I See Half Full, God Sees Room To Fill

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            I See Half Full, God Sees Room To Fill

There have been many times in my life where I have felt left out.

Left out of invitations, left out of conversations, left out of inside jokes…third wheel.

Left out.

The widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7 had reason to feel left out too. Her husband had died leaving her to raise her two boys alone. She had debt that she could not pay and now the creditor was coming to take her sons as slaves as payment. I am sure she could see other families in the village thriving: husbands working, wives raising children who seemed to have no cares (at least cares as heavy as her own). Left out. Her husband had been a prophet of the Lord…. but he was gone. Perhaps she wondered if God too, had left her side.

Elisha is summoned for help by this desperate woman. He tells her to give an account of what she has in her house.

“Your servant has nothing there at all,”she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

She saw NOTHING. She barely acknowledged what she DID HAVE; compared to what others had, it looked like/felt like…nothing.

Her “nothing” provided room for God to do a miracle. Elisha tells her to gather every pot she can get her hands on.

Every pot in her own home.

Every spare pot from her neighbors.

“Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.” And she does.

Miracles happen when we are obedient regardless of whether God’s instructions make any sense to us.

She saw “half full” but God saw “room to fill”.

God wrote the end of this widow’s story. She ran out of pots for all the oil that God provided. Her debts were paid. She had more than enough left over to live on.

I have learned…and continue to learn…that being left out/feeling left out…has been a huge gift from God. I have sought Him for help in that lonely place. When I looked at a weekend that was empty because I had not been included in someone else’s fun, I merely asked the Lord how HE WOULD FILL IT.

And He did. He has directed me to friendships and experiences that have been so rich and meaningful. I would likely have missed them had I been included in everything else.

One of Satan’s tactics to keep us from experiencing all God has for us is keeping us busy…all the time. Full calendars. Full work load. Overload of information from social media. There is frankly…no room for God to fill us with fresh oil that comes from  alone time with Him. No room for reaching out to someone new to us.

Feeling left out? Feeling like “all I have is just a little oil”?

Commit what you DO HAVE to Him.…not only what He has already given to you, but the SPACE that is empty. Allow Him to FILL YOU WITH FRESH OIL…

He wants to use your “left out” feeling to do the miraculous in the life of the dry and thirsty folks around you!

 

Father, take my “half full” and fill it…to overflowing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hostess With The Mostest

hostestThere must be something in my DNA that is wired to hostess. I just love to plan, prep for and carry out a entertaining a houseful of guests. 

The more…the merrier, I say!

Guests are welcome for a brief coffee, a long evening, a weekend….shoot, we have had folks live for us for months at a time!

I learned a lot from my mom about hostessing. Mom modeled how to have a hospitable spirit. She was organized, flexible with the plans changing, focused on folks feeling valued and loved with “their” special meals and she put the wishes of others in front of her own.

You see, there is a big difference between being an “entertainer” in your home and being “hospitable.”

Just ask your guests! When your focus is on entertaining, your guests leave impressed…but they also may struggle with feeling down on themselves for their own inadequacies. “I can’t invite folks to my home….I would have to spend a year preparing my home first so I wouldn’t die of embarrassment!”

On the contrary, a hospitable person just knows how to make the guest themselves, feel at ease. Their emphasis is on how to bless that guest by placing their desires and needs above their own. There is a realness, a transparency, that floods the atmosphere of the home. One does not need to have a perfect outfit, a perfect meal, a couch with no stains, a dog  (or child) that never has an accident…

I used to struggle with letting others see the real me. It led to bondage. I would try to “dress up and play the  part” of  June Cleaver…after all, my husband’s name is  Ward Keever…you have no idea how many years I have heard that joke of….”Are you related to Ward Cleaver?”

I had this desire to entertain (I later learned it was actually a spiritual gift(I Corinthians 12). Where I had gone off track was in believing a lie that to be a good hostess, I had to be perfect. My marriage had to be perfect. Good grief….my children had to be perfect! And my angel food cake couldn’t collapse!

