If You Dare

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Thanksgiving was a bust–for fitting in my jeans, that is.  Not many meals bring me as much pleasure or tempt me with gluttony as much as a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Mmm.

Black Friday we did a little shopping and took the kids to an all you can eat Asian buffet.  I’m sitting there stuffing my mouth with Hong Kong chicken and cheese won tons thinking to myself: What are you doing? 

I asked my family how it is we can gorge ourselves one day, thinking we could go a week without eating, to the next day eating it all all over again.  No one had an answer for me.  To make matters worse, we had family Christmas parties Saturday and Sunday.  Today was not a good day to try on clothes.

It was at one of the parties that I talked with a cousin that I rarely get to see.  I guess that’s one of the reasons for those sorts of things.  I enjoyed our conversation thoroughly.  There was a bit of it, though, that I haven’t been able to shake.

I said I wanted rid of one of our politicians like I want rid of a migraine.

She smiled and said, “Well, at least you know what ya have.”

Ever heard that?  Ever said that?  Ever thought that?

“At least you know what ya have.”

What if:

*Christopher Columbus feared uncharted waters?

*Martin Luther agreed that the church, not God, had the final Word?  

*Our forefathers thought taxation without representation was cool?

*All the nations believed Hitler was doing the world a favor?

*Jesus didn’t think we were worth His precious life?   

That one might give you pause to think.  It caused me to pause and I’m the one writing it. 

“At least you know what ya have.”

That statement makes me think of another.

There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

At different times in my life, I’ve been given to all three.  But as I age, the last two are becoming less acceptable to me.  I imagine I’ll find all three a part of me for as long as I live, but the latter are much less desirable.  It’s as if I have a holy dissatisfaction rising up inside of me.  I know what I have and it simply isn’t enough.  There’s so much more to life than this.  I cost Jesus too much to live a life that’s beneath the price He paid.  He offered me His life.  Should I offer Him any less?  Should you?  

I was wondering if you might be willing to take a challenge with me this Christmas and ask Jesus what He would like for His birthday.  Believe it or not, if He has something specific in mind, He’ll tell us.  It might be to give something away that matters little to us but will mean the world to someone else.  Then again, His request might cost us dear.  And maybe not so much by way of material goods (although that may be the case) but a sharing of ourselves that takes us out of our comfort zones or requires time we don’t think we have.  We have a few weeks to ask.  He has a few weeks to answer.  The only thing we have to lose is ourselves.  Are you brave enough to join me?  

Macaroni Woes

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Our refrigerator has been making an odd noise off and on for quite some time.  The noise is something like a moany whine.  I hadn’t voiced what I noticed when one of the girls confirmed my thoughts by bringing up the subject.  There was nothing we could do about the noise but listen and shrug.  Shortly after our conversation, we went on a cooking binge and our frig was full of leftovers.  In fact, it was much fuller than it had been in quite some time.  Leave it to my middle child, the comedian, to point out that the frig had been making all of that noise because it was hungry; now that it was full of food it was quiet once again.  Oddly, it was.

Food is quite a serious matter in our house.  Pastor learned that the hard way.  A while ago, when he had taken on some extra chores at home so his wife could pursue her studies, I felt moved to take him meals.  They were random lunches, here or there, dropped at the church office.  I don’t know, I just think food is a balm of sorts and it seemed to me that a man keeping his full-time job and also taking on more responsibilities at home could use some balm every now and again.  One day I took him a meal that included my homemade macaroni and cheese.

“Do not tell the girls that I gave this to you.  It’s one of their favorite dishes and they hate to share it.”

Being true to male form, he did not listen and came to thank me for the lunch after Sunday service. He specifically mentioned the macaroni and cheese.  My youngest’s jaw dropped.  She laser beamed us with her baby blue eyes and burned through me.

“You mean you gave him our macaroni and cheese?!”

