Saturday, November 22, 2008

When God Calls...

I have often struggled with a message being placed on my heart, or a person who I know I must lift up in prayer (even when I don't know the specifics of why). Sometimes these things happen when I am doing nothing important. I have gotten the pleading of the Spirit to pray for someone while driving on the freeway, and have prayed immediately. But other times, God urges me at times when it's just not "convenient".

Oh, yes, I am going there!

I don't know how many times I have gotten online at nearly midnight, flat out bone-weary and spent an hour or two writing, because God has put something on my heart that I just had to write. I would love to tell you that I'm always faithful to this urging, but I'd be lying to you, and that won't help you or me. In fact, here I am on a Saturday morning, on vacation more or less, at 7:30 in the morning the only one awake in our hotel room. I'm sitting on the floor in the dark (so I don't wake the others) typing this because God is placing that urging upon my heart.

(I'd much rather climb back in bed and be sound asleep and wake totally refreshed in like two hours. I would...but I know that this is not going to happen. I know that if I ignore the Spirit, my day is going to be "off"--emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally--and it will have nothing to do with a lack of sleep. Remember Jonah?)

When God calls, we must be ready to listen. Sometimes His call is going to be inconvenient to our earthly, selfish desires. In fact, I am going to go so far as to say it ALWAYS is inconvenient to our earthly, selfish desires. That's because the Holy, Righteous, True Will of God is entirely in conflict with our human, sinful, selfish, deceitful desires. That is the nature of our sinful being.

But we must be ready to listen. We must take a moment to step back and prepare ourselves to hear God when He speaks to us. I believe it's not unlike what I see modeled in my son's second grade classroom. When Mrs. D has the children working in groups independently of her leading and needs to bring them back together, before she begins to speak she claps a rhythm. The children are instructed the first day of school that when they hear her do this, they stop talking, put down whatever is in their hands, and clap this rhythm back. But Mrs. D does not always use the same rhythm to gather their attention. The rhythm changes. And if they do not stop and listen to her rhythm each time, they will not be able to clap it back.

There are several things that really remind me of how Gods calls me in this. First is that I must be listening, at least on some unconscious level for God to "clap His rhythm" in my heart, just as Mrs. D does in her classroom. The children do not sit still and quiet all day waiting for her. In fact, it is generally because they are so busy, so loud, or so other-focused that she uses this tool. But they must know when they hear it to stop.

Oh, Father, I know what you're thinking...and I'm not ready to hear it, but I know I have to stop right now and clap! (Well, at least within my heart--the other four people sound asleep in my room will NOT be happy if I wake them up!) The second that God begins to place that urging of the Spirit within my heart and soul, I have to stop.

But stopping alone is not enough. The children stop and...........


If they do not listen, they cannot repeat her rhythm back to her. She calls. They stop. They listen.

How much like God is that? (I have this theory that all you have ever really wanted to know about spiritual growth you can learn from raising, or simply studying, small children!)

He calls us with His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. We are to stop--think of Samuel, of Jonah, of the disciples--and listen. But like Mrs. D, God commands to know that we are paying attention. There is some exercise to show Him that He has our attention. He requires that we clap back His rhythm. This morning, clapping back His rhythm meant that I got up, turned on my laptop and went to a site where my soul could be ministered to. It prepared my heart for the message He was going to give me.

Once the children have clapped back the rhythm, Mrs. D continues with her next instructions. She knows that she has their attention and can move ahead with the certainty (well, they are second graders, so I suppose there never is 100% certainty of anything! LOL) that they are going to hear and follow her instruction.

That is exactly how God works too! When we stop, when take the moment to repeat back to God the rhythm He is placing on our heart, He knows that we are ready to listen. Sometimes that is as simple as saying, "Okay, Father...I'm here. I'm ready." Sometimes it is simply saying, "Jesus." Sometimes it is removing yourself to a quieter situation where you can listen. God will shout if He needs to, but neither one of you (or me) really want that situation. It's not ideal. And then, when He knows He has our full attention, He gives us His instruction!

