Wednesday, December 12, 2007

At the Edge of His Mercy

I write to you today with a heavy heart. But in my physical darkness and sadness, the Lord is still with me and I will forever give Him praise. He has NOT cast me or my family out of the reach of His mercy. I wait in grateful expectation of how He's going to work all of this out.

My parents home is no longer theirs - the home that I grew up in, the home that my children loved as "Mammy's House," the land my mother grew up on is no longer "Our Homestead." I did everything I could - everything I was called to do - to live out Isaiah 61 and offer healing to the broken and hope to the hopeless. But sometimes, as ministers, all we can do is sit back and watch our friends and family members make the same mistakes, run farther away and (my favorite part) after the world comes crashing down on them - blame someone else. It is an ugly cycle. It is a violent cycle. It is a weapon Satan uses with great success.

Are you going to be the next victim?

I've been giving you instructions in my last few posts of the precious little that God requires of you. I've called you. I've emailed you. I've prayed for you. I've cheered you on. But still, you cannot bring yourself to consummate your relationship with the Almighty, one true God who has the power to make you or destroy you, but right now, only wants to love you.

I praise God for those who have heard me. I know God used me to reach some of you and I rejoice every time you walk through the church doors or mention His holy name in an email to me.

But to those of you who refuse Him and me? How much more are you willing to lose?

Are you willing to be so far out at the edge of His mercy that He forgets you altogether? You think He won't? Are you of use to Him right now? If the answer is "no," then why should He keep you in His care?

If I were your child - your grown-up child - and I lived in your house and ate your food and left the lights on and ran up the water bill and didn't have a job and didn't clean up after myself and also never said "Thank you," would you keep me around? I wouldn't keep me around! (By the way, anyone want four kids? Just kidding.)

Like Peter walking on the water towards Jesus, your faith has slipped and left you drowning. God could save you in a heartbeat, but you refuse to call out to Him and cry "Save Me." You may even be whining, ""Saaaave Meeeee, whaa, whaa, whaa," but you will not run to His embrace.

I am an ACOA - an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. Naturally, I am an enabler. I want to fix everything and take on other people's burdens and lighten their load. When things go/went wrong in other people's lives, I somehow have always interpreted that it was my fault. I should have done more. If only I had..., I could have ... (fill in the blank.) I can stand right now with a clear conscience that I have done everything possible to be a light in your world.

Some people just won't open the blinds.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I have a deep-guarded secret to share with all of you. It is something from which I shield my daughters. It is something that I have had to come to terms with as I notice the habits rearing their ugly heads in my speech.

I am a Recovering Cheerleader.

I thought it was all behind me - the chants, the stunts, the need to cheer people on. But then one day, in a wave it came to me.

Zoe had woken up grumpy - GRUMPY. She was complaining about everything. She didn't want to get dressed. She didn't want to go to Grammy's. She didn't want breakfast. I said to her, "Zoe, you are certainly grumpy today. Jesus doesn't want us to be grumpy and whiney. Jesus calls us to be cheerful and joyful in the Lord and to let our lights shine. So why don't you say this with me:

Step back, Devil
Get away from me.
I'm bought with the Blood,
so I have Victory. YEY GOD."

There it was. The cheerleader was back.

Zoe's attitude immediately changed as she was overcome with giggles. The whole way to Grammy's house, she kept saying, "How did that go again, Mommy? Say it again, Mommy." We repeated it over and over again. It changed both of our attitudes for the day and I rejoiced knowing that in these little ways I was demonstrating my faith to my children. My children, both the biological ones and the non-biological ones, know where I stand with God. The Lord is everything to me and I would be nothing without Him.

I have been encouraged by some of you to turn this blog into a book. I have contacted a few publishers and found that a simple Devotional is not what the publishers are looking for right now. Now if I were Max Lucado or T.D. Jakes, I'd have a deal. But I'm Danielle Scott - a simple woman just trying to walk with the Lord every day.

As I have read over my blogs from the past 18 months, I've been searching for a theme, if you will. Every book needs a theme, right? Every play needs a plot - a protagonist, an antagonist, a climax, a denouement or resolution. Well, this book needs a theme with a beginning, middle and ending.

The one theme that pervades most, if not all of my posts, is Faith. Now Faith has many different meanings and takes many different forms. Faith is a journey that is begun every morning when you wake up. Faith begins the day you accept the Lord as your Savior and grows through weekly fellowship, Baptism, the reception of the Holy Spirit and continues on until something is born out of you - your ministry or ministries. Lessons in Faith come in seasons. I, myself, look back over the past eighteen months and see typically three-month periods where God was hammering a particular point home with me until I knew He was drawing a line in the sand and saying, "Danielle, it is time to step up here."

I'm here to tell you today that I have reached a new plateau of Faith - one that I've desired and yearned for, one that amazes me in the fact that I got here and yet comforts me all at the same time. If I sound like I am boasting, please remember that Paul said we are to boast in the Lord. I did not get to where I am today without Christ working through me, but now that I stand where I stand in my walk with Christ, I desire the same for you.

Today I can say for the first time in my life, "My Faith is Unshakeable." Over the past couple of months I have been bombarded with problems of my own as well as other people's problems. I spoke of some of these problems in my last post. I have friends who are being diagnosed with diseases like Multiple Sclerosis. I have friends who are going through divorce. I have a father who his facing foreclosure on his home because he can't find a job. I have friends whose jobs have either already been taken away or are in jeopardy. My daughter is in the process of being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or worse, an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But I'm not flinching. By the power of Jesus Christ, I'm not wavering. I haven't gotten on my knees crying "Woe is me," once. Because I believe God. Period.

I believe God uses all things to bring Him Glory. I said in my last post, "He will bring you to your knees so you get on your knees." In every situation, I have accepted the boldness with which God has infused me and spoken to each of these people. Now you know that's God, because I could never before get myself to speak to someone about God. That's why I created this blog - to say what I needed to say or what God wanted me to say without talking to a person directly or standing in front of a crowd.

God ordains your circumstances. Do you know that? God ordains everything that happens to you until you get rightly related to Him. That's where I come in.

I'm your personal Cheerleader. I can't believe I just said that, but in actuality, I've been examing where I belong in the body of Christ, and more and more, I see myself as a support person. Now I don't know if that means I'm a leg or a foot to stand on, or maybe a hand that reaches out, but I know that right now, I'm not on stage singing or preaching with all eyes on me. I'm suddenly what we would call in Theatre - Stage Crew - behind the scenes, if you will. God is using me and using this blog to reach out to you, speak into your circumstances and to cheer you on. The only things I got shaking are my pom-poms. I got my big megaphone yelling:

"Hey, hey you,
there's nothing you can do
to stop - clap, clap, clap
God's Power - clap, clap

Receive it. Accept it. Don't be afraid of it. God loves you. He wants to make a way where there is no way, if you will just let Him. He wants to draw the line in the sand and see you moving to the other side. You have nothing to fear. He is with you and in you and all around you. He is calling to you. Open your ears above the din of the world and HEAR HIM.

I'll be here, cheering you on.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

You Need This

I apologize for the length of time it has taken me to write this. Some of you have contacted me to say, "I need you to write something. I need a message." For that, I thank you. Sometimes, okay, maybe a lot of times, I need encouragement to know what I'm doing through this blog has a purpose. Once again, it's not that God hasn't been speaking to me. It has been quite the opposite. I have been so overwhelmed with messages, visions, scriptures, prophecies and promises, it has been like being drowned in a Spiritual Tsunami. With not enough hours in the day since beginning my new job, I have only to continue to take mental notes, spiritual notes and wait to see what theme bubbles to the surface.

Well, the theme has bubbled. The theme is you.

I have come to the realization that if you're in my life, you're there for a reason. If I'm in you're life, I'm here for a purpose as well. God is using each of us and our connection with one another for a purpose and I'm about to step into mine.

The Spiritual Tsunami that I have been experiencing has been yet another time of transformation for me. I had been going through a time of being a "shrinking violet," if you will - a wallflower. Once again a spirit of fear had gripped my life. I found myself desiring a boldness through Christ but not being able to step into that boldness. Well... no more.

Long before Brother Tim Hines and Pastor Bond began preaching on John 7:38 - "He that believeth in me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water," that same scripture had been laid on my heart through my email devotional. With new boldness through only the power of Christ, I'm here to tell all of you who don't know Jesus like I know Jesus, I'm here to bring you living water.