Believing that lie caused me to become very tense with my family as I was preparing the home for entertaining.

I Peter 4:9 states “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Ouch! This unrealistic pressure to present perfectly that I placed upon myself, as well as on my whole family, made me edgy and grumbly….behind the scenes. In front of others, however, I knew how to put on the smiles and the laughter. Not only was I wounding my family and causing my company to feel like they too had to be perfect….but I was wounding the very heart of God. He never asked for me to be  perfect  in my hostessing. He just asked me to open up my home and my heart to others and to just love them.

You see, believing that lie that a hostess needs to be perfect pushed me into the bondage of believing that my worth/value was anchored in my performance and in the opinions of others.

My value comes from God loving me first, while I was in my least “put together” state…covered in sin. (Romans 5:8) He put HIS needs aside first, stepping into my world, so He could go to the cross and pay the penalty for my sin. Philippians 2:6-8

I still love to hostess folks in my home….I love to make it enjoyable with good food, smells and lots of laughter. However….now a days the smile is real…my family is happier…the atmosphere is light and no one is grumbling. Freedom! Freedom for me to be me…and for you to be you in my house. I can’t put into words how much more enjoyable it is to open up my home now!

I close with some examples of what this new freedom has looked like….being the hostess with the mostest.

1. I leave my drying laundry out drying on door knobs rather than shoving them in a closet…still wet!

2. I laughed when a gal reached into the sofa cushion looking for her pen and pulled out a petrified cheese stick hidden by my son (that was years ago!)

3. A gal I was meeting for the first time entered the front door and immediately helped me pull out my son’s loose tooth so I could go get Bible Study started. (also years ago…the boys have all their big teeth now!!)

4. I allow friends to help me clean up the kitchen and put the food away, with access to ALL my kitchen drawers.

5. My friends know where to find more toilet paper in my house.

6. I am comfortable having company during the three weeks the spring ants move into my kitchen.

Do you see the difference?

My guests see it…and funny thing is, I used to think that if they saw me for “who I really was” that they would decide to not come over anymore!

Quite the opposite has happened. The more REAL I have been  with them…the more REAL they have been with me.

(…and the next time they come over…they bring another gal unannounced…just because…they can!)

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The Wrapping Paper Doesn’t Define You

youareinvited_sml Have you ever been to a GIFT EXCHANGE party….one where you get to pick a gift from the pile…and then spend the next 2 hours “stealing” the gifts from one another until there are no more gifts to be selected from under the tree? This game is so fun…it can also be somewhat aggressive! I have seen wonderfully kind friends…show another side that is cut throat, greedy and scheming! One might think we were playing some variation of The Hunger Games where only the fittest survive!

I have stolen gifts, tackled folks, teamed up with my husband…all in order to secure “the perfect gift” by the end of the game….only to discover that my hard fought for treasure, was an 11×14 picture frame of a ridiculous picture of a friend’s head!

Lesson to be learned….the wrapping paper doesn’t define the value of the gift inside!

In Luke 2:4-7 we discover that God didn’t wrap Jesus, the Messiah, in the finest wrapping paper either. Mary’s pregnancy was full of raised eyebrows and speculation in her community, her arrival in a crowded Bethlehem demonstrated that not only was there “no room in the inn”…but worse than that, no one looked at her and valued her enough to even make room for her in the inn! A judgement was made by others, based upon outer appearances, that giving birth in a stable/cave for animals, would be adequate for her.

The Messiah, the very one that the people had cried out to God to send, came…and they missed His entrance…all because He was wrapped in wrapping paper that they deemed insignificant. Why….could God possibly plan and be OK with presenting Jesus in such a fashion?

Because….Jesus’ value, His identity, was never established by the way He was wrapped on the outside.

Philippians 2:6-11

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus knew WHO HE WAS.  GOD, incarnate, Emmanuel….God With Us.

His outer appearance did not define Him.

The opinions of mankind did not define Him.

Father, as I ponder my own life and how much time and energy I put into my own presentation, my appearance and first impressions…may I hold on dearly to the source of my own identity….YOUR OPINION!

I am defined by what YOU say about me:

I am your child. John 1:12

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—”

I am deeply Loved. Romans 8:38,39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Regardless of the way I look on the outside…or the opinions of others about me…my value and significance comes from who I am  on the inside….and YOU, Father, are the one who sees who I am…and calls me His much loved child.

This Christmas, as you tear apart paper, rip tape and untangle ribbons…may the Holy Spirit remind you…that your identity and value…are defined inwardly, by the ONE who created you and valued you enough, to die for you on the cross.

Blessings,
Debbie

Oh yes, and remember, be wary of large gifts in frames, that head shot picture I won years ago is still out there making the rounds!

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Hitting The Mark

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You have not lived….fully…until you have chaperoned  30 elementary aged kids with bows and arrows in their hands! Seriously, your should try it…at least once in your life!

Every summer for the past 11 years I have taken a crew of fabulous kids, grades 2nd through 6th, away for a week of summer camp. As a children’s pastor I love to see hundreds of kids in corporate worship, praying around the altars and experiencing the touch of the Holy Spirit in new and exciting ways. I find that environment exciting, stimulating…breathtaking…

…but I feel the same way when it is time to place bows and arrows in the hands of these same kids and tell them that they are to now ‘hit the target’. It’s exciting…stimulating…and yes, even breathtaking!

The instructors there are wonderful and they do provide many safety measures so that ALL parties remain unharmed…but still…my heart rate is elevated on this one activity. Those skinny little arms struggle to pull the string back, the bow shakes, arrows drop to the ground repeatedly, fingers get pinched….but eventually (even if it takes a year to accomplish this), the arrow sets sail towards the target! Shouts resound when an arrow hits any target…even if the target belongs to a kid 4 rows away!

This one activity is always a highlight for our kids and it makes me ask the question…why? They lack the physical strength to pull the string back and hold the bow firm, they are easily distracted and they are listening to ALL those who try to give them instructions…including kids who have never shot an arrow! The thrill, I believe, comes from when they see someone else, “hit that target” and they believe…that one day, that will be them!

How many parallels I have seen in my own prayer life, and perhaps, you can relate?

*have you ever felt too weak (spiritually, physically, emotionally) to pray?

*have you ever felt unskilled or perhaps, had too many people giving you information on “the right way to pray?”

*have you ever felt like your prayers were arrows that were shot randomly into the the air, never knowing if they hit a target and made any difference?

*have you ever struggled with “prayer envy” because the prayers of others always seem to hit their target?

*have you ever “pinched” your finger and felt like you were wounded in your own prayer life or when someone else prayed over you?

*have you ever felt like you pray and you pray and you pray..your prayers drop to the ground in front of you and nothing changes?

*have you ever felt like you don’t even know what you are to pray for…not even sure what is the target you are supposed to be aiming at?

Ephesians 6:10-18 is a powerful portion of scripture focusing on the ARMOR OF GOD. Satan has a bullseye on your life and has a strategic plan to steal, kill and destroy you. (John 10:10).

We need to have a strategic plan in our prayer life to guard against Satan’s plans.

In verse 18 we read, “and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

This is the time, my friends, to strengthen our spiritual muscles, sharpen our focus, hear the instruction of the Holy Spirit and take aim at the very areas Satan has already begun to shoot at:

*our passion

*our focus

*our identity

*our families

*our pasts

*our fears

*our purity

*our pressures

*our hurts

*our relationships

Are you ready?

Aim?

Fire! (oh that’s right, that’s a bee bee rifle…did I mention we alway do that at camp too?? Save that discussion for another day!!)

Fervent Bible Study…Starting next week!

September 13th at Pastor Debbie’s house

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOLDY ROOTED!

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Picture this.

One foot on a desk and the other on a rolling office chair, stretching high with my right hand to reach a Bible commentary that was just….out of my reach. Eyes focused on the prize and yet, aware that my back leg was slowly inching away from the desk.

Fortunately, this time, the story ended well and I was able to grab that commentary!

But I knew better.

I graduated with a degree in Physical Therapy   Continue reading

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Don’t Dry Up This Summer!

 

 

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Don’t Dry Up!

DON’T DRY UP THIS SUMMER!

Summer…is…here.

A new season! Warm nights, hotter days, crazy thunderstorms that stir up as soon as I get a half mile away from the house with the dogs, lightening  bugs and amazing sunsets. Summer is the season for beautiful flowers!

Every year I ambitiously plant three pots of flowers on my deck and wish them good luck. They need it! I am not known for my amazing deck plants come August! I start out strong, watering them faithfully and dead-heading those blooms past their peak. By mid-July my faithful watering slows down….it’s hot and I don’t feel like carrying the pitchers of water back and forth, day in and day out! Our deck has sun all day long and those poor plants struggle as they bake in the sun. Continue reading

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How Much Is Enough?

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“Did you get enough?” If I could only count the number of times I have said this to the folks at my dinner table over the years! As the chief cook in our home it has always been a priority to me to know that my family/guests had enough to eat! Leftovers were a good sign because to me, it affirmed that I had made enough for all to leave  the table satisfied. If we ran out of something, it was a reflection on my planning and not on their eating (this became a challenge as those young boys became teens with bottomless pits!). My meal plans became larger in quantity and selection…and I always made sure that

I made more than enough.

I have noticed that the pressure I put on myself in the kitchen has carried over to my walk with the Lord, more specifically, to my prayer life.

Do I have enough?

Do I have enough FAITH to believe God for the little things, how about for the middle size prayers and  more so lately, for the “out of the box”  big requests I have been throwing His way? My head knowledge knows what the Word says about God being all powerful, all knowing, above all and able to do above and beyond all I could ask or imagine. I have seen God move in amazing ways already and I know my faith has grown.

I am asking for more these days.

-more breakthrough

-more radical changes

-more changing of the atmosphere spiritually

-MORE!!!

I have noticed a tension within me; I am asking for God to do more and yet I am feeling that I am responsible for the outcome ‘of more’. It is almost the pressure of running out of a favorite side dish and feeling that I didn’t make enough! If ‘the more’ that I am asking God for doesn’t happen right away, it must be on my end!

So how much faith is enough to accomplish ‘the more’ in the areas I am crying out to God for? Do I need to pray longer, harder and louder? Are those things what move the heart of God?

How much faith is enough? 

Matthew 17:20 reads

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith the size of a mustard seed is enough. That is so small in size yet big big big in potential!

My faith only needs to be the size of a mustard seed for it to be more than enough.

My faith will grow from hearing through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). The more I study  WHO God says He is and what HE is capable of in the Scriptures, the greater my faith grows. It is important that our small mustard size faith grows!

Faith is a two step process though: 

1. Growing through learning what the Bible says (head knowledge).

2. Growing  through living out what the Bible says (heart knowledge/experience/testimony).(James 2:14-19)

Back to my original thought, “How much is enough?”

Think small, think mustard seed faith. The issue really isn’t really “Am I capable of bringing enough to the table for God to move in a big way” but rather  it is in the Lord’s ability to take my small amount of faith and do something mighty through it.

My faith can be small for starters because HE is really big and He will be the One who always makes sure there will always be enough!

I pray in faith and believe with my mustard-sized faith…and HE is the one who parts the sea, raises the dead, heals the leper, multiplies the fish and loaves and brings the prodigal home.

Small faith is enough….because HE is the multiplier, the One who promises to do above and beyond!

Thank God!

Now back to the kitchen!

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