Now here is where we become second graders, all of us...we still have to choose to follow directions. We have to do what He has told us. (I know that I've gone so far as staying up late, getting up in the middle of the night, listen, but have ignored His instruction.) When we do what the Spirit leads us to do, there is immense blessing for us and for others. But when we ignore Him, that is where we invite trouble in (remember the whale and our good friend, Jonah?).

God is our teacher, and we are all just a bunch of "grown up" second graders. God needs our attention, and we have to stop, listen, and obey.

(I just did.)

Father, thank you for loving me enough to call me. And thank you for blessing me this morning with an early morning wake up call. I know that I didn't want to get up. Who am I kidding? You already know that too! But I thank you for trusting me with this message, and I pray that I have been faithful enough to touch others, as well as to learn from your instruction. Continue to reign in my life so that although I may be busy living life, I am never too busy to hear your call, to stop, and to obey. I know today is going to be a wonderful day because You were first in it! In Jesus' name, AMEN.

For more about hearing and answering God's call...
--I Samuel 3: the calling of Samuel in the middle of the night
--Jonah: chapter 1 is his first calling, but it's a short the rest!
--Matthew 10: Jesus' calling of the disciples and sending them out

Be blessed, and Happy Saturday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Some disenchanted evening

Every year about this time, things change. My simple life seems to be not quite enough. Everywhere I look I see things that remind me that my life just really doesn't measure up--from Martha Stewart shows that model finely carved pumpkins, to perfectly browned turkeys on immaculately placed tables, to jewelry commercials where an unsuspecting woman is swooped off her feet by her boyfriend/fiance/husband with a gift that we can't afford in a situation I will never find myself, to the myriad of toy commercials with adorable children perfectly dressed opening toys under a department store-worthy tree on Christmas morning. These things seem to mock me for about eight weeks each year, screaming at me that my life is just not quite good enough.

I suppose the irony is what this season is really, truly about.

In a week, we will spend hours cleaning our homes and cooking, baking, sauteeing traditional foods such as green beans, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce/relish, followed by pumpkin pie (or apple, or pecan, or whatever suits your fancy). We will stress out about whether there is enough room for all the adults in the dining room, and if there is a relatively "stain-proof" area to host a dozen small children eating without adult supervision (because 17-year old zit-covered Wii-playing cousin Brent doesn't count as supervision). At the last minute Thursday morning we will realize that some critical ingredient for our feast was forsaken and will send our poor husbands running to find a grocery store within ten miles that is actually open to pick it up. Never mind that it will never truly be missed from the recipe. And we will urge the children to sit quietly and not touch anything in front of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We'll remind Tommy and Sarah to stay out of the kitchen, to wash their hands and face (again!), and to keep their voices down. And Dad will count the seconds until Santa draws up the rear of the parade and he can switch over to the football games.

At dinner, we will put on "airs" and hold hands while Grandpa blesses the food and every other thing he can possibly think of that has happened in the last year that could be considered "prays-worthy". Grandma will pinch his hand after eight minutes, while the kids poke their fingers in the dinner rolls and mashed potatoes. Uncle Joe will spill wine on the new fine linen tablecloth. Aunt Nora will again tell the now infamous story about her first turkey baking fiasco. And your loving spouse will have one eye glued to the TV in the other room (or even worse...receive text updates on the game! on his cell phone at the table).

Afterwards, the men will collect in the den watching the game and fall asleep, feet up on the coffee table and snoring, each to his own drummer. The kids will run to the basement to play which is a blessing only for the minute while you attempt to clean the dining room, kitchen, and living room from a feast to feed twenty. Later, much later, you will tackle a family room that appears to have only barely survived a grenade attack. (You will do this alone at 11pm, barefoot and on hands and knees while wishing you could just go to sleep.) Your mother-in-law will stand and tell you every bit of gossip she has heard in the past month about her co-workers/neighbors/other family without reaching to help with a single dish. She'll ask if you need help halfway through only to pull your poor sister-in-law with a two-month old baby out of the den where she was attempting to calm the baby.