You know who you are. You are a person in my life who has been struggling to find a job. You're about to lose your house and everything you've worked for. You've been diagnosed with a debilitating disease. You're going through an unwanted divorce. You lost your job recently -unfairly and with little explanation. You consider yourself a Christian but the Devil has been lying to you about people who surround you, convincing you that we're all a bunch of hypocrites which fills you with anger and turns your heart away from the church.

You know who you are and I'm using this forum given by God to speak to you. Because I know that sometimes God will bring you to your knees just so you get on your knees.

When God wants you in His will, He'll do whatever it takes to get you there. You think by turning your back on God, you're safe? Forget it. This is God we're talking about. As Bill Cosby use to say to his children, "I put you in this world, I can take you out." If you're still here, you should be praising God that He's giving you one more chance to get your life back on track, 'cause you could be dead. You could be in Hell with no chance of seeing Heaven. But God's calling you up one more time, right now.

Some of you are thinking, "Yeah, Whatever. She hasn't seen what I've seen. She hasn't lived what I've lived. She hasn't been where I've been. She hasn't done what I've done." Well, let me tell you something... two weeks ago I sobbed on the altar of my church because I was afraid to share my own testimony. I have been to some dark places. I have seen some ugly things. I have been despicable - DE-SPIC-A-BLE in the eyes of God - so despicable, in fact, that I fear if I share with you just one of the multitude of sins I have been entrapped in, you would have no respect for me. But I am reminded of one of my favorite T-shirt/bumper sticker slogans: "The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future." So I move forward, rejoicing that I have been forgiven and delivered from all of the ugliness, from all of the emptiness and from all of the darkness. Because I have known poverty of both means and spirit, I am here to promise you that your abundance is waiting. Because I have known brokenness of mind, body and spirit, I am here to tell you that your healing is near.

Isaiah 61
"1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To grant those who mourn {in} Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

5 Strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.

6 But you will be called the priests of the LORD; You will be spoken of {as} ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And in their riches you will boast.

7 Instead of your shame {you will have a} double {portion,} And {instead of} humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double {portion} in their land, Everlasting joy will be theirs.

8 For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; And I will faithfully give them their recompense And make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Then their offspring will be known among the nations, And their descendants in the midst of the peoples. All who see them will recognize them Because they are the offspring {whom} the LORD has blessed.

10 I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. "

God wants you for His own. God desires you for His will. He will not rest until you relinquish every last bit of what you think is your power, to Him.

So, if you hear me, get on your knees and praise Him right now. Praise Him in the midst of your storm. I've learned that when the storms are raging, if you praise His name, your praises go up and part those storm clouds and the blessings come down.

Praise Him because you know He hasn't forgotten you. Praise Him because He has not cast you aside. Praise Him because you could be dead, but He came that you might have life and have it abundantly.

There's still time.

Before I close, I have to share with you that now is not the time to be stubborn. Now is not the time to say, "Eh, I don't need God right now." NOW is the time for you to take this seriously.

How funny it is to me that God has put me in a position where I feel like I'm begging each of you to come to God - you who have known God, you who chose to walk away, when just last week I met a 17 year-old girl who, within 20 minutes of talking to me said, "I want to know who Jesus is." She is a new Chinese immigrant and works at her parents' restaurant. Mae Ling was the first person ever put in my path who made it easy for me to share Jesus out of her pure, innocent desire to know. She heard about Jesus and wanted to know what Jesus could do in her life.

You have learned, but yet you continue to reject Him. Spin your wheels all you want, but you'll go nowhere without Him.

Now's the time.

I feel like maybe you're again thinking, "Who does this woman think she is speaking like this?" Well, I wrote this two days ago on paper. This morning, I had an overwhelming vision of brokenness across this country. I saw men addicted to drugs, women recovering from abortions, children growing up fatherless. I was reminded that I live in the shadow of the Big House - I live on the reservation of the United States Penitentiary at Lewisburg and realized this morning that I am less than 1/2 mile from sin and disparity like you'll never know 1400 times over. I prayed to God, "Heal them, Lord, change the hardened hearts of men. Come down like rain to reveal yourself and transform these lives." There was a moment of silence and then I heard, loud and clear, "That's your job."

Here I am Lord, send me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


A message on marriage has been on my heart for months. God keeps showing me illustrations, verses and quotations that have pushed me to preach or write this message. The picture keeps getting clearer and I feel it is now time, dear friends, to share this message with you.

It all started in the spring when God first pointed out in me that I wasn't making time for Him in my life. There were times when I saw clearly that our relationship - God's and mine - was suffering. God put it on my heart that just as a married couple cannot go days or perhaps even one day without "checking in" with one another, God and I needed time together every day as well. So I heeded that call - to make time with God, to enter my prayer closet every day and just start the day with praising Him for the day before me. It has made an incredible difference. In the times that I have stumbled recently, I can see that it was those particular days that I did not stop and praise Him that helped to knock my focus off of the only One who deserves it.

Fast forward a couple of months. I stepped outside of my church where my husband has stood for the past hour "chatting" with the guys. One man says, "Man... I'm telling my kids to never get married. Marriage is soooo hard." Derek tells me more of the conversation later. It seems this whole conversation of these men revolved around marriages and relationships and how you can never please women and blah, blah, blah. Derek related to me that he was so happy to be able to say, "Fellas.... I don't know what to tell you, but after Danielle and I butted heads for years, our marriage gets stronger every day." He said his eyes welled up with tears as another man standing there looked at Derek and said, "That's God."

I know that it's God that brought Derek and I out of darkness and brought us together. I know that it's God who took these two strong-headed and strong-willed people and their children, as well as the baggage from their pasts, and turned them into a TEAM. We say it to each other ALL the time, and we say it to our kids: "We're a team." And this team looks for every opportunity to bring Glory to God through our gifts and talents that God has given us. I praise God every day for bringing us together. I praise God every day for the ways in which He has stripped us of our old selves and made us new in Him. We would still be butting heads. We would still be scrapping every day. We could possibly be divorced and handing Zoe back and forth on weekends. Our Theatre Company would be no more and Ellen and I would no longer have much contact with Darianne and Julian. A family of six could have been reduced to ruins... BUT GOD. Oh, Hallelujah.

But with all this praise I have for God in my marriage and for my marriage, I have to stop and wonder why my Best Friend is going through a horrible divorce as I write this right now. I have to stop and ask myself why a man and fellow church member would be standing outside the doors of the church and saying, "My kids ain't getting married, if I can help it. Marriage is too hard." God has painted this wonderfully clear parallel in my spirit - let's call it "The Recipe for a Successful Marriage," or "The Blue Print." He calls me to share it with you.

The key to a successful marriage is this simple: "Love your spouse." Earth shattering, isn't it? But I know you don't realize the truth in that statement, so I will expound. I will show you the parallel that has been revealed to me regarding our relationships with our spouses and our relationships with God. But it starts with examining what "Love your spouse" truly means.

1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

A wise man once told me to replace the word "Love" with "God." I see now that you can also replace the word love with "Praise" in terms of our relationship with God. And that's the secret.

When we learn as individuals in our marriages to truly love our spouse, it means to shower them with our love, our praise, our trust, our hope and our respect. When we learn to love our spouse and do everything for them, it frees up your spouse to reciprocate. Suddenly, all of your needs are being met by the other person. This is the making of a holy marriage. When you took your vows, there was supposed to be a "death of self," just as in Baptism. You were no longer two, but one in marriage. You can no longer live with your selfish desires before you. It is all about the other person now. But if you can accept this, your efforts will be rewarded through your spouse loving you back.

I once read that love is like a ball of liquid Mercury held in your hand. If you squeeze it too tightly, it squeezes through your fingers and is gone forever. But if you keep your hand open, allowing the other person to love you back, it will remain.

Now I challenge you to take this lesson and put it into the perspective of our relationship with God. When we shower God with our love, our praise, our trust, our hope and our respect, He has no choice but to return that love. Furthermore, it is our faith that allows us to praise God, despite our circumstances and despite what we are going through. If we focus on ourselves and on our circumstances, our eyes are no longer on God, but on ourselves. This is where our relationship starts to falter. This is where we find ourselves saying, "Oh, woe is me. I have it soooo hard. What am I going to do?" But in the moment that we cry out to God, He holds the power to change our circumstances and will do so because He loves us.