I wasn’t angry.  I consider it a badge of sorts that my family thinks my cooking is so good that they don’t want to share it with anybody.  Frustrating sometimes, yes, but nevertheless, complimentary.  Neither was I embarrassed.  I warned the pastor; he didn’t heed me.  Truth be told, I was slightly amused by the emotions parading across his face at her sudden outburst.

After some seconds of gathering his thoughts, Pastor said, “Wow.  You weren’t kidding.  I thought you were kidding.”

“When it comes to food, there’s no kidding in our house,” I said.

In Pastor’s defense, I have a sarcastic sense of humor at times so it isn’t surprising that he thought I was kidding.  And there’s nothing wrong with offering a polite compliment to the cook, just don’t offer it in front of the girls–especially when homemade macaroni and cheese is involved.

This attachment to food made me think of something Jesus said in rebuke to satan.

 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

That scripture coupled with our humorous little “incident” got me to thinking about heeding certain warnings.  Verses in Deuteronomy chapter 6 came to mind.

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land…to give you large and beautiful cities…houses full of all good things…wells…vineyards…trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–

“then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out…from the house of bondage.  You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him…You shall not go after other gods…You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God…And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land…

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children….” 

I don’t find it coincidental that these verses are what’s tripping through my mind during one of the biggest food fests known to those of us here in the United States of America.  Most of us are going to be popping buttons in the near future as we roll from the Thanksgiving table to the New Year’s celebration.  I do find it sad, though, that we have gone against the Word.  We are blessed to be in one of the richest, most beautiful, self-sustaining lands known to the world.  And what have we done?  We have become fat, ungrateful, and complacent.  We not only have forgotten Who created us, we kicked Him out.  And then we stand around and scratch our heads wondering why the division, the contention, and the outright hatred among a people who are supposed to be “one nation under God”.  When Love is scorned, hatred abounds.  When Life is squashed, death runs rampant.  When Truth is banned, lies eat away like a cancer.  Darkness spreads like a disease.  What, then, is the answer?  From where do we get our hope?

“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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14  

America is not suffering from a political problem.  We suffer due to our selfish sin problem.  And the problem lay at the Church’s door:  “if My people…”  Not the Republicans, not the Democrats, but My people.  We do not love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength or we would not treat one another the way we do.  True love sacrifices its own selfish desires.  If someone says they love Jesus but vote for candidates who are pro-abortion they have voted contrary to God’s Word.  

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you.” Jeremiah 1:5

It’s not enough for my children to know my word, they must heed it.  Should Father God expect any less from us?  Disobedience sows fields of woes and what we’re seeing is a bitter harvest of our own making. We have not injected ourselves into our nation.  We kept silent while God got the boot, students were taught apes are their uncles instead of Adam, and babies are killed in the womb.  Eventually our nation became enlightened to the “fact” that there are not absolutes so here we are in an absolute free-fall.  What did we do to stop it?  For the most part, nothing.  I don’t think we believed America would ever partake of such utter darkness.  But she has, and now we’re drunk on it.

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Oddly, the thing that gives me the most hope is the extent of the darkness.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had a power outage.  Grab a flashlight, light a candle and look how such a little light lights up the room.  I have a personal belief that the darkness is so thick and gross because our enemy sees the Light just beyond the hill and he is doing everything he can before our Redeemer says, “Enough!”  It’s a soft glow now but Jesus comes closer daily.  I tell you, that for those of us who keep the faith and follow the Word, God is going to cut loose in our lives in wonderful ways that we never could have imagined.  But we must hold on.  We must do as God has said: humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.  Further, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.  Let’s do what God has called us to do.  All of us have a purpose.  He formed us, He knows us, He will equip and strengthen us.  We must at least try.

I know you’re weary and maybe even afraid for yourself and for our nation; I have felt that way myself.  But please, let’s not give up.  God cannot lie: if we will then He will Stay in the Light.  Let’s hold on and sing our praises all the louder.  And please, please join me in offering up thanksgiving and prayers for the United States of America.  Despite our current condition, I love America still and I will fight for her on my knees and whatever way I can.  Will you?    