And at nine, the house will be empty once again. The only sound will be your yawns over the third load through the dishwasher and your husband's snoring.

This is what we get for Thanksgiving. But I think it leaves us all a little bit disillusioned. We are bombarded by the media with idyllic settings that we will never experience. And we spend the day stressed out, irritated, short-tempered, snippy, put-out, and overwhelmed. Never do we really stop to take account of our blessings.

I'll be honest. Right now I'm not looking forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Not at all.


Because I am caught in the midst of the commercialism of the holiday. I am caught in the human elements of the holiday. I am weary because I know that it will never be for me what it really ought to be.

I will never experience a truly thankful Thanksgiving the way the first one was. The Pilgrims didn't fuss over what brand of turkey they were going to have, or what kind of stuffing they were going to serve with it. No. They were ecstatic because they had food and had survived! They had learned how to cultivate crops with the help of the Native Americans. The Pilgrim women weren't concerned about whether or not their table linens were the same ones they'd used the last five years (okay, so that was impossible for them....), or whether their hair and makeup was perfect, their clothes as nice and new as could be.

They had food! They had each other! They had survived a year!

What can I be thankful for in the last year? Perhaps by looking at that, I can strip the holiday of its commercialism and truly be thankful.

1. A new big family!
2. A beautiful new baby girl
3. Being able to stay home to raise my children
4. Financial blessings that were unexpected
5. Labor/delivery blessings
6. Time spent with my kids
7. One year wedding anniversary
8. Opportunities to serve and bless others
9. My health and my family's health
10. Freedom of religion

These are just a few. I could go for hours. But the point is simple:

Strip the season of its commercialism and get back to "THANKS-GIVING".

I will praise God's name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
--Psalm 69:30

I will praise God's name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
--Psalm 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
--Psalm 100:4

Father, it is easy to see why this season is difficult for so many. Without your Spirit dwelling within us, it is impossible to grasp the truth and embrace what this time of year is truly about. Strip from my home, my heart anything that would keep me from seeing and celebrating the blessings that you have given me over the past year, and the promises you have given me that have yet to be fulfilled. Let each moment be a moment of praise and thanksgiving for all that you have given me. Remove the parts of my heart and mind that dwell on what I don't have. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can't afford to join a gym or expensive weight loss program?

Are you wanting to lose weight?

Do you balk at the high prices of a weight loss program like Jenny, WW, or N/S? Intimidated by the trainers at the gym? Not ready to read a tome before you get started?


But, I am lucky. I was a pre-nursing student back in the day and took a good general nutrition course back in college. (I know, great...she's armed with knowledge that she doesn't use!) So I know what I need to/should eat, I'm just unsure of the quantities that are best.

It's all good though. Our tax dollars are still hard at work! Check out this site which has been around for years and run by the USDA, MyFoodPyramid. It's simple to use. You've already paid for it (assuming you've worked in the last decade within the USA), and it's not nearly so intimidating. I am going to use it as a jumping off point for my own weight loss.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking a step back

I have spent a large majority of my adult life overweight. After getting married at 18 and moving across the country, I put on almost 50 pounds immediately. A year and a half later, I got pregnant and broke 200 pounds. We had our second child almost immediately, and I weighed 200 when I found out I was expecting again. That was in January 1998. I did well during that pregnancy and only put on eight pounds. But I struggled taking the pregnancy weight off. In spring 1999, my doctor put me on phentermine (the safer half of fen-phen), and I drop over 60 pounds in less than six months. I wore clothes smaller than what I wore at age 18.

We moved across the world, and I did pretty well keeping the weight off although I struggled with adjusting my schedule and routine, battling the blues of being a whole world away from my friends and family. I put on just a tidbit of the weight I had lost again, but I held my loss for a year. And then I got pregnant with baby number three.