There is a speaker and author coming to The Pregnancy Care Center's Annual Fall Fundraising Banquet. His name is Gary Thomas and he is a prolific writer. One of his books, "Sacred Marriage" is subtitled, "What If God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?" I have to wonder, what if? What if marriage was the physical and earthly training ground in order for us to be rightly related to God? Can we learn to love our spouses in the same way we are expected to love God?

Let us not forget that we are being prepared for another marriage. God is preparing our gowns of white for that day, described in Revelation 19:

5 And a voice came from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great." 6 Then I heard {something} like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."

The church is the bride. We are the bride.

God calls us to be holy, not happy. How many times have we heard this? 1 Peter 1:16 declares: Ye shall be holy; for I am holy. Holy means "Rightly related to God." Rightly related to God means: eyes fixed on Him, not having selfish desires, but wanting to give God what He wants. And what does He want? He wants our praise, our love and our acknowledgement at all times. Our spouses desire the same.

Derek and I were some ugly people. We were afraid to trust, afraid to love. We were unable to submit to one another. He had to be The Man, and I was not about to be the Subservient Wife. Both of us had to be right all the time. Everything was a fight: who was more intelligent, whose idea of raising children was better, who was cleaner, who was messier, who was a better steward of money - everything was a fight. But God was working in the midst of it all. I was seeking. Derek was seeking. Somewhere along the way, we realized that all either of us really wanted was to be loved. God helped us move beyond our fears and our need to be self-sufficent. God laid our selfish desires to death and instilled in us a new love and respect for one another.

On September 13th, Derek and I will celebrate our fourth Wedding Anniversary. On our fifth anniversary, in 2008, we are planning to renew our vows because, Praise God, we are not who we were back then.

Our marriages are not meant to be a struggle, just as being a Christian is not supposed to be a struggle. We are not to walk around, saying, "Oh, this is soooo hard. God, why'd I get married?" That's like saying, "Oh God, why do you love me? Being a Christian is soooo difficult." Surrender to yourself. Love God. Love your spouse. And watch your needs get met. Yes, watch the blessings flow.

I wrote this song for Derek:
You walk into the room and at once my spirits soar.
It’s only been a moment, but it seems like so much more.
I love you that much
And your every touch
Sets my heart aflame.

It’s been six long years and yet our love grows stronger every day.
There’s been so much doubt and so much hope, but now it seems we found our way.
God’s hand in it all
He wouldn’t let us fall
We give Him all the praise.

It seems I found you and you found me
When we needed each other most
And we stitched together a family
By the Power of the Holy Ghost
And I don’t know where I’d be without you and I don’t really want to know
Once we were lost, but now we are found.
Together let’s grow.

We both came from a place called “Self,” and it’s a lonely place to be.
No matter how we tried, how hard we kicked, we couldn’t seem to break free.
But then His good Grace
Shone on our face
And His Glory was revealed.

I gave a little and you gave a lot and how the tables turned -
Both learning how to trust again, not afraid to get burned.
All of His love
Poured from above
And helped us to be healed.

It seems I found you and you found me
When we needed each other most
And we stitched together a family
By the Power of the Holy Ghost
And I don’t know where I’d be without you and I don’t really want to know
Once we were lost, but now we are found.
Together let’s grow.

You know tomorrow we don’t know
If the sun will shine or hide
But I know the only thing that matters
Is that you are by my side
You are my love, my help-mate
My husband, my Best Friend
Together we will run this race
With every rock and bend

I don’t know what sets us apart; we watch those around us fall
I know too many times and too many hearts that get hid behind a wall
They think they gotta stay tough
It’s never enough
To protect yourself from pain

You and I learned how to love by learning how to give
I got your back and you got mine, and that’s how we must live
Our needs always met
No regrets.
More sunshine than rain.

It seems I found you and you found me
When we needed each other most
And we stitched together a family
By the Power of the Holy Ghost
And I don’t know where I’d be without you and I don’t really want to know
Once we were lost, but now we are found.
Together let’s grow.

And I don’t know where I’d be without you and I don’t really want to know
Once we were lost, but now we are found.
Together let’s grow.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Counting my Blessings

Editor's Note: I wrote this blog today because my mind and heart were reeling. I looked for someone to talk to, but when no one was available, I knew I had to blog through it. Praise be to God, that by the time I got to the end of this post, the answer was revealed.

I should offer a subtitle to this one: Pushing through this. I don't know why I am where I am right now spiritually, but I know I gotta get through this. I gotta get right with God again. I covet your prayers for me at this time.

I started my position as Event Coordinator of the Pregnancy Care Center on Monday, July 16th. Immediately, it was tough. As someone who needs a certain physical arrangement such as an office with a door, a desk lamp which casts a warm, amber glow and Gospel music playing quietly in the background in order to be able to concentrate, I was a bit underwhelmed to find my new "spot." It consisted of a desk from the 1960's parked against a wall in a huge conference room, cordoned off with some Mary-Tyler-Moore-looking cubicle wall. Above me, garish flourescent lights buzzed like bees. My computer, with a Gateway monitor and an NEC tower, operates on Windows 98. It has no USB ports and no speakers for which to listen to music. Even if it did, since I'm located in a common area, it probably would be bothering someone.

I thought to myself, "Quit being a spoiled brat. Be thankful for this opportunity to work here - a place where you are surrounded by Christian women, where you're encouraged to pray on the job. God brought you here for a moment like this." I continued to pray that He would give me focus and clarity and an ability to do the best job I could. Yet every day, I found it harder to get out of bed and make it to work.

Then the work came. Mostly, it's been telemarketing, at best. I phone business after business after business asking them to "make a donation" as a form of advertising at our Fall Fundraising Banquet. I only have to raise 30,000 dollars. At about 350 dollars per contribution, my math-whiz, Ben, tells me "86. You need 86 contributors to reach 30,000." Need I tell you, I hate the phone. Email and the Internet are THE greatest inventions EVER. I don't stutter over email. I stutter over the phone. I can send one email to a gazillion people at one time. I have to make phone calls ONE AT A TIME. I have to repeat myself OVER and OVER and OVER again. And I won't forget to mention - I have to ask for money. Ugh. Could it get any worse? Of course it can, because now that we're down to the halfway point, the contributions are coming in at 175 dollars, instead of 350. I continue to praise God for every dollar raised, knowing He is Able to make a way where there is no way. But still, the phone gets heavier every time I have to pick it up.

I had so much joy in knowing that after "MacBeth" was over, I would finally have time on my hands. I could get caught up on laundry and housecleaning. I could take my kids to the pool. I could spend a week organizing props and cleaning costumes from our Theatre Company. The more I delved into the laundry and housecleaning, the more I realized how disgusting my kids were. Oh the stuff I found under their beds and in their closets. I found myself overwhelmed and complaining all the time. I'd pray, "God I repent of these ill feelings toward my children, but wow, when did this get so bad?" I was reminded of how beautiful each of my children are - how intelligent, how good-natured. I was reminded of how healthy they are. I know so many children who are ill or disabled. I kept praying, "Thank you, Lord, for my children, no matter how messy they are." Guess what happened the next time I started complaining? My dryer died. God has a way of reminding you to count your blessings, doesn't He?

It was official. I had become a victim of Chronic Complaining Disorder. I knew it was wrong. I kept begging for God to show me a way out of all of this negativity. I was walking around my house saying, "No Whining. No Whining. No Whining" - and I wasn't talking to my kids. When Brother Brian preached about Aubyn pushing the lawn mower and pleading, "But Daddy...." I heard him loud and clear. Yesterday, when Brother Tim followed the Spirit and just gave us time to give God Thankfulness and Praise for all of our blessings, I did. I wept tears of joy for all of my many blessings. But then something happened today. I had to get up and go to work. I trudged into work, pleading, "But Daddy..." the whole way.

Then I opened my email, and there it was in my Inbox - my special devotional from You never tire of hearing that, do you? Me neither.

"Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28
From "My Utmost for His Highest"
"God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never Gods will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.

Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one - "Come unto Me." The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.

Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say - 'Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me,' and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. 'Well, I am not understood;' 'this is a thing they ought to apologize for;' 'that is a point I really must have cleared up.' Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you
Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.

The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask - What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.

If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, "Come unto Me and I will give you rest," i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself."

The more conscious of my "self" I became, the more "self-conscious" I became. I started to doubt my gifts and abilities. And doubt, may I remind you is the opposite of Faith. I know these gifts and abilities are God-given. Who am I to doubt what He's given me? I started to feel inferior to my co-workers. I even started to feel like maybe they hired the wrong person, and maybe they knew it too. Satan began using these lies to keep me from fulfilling my purpose - God's purpose.

I must remember that I am a child of God and rest in that. I must remember to see me as God sees me - as His precious child. I may stutter sometimes, but that does not make me a lesser person. The Power of Jesus goes before me - I am washed in His blood. Nothing can separate me from the love of God. If He is with me, who can stand against me? No one. Not Satan. Not even my "self."

If any of this rings true to you and where you are today, call out to Him and say, "Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me." Remember who you are in Christ and praise Him for His Abundant Love. He will remind you that every blessing that surrounds you is completely of Him. You will be so lifted up in your praise of our great God, I promise you, self-consciousness WILL go, and He will give you rest.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Message is Clear

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Ten weeks. That's how long it has taken me to write since my last post. I've tried to write - heavy messages have been on my heart and playing over and over again in my mind. But working third shift, directing our Shakespeare play and managing a household with four children was taking its toll. I'd write four paragraphs and suddenly, my eyes would start to close - no longer able to stare at the computer screen.

One week, I had the opportunity to also squeeze in the teaching of a Musical Theatre Workshop from 11am - 2pm, which meant less sleep, of course. This has also added up to "Less Time for God." No time for devotionals as driving to Dunkin Donuts had become less appealing in my exhaustion at 2am when our crew takes lunch. No time for blogging. At this pace, I was lucky to check my email once a week. Filling my ears with praise music from my MP3 player was no longer allowed at work - no headphones are allowed on the floor. And church? Well, I would make it on Sunday if and when I could get my body to keep moving from the time I got home until the start of church. As soon as I sat down, it was lights out.

I continued to talk to God as much as possible. I continued to sing praise songs while I was stocking shelves. But in comparison to where I was just a couple of weeks ago when God and I were cruising along Glory Highway, I was feeling like I was again at the edge of His Mercy. This is not because I've filled my life with sin, but because I haven't completely immersed my life in Him, step by step and day by day. My heart and spirit long to turn the clock back to just a few short weeks ago.

The blessings have continued. The apparent squeezing of my spirit over the past ten years has all but stopped and a new joy in the Lord has been found. Through this time, I kept asking God, "What will you have me write next?" I kept hearing Him answer, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." I'll bet you won't be surprised that on Tuesday of that week, "Seek ye first" was the subject of my daily email devotional. Okay Lord, when I hear You, I must remember to listen. Oh, how God has revealed the meaning of this passage to me in new and various ways through the passing weeks.

It all started at Wal-Mart when my manager brought me into her office for my 90 day evaluation. She showered me with praise for my hard work, dependability and flexibility. "You should really consider becoming Management," she said. Climbing the ladder at Wal-Mart? Now there's something I never thought I'd do with my life. It's a big corporation. There's security in that. I could climb and climb if I wanted to. But do I want to? More importantly, does God want me to?

Like a flash of lightning, the answers came. Work became impossible. Management became, well..., bossy. Co-workers became disgruntled and filled break times with their misery. It hit me, as I felt their negativity soaking into my pores, this was not the place for me.

I'd stick it out. The money was good, but something had to give. My only defense, my only weapon was to continue to praise God - continue to cling to HIM - continue to thank Him for what He was doing in my life - KNOWING He was doing something.

A couple days later, Derek and I were dreaming about what we'd do with our money if ever one of his plays got discovered.I told him that the Pregnancy Care Center was my favorite ministry in the Susquehanna Valley. I would definitely be donating money to them.

The next day, I received a PCC newsletter in the mail. They were hiring an Event Coordinator. Something spoke in my spirit that I needed to apply. The next day, I just appened to be meeting with Senator Madigan's office at the Cherry Alley Cafe, which is right next to the Pregnancy Care Center. When the meeting was over, I stopped and inquired about the position and picked up the application. I let FOUR weeks lapse without submitting my application. All the while, the message pounds in my head, "Seek ye first...," which my spirit translates into "Seek Me first, Danielle... Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."

Sandy Klingler from the Pregnancy Care Center finally called me. She said her staff had been praying and she thinks I'm "the one" for the position. Keep in mind at this point, I hadn't even submitted my application or resume, but according to Sandy, God says I'm the one.

So the wrestling match was over. Yes, I was wrestling with God. Don't ask me why. I don't know why I was so apprehensive - it would be less money, being that it's part time. That was it - the money kept me from applying. How would we make it? Derek had quit Boscov's. We'd be back to what I made at Weis'. So I cracked open my Bible and found "the verse" in its context:

Matthew 6:19-34 -

19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.
23 "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 "And who of you by being worried can add an hour to his life? 28 "And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 "But if God so
clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' 32 "For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly
Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

There it was. The answer I needed. The humility I had to swallow. The trust, the faith and the acknowledgement that I had to have - to know that God. Period.

So I went through with it. I applied. I interviewed. I got the position. And of course, since I started walking in this new found faith, the blessings have flooded through and over those walls that were once sure to keep them back.

  • - The week that I applied, Derek received a letter from Domestic Relations. All signs point to the amount of child support that is deducted from his paycheck being lowered.
  • - Zoe's surgery was paid for and successful. She will have a new smile by the end of the month.
  • - Our school tax refund finally came which allowed us to put our van back on the road.
  • - Our van, which sat for months and months needed very little to make it roadworthy and pass inspection.
  • - When we were slightly worried that we would have to dip into our weekly pay to cover the balance of our van's repairs, God surprised me with Holiday Pay from the Fourth of July which completely took care of the added expense.
  • - I completed my last night at Wal-Mart last Wednesday. My managers were sad to see me go, but for the first time ever, I cannot say I was too sad to leave.
  • - I began my new position today.
  • - For the rest of July, God has paved the way with "extra" income coming just when we will need it most. This will take away the sting of the lower pay and ensure that we will not have to struggle to make ends meet.

On my way to the interview, this odd song popped into my head and out of my mouth before I even knew what I was singing. It was an old Margaret Becker song. I asked myself, "What made that pop into my head?" But I kept singing, Then I got to the chorus:

"All that I am, and all that I will be,
I place in your hands, I rest at your feet.
All of my life, indebted I will be, to You."

I laughed in spite of myself and then started to cry. God has not wasted one moment of my life. It was all put to use and placed in perfect order for such a time as this.

In the wee hours of the morning, as I'm working my very last shift at Wal-Mart, a song comes to my heart:

"I'm leaving it all to You,
I'm leaving it all to You.
You are GOD.
There's no limit
to all that You can do.
So I'm leaving it all to You."

At last.... Sweet Freedom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

If we are children...

In my last post to you, I intimated that Matthew 18 calls us "to be converted and to become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven." This was not, however, my original inspiration for my next post. The first message that came to my heart was Mark 10 which states: "Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these."

This verse came to my heart after speaking to one after another after another "hurt child," we'll call them - believers who want to seek God's call in their life, but who have felt hindered, held back or turned away by the church and other Christians. Legalistic views, egos and snobbery have made these believers feel that "If that's what being a Christian is all about, then I don't want any part of it."

It was in the search for this verse in Mark 10 - I knew it by rote, I just couldn't remember where it was - that I discovered the verse in Matthew 18. This verse spoke to me. God spoke to me that this verse explained the transformation that I had just undergone. Sure, I still have adult responsibilities, but I am reliving my childhood in the Trust, Obedience, Joy and Rest in my Father in Heaven. I have never been this happy in all my life. God showed me that I was a child again - His child, and furthermore we are all called to become "as children." It was then that it was revealed to me that if we are children, or supposed to be children, then the verse, "Let the children come to me... " does not pertain solely to those under the age of 18. Jesus was speaking of all of us - especially those "beginner Christians" - those who know only that they believe in Jesus, but have yet to learn more. We are not to hinder them, and yet we do it all the time.

Just as my last post celebrated childhood or being a child of God, we all know that there is a negative side to being a child. This shows us the difference between being child-like, and being "childish." We're all quite good at being childish. Often words that describe children include: immature, selfish, egocentric and spoiled. Children often lack tact. Their feelings are easily hurt. They lack understanding. Sometimes, they are downright mean. Certainly we as grown-ups don't act like that.

These "children" that I was given the opportunity to share my faith with are in their 30's, 40's and 50's. They are all hurt. You can hear it in their voices. You can see it in their eyes. As much as I try to minister to their spirits and remind them that sometimes Satan uses church people and Christians to tear apart God's kingdom from the inside out, they reiterate their pain.

Who are we hindering? How are we hindering them? How are we hindering ourselves?

In recent weeks, my spirit has grieved the pain of this world - children in Africa and the epidemic of AIDS; devastation in New Orleans and the families still uprooted and without homes; the ever-swept-under-the-rug REALITY of Racism in our country; inner-city youth whose hope lies in living day to day - boys knowing that they'll end up in jail by the age of 18, girls who will get pregnant because that will give them someone who will love them, or so they think. Even the little honey bees that are dying off from some unknown force which is bound to have an impact on our agriculture have left me wondering, "God what will you have me do?" But when a friend, co-worker or acquaintance comes to me and says, "I can see that you know God, because I can see His spirit in you. I wish I could know God, but I can't find a church where I feel welcome," I have to wonder, "What are we doing wrong?"

I have learned in recent weeks that we, as humans, are easily offended. I have learned that I, unknowingly, easily offend. The other Saturday I was standing in line at McDonald's, trying to keep my four kids in order, and I don't know what happened. I must have "butted" in line, or something. Next thing you know, I'm there eating with my kids and some other customer calls the manager and they're pointing at me and talking about me, obviously disgruntled. A couple days later, Derek and I are driving south on Route 15 and the car in front of us slows down abruptly. Derek quickly moves into the passing lane. For some reason, the driver gave us a lovely hand gesture out the window- and it wasn't the "Hi Sign" from the Little Rascals, I can assure you.

We are called to act like children, but we act childishly. Someone in church unknowingly offends us. Weeks later we find out there's a Bible Study on a subject that we really want to explore. We find out who's leading it and say to ourselves, "I'm not joining any class that she's involved with," and we hinder ourselves. A Sunday School teacher says something to our child that we don't agree with. What is our reaction? "My family will go to the 11 o'clock service. My kid won't go to Sunday School if that person is the teacher." If this spirit of bigotry and hatred plagues us among fellow believers, then how are we to reach out to the world or receive new believers when they make our lives easy and just show up?

My study brought me back to Matthew 18. Matthew 18 continues on to say:
"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."

Now I don't know about you, but I would hate to have to take this scripture literally. We'd be a bunch of hobbling, handless, blind fools, now wouldn't we?

Maybe - let's give ourselves the benefit of the doubt - we have never meant to offend anyone. We see a new face and of course we run right over to them and give them a hug and a "Praise God that He brought you here today." We make everyone feel welcome and warm and fuzzy. Maybe it is because the newcomers are not spiritually mature that they are so easily offended - maybe. But we are called to be greater than that. We have a huge responsibility on our hands - those souls that need us most. We need to reach out and lift up that very world that we refuse to be a part of, but yet we were called to heal. We need to find those lost sheep and bring them back to the fold.

The other Sunday, Pastor Bond mentioned this blog during one of his sermons. I was overjoyed to hear that. I got the tape and listened to it and again was overjoyed how my blog related to his sermon. One point that he made was that we are not to come to church to get all spiritually built up just so we feel good for the rest of the week. We are supposed to take what we get at church and put it to use - minister to the world. I thought it hilarious that when he mentioned the name of my blog - The Naked Turtle - he said "Don't ask. I don't know where she came up with that, you'll have to ask her."

Well, I'll tell you.

I started this blog one year and 8 days ago - on April 30, 2006. You'll see from my first post, I didn't really know what I was doing when I started it, but God knew what He was going to do with it. All I knew is that I wanted to start doing devotions and reading the Bible more. I wanted to practice writing, because I truly forgot that I could write. I was planning to go to Seminary in August of 2006 to become a Pastor, but God revealed some other things I still needed to take care of, and so in the interim, I thought, "I'll start doing my devotions and write about the discoveries in this blog as mini-sermons that maybe I'll build on later when I begin preaching." I started e-mailing them to you so that someone would hold me accountable. If I stopped, I needed someone out there to say, "Hey, what happened to your blog?"

My favorite animal is the turtle - long story of how my godmother's children both had an animal to collect and needed me to have one, too. Through Native American folklore and a lot of other treasures I've collected since infancy, I settled on the turtle as my favorite animal. Symbolically and across cultures, the Turtle is a variety of things. To me, she symbolizes the need to continuously stick my neck out and take risks. The only way for me to grow is to strive for "nakedness" before God and before my brothers and sisters in Christ. It is my hope that by sharing what I am going through, I will somehow encourage you. I also want to be "pure and blameless in His sight."

But here's another interesting thing: Many people think that a turtle can come out of its shell. This is wrong, no matter how many Bugs Bunny Cartoons depict otherwise. The turtle's shell is its spine. A turtle without a shell is a Dead Turtle. But this turtle - me - is called to be a Naked Turtle, because with God, all things are possible. And I am stepping out of my shy comfort zone where I soak up all the church and all the messages and come back next Sunday, and I am finding a way to minister to those who are hurting, whether it is through this blog or standing in the middle of Wal-Mart.

There are people hurting all over this world, even sitting in the pew next to you. We need to shrug off that attitude of, "Look at me, what a great Christian I am" and reach out to those who are searching. When we see people leave the church or refuse the church, we need to call them up and say, "Hey, can I pray for you?" It isn't comfortable. But neither was death on a cross.

Let the children come to Him today. Do not hinder them, whether they are 8 or 98. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

START Acting Like a Child

If you ask a child, "What color is the sky," they'll tell you plainly, "blue." If you ask a child, "How do you know the sky is blue," they'll typically answer, "My Mommy told me," or, "My teacher told me." Children tend to have blind faith. They believe what they are told. Children, for the most part, do not worry about tomorrow. They simply rest in being a child. They can play all day. They know there will be meals. They know that Mom or Dad will clean them up and tuck them in at night.

I don't know about you, but I've spent my life trying to grow up - sometimes even being told to grow up. I'll admit I used to suffer from a Peter Pan complex. I never wanted to grow up, or old, I just wanted to rest in being me.

But then, something changed. Suddenly, at the tender age of 17, I had a dorm room, and then my own apartment in college. I had to decide when to eat, when to sleep, when to study, when to work, and when to play. I had to clean up after myself. I had to take care of my own bills, purchases, and groceries. Next thing you know, I'm out of college, having graduated, and I again, got an apartment, eventually a husband, and soon after that, my first child. And of course, with all of these milestones into adulthood came more bills and responsibility. I was officially an adult. Ouch.

When you officially become an adult, it is hard not to worry. There was a time in my life when I got down to my last 10 dollars five days before my next paycheck. I would go buy a carton of eggs, a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread and live on french toast for the week. If I got tired of french toast, I could just eat eggs and toast, or a fried egg sandwich. You can do a lot with eggs, milk and bread. That explains why a central Pennsylvania snow storm sends people flocking to Weis Markets for these three items. All this time I thought I had missed the invitation to the French Toast Festival celebrated every day it snows.

But now that I have children, living on three staples for a week doesn't quite work. I have to provide. I have to be the grown-up.

There is a time in childhood around the age of three when suddenly our children start testing their independence. It is the "I-can-do-it-myself" stage. We, as parents, hold our breath as we watch our children try to brush their hair by themselves, dress themselves backwards by themselves, and Zoe's latest - pouring a drink by herself. We stand back and watch knowing this is not going to end well. But yet, how will our children learn if we don't grant them some independence?

My question to you this morning is what are you struggling to do "all by yourself" while God sits back knowing that this will not end well? Now I'll give you the answer to your struggle: Stop trying to do it "all by yourself." Stop trying to be the adult - the "man of the house," or "the liberated woman." It is time to be a child again - a child of God.