Lone Follower, Encourage Me, encourage me

 

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My site has a few followers now, beside me AND my husband 😉which is really cool, but God’s Word Girl means more to me than that.  Through WordPress I have been given an outlet for my God-gifted creative talents and I consider this a great privilege and responsibility to bring to you encouragement through stories and exhortation through God’s Word.  It’s as if a floodgate has been opened and my mind is drowning with ideas.  I have to pick through the debris and say, “Okay, LORD, where do we go from here?”

This is the beginning of my dream.  I am filled to the brim with words and stories and ideas.  Like Prego spaghetti sauce, “It’s in there.”  Therein lies the problem: it’s inside.  Sometimes I feel like a party waiting to come out.  It’s so difficult to wait for party day.    

I want to share a biblical story with you that keeps running through my mind about how David handled one particular difficulty in his life.  In I Samuel chapter 30, David is not yet king.  He and his mighty warriors have returned to Ziklag where they have been living.   They return to find that their enemy has burned down their town and taken their wives and their children captive. They have nothing. They cried and wept until they had no more power to do it.  Things got even worse, if you can believe it, and real ugly when the grieving men spoke of stoning David.  I can only imagine what his initial thoughts were, but this is what David did:

  1. He asked the priest to bring him the ephod.  I don’t want to go into detail here but ephodthey’re pretty interesting.  An ephod was part of a priest’s garb.  Numerous  writings attribute it to representing various things but I lean towards it representing God’s presence and covering.  David wanted to speak with God.                                  
  2. David strengthened himself in the LORD.  He entered the presence of the LORD with praise and thanksgiving.  He encouraged himself.
  3. David asked the LORD what he should do.
  4.  David obeyed the LORD.
  5.  David recovered all.    It doesn’t get much better than that.

I think one of the hardest things to do as a follower of Christ is to maintain joy, hope, and peace while waiting for a dream to come to fruition.  And you know what?  I  have not “arrived”, as they say.  There are times when I still cave to fear, anger, unbelief, and the likes.  My bad reaction fills in the space between the desire conceived and the desire born.  Then there’s the painstaking business of watching it grow and mature.  The story of David encouraging himself  while waiting to be king has inspired me to learn to do the same; it ain’t fun.  Or easy.

Dreams can be tricky, like holding onto a greased turkey.  Yep, I dropped one once.  I slathered that thing down with butter, sprinkled on my seasonings, then in my rush to prepare to go to a funeral, I dropped it.  Literally dropped it.  My husband was holding out one of those neat Reynolds oven bags that keep the bird moist and tender and make clean up so much easier when I plopped it in.  What was I thinking?  It wasn’t a Hefty trash bag, it was a lightweight oven bag.  The bird burst through the bottom of the bag and that 20 lb. piece of poultry hit the floor with a thud.  My husband and I locked wide eyes for a split second or two over our main course laying on the floor at our feet.  We did what all shrewd people do: we picked it up from the floor, rinsed it off, gently placed it in a new bag and put in the oven to bake.  Makes ya think twice about eating at my house, doesn’t it?  🙂  I wonder if our guests will read this before coming to supper tonight…?

So many dreams.  Sometimes I know what I’m waiting for; sometimes I’m not quite sure.  It’s like trying to look at a picture through a pool of water.  Do you feel the same way?  Maybe you don’t know what you’re waiting for.  Maybe it’s an unspoken desire buried so deep that you don’t even recognize it.  I have a friend who has dreamed of having a place that’s sort of like where a coffee-house-type atmosphere and Christian bookstore collide.  Another friend has mentioned writing children’s books on various occasions.  Another friend wants God to “sign her paycheck”; she wants the freedom to minister rather than be tied down to an employer. These dreams have so much potential to make an incredible impact on those who would partake and yet they’re not realized.  Do we recognize them when they come?  And when they do come, what do we do?  We act as if everything depends on us, we pray as if everything depends on God and then we enter the world of 4 letter words and: WAIT.

