Oh Baby!

No, this is not an announcement of any upcoming arrivals, although someone asked me not to long ago if we were expecting! Yikes! There have been quite a few babies popping out around our neck of the woods lately. It’s always exciting when new life comes into our world. It was the birth of our first son that ultimately brought us to the Lord. So we got new life times 3! Although we were not living for Christ at the time of his birth, God chose to intervene on his behalf at that time and we knew it. I have to tell ya, we didn’t know much at that time, but we did know enough that when someone saves your baby, you should respond with a thank you and a debt of gratitude. And so our journey of response to God began as we committed our lives and the raising of our sons to His hands and His ways.

We are so thankful to God for the tools He has placed in our paths. In the next couple of days, I hope to share some of the things that helped Tim and me the most as we learned what it meant to “train up a child in the way he should go.”

Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Parent had a huge impact on our lives. I’m not even sure when I came across it; I know the boys were pretty little. As a new Christian, prayer was a discipline (well, actually it wasn’t a discipline. I had no discipline in prayer, I just cried out whenever I had a problem–like the spiritual baby I was.) As a new Christian, this book helped me grow in the disicpline of prayer not just when there was a crisis, but as that ongoing conversation with the ultimate Father.

The Power of a Praying Parent helped prepare me to pray for things I didn’t even realize would be coming up, and brought peace to my heart reminding me that I could rest in thanks knowing God was at work in the lives of these two little guys He had entrusted to us. There were so many days that we didn’t really have a clue as to what we were doing, but He did–and He still does. He has continued through their transitions from babies to boys to teens to men to lead us and show us how to pray, how to help and how to let go and place them continually in His hands. In addition to praying for our sons, I have used prompts from the book when praying for friends, for friends’ children, students in my ministry and the church overall.

As I thumb through it now, I look back through tears (yes, I have tears sometimes!) at the highlighted sections, dated pages, and small notes and remember the joys, trials, and fears I felt as well as the faithfulness of the God who brought us to Him and through our years of parenting our children through prayer. . .


Twenty Minutes With Jesus

20 minutes

It’s funny how one thing leads to another. . . since beginning this blog, several people have asked me where the ideas are coming from. Pretty much from the time of my day I call “Twenty Minutes With Jesus.” I understand that to many people twenty minutes with Jesus doesn’t sound very spiritual, I mean, why not thirty minutes? Why not an hour? Really, Dawn, all you’re going to give Jesus is 20 minutes a day? Well, kind of. I mean it’s my goal to give Him every minute, every second, every thought, action, motive and prayer. But I need some time in my day to just sit with Him and listen and learn from Him, and so several years ago I adapted a journaling and personal Bible reading plan from Dean Trune of Intentional Impact Ministries. It has become my “Twenty Minutes with Jesus” journal.

In my last post I talked about the whole being versus doing thing. I certainly battle that (most of us do, I think). I have to be very careful to make time to remember to cling to the sitting at Jesus’ feet Mary, while still embracing the passion and energy of my Martha personality.Yes, I tend to lean a bit towards the Martha side of the scale. (And yes, by a bit I mean try imagining Martha with a giant magnet and me wearing a metal suit!!)

But how does balance happen? How do we really overcome? We all know it needs to happen, but how does the “extreme spiritual home makeover” really happen? As I began to write this post, I wound up chatting with a friend on Facebook about this very topic. In regard to my life, I found myself typing out these words, “I finally figured out that I just wanted to be: to be the woman He wanted me to be, the wife He wanted me to be, the mom He wanted me to be. Once I got that down, the rest started falling into place.”

And I think that really sums it up. I finally saw what I needed, and just wanted it. When I wanted it, then God honored it by providing me this little method which took just twenty minutes. I think He knew that’s all I was ready for! In its simplicity, I still rarely allow myself to spend more than twenty minutes. I found that for my basic time with the Lord, if I didn’t limit it, I became the Martha of Bible study to the point where I wouldn’t or felt I couldn’t continue on. Since getting my twenty minute time down, I’ve added things like blogs, books, podcasts, conferences, my recent date with God, etc. at other times to draw me near and to build and enhance my relationship with the God I love and who loves me in return.

Basically for me, Twenty Minutes with Jesus works something like this.

1–Each day I begin by reading a Psalm. From that Psalm I write down any character qualities of God I see. For example, I may write, “You are faithful, you are king, your love is unfailing. . . .”

2–When I finish that I move on to Prayer Requests Usually these requests are personal, (I keep a separate prayer journal for other needs) based on the character qualities of God I desire to have built into my life or my family and for other specific needs as God leads. I usually limit this to four or five requests.