There was so much going on in my life at this time. I had a child with special needs, we spent 12 weeks in Hawaii on medevac during the early part of my pregnancy with two small children and no help or vehicle. I got dehydrated and was ordered not to do heavy activities. We ate out because we had no other option. Slowly, I put weight back on during this pregnancy and blossomed to a whopping 225 when I was checked into L&D for delivery in February 2001.

A year later my world fell apart. My husband and I separated. I lost 15 pounds within 6 weeks without even trying. But I never could break below 195. Until 2006.

I resolved one afternoon when I was home sick from work, that I was going to do it. I was tired of being the "fat single-mom" who everybody felt sorry for at work and at church. I was a good mom, I knew, but I felt like I had no value beyond that. I believed that I could never expect to find a good Christian man as long as I was so overweight. What was my body screaming about my lifestyle and about my ability to love me?

So I joined LA Weight Loss. I refused to use their diet bars, and I stuck to the program. I ate foods that I enjoyed. I did well in a culture of food and snacking at work. In fact, my weight loss was so remarkable that it encouraged many others in the office to lose weight, and the company eventually sponsored a "Biggest Loser" competition.

In April 2006, when I signed up for LA Weight Loss I weighed 209 pounds. In mid-November 2006, I hit my goal weight of 154. Along the way, I found that I could get by on mini-snacks of M&M's (10/day) and fruit instead of candy or cookies.

Last summer, I found out that my husband and I were expecting. I was working full-time, something I had never done in my previous pregnancies. And my job was demanding emotionally and mentally. A moment of "off" in my job could cost the company hundreds of dollars. I came home in the evening and couldn't hold my head up until dinner. I wasn't working out. I wasn't eating right.

And guess what? ! ?

That's right, I had a beautiful baby girl, but I also put on almost 90 pounds in a year. Yes, you ready that right. I put on more than 7 pounds a month. In fact, I put on more weight in a year than my 12-year-old daughter weighs. That's alot of weight.

I don't consider myself a yo-yo dieter because I have really only made a massive commitment to weight loss twice, and both times I did lose weight and keep it off, until I got pregnant...sigh.

But I have really been struggling to get my motivation and stick with it since I had our baby girl in April.

And there have been several factors influencing this. I'm not going to go into all of them here as some are very personal. I am dealing with them elsewhere. But I am determined to make the changes I need to do this.

And this is not going to be easy because we are heading into the holiday season and part of our family traditions have included lots of cookie baking. So this means that I have to find a new tradition to start with my family. I have to make changes that last through pregnancies, and not just until they happen. (I would love to have another baby someday...yes, I said it...but I won't do it at this weight.)

My goal is to weigh 150-155. My goal is to be able to run in the park with my kids, to hike in the mountains without losing my breath, to stand and do dishes without my back and knees hurting before they're done, and to be vital, healthy, and alive for my husband, children, and grandchildren.

Goal number one: Stop drinking soda, more than one cup of coffee, and increase my water intake.

I know I can do that. And I will continue to deal with the emotional issues that undermine my ability to believe in myself and stick with it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Few

1-3 Jesus responded by telling still more stories. "God's kingdom," he said, "is like a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out servants to call in all the invited guests. And they wouldn't come!

4"He sent out another round of servants, instructing them to tell the guests, 'Look, everything is on the table, the prime rib is ready for carving. Come to the feast!'

5-7"They only shrugged their shoulders and went off, one to weed his garden, another to work in his shop. The rest, with nothing better to do, beat up on the messengers and then killed them. The king was outraged and sent his soldiers to destroy those thugs and level their city.

8-10"Then he told his servants, 'We have a wedding banquet all prepared but no guests. The ones I invited weren't up to it. Go out into the busiest intersections in town and invite anyone you find to the banquet.' The servants went out on the streets and rounded up everyone they laid eyes on, good and bad, regardless. And so the banquet was on—every place filled.

11-13"When the king entered and looked over the scene, he spotted a man who wasn't properly dressed. He said to him, 'Friend, how dare you come in here looking like that!' The man was speechless. Then the king told his servants, 'Get him out of here—fast. Tie him up and ship him to hell. And make sure he doesn't get back in.'