Sometimes dreams are in disguise.  Pastor tells the story of a girl in youth group who went on a missions’ trip and was exposed  to teaching children.  She discovered that she loved it, but until that time she never knew it.  She is now the supervisor of a huge children’s ministry outreach in her church.  I have a couple of friends who are currently students, one in her 40s, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.  She has dabbled with herbs and natural remedies for years and is finally taking official classes.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for her.  Think of it, for years the googling and dabbling and now the dive in.  I’m especially excited at the prospect of her marrying the wisdom of the LORD with the knowledge of the natural. It’s marvelous.  Maybe there could be tea, Christian books, and herbal seminars. ?

The whole thing is a process.  There’s a vast amount of books and extensive study pertaining to dreams and seeing them come true; here are just a few simple tips:

1.Be/Get quiet.  Listen to the beat of your heart.  What’s it telling you?  Is your mind consumed with business?  Creativity?  Mechanics?  Healthcare?  Technology?  Farming?  Organization?  Ministry?  Education?  What is it that you can’t wait to google?  Where does your heart go to recharge when it is weary?  What evokes your emotion?

2.Go deaf to naysayers–including yourself.  Consider saying “Yes” to a proposal or request.  If someone has a need and has asked you to fill it, or is willing to open a door, think about it before caving to a standard “No” due to fear of the unknown or failure.  Life is one big unknown.  I could die in my sleep tonight and leave a bunch of yeses left undone.  As far as failure, been there, done that.  It hasn’t killed me yet so why not keep on trying?

3.Never, ever entertain the thought that you are too old or the dream is too big.  Dreams never expire.  And they’re often meant to expand.

Maybe your dream isn’t necessarily for doing it is for being: being free, being joyful, being forgiving, being at peace, being healthy–fill in the blank.  We all have them.  Whether “doing” or “being” dreams, here’s a final tip:

4.Hold on tight.  Dream-suckers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  That is where our story comes to play.  When it feels like the whole world and all of the time in it are against you, get alone with God and do like David did and be strengthened in the LORD; encourage yourself.  Keep on going!  Pick that turkey up from the floor, clean it off, and put it in the oven to bake.  Is it messy business?  You betcha!  Time consuming?  Absolutely!  Worth it?  Oh, so worth it!

Dear heart, whatever the dream, whatever the battle, whatever it is you are facing today, know this: God Is Able.  Beyond that: God Is Willing.  Go to your quiet spot.  He’s waiting there for you today to enable you in all of  your doing and to encourage you in all of your being.  He’s waiting to give you all that you need wrapped in all of His love.  Join me by making a conscious effort to sit in His presence today.    

 Click here to check out the talents of a couple of friends of mine.

 

 

The unIdentified Lone Follower

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Shortly after signing on with WordPress my email blew up with messages from them like:

Congratulations.  Thanks!

Thank you for using WordPress.com!   You’re welcome!

…check out our tutorials…  Currently my holy grail.

You have special access to a bunch of new features.  Great!  More headaches to choose from.

Have fun!   If only.

And my favorite:  Just play around, you won’t break us.  That one actually made me laugh out loud.

I can’t tell you how many times Bob was greeted with computer woes when he came through the door after a hard day’s work.  Or how many times he would mournfully ask: “What did you do?”  To the which I was mystified and would honestly reply: “I don’t know.”  If there’s a way to break WordPress I will be the one to find it.  Let me take this moment to apologize in advance to any of you who use this service if your site suddenly crashes without reason.  Don’t worry, it’ll fix.  Bob has always fixed it here in our house so I’m sure a professional team can manage my faux pas.

