Sunday, September 30, 2012

What's that boy doing??






As I walked by the window that day, I saw them. Over my front yard were birds. Lots of BIG birds....circling. I thought, "Awww, something is dead and they are circling before they feast". As my eyes followed the line in the sky from the birds to where they're circling over my front yard I see their target.....MY LITTLE SON is laying on the ground, arms and legs stretched out and very, very still! By that time, the birds were close enough to him that, had I been where he was, I could have thrown a rock and hit them! If you knew how far I can throw a rock and hit a target, you'd know this isn't very far! Immediately, I open my front door and call out to him loudly.....ok, that's a nice way of saying I opened my front door and screamed his name loud enough to not only shock those ravenous birds, but every tree around shook as birds fluttered away at the sudden high pitched shriek...as if they all collectively jumped and said, "WOAH....DUDE....let's roll out of here!"

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Romans 12:1

In the Old Testament, when sacrificing an animal a priest would kill the animal, cut it into pieces, and place it on the altar. Sacrifice was very important, but even in the Old Testament God made it clear that obedience from the heart was far more important. God wants us to offer ourselves, not animals, as living sacrifices. It really is about the heart. Daily as we lay aside our own desires to follow Him----putting all of our trust in Him to guide us--because He has pleasing and perfect plans for us....our minds will be BLOWN! As we lay ourselves outstretched for Him to have His way with us, He draws near...SKIN TO SKIN....and dazzles us. To be that close to the very definition of Love and Power takes my breath away! Out of all the magnificent things I've witnessed God doing.....the most miraculous thing is the way He changes and lifts me...ME....He has transformed my mind and heart so much, I scarcely recognize myself. You see, this is true worship....because He gave His Son to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for His service.



The way my son laid outstretched that day was very indicative of how he would grow and live his life with our Lord and Savior....just a giving of his life to follow Him with everything in him. God is not like those birds, circling and waiting to devour us. To the contrary.....He is came to give us new life!








Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rescued


If you've ever been in a city during rush hour traveling down 5 lanes of traffic, you know the busyness of it. Everyone in a hurry to get where they're headed so they go...and they go FAST.





It was on a day like this, at just that time of day, that I was traveling home from work. Suddenly, right in the middle of that 5 lanes of busy, rush hour traffic, my vehicle just stops. Dead. In the middle of those 5 lanes. No puttering to stop. Just stops with no engine running. Stopped dead. As I look in my rearview mirror and see that 18 wheeler and all those vehicles headed right at me, I yell...."Jesus, no!"


"When they call on Me, I will answer; I will be with them in time of trouble. I will rescue and honor them" Psalm 91:15


It wasn't a rhetorical using-of-His-name-in-a-sentence type usage (which I can't, stand by the way). I was literally talking to my Savior, needing Him to save me in the physical realm this time. As if there was a bubble around me, the vehicles started parting. That 18 wheeler got close enough for me to see the panic on his face as he yanked hard and fast on his steering wheel to the left to pass by. My Lord saved me that day. My vehicle finally started and I went on my way, calling my hubby to praise the Lord with him.

There are days when we wake up and look around to say, "How in the world did I get HERE, and how did things get THIS way???" Call out that name: JESUS....the sweetest name I know. Don't try to clean things up before you do, like some people do just before the housekeeper comes, or when company is coming. He says, come as you are, mess and all. You are tired of the mess, of the juggling, of the hiding, and the keeping of the secrets....

"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" Matthew 11:28





Dear Lord, thank You for meeting me just where I am, mess and all. Thank You that You rescue us....over and over again. Your love never fails. Your love endures forever. There's power in Your name. Lord, I call on your name right now. I need You. I thank You......







Photo credit: tomtom.com

Friday, September 28, 2012

That one thing....






I am a counselor. I do all sorts of counseling and life coaching. I'm also a teacher, speaker and former homeschool Mom (graduated both of my kids). I often get questions about what book I would recommend for encouragement....what core curriculum I couldn't live without....what one resource is my go-to for advice....who I would recommend for referrals....if I could name one thing I would not leave behind....if I were on a desert island, what is one thing I would take with me (ok, not so much this last one, but it applies).

Applying what's right to every situation requires discernment from the Holy Spirit and wisdom from God's perfect curriculum -- the Bible. Daily we face problems, issues, choices, and temptations that require divine knowledge in making the right decisions, or responses. How do we know when we are relying on our own smarts or actually following God's wisdom?

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17

Ok....so how does that apply? Is your decision being controlled by self-ambition, or jealousy? Does it manipulate? God's wisdom will always take you in the right direction. Best of all His wisdom is available to anyone who will humble themselves and ask for it.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally.... James 1:5

God's Word and prayer are always....ALWAYS where I go. Always and in everything. EVERYTHING.