14"That's what I mean when I say, 'Many get invited; only a few make it.'"
--Matthew 22:1-14 (The Message)

Jesus used stories or parables to speak to his disciples and to teach the people. He did this because he knew that there would be many drawn to his teachings who had no real kingdom interest in his life. Many just simply followed the crowds. He would teach using parables to the large crowds knowing that those who had true interest would ask questions or understand the symbolism. At times, he refused to explain himself to the twelve because they lacked faith and understanding.

This parable is representative of his life. In this story, the King is none other than God. His Son is the bridegroom, Jesus Christ. I believe that the servants He sent out where the prophets of the Old Testament plus John the Baptist. They were sent to warn the nation of Israel, the chosen people, of the Messiah's coming. They were invited to share in the wedding feast, and yet as Isaiah had predicted, the nation of Israel denied Jesus as being the Messiah promised to them.

So God extended the invitation through the apostles to the Gentiles, here characterized in verses 8-10. These are common people. They are not friends of the family. They are not distant relatives. These are the people in the busiest parts of town going about their business. All who will come are rounded up and brought to the wedding feast.

And yet, this parable ends on a sad note. The king arrives and finds that one "guest" is not dressed appropriately. The king is angered by this man's lack of respect and throws him out. Jesus ends the parable with a simple yet profound statement:

Many get invited; only a few make it.

I believe that Jesus taught this message to his disciples as a warning. They were a very select group. They were the ones who he explained the meanings of the parables to. And yet, he does not explain this one to them. Here he seems to weed out who will make it and who won't by not explaining the meaning of this parable. Perhaps it was a warning for Judas Iscariot. Perhaps it was meant to thrust a dagger into the hearts of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Or perhaps it was meant for us to read and to think about and ponder.

We know that in John 3, Jesus declares that he did not come into the world to condemn or judge it, but to save it. That lines up with the "many are chosen" part of his warning. It's the second part that becomes a challenge to us.

Few make it. Which makes me think of the Marines. And perhaps that analogy isn't all that bad. The Marines have prided themselves on being the elite branch of our military. Their basic training is more physically demanding, and longer than any other branch. They take immense pride in their uniform (oh how well I know this mouth, insert foot--those dress blues ARE blue, not black...sigh). In fact, the Marines are almost always the first troops sent to any conflict. It is my understanding that the number of enlistees who drop out of basic or are disqualified are highest within the Marines. They are the select few.

In our spiritual lives, which are we? Are we recruited because no one else is left? Will we make it through the physical? Will we fail the first time we are sent out to train in the real world? When our time here on earth, our basic training if you will, is done, will Jesus look at us and choose us? Or will we be like the man who showed up but lacked the foresight to be respectful to his host?

Father, I know that I fail you so many times. I have reflected many times on chance meetings where I dropped the ball when I could have witnessed for you or lifted up a sister or brother who was struggling. I have come into your presence with disrespect in my mind and heart--holding onto the commonalities of human existence instead of shedding them for joy, thanksgiving, praise and worship. Forgive me for my disrespect. I am proud to have been chosen at all, and it is my goal to make it into your eternal kingdom. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Knee time

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
--2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (The Message)

I began this series of entries from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 last week before the election. I see so many parallels between Israel and the United States. And I know that I'm not the first or the last person to draw these parallels. It's a type and shadow.

God tells Solomon the same thing He has told His people since He first spoke to Adam in Eden. "Listen to me, follow my instructions, and your life will be simple and blessed. But if you ignore me, if you forgo my commandments and seek after wordly pleasures, your life will be filled with terrors, calamity, illness, war."

I almost need to take a step back to write this. I feel so much right now that I am unclear as to where I should start, how far I should go, and where I should end.