For days now I have logged onto my site, roamed around, and wondered what to do, how to do it and what to write.  I have writer’s block so bad that I could build a two-car garage with all the block I’ve collected.  I wrote 2 drafts and decided I didn’t particularly care for either one of them.  So I returned to my emails and revisited all of the things WordPress sent me in hopes that their knowledge will somehow miraculously  be absorbed by my brain until the writer’s block passes.  Then I think to myself:

LORD, really?  A technological idiot cut loose on the web.  What were You thinking?  Yes, I love to write–with a pen and notebook paper.  But, this?  Couldn’t this have waited a few more years when everything will be voice activated and I can just tell WordPress what I want and they’ll make it so instead of Click here, Copy and paste here, Go here, go there, go everywhere?  Oh, and did You forget that I’m also directionally challenged?

God’s not amused or impressed with my doubt.  Kind of made me think of Moses getting his edict to go to Pharaoh and command him to “Let My people go!”   Moses: But, LORD, I stutter.  Then there was Gideon, “Thou mighty man of valor.”  Gideon: Who, me?  And how about when Jesse paraded all of his sons before the prophet Samuel to see who would be anointed as the next king.  Every one of them was rejected by the LORD when a baffled Samuel asked, “Are there anymore sons?”  Jesse: “Well, yes, David, but he’s just a shepherd boy.”

Are you getting that I’m a bit overwhelmed?  It’s reminiscent of the day I was released from the hospital with our twins.  I didn’t know what to do with one baby let alone two.  It’s true; they don’t come with an instruction manual.  Naked you came into the world, naked you go out….

I can’t do this.  But God can.  Moses, Gideon, David, they all triumphed because they put their trust in God.  That’s all He’s asking of me.  That’s all He’s asking of you.  Trust Me.

Okay.  Take a deep breath.  That settled, I went back to my site and stared at it again.  All of my family has been watching me come undone for days now although my husband doesn’t know why.

“What do I write?” I wailed.

“Just be you,” my daughters encouraged.  “You’re trying too hard.”

I continued to stare at my site.  “Hey!  I have a follower!”

Bob and I were watching Home Improvement the other night.  I felt bad for Tim as  his family treats his show like it’s nothing of consequence instead of their bread and butter.  It spawned a curiosity in me.

“If I had a cooking show,” I asked Bob, “would you watch it?”

“No,” was his immediate reply.  Seemed to me he could have at least considered it.  I mean, I am the love of his life, aren’t I?

“If I had a hunting show, would you watch it?” he volleyed back.

“Probably not.”  At least I hesitated.  If I knew he’d talk about something interesting like our girls or me, probably.  But I don’t want to hear about something gross like how old timer’s used to skin a pheasant by standing on its wings and tugging on its legs.  Then again, he is my man.  So, yeah, I’d probably watch him–at least occasionally.

I said all of that to say this: I know my husband is not my follower.  As of this draft he isn’t even aware that God’s Word Girl exists.  I figure if my visually stimulated husband wouldn’t watch me then he definitely won’t read me–especially since he’s a self-proclaiming hater of reading.  There is no need for intervention, I will tell him…eventually.

I clicked on my follower fully anticipating that it was my mom since she inquired as to how to do that.  (Yeah, she asked me as if I’d know).  In my defense, I anticipated one lone follower because outside of Pastor, daughters, and me, Mum is the only one who currently knows about the birth of God’s Word Girl.  Since moms are usually extraordinary supporters by nature which is what I currently need, I figured it was her.  Boy was I surprised to discover the identity of my follower: me.  Yep, with my picture and my email address.  Unless I misunderstood, I am my one lone follower.  I burst out laughing.  I don’t even know how I did it.  I am my administrator and my follower.  Is that not scary?  Seriously, stay with  me, I’m going somewhere with this.