Maybe you've realized things aren't going right....things are spinning off in a direction you didn't foresee and now you know why. Remember, if you keep doing what you're doing, you're going to keep getting what you're getting....and.....insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
Break the cycle and make a change. Hang up that phone and quit calling your friends first (Seek the Kingdom of God ABOVE ALL ELSE....this means FIRST....and He will give you everything you need. Luke 12:31. Emphasis mine). Grab that Bible, bring along that notebook and pray, read, listen and write.

Maybe you've already discovered God's true wisdom for making Godly choices. When your friends call you up, are you praying with them and directing them to God? Is God calling you to host a Bible study for you and your girlfriends (or guy friends). Answer Him and do it. Nothing better then digging into His Word together. Anything from Beth Moore would be great!

If you're looking for someone to facilitate or host a study like this or another one, I'll be glad to help. I love gathering friends old and new around Him and sitting at His feet a while!




Photo Credit: Braden Rawls @Created For More Photography (yep! That's my girl!)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are you kidding me??


God has always amazed me. The things He does, the way He does them. Just astounding....mostly because He chooses me to do anything. That is most crazy part for me....that I ever get to have a part. Imperfect me. The following is one example of this radical life He has called me to:

I was on my way to run some errands and had my 4 year old daughter with me. All of a sudden, God told me to turn into the hospital. I parked my vehicle and when I got inside, He said, "Go to the elevator and get off on the second floor, there's a woman there I want you to talk to". While in the elevator, my daughter asked what we were doing. I told her the truth, that God wanted us to do something for Him, that He wanted me to talk to a lady that needed help. She simply said, "ok". Simply said, ok....wow....what an example of simply following...no questions asked! "Go to the waiting room, she is there reading a Bible and doesn't understand something. I want you to walk up to her and ask her if she understands what she's reading and answer her questions". ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Really?? A modern day reenactment of Acts Chapter 8:26-40?? If I get off of this elevator and see an Ethiopian lady reading from Isaiah, I'm going to pass out.....she is going to think I'm crazy, and I just might agree with her....maybe I am crazy......ok.....if I'm going to be crazy, I'll be crazy for you, Lord.
There are a few waiting areas but when the elevator doors opened, He told me which one to go to....and there she was.....a little Ethiopian lady reading the Bible. Thinking I'm all in now and there's no turning back, I walked up to her, rolling Isaiah over in my mind. I find she isn't in Isaiah, but in the Gospels (whew!). I explained some things she didn't understand and led her into my sweet Savior's arms. She asked me to go back with her to her husband's room and help her share what happened. Thinking, "honey, you don't know the half of it", I agreed. God moved, and I was able to lead him into my sweet Savior's arms as well.
Taking my daughter's hand, I walked away expecting to be "snatched away somewhere up North" (I wasn't! Ha!....go read the story!)
Marveling at what had just happened, He said, last week you worshipped Me and sang, Have Thine Own Way Lord, from your heart and I was listening.....










Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Voices, Voices all around.....


When my daughter was born, there was great rejoicing. Her brother, convinced she solely belonged to him, was so happy to have "his" baby. The very minute she was born, she made us laugh. She truly amazed me from the womb, listening and following her brothers voice and touch, moving as I moved, still as I was still. Impressive from the beginning. She was just days old when my living room was full of women. We laughed and talked, talked and laughed. I went into the kitchen to wash dishes and clean up. Laugher and women's voices were still happy and full in the other room. I returned and sat listening and smiling for a bit. As I started talking, Braden's little face turned in my direction from across the room. That busy, loud room full of female voices. My mom turned her little face back towards her in amusement, only to find that once I started talking, her little face again would turn. This began to be a game as I began to talk very softly, and again that sweet little face turned in my direction....in all that noise. She knew my voice. Mixed with all those many voices, she immediately knew my voice even when I spoke softly.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. John 10:27

God is so available to us in the midst of all the noise of this world.....we will hear His voice....His voice will guide us....and He knows us. He really knows us. He's not some huge being out there somewhere only directing the big traffic of life.....He's in our hearts, touching us cheek to cheek. He's personal, present and upfront in our lives. He gets us. He knows our name, how many hairs are on our heads and loves us so much and thinks we are to die for! You are not forgotten. He hears you....do you hear Him? Turn your sweet face in His direction and follow Him.







Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's in a name....



Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20



There's just something about that name. The beauty that washes over when I slowly whisper Jesus out loud is magnificent. His name washes peace over the troubled heart. With His name, comes guidance and protection. With His name comes forgiveness, mercy and love. With His name comes power and courage. There's power in that name. There's healing in that name.....salvation comes in the name....Jesus.