At this point, Israel was in a pretty good standing with God. Solomon, although not a perfect king, was a great ruler and had a deep faith in and relationship with God. He was king for one simple reason: God had promised his father, David, that if he remained in God's way, his line would be seated on the throne. Solomon himself had done nothing to earn his seat. His father had secured it for him. Solomon remained a powerful king because of the choices he made once he was anointed.

That is so much like our relationship with our Father. We have been given a seat, a place in eternity with the Father, not because of anything we have done, but because of what our Father has done. Our Father bought our place in heaven with the sacred blood of His child, Jesus Christ. We can certainly mess that up. We can back slide. We can deny God of His power. But we can not earn our place in heaven. We just can't. All we can do is disable ourselves from getting there.

Even so, God had a desire to be with His children Israel. Time after time, they went their own ways. They sought unions and marriages with peoples who served false gods. They turned their back on God and griped about their position. "There's nothing to eat! Not more manna! Can't we just go back to Egypt, at least we had onions and leeks to eat there!" And they fell from God's favor.

For a time.

The Israelite history is a circuitous one. The children of Israel would repent, would re-establish the law as the norm for their lives and government, and then something would happen to test them, and they walked away from God. And God knew their hearts. He knew what it would take to awaken their souls and bring them back to Him. Perhaps His punishments seem harsh to us. Can you imagine how they seemed to the Israelites?

But always, God has given them, us, another chance. But if my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and PRAY and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Our country is called by the name of God. It was founded upon the principals of religious freedom, one nation under God. The cornerstone of our Constitution and Bill of Rights are biblical truths. We are Israel, we are His children, called by his name. But we have not humbled ourselves. We have not prayed and sought God. We have not turned from our wicked ways. And we live in a broken, troubled world because of it.

How do I know this? I know this because a man was elected today who will legalize partial birth abortion. I know this because many states are voting to redefine marriage as a union between members of the same sex. I know this because it is offensive for my child to say a blessing over lunch in the public school. I know this because our country is hated by countries of other faiths. We serve greed and the "redistribution of wealth." We award business leaders who practice high-risk tactics while tax money is being used to bail these businesses out. I know this because we wonder if it should be okay for a critically-ill person to ask a doctor for lethal doses of drugs.

Our country has turned away from God. I venture to say that today many people went to the polls and voted for "change" without looking at what cost they were going to pay. And it reminds me of the beginning of the darkest periods of the Israelites' history--the periods when they were oppressed by other nations, when their kings were power hungry, and when the blessing of God was removed from their nation.

There are two things that give me peace at this moment, perhaps three.
1. Even in the periods of history when Israel as a nation turned from God, He protected the minority of His people who remained faithful to Him.
2. So long as we are alive and standing, we still have the ability to get down on our knees and pray, seek His face, and be delivered and receive His blessing again.
3. God has promised to listen when we finally get "it" and turn back to Him whole-heartedly.

It is "KNEE TIME" in our country today. We are entering a period that would terrify me if I did not know the Word of the Lord. I know that God still is there. I know that God will still listen. I will hear from heaven. God will hear us when we call on Him.

I think of Jeremiah and Isaiah and the other Old Testament prophets. They must have been highly unpopular in their day. Can you imagine telling the leader of a mighty nation that his country and his people, including himself, would be delivered into the hands of Babylon? I wouldn't want that job. And yet, I feel some of that burden today.

In the United States, we have watered down what it means to be a Christian. We say a nice little prayer at an altar call, we put bumper stickers on our cars with the "Jesus fishy" on it, and if we're really good Christians, we join a small group Bible study and perhaps put our children in private Christian schools. In some ways, we walk the walk. But we fail so miserably in other ways.

I have a pre-teen daughter. I love her with more love than I could dream of. I want her to wait until she is married to have sex. And yet, even in the "church" community, it is not uncommon to hear of lowered standards. "Everyone does it anyway, you might as well plan that she will too."

Excuse me?!? God created marriage and sex to be mutually inclusive. Can you have sex before marriage? Sure, but don't count on a blessing coming out of it! And that is exactly what I've taught my daughter. AIDS? HIV? Sin! Birth control? It's called abstinence! If you aren't married, and you don't want to have a baby, you don't participate in sexual activity. This isn't a radical thought process! This is the way God designed it for our best interest.