How many times have I tried to do things my way?  How many times have I tried to “fix” things without first seeking the counsel of God?  How many times have I wished I would have thought through my words twice before speaking once?  How many times have I traveled  down a road only to realize He never pointed me in that direction?  Do you relate?  How many times, how many failures, how many regrets, and yet…

God is good.  And incredibly patient.  Like Moses, Gideon and David, if I follow where He leads I will succeed in fulfilling His purpose.  There’s no promise that it’s going to be easy.  On the contrary.  Jesus made a striking promise in John 16:33 when He said:

“These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.”

Oftentimes I think we spend too much time focusing on the tribulation part instead of the next part:

but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  And the computer, and technology, and blogging, etc., etc.

Yippee!  Thank You, Jesus!

Now, if I will let Him overcome me we’ll really have something going.

Please be patient with me as my site is under construction.  For that matter, so is my life.  Is yours?  If  you’re living and breathing and striving to follow God, I’d say “Yes”.  On that note, grant yourself a little added grace today.  God isn’t asking for perfect performances, but He is asking for willing hearts.  Join me and be one.

 

Welcome to God’s Word Girl

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Thank you for joining me!

In the corner of my living room, nestled in my favorite chair, is where one will find me most mornings.  This is where I come to study, to read, to write, to meditate, to pray.

Not long ago, during fellowship with God, I heard Him whisper to me, “You are My word girl.”

It made me smile.  It actually made me a little giddy.  I love to write, have since I was very young, so to hear my heavenly Father validate me in such a way swelled my heart with gratitude and love.

Rewind: My mum has wanted me to blog for quite some time.  Okay, she’s my mum.  Moms are supposed to say things like that.  Then one of my closest friends brought it up after I had shared some thoughts with her.  Then, and this threw me for a loop, my friend’s teenage daughter, out of the blue, says to her, “Christi should blog.”

That’s really cool and all, but I’m a technological idiot.  I’m not kidding.  If I can get my laptop to stay married to my printer long enough to produce a paper copy I feel like I have made a huge accomplishment.  I can’t figure out how to scan a picture and send it to a photo program to edit it.  My “smart” phone is a trac phone—with an antenna.  And I’m going to blog?!  Just maybe the moon is made of cheese.

So I said to my friend, “Tell you what, I will do whatever God leads me to do.  But He must teach me.  He has to send someone to show me what to do.”  The gauntlet was thrown.

Enter my pastor.  My very, very busy pastor.  He says, “I’ll help you.  It’s way easier than you think.”cropped-old-bible

I didn’t take him up on the offer right away.  Refer above: he’s busy.  Very, very busy.  I gave him time to come up with an excuse, an exit out the back door.  He didn’t take it and God wasn’t giving it.  So I relinquished myself to this as a sign that God had taken up my gauntlet.  And what do I call this blog?  Every name imaginable must be taken.  God whispers, “God’s Word Girl.”

I smile again.  I can’t help it.  It’s like when a kid has a beloved pet name that only their dear Mum or Dad calls them.  Or the warmth of your name on a lover’s lips.  But I’m wondering if that would be pretentious.  Then a conversation ensued that settled it for me.

My husband and I had seen turkey buzzards in our neighborhood, and even in our yard.  It gave me the creeps.  “Buzzards are foreboding,” I said.

“Why would buzzards be for boating?” he asked.

I giggled.  “Not ‘for boating’, foreboding, bode-d,d,d.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, exasperated, with yet another “big” word. “Sometimes I think you write for Word Girl.”

BAM!  Laughter filled my mouth, tears filled my eyes.  My husband unwittingly confirmed my name by accusing me of being a writer for a PBS children’s program.  And the dear LORD reiterated to me to never be ashamed of what He has called me.   Nor should you ever be ashamed of what He has called you.Christi Dumm_0001

I am inviting you to join me on this journey as we grow in God’s Word through life experiences.  It is my prayer that God’s Word Girl will be a place of Light, Truth, encouragement, comfort, challenge, hope and transparency.

Let’s discover together some of the many facets of our awesome God.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton