"Flip Flop Fiasco"

I can’t stand shopping. This truth may have just sounded a concerning consumer alarm for some, but it’s just not an activity that I enjoy. Because of this, it is rare that I buy new clothes or shoes.

Don’t get me wrong, if someone were to show up on my doorstep with custom tailored outfits and shoes perfectly picked out for my size and style, I'm not going to say, ”No thanks.” But this is not a situation I have ever run into. Consequently, I wear clothes out till their final days are up.

Last week I put a pair of holey jeans to rest. (Not godly holy, but truly “holey,” as in the material finally faded from overuse and started revealing portions that should be covered.)

It’s the same with my shoes. This entire year I have relied on one pair of sneakers, and one pair of flip flops that were already several years old. Just because the flip flop thong between my toes was starting to let loose, that did not mean that I was ready to let go. Because that would require shopping for new ones--ugh!

For two weeks that strap was dangling by threads like a loose front tooth on a first grader. I thought it could just hang on for a few more weeks of summer. I was wrong.

As I was walking up the stairs to get my daughter from her Sunday school class, I accidentally tripped. Immediately I could feel my entire left foot travel right through the front of my dilapidated flip flop. This was clearly beyond repair. So I continued the journey up the stairs with my right flip flop on my foot and the broken left one in my hand.

The moment my daughter saw me, she looked down at my bare foot with concern and said, “Oh no Mommy! It finally broke.” What happened next just melted my heart . . .

As a nine-year-old, this situation could have easily embarrassed her. Who wants a parent showing up in front of their peers--barefoot--holding a broken shoe in hand? But instead of hiding, she took off her fourth grade sized flip flop and handed it to me to put on my foot. A precious thought from a big heart, but a shoe that was about five sizes too small for me.

When my daughter saw that I could not fit into her brilliant rescue plan, she empathetically did the next best thing. She took back her left flip flop and held it in her hand. This way I would not feel alone or embarrassed by myself. If I had to walk with one shoe on and one shoe off, she was going to do the same thing.

And so, side-by-side, we exited the building together--walking unevenly on the sidewalk and pavement all the way to the car.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)

My daughter has told me many times with words that she loves me, but her actions that day spoke much louder to my heart.

What can you DO today to SHOW someone that you love them?

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"Can You See Jesus With Solar Eclipse Glasses?"

My younger brother-in-law is one of the most “get it done in advance” type of guys I know. He usually starts asking me about gift idea suggestions for my children at least several months before Christmas or their birthdays. I am impressed by this level of preparation, but usually find it difficult to return the question. For I am on the other extreme end of “get things done just in time” type of girl.

Earlier this week our nation experienced the much anticipated total solar eclipse. For at least several months beforehand, there was continuous hyped buzz talk about the special glasses needed to protect our eyes from staring directly at the sun.

If bought at the correct time, these cardboard glasses were not expensive. For those that waited until the last minute to buy these special solar filters, they paid a hefty price to acquire this almost sold out item.

Thankfully I did not have to worry about that last minute spectacle frenzy because my “get it done in advance” brother-in-law had already purchased a pair of solar eclipse glasses for everyone in the family. They were handed over to my husband about two months ago. So in typical fashion, we did not even think much about those glasses again--until the day before the eclipse.

“Have you seen the glasses?” my husband asked. “What glasses?” I said in confusion. (I had not seen them yet because I was not there in the moment of the prepared pass off.)

So my husband and I searched all around the house. No glasses. We did not locate them until the following morning, just seven hours before the total eclipse was to occur. (In case you are wondering, they were in the glove box compartment of my car.) Talk about last minute concern for a once in a lifetime event!

This situation reminded me of the "Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids" found in Matthew 25.

All ten bridesmaids knew that the groom was approaching and that they needed to prepare for the big day. Five of them wisely filled their lamps with oil ahead of time, so that when the groom was ready, they would have light to see their way to the marriage feast.

The other five bridesmaids also knew that they needed oil, but did not prepare in advance. When it was time to join the wedding procession, the five who were unequipped tried to borrow oil from the other five who were well prepared. Sadly, sharing was not an option because there would not have been enough oil for all ten of them to make it to the party. Only the five who were prepared in advance joined the groom.

By the time the five "last minute ladies" had purchased their required oil, it was too late to join the feast. The door was shut and locked. Denied.

“Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’  “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.(Matthew 25:11-13 NLT)

Isn’t it amazing that scientists could predict and prepare our nation for the solar eclipse? They let us know exactly where to look, at a specific time, in order to witness this once in a lifetime event. It's so precise!

This made me stop and think . . .

How is it that numerous people prepared way in advance with glasses for this week, yet so many people today are not prepared to view the return of someone much brighter--the Son of God. This too is a once in a lifetime event . . . only we do not get to know the day or hour that this is going to occur.

"Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NLT)

People may have been able to purchase solar glasses at the eleventh hour for a premium price, or even lend a pair to a friend standing next to them in the moment. But the truth is, we can’t buy or borrow faith at the last minute. Each person is responsible for their own spiritual preparation and relationship with Jesus today.

I may not always plan in advance for this life, but through spiritual lenses, I am confidently ready for the next life.

Are you prepared for the party?

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WARNING: Staring at the sun for too long can make you go blind.

DIRECTIONS: Looking towards THE SON and living by His Word will allow you to see with clear vision and experience eternal life. 

"As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light." (Matthew 17:2 NLT) 

"Something Red"

Even with all of the crazy confetti patterns swirling on the carpet of the arcade floor, my peripheral vision caught a slight glance of something red.

"Excuse me Ms.," I said loudly to the woman who walked right past me. (She just unknowingly stomped on that something red with her flip-flop.) "I think you dropped something." 

Without missing a beat in her forward stride, she gave a fleeting look at the floor and said, “That’s not mine.”

As I stooped down to get a closer glimpse of the trampled red item, I couldn’t believe my eyes . . . 2,000 tickets! It was a circular bundle that gets precariously extracted from the infamous claw machine. You know, the one that picks up a coveted prize and then usually drops it back into the sea of treasures--right before it is supposed to be deposited into the winner’s receptacle area. (I am convinced it's rigged!)

My first thought was that of serendipitous excitement. I get to be the hero to my six and nine year old. I could envision the happiness on their faces when I would tell them how mommy just scored 2,000 tickets to trade in for beach boardwalk booty.

And then, just as quickly as my smile lifted, my heart sank.

I didn’t earn these tickets—-someone else did. My children would reap the rewards of another person’s sorrowful loss. Now I pictured the probable hurt on the other end--the one who lost something red for our advantage.

This reminded me of the cross. Right down to the number and color of the tickets.

Jesus painfully paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. We didn’t earn anything. Salvation is through grace—-an undeserved gift. Our “free ticket” into heaven definitely came with a high cost--the loss of Jesus' life.

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace." (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

How fortunate we are that this sacrifice was not a mistake of accidentally dropping something on the floor, but rather a loving rescue plan intentionally carried out for our benefit.

Three animal print wallets, two containers of neon slime, one styrofoam airplane glider, one hacky sack, and one bouncy ball . . . that’s what my children redeemed with those 2,000 red tickets.

An abundant life today and an eternity with our Savior in the future . . . that’s the redemption God’s children receive with the red blood shed on the cross almost 2,000 years ago. 

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"Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock, Knock."

Seven knocks--or seven phone calls in my case--that's what it took to get what I needed.

"But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence." (Luke 11:8 NLT)

Shameless persistence . . . That's me! Isn't it GOOD that a mistake from my printing press allowed me the opportunity to practice spiritual audacity?

After 2 weeks of unreturned phone calls and emails in which I kindly asked for a reprint of my book with the correct perforation, it was prayerfully time to move from patience to persistence.

So I boldly and confidently did something that probably appeared crazy and was most likely annoying . . . In a period of 24 hours, I left a total of 7 voicemail messages for the president of the company. All of them were polite and in a gentle tone, repetitively asking to discuss the reprint of my book.

This shameless persistence is what it finally took to open the door of communication  after being brushed off for an extended period of time. (Don't think that the symbolism of the number 7 is lost on me--completion!)

I am happy to say that my unrelenting determination finally moved the president of the printing press. This decision of action was not for "friendship's sake" or quality customer service, but rather to stop my steadfast "knocking."

OUTCOME--my book is being reprinted correctly:)

Hallelujah!!! Indeed, something much bigger than a reprint happened. Sometimes we are told to wait, and sometimes we need to make a move. In both cases, God can use difficult circumstances to give us the opportunity to practice spiritual fruit. These situations allow Him to mold our character. While we prayerfully knock, the Sculptor shapes us.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." (Luke 11:9 NLT) 

Sometimes it takes numerous knocks before the door is finally opened:)  Never stop praying!!! I promise, something much bigger than a "reprint" will take place for you too.

Have you ever experienced a situation in life where you feel God asked you to practice perseverance with shameless persistence?

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"You Don't Always Get What You Pay For"

Two weeks ago I was excited to receive the first shipment of my new book, Purpose Through Perspective. It was less than 24 hours before I was scheduled to leave for "She Speaks" and I needed those copies to bring with me to the conference.

The good news--the books arrived on time!!!

The bad news--the printing press accidentally made a mistake in the perforation of the books:( So now I have 11 boxes of defective books and my company is delayed in being able to get the message of Purpose Through Perspective out there.

I ordered perforated books. I paid for perforated books. But sadly I did not receive perfectly perforated books. 

It has been 14 days since this mistake was reported to my printing press with a request for a reprint, and I am still waiting for a resolution to take place. It would be easy to get mad and seek my own justice solution to this problem . . . but I know a secret that I would like to share with you. Actually, it's not a secret--it's more of a revealed truth told to us in God's Word:

"Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12 NLT) 

No, we don't always get what we pay for in this life. Who ever said life was fair? When we trick ourselves into thinking it is, we will be surprised and get angry when things don't go our way . . . as if something strange were happening to us.

Instead of becoming bitter, I CHOOSE to practice fruit of the Spirit and embrace the great joy!

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." (James 1:2-4 NLT)

I know that this printing mistake and delay in the correction of my book is GOOD. Because if I patiently allow God to work through this trial, something bigger than a reprint will happen. It is through our troubles that we grow and show others what our mighty God is capable of!

Think outside of the "box of fairness." Need help visualizing? Look at the 11 unfair boxes sitting in my dining room:)

Can you think of a situation in your life that is unfair--Are you bitter or better because of it? How can you allow God to use this situation to strengthen your faith?

" 'She Speaks' 828"

Proverbs 31 Ministries definitely knows what they are doing with gathering 800 women in one place--all called to write or speak for the Lord! What a unique experience to worship, learn, and laugh together with this many sisters. 

Community--not competition.

I had to chuckle when I checked in to the hotel last week. As the gentleman at the reception desk handed me my room key, I looked down and saw on the card envelope--room 828. A smile quickly spread across my face as the following verse sprang from my heart:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)

This is exactly what my mind needed to settle on before I started this conference. To know that I was following God's lead, and that He would work everything together for His purpose. This is the very reason I was in attendance at "She Speaks" this past weekend: to listen, discover, and answer my call to ministry. 

I love the many ways in which God speaks! This hotel doorway spoke volumes to my heart of the spiritual door that God is leading me through.

What does your Romans 8:28 doorway and calling look like? 

"First Blog EVER . . . Agghhh!!!"

I can't believe that this is actually happening. I always said I would NEVER blog. Never say never--because God just may ask you to do something one day that was not on "your list" of things to do!

I am two days away from attending the Proverbs 31 "She Speaks" Conference, and I am patiently waiting for the delivery truck to arrive with 3oo copies of my new book (Purpose Through Perspective) straight off the printing press. Right now the tracking schedule says they are in transit traveling through the mid-west.

What are the odds that after working on this book for 2 1/2 years, it would all come down to receiving my copies from the printing press just hours before I leave to attend my first national Christian writing and speaking conference? Answer: 100% chance since God has been in control of every detail of this process. His timing is too amazing!!!

Have you ever said "NEVER!" to something in life, only to later find out that God was asking you to travel on that exact unwanted path?