Happy Unwrapping!

This is my daughter’s favorite treat to unwrap!

“What I am trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.” -Matthew 6:32, Message Translation

Have you ever received a gift so beautifully wrapped that you hated to open it? While it may have been tempting to sit the package on a shelf and just stare at it, I think most of us have too much curiosity to not open it and see what is inside! After all, someone took time out of his or her day just to buy you a gift and it would be rude to not open it – right? Yet, so many of us have unopened gifts from God each and everyday. When life gets busy we often fail to respond to God’s gift giving. We can become all consumed with going to work, running errands, paying our bills and taking care of the tyranny of the urgent that we never open the gifts God has placed before us.

According to the scripture above, we have to stop being preoccupied with getting in order to receive something. Do you mean that God wants me to relax and receive a gift from Him everyday? Yes! Let me ask you a question: What are you in need of today? Whatever you maybe facing, God has the right gift to help you overcome every test and trial. So, I encourage you to unwrap and receive what God is longing to give you. Be expectant for a gift from heaven to fall upon you today!

Lord, help me to stop and receive the gift you are longing to give me this day. You know exactly what I need. Forgive me for being so preoccupied with life that I fail to spend time with You. Thank you for the gift of salvation and all that it contains. I choose to receive Your joy, peace, protection, healing, favor, provision, forgiveness, wisdom and anything else You see that I am in need of today. Thank you Lord for lavishing me with more gifts than I know what to do with. You are the greatest gift I have ever received in my life and I praise you! Amen.

It’s time to rest and receive gifts from Heaven! Watch out for unexpected gifts to fall into your lap. There are gifts that have been stored up, gifts that are just because He loves you, gifts so beautifully wrapped – but you are to open them – not just stare at their beauty. Happy unwrapping!

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
James 1:17 NKJ

In Need of His Presence

“I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.” -A Hymn by Annie S. Hawks & Robert Lowry

I find myself singing the Hymn above many days when I am aware that I need an infilling of God’s Presence in my life. And while I yearn for Jesus each day, there seem to be some days that I am more desperate for Him than usual – this morning was one of those times. I admit that during my years of private practice as a counselor I felt God’s Presence each day as I ministered to the hurting and I am aware of God’s anointing on my life when speaking to women at conference’s and retreats. But as a stay-at-home mother, I have often struggled with feeling God’s Presence while handling my everyday ordinary challenges, such as, temper tantrums, changing dirty diapers, laundry and keeping the house picked up (which is near-ending task with a toddler)!

No matter where you are in life – we all need God’s Presence with us during our everyday, ordinary life. God longs to be with us each day, no matter what we are doing. The truth is that God is just as powerful within us while standing in line at our local grocery store as He is at our church. Why is it that we put God in a box and simply “open” Him up for Sunday mornings and fail to see that He is always near us? Wherever we are is Holy ground. Selah (pause and think about that for a moment).

So let’s begin to ask for God’s Presence in our life no matter how mundane our day may seem. Our prayer might be something like, “Jesus, will you be with me today while I go to work, workout at the gym, cook dinner, talk to friends of the phone, play with the kids and take a few minutes to read the Bible and pray? Help me to hear your voice and acknowledge that Your Presence is with me at all times. Amen.”

All we have to do is ASK and He will help us with our everyday, ordinary life. I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus every hour! I want to experience His Presence every moment of everyday. It is because of the work of the cross and the Precious Blood of Jesus that we have the Holy Spirit who yearns to speak to us! Oh, that we would hear the voice of the Spirit this day!

Lord, I ask that you be with me today. Forgive me for not acknowledging Your Presence while performing my everyday, ordinary tasks. I am so grateful that I serve a God who longs to be with me every moment of my day. I ask that You go before me today and make all the crooked places straight, create rivers in the desert and move the obstacles that are before me. As the Hymn states above, “I need Thee; O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee; Bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee!” Amen.

Honoring Those You Love

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” Proverbs 3:27

*As my husband’s 40th birthday approached a few years ago, I decided that I was not going to let his typical response to dampen my plans to honor him. As anticipated, my husband was not into the “party idea” at all. But, one night while he was channel surfing I asked him who he wanted to attend his party. At first my husband looked at me as if my question was causing him pain, but finally with his cooperation, we listed twenty-three of our closest friends. And believe it or not, as the invitations went out, I began to sense that he was warming up to the idea of celebrating his birthday.

You see, I had heard that turning 40 for a man is much like how a woman feels when she turns 30 (and I had already experienced that trauma:). I remembered feeling discouraged at where I was in life and battled the thoughts of “I should be farther in life than I am.” I could see glimpses that my husband was struggling with similar feelings and I knew this party had to be more than just cake and ice cream – if you know what I mean.

As a Christian counselor I have the privilege of supporting and guiding people during the darkest hours of their life. Many individuals are perplexed that I can sit with people in their pain and not become depressed myself, but what they fail to realize is that my clients daily help me see God’s faithfulness in their lives! One life lesson I continually hear over and over again from my clients is the importance of honoring those you love before it is too late. And my party for my precious husband was my attempt at doing just that!

I asked each guest to bring with them a tribute (written words of how my husband has impacted their life for the better) and to share this with my husband the night of the party. The evening was magnificent, but when my husband and I think back to that event, we don’t remember the cake and punch, but the words our family and friends shared. My husband’s life was impacted that night and he was able to experience something many people never have the opportunity to undergo while living.

I encourage you this Valentine’s Day to honor those you love. Whether you write an encouraging note, make a nice dinner or send them some flowers to express how much someone means to you – take my client’s advice and honor those you love before it is too late. We can be mightily used by God to encourage and impact someone’s life today – now that is quite an honor!

*Published Article by Tracy Hurst, Christian Chronicle/2004

Taking Care of You!

“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27, NKJ

As women we tend to wear a lot of “hats” everyday without even realizing it! We just know that we are exhausted each night – can I get an Amen? Within a twenty-four hour period women often fill the roles of: wife, mother, business woman, chef, chauffeur, counselor, daughter, aunt, bible study leader, school teacher, fashion consultant, friend and this is not comprehensive list by any means! It is no wonder studies have shown that women in America feel overwhelmed and dissatisfied. Needless to say, it is imperative that you take care of yourself!

Notice in the verse above that in addition to loving your neighbor (i.e. preparing meals for a family grieving, volunteering at your local church and listening to a friend in need), we are also commanded to love ourselves!

So let me ask you: Are you good to yourself? Do you take time for you or does everything and everyone else take precedence? I am going to guess that most of us reading this blog (including myself) often fall short in this area. But the truth is, if we don’t take care of ourselves – we will eventually reach the point where we can no longer function! When we find ourselves exhausted and overwhelmed, depression can creep in if we are not careful. So, if you are reading this today please know that I love you and I plead with you to take care of yourself:)

I give you permission to take care of you! Let’s start right now – I want you to think of something that you can do for yourself today… go ahead and think about it and then DO IT! 

Lord, forgive me for taking care of everyone else, but me. I choose this day to take better care of me. You have entrusted me with a special purpose while here on earth and by taking care of myself – I WILL fulfill my destiny in Christ! Thank you God for this gentle reminder and I will love my neighbor as I love myself this day.” Amen.