No matter what your facing. Whatever your heart cry is today....in everything, call out that beautiful name and thank Him for being your ______________








Monday, September 24, 2012

Very Funny, God....






So, this amazing thing has been happening between God and me. For about a year now, He's been waking me up at specific times that correlate to a scripture He wants me to read and make a meal of. Pretty cool huh? It's such an amazing transformation when one moves from a real knowing of God's presence and speaking with God about things, into also dancing cheek to cheek.....real skin to skin contact with Him. Such sweetness...such a fantastic thing I can't find a word to describe, and all I keep saying is, YES LORD...I treasure and crave it! May it ever be so....

One thing I asked of the Lord, the thing I seek most: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4


Waking me to a scripture reference just tickles my hubby so. He truly delights in God's workings. It recently began gaining some attention in that I was being asked about it. I got this twinge when it was talked about. Did you know that God also has a sense of humor? This morning I woke at 2:42.....got excited to know I was to go to Ephesians 2:42! I rushed into my robe and got to our "spot" only to find there is no Ephesians 2:42! I immediately laughed out loud as God said....girlfriend, don't you dare get caught up in the formula and allow anyone to put anything about you into My workings. You just keep craving Me....keep looking forward to being in My presence....learn from Me and keep that as your desire...and besides....I've been trying to wake you for twenty minutes...it was Ephesians 2:22! Very funny God....and.....message received LOUD AND CLEAR!

Don't allow the "gazing upon the beauty of the Lord" to be changed by taking any attention from Him. Center stage belongs to Him. May His dance continue all the days of my life....



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shed some Light on the matter....



So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave where he spent the night


Ever been exhausted? Just plain done? Elijah had just experienced being mightily used against the prophets of Baal, but most importantly to Glorify God as the one and only true God. He was in the depths of fatigue and discouragement and fleeing for his life. God strengthened him to not give up and to carry on his call. Elijah thought he was all alone. Ever felt like the last man standing? Like you had no one and the cards were stacked against you?

Yet I preserve 7,000 in Israel, all knees that have not bowed to Baal or kissed him (1 Kings 19:18)

Perception can seem like truth. Elijah was not alone. He was not the last man standing.

When we look too long at ourselves and our situation, our perspectives change. We begin believing our circumstances. Make a meal of His Word and let Him shine His light on the matter. He's not finished with you yet.




Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tattletale....






Do not be anxious about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He's done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ. (Phillipians 4:6-7)



Tattletale, tattletale.....hang your britches on a nail!


It was by far the worst day of my existence. The trauma of what was happening to my son as I watched him lay in that ICU Unit, wasting away to nothing was surreal. Wires and tubes. People came and went. Doctor upon doctor came and went. I stayed. Night and day, I stayed. Couldn't leave. Didn't want to miss one moment of opportunity to pray solidly, and in real time as things were happening so, so fast. Still, although its been more than 4 years since his collapse, I cry as I write this. Tears of remembrance. Tears of joy and thanksgiving of what God has done, and where He's brought us. All I could do is run fast and hard to my Father and His Word. His "peace which exceeds anything we can understand" was so tangible to me. He won't live....he can't do missionary work.....he can't serve people in missions and homeless shelters.....he can't go to college.....we'll send him home for a while so you can spend time with him for now. God met those words with....but you don't know my Jesus! MY JESUS guarded my heart and mind against those words and I went to see what my Daddy had to say about that! He said....yes he will live..... yes he will go to college.....yes he will do missionary work....he will go where I send him and when I send him....He's MY boy and I give him strength (Phil 4:13). I just became a tattletale and ran to Daddy, telling him all the lies they were trying to say about our boy.


Dear one, don't you believe the world and what they tell you. You run tattle-telling to your Daddy about what's going on. Tell Him your angst, your worries, your dread....let Him hang your worries on the nails of the cross! He's big and mighty......He can handle it!


Friday, September 21, 2012

The all knowing eye....







And nothing from all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account
Hebrews 4:13



It was a beautiful day to run errands. Riding in my SUV....radio on....singing...boys in the back seat talking. "Stop horsing around," I say to the boys as I look at them through the rearview mirror.






I hear heavy whispers, "How did she know what we were doing?! She never turned around!" and then, "My Mom has super powers! I think she can see from the back of her head!" "Let's test her," the whisperers agreed. "Guys, I said cut it out". The whispering boys nod at each other with wide open eyes and say nothing for the rest of the trip.



Nothing is hidden from God. He knows you, He knows me, and everything about us. Even when we are unaware of His presence, He is there. Unlike the boys, we shouldn't fear God seeing all that we do. It's comforting to know that although God knows us intimately, He still loves us. Of all the things you must earn in life, God's unending affection is not one of them....you have it dear one.