This is only one example of the "dumbing down" of our faith in the United States. If you vote for a political candidate who will support further abortion rights and claim to believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, something just doesn't jive.

I heard today that Evangelicals in the United States were/are disillusioned with the Bush administration. Why? He is a human, imperfect like them. And they believe that by voting en masse for the opposite end of the spectrum is going to help restore their illusion? See the key here is's all an illusion.

Our country has wandered so far away from its Christian roots, it's almost hard to believe that there were any to start with. What our country needs is change, but not Mr. Obama's marxist, socialized government-style of Kool-aid change. Our country needs revival.

My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

I believe God chose our country to be what it was. It was to be a place where we could seek Him, serve Him, worship Him, free of the encumbrances of the government. And yet today, our country is exactly the opposite. But we have His promise to us, just as He promised Israel that when we seek Him, when we repent, when we pray, He will listen. And then He will heal our land.

We need more knee time. Don't settle for the lines that you are being sold. Don't accept anything less than what God has for you and for our country. Pray for revival to sweep our land. Pray for the restoration of a mighty country "one nation under God". Pray that we will again become "indivisible".

Whatever you do, PRAY.

Father, you continue to lay this upon my heart. I believe we are entering into a dark period in our country's history. And yet, we have chosen this path. We have turned from you and your promises to us. I cannot be change for everyone. But I can continue to write what you lay upon my heart without fear of being offensive knowing that my desire is to bless you and to do your will. And I will continue to come to you in prayer, in repentance, and seek your face, your will for my life. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Choosing a mindset

If you know me, you know where my allegiances lie in light of the election. The candidate I voted for did not win. In fact, I haven't even seen a number listed for how many votes he did receive, not even in estimation as a sidenote. But that is because for the first time in my life I voted in line with my spiritual beliefs and not with the "big parties". (I'm going to forgo a spiel about how our country has forgotten that there are other parties...)

My vote was not a wasted vote. When I lay my head down tonight upon my pillow, I can rest assured that if I wake up standing before my Maker and He asks me why or how I chose to vote for the person I voted for, I can say that I voted in line with my beliefs, in line with the Bible and the law. I am at complete peace with that. My vote is my voice and my voice says, "I believe in Jesus Christ, in life, and in standing for those values in the face of a society who doesn't embrace them."

But since a new president has been elected, a man whose views are heavily contradictory to my own, I have some choices to make.

First, I am a Christian. I need to make the decision to do what Jesus would do. I know that Jesus looks at Mr. Obama the same way that He looks at me. He created Mr. Obama. He longs to have a personal relationship with him. He loves him just as much as He loves me.

Second, I am a mother. There are four children in my home (sometimes six!) who are looking at how I respond in light of a political leader rising to power who I vehemently disagree with. However, he is the chosen leader of our country, a country that I love, that I am blessed to live in because it allows me freedoms that I take for granted. My children are watching to see if I respect this man's leadership. They are watching to see how I balance my beliefs with the moral barometer of our country. They are going to watch how I act compared to how I speak.

Third, I am a former military wife. I understand the importance of the role of commander-in-chief. I know that Mr. Obama's role as such will have far reaching impact, in ways that many other presidents have not had.

So I need to make choices. I need to choose right now how to balance respect for the election and the person elected as executive to our country while still not approving of that person's views. And I plan to do what I know that my grandmother would do.

I plan to pray. I plan to write letters. I plan to email members of Congress. I will practice creative non-violence, if need be. But I will respect Mr. Obama's role as the elected leader. I will continue to be proud to be an American. I will continue to live with morals dictated by my faith and not the radical left or popular opinion. I will continue to live for Jesus. And I'm going to talk about my beliefs with my children more.

I'm choosing a mindset that is positive without embracing what I see as a moment of darkness for our country. And I choose to pray with a new fervency,