. I don't recall signing up for a marathon, but I find myself running the race all the same. I can't ever really see the finish line. It seems to stay just out of sight - and I wonder if it keeps moving like a carrot on a stick.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing and Winning Opps

First off, if you've been following my blog for a few months you know that I've been doing devotional carnivals on the 15th of the month. That means this Thursday is devotional carnival time! This month's topic is JOY. So you can write on anything to do with joy, rejoicing, happiness, anything of the sort. I'm sure some of us will be feeling joyful to get our taxes in by deadline that day!

To participate, here's the simple how-to: Offer a key Bible verse that ties with what you are writing about. Keep it under 650 words total. It can be serious, funny, or poetic, it's all up to you. Just be sure that it teaches or illustrates your verse. Then post your devotion on your blog on Thurs. and come here to link it with my post for that day. There'll be instructions on my post for how to do this with Mr. Linky. People will be able to get to your devotional post from my blog.

Doesn't that sound like all kinds of spiritual fun?!

The winner will get their choice of two books, a new novel called The Pastor's Wife by AlLee, or a leadership book called Awaken the Leader in You by Clark.

Second, thanks to the generosity of author Cecil Murphey, we will be giving away one SCHOLARSHIP to attend the SHE SPEAKS 2010 Conference! For details ...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Eye opening

My friend, author Tom Davis, is in Moldova right now. He's brought popular blogger Anne Jackson with him and a very small crew to investigate the plight of teen girls and orphans - many of which wind up in the human traffic trade. I talked with Tom on Friday before he left. He said he's never been to this particular area of the world before and wasn't sure what to expect. He's been blogging his experience so far and this last entry grabbed me by the heart. I can only imagine what it's done to Tom and Anne.

Go read it for yourself at Tom's blog.  And at Anne's blog.

And then pray for these girls, their country, and for many divine appointments during Tom & Anne's trip.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Food Revolution

I confess to being intrigued by Chef Jamie Oliver's current televised project: Food Revolution. The British celebrity chef decided to jump the pond and come open a community cooking center, overhaul school lunches, and teach people to eat healthy in Huntington, WV - an area of the US with sky-rocketing obesity and diabetes rates.

I, for one, applaud him. From what I've seen so far on the show, he's not getting much applause. The "lunch ladies" are not applauding him – they are slightly offended.  Nor are the kids clapping yet - some spit out the first healthy lunch he made. He is getting support, however, from local pastor Steve Willis of the First Baptist Church. I'm glad to see the church being the church and interested in the health of the community.

Chef Oliver is known as “The Naked Chef.”  For the longest time I'd see his cookbooks in the bookstore with this slogan, and avoid picking them up.  And I was a little confused when I heard about him working in the school kitchens. Then I learned he got that nickname because he likes cooking with fresh fruits and vegetables - minimal processing, not minimal clothing. Ohhh. Now I can safely flip through his cookbooks.

So maybe I'm not the smartest artichoke in the bunch.

Just before the airing of Chef Oliver's Food Revolution show...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Scripture, gift-wrapped

I gave away my Bible the other day. I regretted it the very next morning when I didn't have it to continue my reading plan.  But at the time, I felt giving it to this person was the right thing to do.

And I'm glad I did - I just miss it.
(Cue the soundtrack to a sad Nicholas Sparks movie)

Lest you panic and assume I'm Bibleless, you have no worries. There are eight different Bibles in six different translations on my shelf. One of those has been my main study Bible for the last several years. But I gave away the special one I had bought specifically for reading this year: The Daily Message. It's a through-the-Bible-in-a-year Bible in the Message translation. So you see why the next morning I was stuck - not knowing where to read next to keep up with my plan until I can get another copy.

I roamed around cyberspace and found They have a plan that looks similar to what I'd been doing.  And they will deliver it to me in the Message translation in daily emails. Check it out if you're looking for a daily reading plan - they have many different configurations and translations to choose from. And I also found the one year bible online which will take you chronologically through the Bible, beginning at any date you select, in whichever translation you select. Hum, now to decide which one to do!

May it never be said about you or me, what Stephen said about the Jewish leaders in Acts 7:53:

"You had God's Law handed to you by angels—gift-wrapped!—and you squandered it!"

Thankful for the ease and resources the Internet provides.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Hope You Dance

I love to dance. Every since I was little and began lessons at age four, my love for dance came out in many ways besides recitals: in my gymnastics routines, in my squad's pom-pom routines, at the school "sock hop," and of course in my bathroom mirror - microphone-hairbrush in hand.

During college I took a dance class for gym credit. And I even dated a ballroom dance instructor - spending weekends together on the dance floor. I learned to rhumba, waltz, two step, cha-cha, shag, jitterbug and jive. Ultimately, though, he was not the one for me. I married a musician/singer who supplies me endless melodies to dance to.

Once married, I bought some black patent leather clickety shoes with ribbon ties and took an adult tap class for exercise. Then I took an adult jazz dance class. Going to my weekly dance class was a highlight amid my full-time job and part-time graduate studies. A decade went by and after having two kids, a group of my friends and I signed up for a middle eastern dance class at our local YWCA. I rediscovered my love of all kinds of dance. 

Perhaps that's why I'm enjoying Susanne Scheppmann's newest release Embraced by the Father so much. It's a book about finding grace in the names of God - grace for everyone, even those with two left feet. The best part? Dance stories and metaphors run throughout. It's a study of God for all "Dancing With the Stars" fans.

In addition to the in-depth look at the names of God, there's also plenty of prompts and space for journaling at each chapter's end, which I like.

With this book, Susanne has written an invitation for me to stand upon my Father's toes, lean my head against His chest, and dance with Him in eternal security. That's an invite I can't resist, and once again I'm rediscovering my love of dance.

Despite this lifelong love of rhythm and movement, can you believe I've never followed "Dancing With the Stars"? Though I did catch this season's first episode a couple weeks ago. Are you a fan?

I'm thankful for every chance to dance. Hey, when was the last time you danced?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Feast for the Soul

“For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord

Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’  In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.’  For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup.  For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself.  That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.  Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

~ 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 (NLT)