3–Then, I head into my Bible reading for the day. Currently, I’m in Isaiah. I’ve been here for a while–quite a while!! I’m good with that. I’ve learned spiritual transformation isn’t a race. I never set a particular amount of scripture to read each day, I just read until I feel God stops me by showing me something I’ve never seen before or something I need to consider, something that challenges me, or something I need to repent of.

4–After reading, I jot down what the Scripture is saying and what I need to learn from that. Again, I don’t write a ton, I just write enough so that I don’t forget what God is teaching me.

5–I’m almost done when I consider areas of spiritual warfare and repentance. These are most often in areas of character like impatience, pride, worry or self control.

6–I finish up with a quick reading from the New Testament and some notes on what I need to do as a result of all God has shown me. It may be to make a call, send a note, follow up with someone, work to make something right, or do some extra study.

On Sunday, my biggest working/teaching day at church, I will try to take time to look over the past week to see what God has been saying to me, or teaching me or where He may be leading me. Since the Mary thing isn’t always natural to me, I still have to take care that I don’t allow myself to have been so busy doing for God that I forgot what I learned sitting at His feet.

And as the years are going by, I find these twenty minutes a day to be the moments I crave most, I long for, and I cling to because it’s been during this time that He has shown me, clearly, not only who He is but who He wants me to be. And everyday, as I come to know more and more who I am in Christ, I come to know with confidence what it is He wants me to do. And all that in just Twenty Minutes a Day. . . .with Jesus!!

Being Verbs, Doing Verbs, Helping Verbs and Pro-Verbs

It’s been my privilege and my pleasure over the years to occasionally teach some Language Arts classes for the 5th and 6th graders at the Christian school which resides in our church. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love how fun language can be, and how it helps us to see, well, to see just about everything in a new light. I mean, language is that thing that gives us a way to talk about that, “something to talk about” we are always wanting to give people. (Insert song now playing in my head here!)

Verbs always seem to throw our kids (and their parents) for a loop. There are just so many– so many different kinds, and so many different tenses, and it can be really hard to know how to use which ones at which time and for what reason.

In class, we start by looking at the “being” verbs: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. I like to call them the “equal” verbs because you can usually tell if a verb is a “being” verb if you can put an equal sign to your thought. For example, I am a Christian. I = Christian. Yes! Being verbs are all about just that being—being who we are.

“Doing” verbs are a lot of fun because they are the action of our life. They are, of course, the things we “do.” I run; I jump; I eat chocolate! You get the picture.

Next we add in the “helping” verbs. Not so simply put: a being or helping + a doing = a verb phrase; and a verb phrase helps to give us a much clearer picture of what we are trying to communicate. For example I can say, “I am writing a blog post now” versus “I write blog post now,” or “I not eat Dove chocolate,” versus “ I am not eating Dove chocolate right now! (But I kind of wish I was. . .)

Yet time and time again, my students will get their “beings” and their “doings” and their “helpings” confused.

Enter spiritual application. . . (Dramatic music inserted here)

We often get our “being” and our “doing” confused as well. We tend to be a little more Martha than Mary, a little more Peter than John. We get so caught up in “doing” for God that we forget all about just “being” who he has called us to be. Before we know it, we get caught up, roped in and burnt out because we have forgotten to add the “helping” of the Holy Spirit to our “being” and “doing.” But when we learn to put all the pieces together, we find that we are beginning to live in such a way that we give the world a clearer picture of what we are trying to communicate—that God loves them so much that He sent His only Son for them.

One of the best places I know to help ease pendulum swing of either being all “being” or all “doing, “ is in the book of Proverbs. In children’s ministry we call them PRO-VERBS–Sayings in the Bible that are both PRO (like famous, positive and excellent) and have VERBS (teaching us how to be, do and help). When we take a look in The Book, we can always see all kinds of ways that God is showing us how to be like Jesus, do what He wants and help others to know Him. And that that’s something to talk about!


One of my favorite Proverbs is in chapter 2 verses 1-8

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will undertand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

Do you have a favorite Proverb? Post it below. . .

I’ve Got a Date With God

Yup! It’s true. I’ve got a date with God, and I’m sooo looking forward to it. Although we spend a quite a bit of time together already, I can’t tell you the last time He and I spent a whole day alone together. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever spent an actual whole, entire, complete day alone with God.

In the same way I have been challenged and stretched to start this blog, I have been challenged and stretched to re-evaluate my schedule and begin to set time apart to for the things that are most important to me. And God is at the top of that list.

It’s no secret I’m a bit of a workaholic. (It’s not that I can’t stop. It’s just that I love what I do!!) However, just like I can’t expect to have a great marriage without some prime time together, I can’t expect to have a great God relationship without the same thing.

I know I need this time, and I know I want this time. I know there are some areas of my life He and I need to walk through and talk through. There are some joys to share, and there needs to be time to just sit together in silence enjoying each other’s company. I don’t know whether my date with the Almighty will be a bit awkward or if it will be the most natural thing in the world, but what I do know is that when I set apart time to meet with the God of the universe, He won’t stand me up. He wants this as much as I do.

Today I got my wedding rings back from the jeweler. It seems that, without me realizing it, over the years my rings have undergone a great deal of wear and tear. I had to have several prongs replaced and some soldering done along with a little restoration work. When I picked up my ring, I hardly recognized it. The repair and cleaning had completely restored my rings to their original brilliance and shine. Under the care of a master craftsman, my rings again reflect their beauty, sparkling in such a way as to leave me in awe and wonder. (And making me think I perhaps could use a manicure!)

Our lives are a bit like that, I think. I mean, we do some basic maintenance, but we often don’t realize what the day to day wear and tear of life has done to us–how fragile we have become, or how near we are to wearing completely through. Whether it’s because of busyness, the challenges of life, misaligned priorities or a lack of realization as to the importance of occasional inspection, we are often completely unaware that we are nearing a danger point.

My ring repair has enabled me to see clearly why it is vital that we take time to schedule some date times with our own Master Craftsman, allowing Him to repair, restore, and realign us. This time, so well spent, allows us the opportunity to lay our lives in His hands and let Him work, restoring us to brilliance, reflecting His light and His love which are in each of us who are His. This time, depending on how we approach it, has the potential to allow those who come upon us to respond with awe and wonder at the glory of who we have become through the skill and care of the One who has restored us.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I look forward with great anticipation to my date with God because I know that I can trust His skillful eye to find and strengthen my weaknesses, restore my areas of dullness to brilliance, and allow me to again reflect the glory of His light through my life.

Give Me a “P”

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I have the great privilege of leading the children’s ministry at my local church. One of my favorite things to do is lead worship. We love to sing classics and right now one of the songs our kids love to sing is called “Give Me A “J””  I love it too.

“Give me a “J”

“J” You’ve got your “J” you’ve got your “J”

“Give me an “E”

“E” You’ve got your “E” you’ve got your “E”

And as we sing and shout out the name of Jesus we are reminded that there is no other name like it anywhere in heaven or on earth. I love the catchy-ness of songs to help me learn and remember and I use that method in lots of areas of my life. For the past several years, I have been using alliterations, acronyms and rhymes to help me remember the things I want to pray for my sons, my leaders, the kids in our ministry and our church.  So to remember 4 things I am currently praying for right now, in my head is the line of this little song, “Give me a “P!” “P!” You’ve got your “P” you’ve got your “P!” Okay, so maybe that’s all there is to my song, but it moves me to P-ray the following things for those I love.

Passion–Luke 10:27a is perhaps my favorite P-assion verse, and it’s so simple, really, really it is!! Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, with all your strength and all your mind. I am praying for a P-assion for God and for the things of God to consume us.

Pleasure–Ephesians 1:5-6 tells us that God predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his
P-leasure and will. So I’m P-raying for us to have a correct understanding of what it means to become His children in accordance with His P-leasure and to learn and choose to live in such a way that our hearts, our words and our actions are P-leasing to Him.

Purity–Psalm 51:10 reveals the Psalmist asking God to create in him a P-ure heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him. It has been my P-rayer for years that as my boys grew up and dated that they would make P-urity a P-riority, but not just a physical P-urity but that they would be pure in thoughts, words, and actions including what they would choose to watch, read and listen to.

Purpose–Matthew 28:19-20 reminds me that we are called to go and make disciples and so I P-ray that we will be faithful to our
P-urpose as we bring glory to God by going out and sharing our testimony of how the God of the universe has saved us, changed us, redeemed us, and called us to go where He sends that others may know Him and His P-urpose for their lives as well.

If you would like to P-rovide what you do to help P-repare your P-assion to make P-rayer your P-urpose for God’s Pleasure. P-ost it below or send it me P-rivately. Till then. . .keep P-raying, becasue we know that P-rayer is P-owerful!

Tackling Drills 101

It’s no secret there are several things I like alot:  Oreos, a good word picture and football.  Alone, each has its merits, but combine them and you get a fun new blog post and a satisfied chocolate craving.  Lately, it seems like everywhere I go people are tackling problems in their homes, jobs and relationships without much success.   I don’t know whether it’s just winter blues, the cycles of life or not enough Oreos on the shelves of the average home, but I know that we don’t have to let things drag us down. In fact, it can absolutely work the other way around–We can be the ones doing the tackling, instead of the ones getting sacked.  I remember learning a few facts about the fundamentals of tackling  when our son was starting out in football. I thought then, as I do now, that there was a lot I could learn from the basics of tackling.  Here are 3 beginning steps for tackling tough problems that have helped me gain some victory:

1–Start with a good base.  Start by standing firm in Christ. I learned I needed a good stance, firm footing and a strong foundation. I needed to take a stand on the truth of what God’s Word says. I began by memorizing and meditating on His Word and planting myself on what He has promised.

2—Stay Low. In football, staying low gives you the leverage to bring down your opponent. In battling life’s situations, I am continuing to learn to stay low through prayer and humility. No matter what I’m up against, whether it’s something I can control or not, it’s not as big as the God who gives me the power to overcome.

3—Keep your head up and look at what you are tackling. In a game, it’s easy to get off target, and miss the tackle, wind up injured  just like it’s easy to get off target, miss the real issue completely and wind up hurt and confused.  It doesn’t take much to get distracted and  find yourself lost in play.  Remember what it is you need to tackle, and keep after it. In my life, whether I’ve been up against a sin issue, managing my emotions,or  the consequences of poor decisions (mine or someone else’s) I have had to learn to keep my focus and to not let myself get distracted. I have had to keep the voice of my Coach in my head and follow the plan He has set out for me. (See tackling points 1 & 2).

I’m always amazed when I see a great tackle. I love to watch a player get up, flex a little, maybe chest bump a team mate or two, excited over the personal victory. I know it takes humility, strength, skill and wisdom to tackle well and tackle consistantly.  Applying these simple football techniques to my spiritual life has not only given me alot more personal victory, it has kept me from being injured both spiritually and emotionally. And strong individual players make for a stronger team.

It’s not just the season we are in or lack of Oreos that keeps us from victory, often we just need to brush up on the basics. God tells us there will always be things in our lives that need to be tackled, and by picking up the play book we gain the strength, skill, power and wisdom that comes from Him, to tackle whatever comes our way.

Ravens and Patriots

It’s Sunday afternoon and the playoff games are on.  Currently the Ravens and Patriots are battling it out. Honestly, I don’t give a lick about either team. I have my favorites (GO PACK GO!, Tebow time, anyone?, and what Christian doesn’t get excited when we hear the Saints are marchin in!). But they were all knocked out last week (sad face).  Now, since I always tell my kids at church that you can find God in anything, I decided to ask Him what He might show me about Himself through this game that I care so little about, and of course, He has.

First off, Let’s take a look:

Dictionary.com  which tells me that a patriot is:

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

Then, let’s take a look at:

I Kings 17:1-6Tthe Real Story of the Patriots and the Ravens.

We don’t see Ravens and Patriots battling, we see them both being used to save a person (Elijah) and a  people (the Isreaelites).  God sends The Patriot, Elijah the Prophet, as His spokesman to His people, and deliverer of His judments. So not an easy job!!  As God’s messenger of judgment, Elijah must endure them as well– and this lastest judment means no rain, not even any dew for the next few years.  Of course, drought for Israel, means drought for Elijah the Patriot/Prophet as well. And no rain, means no water, no water  means no crops, no crops, means no animals, no animals means no food, no food means no worries for the ULTIMATE PATRIOT–THE GOD WHO LOVES, THE GOD WHO SUPPORTS, THE GOD WHO DEFENDS HIS COUNTRY WITH DEVOTION.

Enter the Ravens.  God lets Elijah know that although times are tough, He is keeping His promises to take care of His faithful.  (I LOVE THESE KIND OF PROMISES!!)  God gives Elijah specific instructions to turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, just east of the Jordan. There is a brook there to drink from and, get this, “I have ordered the RAVENS to feed you there.”  How awesome is that!!! What a blessed assurance that the God we serve controls all things, even Ravens.

And Elijah did what faithful people do, “He did what the Lord had told him.  He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and he stayed there.  And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”  What I think was probably the original Happy Meal!! I mean, just think how pumped Elijah must have been every morning to see those birds flyin’ in with his extra value meal.

But more than just meat and bread, every morning and again every night,  Elijah had this great evidence that in the midst of trying times, rebellious people, false prophets, false gods, lonliness, evil Kings and Jezebels, that God loved him, supported him, and was defending him and the people of Israel with devotion. Elijah knew that the God who ordered the Ravens to bring him the food necessary to save His life, was also at work to save the lives of the Israelite nation.

I guess what God is showing me, through ravens and patriots, is that every morning and every night as I sit down to eat, I can remember that the same Patriot God loves us, supports us and defends us with devotion.  So it is my desire to live like Elijah, loving God back in the same way–following faithfully, with trust and obedience, wherever He may tell me to go.