(photos courtesy of Braden at Created For More Photography)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Click for Heaven or Hell






Recently I was on Facebook and saw a trend with a certain game. You click on the tab and this screen pops up telling you if you're going to heaven or hell. Random selection....



If you're out there dear one, feeling that emptiness.....that void....searching.....or just wanting confirmation, you don't have to play some random game on Facebook to find out. He's already told you:

Jesus didn't say He knew the way to heaven; Jesus said He is the only way to heaven.
Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6


Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

In fact, the only "work" that can save us is the "work" in believing in what Jesus has done to accomplish our salvation. "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent" John 6:29.

And to those who so believe, the promise of God stands firm: "....to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that He died on the cross to save me from my sin. I believe that He rose again to life, and that He invites me to live forever with Him in heaven as a part of Your family. Because of what Jesus has done, I ask You to forgive me of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord. Help me to live in a way that pleases and honors You. In Jesus name, Amen.


God loves you and so do I. Leave a comment and let me know how me and my team can pray for you. We are already praying for what you share. Has God blessed you today? Share that too!

There is no judgment here. You are safe.

This Seat Is Taken

Instead of going to church this Sunday, my hubby had to go to the hospital for his Mom. An odd thing happened. No one took his seat. Not me, not our kids. Not our friends. No one. He usually sits on the end, and I although I normally like that seat, I had a natural instinct not to take it.






Sometimes, ladies, we are tempted to take over.....ok....almost always we want to take over....ok.....most always we DO take over. We take charge of so many things in our day. In certain circumstances, this is fitting. But not in the case of our husbands. That seat is taken.

Submission is misunderstood. I'm a strong leading woman. I know that comfortable feeling of leading and taking charge. Not in this case. That seat is taken. I gladly give it up. I know that sweet, cozy feeling of letting God take control. Dear sister, true fulfillment comes from living close to Him and His purpose for your life. We honor Christ by following His example in Ephesians Ch 5. Remember.....the wife gets to submit....the husband gets to die...

Ephesians 5:24-25
As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dadada....introductions, please





Anyone who knows me, knows I love my family. It's the sweet and loving, refuge ordained by God. Our home is a sweet refuge for we tired, inspired, learning, energized, funny, sweet, work-a-holic people who make up the Rawls family.

Allow me to introduce you...









This is my sweet hubby. His name is James. His childhood friends and family call him Duner. I call him J, and so do some of our newer friends. I guess they picked it up from me. My favorite way of referring to him is "mine". He is mine and I am his. The pic says 2005 but he looks the same now. This man is truly the head of our home, to whom I gladly submit as a man who leads as Christ leads him. He puts skin on Ephesians Chapters 5 & 6 in our family. He is our rock....steady, sweet, wise and sure pastor of our team...TEAM RAWLS. I am head-over-hills-madly-in-love with this man. We are best friends and tell each other everything.







This is little ole me. Christ follower...Jesus spreader...counseling....teaching.....me. I stay excited over what God does with, in and through His people. I've been a missionary on two continents. I am hot in love with my Savior.








This is my first born, my sweet son, Brandon. Isn't he handsome? I snapped this one day when he was at his desk studying. He's in college, getting his degree in Biblical Studies. He is called to be a church planter and is recently begun working on planting his first one with a pastor friend of ours. The church is called Life Road. More on that to come. He is so witty, and makes new friends everywhere he goes. He is best friends with his sister and everyone knows he's very protective of her....that's a warning, ha!








This is my daughter, Braden. Isn't she beautiful? Ohhh....how we get in trouble laughing together! We get out shopping or eating or doing nothing together and laugh that have-to-sit-down-before-you-fall-down-crying-tears-makeup-washed-away kind of laughing. J and Brandon have self control and sit calmly and that makes us laugh more. She has just answered the call to be a missionary. She is bold for her Savior and makes everyone laugh. She loves encouraging other girls in their walk and is so clever and magnetic.











- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Bamboozled

This is me....minding my own business.....praying to God about what He has for me and BAM! He bamboozles me in a huge and unexpected way....and I love it! He Holy hoodwinked me! Suddenly, I am becoming an adoptive foster mom, a writer, a visionary....all with a calling set apart to powerfully equip others. I laugh and laugh and LAUGH at how He does things (especially because He chose little ole me!). Yes, a true sanctified side-swipe that was totally Godivaded. Godivated, a new word I made up----God+motivated=Godivated...funny huh? I know, not really but I like it.
Join me dear one as we laugh together, cry together, laugh again, celebrate and get Godivated and just do life together with Christ, my Totally Other, who is not me.