The Bible says in Matthew 18 - "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Now there are many things in the Bible that once rang in my ears as poetry, rather than to be taken literally. But something has happened since March 11th - the day I was baptized. This particular verse, among many that I have been studying, has taken on new meaning. I have been "converted." Now "how to become as a little child so that I may enter the kingdom of heaven" has become my internal discourse, if you will. Yes, I admit I talk to myself - A LOT. I ask myself questions and I answer myself. To answer this question, let's again, examine children.

First, children trust. As I said before, children will believe anything you tell them. One night, Zoe didn't want to go to my grandmother's overnight and I had to work. She told me she wanted to stay home with Shadow, our dog. I said, "Oh honey, you can't stay home with Shadow. Daddy and I will get into trouble and we'll go to jail." What not to say to a two year-old. Next thing you know, Zoe was telling the whole family, "My Mommy and Daddy are going to jail."

Children trust. Unfortunately, it is why they are so easily victimized. They often cannot discern what is right or wrong for them. But when they know someone loves them, they trust them. The song says, "Jesus Loves Me." Why do we find it so hard to trust Him?

The Bible says in Psalms 18: "The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God my strength, in whom I will TRUST: my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my hightower. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies." Last time I checked, I was not a rock or a fortress. I cannot protect myself from anything. I cannot deliver myself from anything. I am not strong. How can I trust myself to save me from anything? I cannot do it "by myself." My only hope is to Trust in the Lord.

Secondly, children learn to obey. Now I know some of you are waiting for that to happen. But most of you have seen the process. As soon as an infant can pull themselves to stand and start reaching for things, you firmly, with a pointed finger and raised eyebrows, say "no-no." You turn your head and you see out of your peripheral vision, the little hand reaching for the forbidden object. You catch them in the act and again say, "I said, No-no." This game goes on a few more times and maybe you have to tap the back of their hand so that they finally get the idea of what "No" means, but eventually they do. Suddenly the child is eight years old and you realize that they know the rules. They understand your expectations. Children learn to obey. As we all know, obedience brings forth rewards. There are times I'm at the store and I think to myself, "Ellen has been so good this week, I think I should do something special for her." God does this too. We have all been blessed tremendously by our loving Father.

1 Samuel 15 says:"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

We cannot deny when God is speaking to us. Often we try to fool ourselves. "That wasn't God's voice. He didn't just ask me to do that." But then things start going wrong, and we realize we've grieved our Lord. The only way to make it right is to repent and obey. We should want to obey. Just like the way in which our parents loved us and therefore demanded RESPECT - my dad's word for obedience - Jesus said, in John 14, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." If we love Him, we will obey.

When we learn to TRUST and OBEY, the third lesson we can learn from children comes easily - Find Joy. Children love to laugh. Their whole lives revolve around whether they are having fun or not. My eleven year-old Darianne is absolutely beside herself when Ellen isn't home. She mopes around the house - and her favorite two words are "I'm bored."

Have you ever tickled a child? A child will continue a tickling game for hours if you let them. Children love Joy. And when you learn to trust and you start to obey, suddenly, you're smiling all the time. The world might be looking at you like, "What is her problem?" People may even start asking you "Why are you so happy all the time?" Well, what a great opportunity to answer, "Jesus."

Psalms 5 says, "Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee."

Be Joyful. For the first time in a long time, you'll have a pep in your step. You'll find yourself laughing at traffic. Find joy and rest. Resting is like trusting - you basically throw all your worries to God and live full of joy in your obedience. It is like a chain reaction and when it happens to you, you'll find yourself giggling inside, like the first time you drove a car with no one sitting beside you.

Finally, go to Daddy for everything. Mommies can kiss it and make it better, but Daddies do so much more. Julian, my son, will drive me crazy with this. He can be home with me all day and not ask for anything. As soon as Derek walks in the door, Julian asks him, "Daddy, can you get me a drink," "Daddy, can we go play outside?" The questions continue with the repetition of a machine gun before Derek even has a chance to change out of his uniform.

Jesus went to His Daddy. In Mark 14, He cries out, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will." Abba means "Daddy." He is our Daddy, too.

Romans 8 tells us,"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Galatians 4 goes on to say, "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

As I was looking for more information on the word, "Abba," I came across an interesting website - It paints a biblical perspective to being a father. The website listed these qualities of our Father's Heart:

He is the Father who is faithful and never changes (Heb 13:5, Mal 3:16).
He is the Father that is the embodiment of love, who loves us at our worse (1 John 4:8, Rom 5:8).
He values us and carries a picture of us on His hands (Isa 43:16, 49:16).
He is the Father who will commune with us (Exod 25:22).
He knew us even before we were born (Jer 1:5).
He is the Father who is available day and night because He doesn't even sleep (Eph 2:18, Ps 122: 1).
He is so closely involved in our lives even our hairs are numbered (Matt 10:30).
He is the Father who provides our needs for provision and security (1 Tim 6:17, Ps. 91:14).
He also just blesses us with good gifts (Matt 7:11).
He is the Father who trains us in righteousness.
He disciplines for our own good because He loves us (Heb 12:7-12).

Today, I give you permission to start acting like a child. Trust and Obey. Find Joy, and Rest. Go to your Daddy for everything. You can't do it all by yourself. You're not supposed to do it all by yourself. It is when we completely abandon all to God that "a life hid with Christ in God" is revealed.

I found the scripture that sums up this entire message in Psalms 37:

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.
And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgement as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."

Stop acting your age and start acting your shoe size today and stand back and watch what God can do if you'll only be His child.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I could entitle this blog "Losing a Child," or "Wisdom from a Wisdom Tooth," or maybe "'Til the Walls Fall Down." Over the past few weeks, I have been on such a roller-coaster ride of Personal Circumstance vs. Spiritual Walk, my head has begun to spin with messages to relate to you. But here I am, overflowing with joy in my new found stride with the One True God who never left my side through the battle, who rode that roller-coaster with me, and urges me to write and write and write so that I may, perhaps, inspire you to stand your ground. When the storms are raging all around... Praise it down and stand your ground.

The lessons keep coming. I had missed church for three weeks straight due to sheer exhaustion from my new third shift job, but God and I kept talking. At its core, this has been a "drying time" since being re-baptized on March 11th. God is setting my path in new and bold ways as if to say, "Okay, Danielle, now you're listening. It is time to get the job done."

Maybe there have been simple coincidences, but I don't believe in mere coincidence. I believe God. These lessons are bombarding my life - signs popping up everywhere. For instance, a simple lesson I learned on March 29th and 30th is "if something doesn't belong in your life, extract it." I had a Wisdon tooth bring me to the brink of insanity through the pain I endured. No drugs would even touch the pain. When the Oral Surgeon told me he couldn't see me until May 16th, I thought I'd die. While I waited for his office to call me back, I just prayed and prayed. The call came to come right over. In a moment, the tooth and the pain were gone. I praised God all the way home.

Kristen, our beloved god-child, whom we rescued from a neglectful home, left the day Ellen and I got baptized - March 11th. She didn't want to live by our rules anymore, as simple as they were: "Be home when you say you'll be home and call if you can't be home when you say you'll be home." But she is eighteen and is at that point where she thinks she knows everything and will not admit that she's ever wrong. I have grieved this loss as if I had lost my own child.

In my grief, blessings revealed themselves. Suddenly I had more time with my own children. Suddenly, my family and my husband flocked to my side and figured out where I needed help and how they could give that help. The biggest lesson: The pain that God endured every time I strayed from Him became very real to me. I now knew the pain God felt every time I chose sin over what God wanted for my life. This lesson sealed the deal for me. I will never stray again. I will never inflict this pain on my Father in Heaven who has done more for me than I will ever be willing to disclose. Pain turned to Blessing. Hallelujah.

Another lesson showed itself when Derek and I added up all of our "Bills for Immediate Needs" - car repairs, inspections, registrations, and Zoe's surgery which we found out our insurance only covers through "reimbursement." I had gotten a new job and certainly this was going to help, but there was no way that the paychecks would come before the due dates. But of course, with God, there is always a way.

We had applied for a Holiday Loan in December through our Tax service and were denied on some technicality. At that time we were told how much we could expect on our tax refund, and it was barely enough to cover our car expenses. Knowing we had to file, we scheduled our appointment to get our taxes done. Through some miracle - and I do believe it was God's miracle - we walked out of the tax office with a refund that took care of our cars, Zoe's surgery and then some. The lesson, as if I needed a reminder, See What God Can Do. That same day we were called for an interview with a magazine for an article on our Theatre Company. That same day, Ellen, who if you'll remember from an earlier post had been exhibiting signs of Attention Deficit Disorder, came home with an "Improved" Report Card. God basically said, "What Debt?" "What Struggle?" "What ADD?" all in one breath. Yes, see what God can do.

With this new job I got at 2.50 more per hour than I was making as Donut Girl, Derek can finally quit his second job. The pay equals what I was making at my old job and Derek was making at his second job, combined. Praise, Praise and more Praise.

Also, at this job, I have already been approached by four different people who want to know about my Faith. They started calling me "Sunshine" because I'm always smiling. Can you believe it? Me - Danielle "Murphy, the Cynic" Scott is revered as "Sunshine"??? Again, see what God can do.

And finally, "the sign" that some would dismiss as mere coincidence, but I took as my literal "Message from God." While on my lunch hour from my job, which I usually take around 3 a.m., I walk into Sheetz for a cup of coffee where I intend to sit and do my Devotions. This particular day, however, I don't have a Devotional with me, so I'm not sure what scripture to study. Right in front of me are these little plaques, if you will, with nice sayings on them. And there before me stands the one which brings the tears to my eyes: "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6

This is the prophecy Pastor Bond spoke over Derek and I last year at about this time. In all of my turmoil, instead of wailing "Woe is Me," I have finally come to a place where I am looking to God for the lesson - acknowledging His power in my circumstance. In all of my pain, I have learned to praise. Now, please don't get me wrong. I am not writing this to say "look at me, what a good Christian I've become." Absolutely not. I am merely saying, again, "See what God can do." I KNOW He will do for you what He's done for me when you learn to seek His wisdom when the storms are raging. When you learn to seek Him and praise Him because you know not what else to do, and when you acknowledge that everything you're going through is Because God PERIOD, He shall direct thy paths.

After this revelation, Senator Madigan's office called the next morning. They want to hear more about my "Center for the Arts."


God is so good. All the time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Song of Deliverance

Then Peter began to say unto Him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee... . Mark 10:28

For weeks I have been clinging to the "No Limits" CD by Martha Munizzi. I have a tendency to find solace in music when I'm going through a major transformation. This CD beats Destiny's Child's song "Survivor," any day. It is on my computer. It is in my car. It is even downloaded onto my daughter Ellen's MP3 player which I take to work and listen to, almost daily.

One song that stirs my soul is called "Renew Me." The lyrics repeat:
"Renew me. Remake me.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God.
Restore me. Transform me.
Create in me a clean heart, oh God.
Change my heart oh Lord. I'm broken before you now.
Take me as I am. Receive the sacrifice."

Through a haunting repetition of "Change me. Change me. Change me." and the plea: "Don't cast me away from your presence, renew a right spirit within me. For my heart is broken before you, I bow down before you and worship." As this CD was recorded from a live concert, Martha sings, "Let this be your prayer tonight - that God would open up your heart, open up your mind, open up your spirit ears." This has been my prayer daily for weeks now. Through a series of several events, this change has come.

Since the last post I had been trying to "take a back seat" to my self. I hid in the pews in the rear of the church. I would not go up to sing with the choir. One Sunday I actually stayed in the nursery all three services. I was feeling the need to rearrange my worship. I had to stop standing outside of myself. I had to give full glory to God. So I grasped humility and held it tight like a blanket. I refused to let my self get in the way of my worship.

One Sunday I sort of got pushed out of my pew and the only place left to sit was in the very front. It was that Sunday, after singing, "I'm gonna fly like an eagle high" that Brother Brian spoke about being the eagle soaring high above the earth so he can look down and see his miracle. Brother Eugene then spoke on how we limit God. We say we have faith but we doubt in the same breath and doubt is the opposite of faith. I can't remember all the details now, but I do remember feeling that it was time to believe that God was going to move in a mighty way if I would just believe with no holding back. I went up for prayer and next thing you know I found myself flat on my back, praising in tongue and laughing hysterically. It was as if I had been released, delivered from my own fear and sense of self. It is also important to note that although I had begun speaking in tongues about a year ago, in recent months I had stopped. Somewhere along the line I began to doubt that this language was truly from the Holy Spirit. How much harder I laughed when this language reappeared without any conscious effort. I laughed until I cried and then laughed some more.

Week 2 - Brother Tim spoke further about how we limit God. He preached on believing in miracles - Because God PERIOD. Unknowingly, he used the example of your child being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. He went on to say how you're preparing to take your child to a pediatrician for diagnosis and then psychologists and psychiatrists and who knows what kind of medication will be prescribed when you should be going to the one True Doctor who is the Only One who can cure. I burst into tears and I mean BURST. Many of you do not know this, but I have been struggling with Ellen all year. She is highly gifted, but yet the problems kept rising up. Unfinished homework. No interest in school. Couldn't write a short essay. Reads at a sixth grade level and yet hates to read. So there we were - ready to get her offically diagnosed even though she fit every description in the DSM-IV, when Brother Tim reminded me of the One True Doctor we need. My tears were of repentance for underestimating God's power. For my ignorance. The sermon moved on. Next thing you know, everyone is praying in the spirit to strengthen our faith and the faith of others. I was sincerely resting at the feet of Jesus, when Brother Brian grabs my head and down I go. This time delivered from cigarettes.

During the weeks in between, my Theatre Company had been rehearsing our play, "My Soul Looked Back and Wondered." We performed it on March 1 to an audience of about 30. I was a bit underwhelmed with the response to our efforts and immediately began asking God what needed to change in order that this Theatre Company might become a true Ministry. He revealed to me drastic change. The Board would have to be limited to Christians. In light of this, Cast parties could no longer have alcohol present. I was to cut off all ties with those who are not Christians around me so that I would not be pulled down to a level below what is pleasing to God. All the while I just kept praying to God, "I just want to be Right before you." We reorganized our Theatre Company and our first meeting with a Board made up of God-led, Spirit-led people on Saturday. Deliverance from the bondage of sin.

Months ago Ellen came to me asking to be baptized. I immediately contacted Pastor Bond to see if this was possible. He replied that the next time he offered an invitation to Baptism, Ellen was welcome to come up. The next time that we were in service and Baptism was offered I sougth out Ellen and asked her if she were ready to be baptized to which she replied, "I'm too scared." I took a moment to pray and ask God for the words and the wisdom that would take away her fear. I heard God say, "Be baptized with her." I said to myself, "I was already baptized. God didn't really say that. I don't feel like getting wet today."

The rest of the day, my spirit grieved. I had grieved God and missed the opportunity to have my child take one of the most important steps in her faith. That evening Ellen and I had a talk. I promised her that the next time an invitation to Baptism was extended, I would be baptized with her so she wouldn't have to be afraid.

On Sunday, March 11th, Ellen and I were baptized together. The joy that has come over me has been incredible. Ellen, however, is the true miracle. The change in her is visible. She is focused. She is serene. She no longer appears to be "bouncing off the walls." Ellen has been delivered.

Another song on the "No Limits" CD - "Great Exchange," remained a mystery to me. I could not make out the words. On Sunday as I was driving home, it suddenly dawned on me what the song was saying:

"My fear He is taking,
replacing with dancing
and singing a Song of Deliverance."

My heart rejoiced. My Spirit laughed uncontrollably. Yes, this is my Song of Deliverance.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Still Struggling

I see myself as a scolded child writing on the chalkboard over and over again:

It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me. It is not about me.

God's the Teacher. I'm the student. I haven't learned my lesson.

While I'm rolling out dough, icing donuts, mopping the floor, dealing with my co-worker who drives me crazy, some days I'm reduced to tears. I think to myself, "Oh how the mighty have fallen." And God's voice immediately breaks into my conscience, saying, "You were never mighty." And I repent and pray, "You're right Lord, I was never mighty, for only You are mighty." And I find a way to continue on, albeit with a heavy heart.

I am exhausted beyond belief. My body aches in ways it has never ached before. My life is completely upside-down. My house looks like a bomb went off. My kids are desperate for my attention. Bigger problems are emerging everywhere, and I have not the energy to face them head on. And then today, my beloved "Devotional Email" pops into my Inbox.

Philippians 2:17
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.

From "My Utmost for His Highest:"
"Are you willing to be offered for the work of the faithful - to pour out your life blood as a libation on the sacrifice of the faith of others? Or do you say - "I am not going to be offered up just yet, I do not want God to choose my work. I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice; I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying, 'Well done.'

It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people's feet. Suppose God wants to teach you to say, "I know how to be abased" - are you ready to be offered up like that? Are you ready to be not so much as a drop in a bucket - to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served? Are you willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister? Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity."

Can you say: "Wow?"

In context, Phillippians 2:17 is found at the end of verses 14-16, which are equally eye-opening:
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Ouch. I have been grumbling to God. I have been disputing with God. I have certainly been forgetting the fact that I am a "light in the world." Well, it's not that I've forgotten. It's just hard to "be a light" at 3 am. Oops, there I go complaining again.

In my mind's eye, I have always been the one who is able to be humble, but also the one who is "a star." I can sit in my pew and act like I don't want anyone's eyes on me, but I stand outside of myself during worship, wondering who's watching me. I want to be on the Praise Team. I want to sing a solo in the choir. I want to preach. When I go to see a play, I envision myself in that role, of course doing a better job. When I watch "American Idol," I always dream of auditioning myself, and of course I make it. I feel I was born an entertainer - someone who is always on the stage, at the front of the crowd - all eyes on me. God is reckoning with this piece of my "self." If I cannot be last, I will never be first.

Everything we do, I said EVERYTHING WE DO, must be done to bring HIM glory. There is no piece of us that gets the credit. Sure, it feels good to be patted on the back. Sure, it makes us all warm and fuzzy to get recognition. It is what drives our human sides and those who do not know Christ to keep moving on. But for us, it must be more that drives us ever forward.

Yesterday's "Devotional Email" sums it up.

1 Corinthians 4:9-13
We are made as the filth of the world.

"My Utmost for His Highest" states:
"These words are not an exaggeration. The reason they are not true of us who call ourselves ministers of the gospel is not that Paul forgot the exact truth in using them, but that we have too many discreet affinities to allow ourselves to be made refuse. "Filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" is not an evidence of sanctification, but of being "separated unto the gospel."

"Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you," says Peter. If we do think it strange concerning the things we meet with, it is because we are craven-hearted. We have discreet affinities that keep us out of the mire - I won't stoop, I won't bend. You do not need to, you can be saved by the skin of your teeth if you like; you can refuse to let God count you as one separated unto the gospel. Or you may say - "I do not care if I am treated as the offscouring of the earth as long as the Gospel is proclaimed." A servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God. When a merely moral man or woman comes in contact with baseness and immorality and treachery, the recoil is so desperately offensive to human goodness that the heart shuts up in despair. The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love. Paul did not say that God separated him to show what a wonderful man He could make of him, but "to reveal His Son in me."

I have often said when times of trouble surrounded me that "To be forged into a man or woman of God, you have to be in the fire." I also love the email that circulates about the Silver Smith who, when asked, "How do you know when the silver is finished being fired," the Silver Smith replies, "When I can see my reflection." It is revealed the Silver Smith is God, and we are the silver being refined. He is firing us until we, indeed, reveal His reflection in us.

I know no other way to end today's blog than to ask for your prayers during this time. I know that God is my Strength. I need to rest in my weakness and let Him knock my "old self" out with one powerful punch. I need to rejoice in the fact that I have a job. I need to be reminded to let my light shine at that job, because there are certainly some coworkers of mine who need Jesus.

I covet your prayers at this time for my life. May God lay waste to these human desires. May only His Son be revealed in me.

Philippians 1:3,

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Time to Make the Donuts

Isaiah 6
1 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.

5 Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

9 He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.' 10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed." 11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, 12 "The LORD has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump."

From "My Utmost for His Highest:"
God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying,"Who will go for us?" The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone. Whether or not I hear God's call depends upon the state of my ears; and what I hear depends upon my disposition. "Many are called but few are chosen," that is, few prove themselves the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small voice questioning all the time, "Who will go for us?" It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, "Now, you go." God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, "Here am I, send me."

Get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings. When our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside. The quiet passionate insistence of His "Follow Me" was spoken to men with every power wide awake. If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say, "Here am I; send me."

This scripture and what "My Utmost for His Highest" has to say about it speaks to me on many different levels. For me, there is a call to change and not in the ever-so-obvious "Here am I, send me" passage.

It has been nearly a month since I have shared my thoughts with you through this blog. It has been nearly that long since I have immersed myself in true devotion with God - except for in church. In this month I have experienced incredible change. This change has been wondrous and exciting; humbling and provoking. But this morning God reminded me of something. I have not been communicating with Him in devotional time and I have not been sharing His blessings to me with you. A sense of stagnancy and confusion has been the result. I found myself in an attitude of repentance this morning realizing once again as I continue to "expect the blessings to flow" God expects something of me first. Ouch. It was then that this passage in Isaiah spoke to my spirit and I knew what I had to do.

When I read the first few verses in Isaiah 6, my spirit is reminded that I, like Isaiah, have seen God. No, I have not seen His face surrounded by Seraphim, but I have seen His power working in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have experienced His love. I have felt His arms around me rocking me to sleep like an infant in her Father's arms. Yes, I KNOW my God is REAL.

Verse 5 demonstrates to me the ever-so-overwhelmed feeling that we experience as Christians. "God, I know You, but look at me, I'm a lowly person surrounded by lowly people who are backbiting and evil and I'm only one person in a nation of ugliness and a world of war and, and, and...." - you fill in the blank. How many times do we feel overwhelmed by the evil of this world and wonder how God could possibly expect "little ole me" to make a difference?

And then... verse 6. Just as Isaiah's lips were touched with that burning coal and his sins were forgiven and his iniquities were taken away, I too have been forgiven. God has made my sins as far as the East is from the West. With this sense of "newness," I find myself calling out... "Here am I, send me."

But it isn't that easy, is it? Sure, we feel excited to serve God at times, but then our "selves" get in the way. In our every day life, our dispositions block the way of God. We stop up our own ears from hearing God's call to us. We want to do what God wants us to do, but we also want to do what WE want to do. And sometimes the places that He puts on our hearts to "go" and the things that He gives us to "do" are "below" us. And we chuckle inside and say to God, "Surely, You don't mean me Lord." This brings me to the title of this blog today.

God has been reckoning with my spirit of Entitlement. For years now, I have been building my resume. I have been making connections, creating networks, becoming one of the "Who's Who" of Lewisburg - in my own mind. I have a college degree, which, may I add, I completed in 3 1/2 years and managed to make the Dean's List. I have worked at places of prestige. I have rubbed elbows with Congressmen.

God has given me a Vision to create a Center for the Arts, but in the meantime, my family needed cashflow now. I have to get my husband to stop working two jobs before his heart condition kills him. And although God was really blessing us and continues to do so, I knew it was time for me to return to work. So I submitted resumes EVERYWHERE. I tend to be a Jane-of-all-trades and have the experience to back it up, so I have one resume for Development jobs, one resume for University work, one resume for secretarial needs, one resume for writing. But in the end, after nearly a year of putting out my resumes and always getting the same response, "Well you were one of our final candidates, but we went with this person," God put it on my heart that I needed to learn to be a servant.

I needed to knock down this sense of entitlement and accept what He gives me.
I needed to praise Him for doing so.
I needed to see that the Center for the Arts was about HIM, not me - His Glory, not mine.
I needed to get a job - not a profession - a job.

Monday, January 8, 2007, I started my job as a Donut Fryer in the Bakery at Weis Markets in Lewisburg. I begin work at 3 AM. Yes, I said 3 AM. I have never worked so hard at one job in all of my life. From the moment you get on the floor, you're flying. The fresh donuts need to be in the case by 7 am and then you start your dough and roll out the donuts for the next day. It is backbreaking. It is exhausting. It is mind-boggling. But I praise God that He has given me this opportunity to help my family. I thank God that there might be someone in that Bakery that needs to see my light shine. I praise God that in a couple of months time, Derek WILL be able to quit his second job. I praise God that He has reminded me that I am owed NOTHING because HIS GRACE is sufficient for me.

And then verse 13 of Isaiah, Chapter 6 blazons itself on my heart:
13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump."

Here am I, Lord. Send me. Thank you for "felling" my "self" and my sense of entitlement. May this stump that remains be used as a holy seed for your Glory. Amen.