Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fear Factor

Remember that show that was popular in the early 2000’s called “Fear Factor?” (click on the link to refresh your memory)  It had contestants facing off with fearful situations ending up with one winner and the host always saying, “Fear is not a factor for you.” Whether it was eating live larva or getting into a box full of snakes, they overcame their fears and they were able to mentally push aside what they saw as an object of fear and see beyond that fear.

In Matthew 14:22-36 (NLT), we see the same thing happening.  This is the passage of the Bible where Jesus walks on water and the disciples witnessed it all. In fact in verse 26 it says, “When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!””  What I want to point out here is that ALL of the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water. Yet Peter was the only one who called out to Him (verse 28). As you know, the rest of the story is focused on Peter walking out onto the water towards Jesus while the rest of the disciples were frozen with fear on the boat. Then Peter’s fear gets the best of him and he begins to sink.  Jesus then reaches out and grabs Peter and they both climb back into the boat.

So why was Peter the only one to experience this?

1)   They all had the opportunity to speak to Jesus –but they were all afraid, except Peter
2)   They all had the opportunity to walk on water to Jesus; Jesus would have invited any of them –but they were all afraid, except Peter who stepped out in faith
3)   Peter was the only one who was fearless enough to even speak, to what they thought, was a ghost
4)   Peter received Jesus’ words that were directed at all of the disciples, in verse 27, “Take courage.”

What was the result of Peter’s courage?
1)   Peter experienced an overcoming of fear that led to the impossible becoming possible
2)   He saw the reality of the kingdom of God manifest into the reality of our space and time
3)   What was once never done before, Peter was experiencing

The disciples in that boat were living in fear at that moment.  In fact, if this group of men were on the show “Fear Factor”, then Peter would have been the winner with the host declaring, “Fear is not a factor for you”. When we live in fear, it prevents us from experiencing Jesus and we can’t walk where Jesus has walked or go where Jesus has gone or do what Jesus has done.  We become frozen much like the disciples in the boat that night.


We can choose to either take fear or to take courage.  What are you going to take in the daily decisions in your life?  Are you going to step out of the boat, in faith, when Jesus calls out to you?  Will God declare over you, “Fear is not a factor for you?”

What area in your life have you stepped out of the boat, in faith, toward the call of God?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "Tell Me About Yourself" Blog Award

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Reveal seven things about yourself.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers.  Leave a comment on each blog, telling them that you've nominated them for this award.

Thank you to Gwen from Gwendolyn Gage ~ Serving Through Words for nominating my blog for this award! (and I might add, what a fun way to promote each other!)  Gwendolyn is a Christian writer who is bold in her faith and one of the most encouraging bloggers to comment on my blog site.  (Check out her site at the link at the start of this paragraph!)

Seven Things About Me:
1. I love to study the Word
2. I have been married for 18 years
3. I have two girls who love Jesus
4. I have a crazy dog who looks cute and fluffy, but wants to bite EVERYONE except her family
5. I can't stand green beans and meatloaf
6. The name Raven-Haired Girl came from a comment a friend made a few years ago.  -I got pooped on by crows twice within a few months!!  Once at the zoo on a field trip and once coming out of church!!  My friend said that the crows must love my raven-hair and somehow take it as a compliment! LOL! So that's where the blog name came from!
7. I dream about moving to a sunnier state (California to be exact)...just waiting on the Lord's timing.

My List of Award-Worthy Bloggers (in no particular order):
 The Gypsy Mama
Christian Women Writers
Faithful Bloggers
Internet Cafe Devotions
Kindred Spirit Mommy
Messenger International
My Destiny Sharing Hope
Gwendolyn Gage ~ Serving Th...
Rejoicing Our Hearts
Linda Clare's Writer's Tips
mrs. mommy aaby
She's Bookin'
~Sorry, but all I can recommend is 13 blogs! Oh well, if you are able to list 15 then go for it! ;)

If you are one of the 13 blogs I nominated and would like to pass it on, copy the blog award to a post, reveal 7 things about yourself, and pass this award on to 15 other bloggers of your choice.  Congrats!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Heart Song: The Day I Almost Died, Full of Miracles

October 30th 1995 was the worst day of my life; the day I almost died. 

I worked for a copier sales company and I was a sales person there.  I was done with any work I had left to do, and was just passing time in the office with two of my co-workers who were also friends.  One of the guys in the office had a proposal to bring out to Eatonville, but for reasons I can’t remember, asked if anyone in the office wanted to drop it off for him.  Our office was in downtown Tacoma so that would mean about an hour drive out and an hour drive back.  Since I was done, and being the spontaneous person that I am, jumped at the chance to get out of the office.  It was a perfect fall day, blue skies, sunshine, fall leaves changing color and a crisp feeling in the air.  So I asked one of my friends if she would like to ride along.  After thinking about it, she said no.  So I headed out by myself.

I dropped off the proposal and was heading out of Eatonville when I remembered seeing a sign that pointed back to Tacoma a different way than the way I had gone.  It was Eatonville Cutoff Road, so feeling adventurous I took the turn hoping to arrive back at the office sooner.

I had my new Jars of Clay cd playing in the cd player (that’s a Christian band) singing along, worshipping God for such a beautiful day.  I remember passing by beautiful farmland and from the top of a little hill, seeing a stop sign up ahead.  I thought, “I wonder if I am supposed to continue on this road or do I make a turn somewhere?”

It's hard to see, but the stop sign is just up ahead
That was my last thought, my last memory of the intersection. 
The next thing I hear is a woman’s voice asking me questions.  I felt heavy and my eyes were closed, I thought I was dreaming asleep in my bed.  I felt my back ache horribly and I wanted to sit up, but because of the heaviness, I couldn’t.

Then my next memory is of an ER room, people all around me, asking me strange questions, which I couldn’t figure out why.  After that, I hear a helicopter, and I get excited (even though I am strapped down to a gurney with a neck brace on) because I have never ridden in a helicopter and always wanted to.  I tried to sit up while riding on the helicopter, but I couldn’t, I tried to stay awake, but the heaviness took over.

I arrived at Harborview in Seattle and found myself in another ER room.  By this time, family and friends were coming in, but I couldn’t piece together what was happening.  I could only live in the moment.  So at this point, I had no idea why the man sitting next to me was pulling glass out of the left half of my face and ear, or why I found myself alone in an CT-scan room, or why I was waking up the next day in a hospital bed with a nurse dressed up with Halloween earrings and scrubs.

I had broken my pelvis in six places, had glass embedded in the left half of my face, ear and some in my hand, and major bruising.  I had been T-Boned on the drivers side by a recycling truck going 40 mph.  The force of the impact pushed my lower half of my body through the center console of the car and into the passenger seat.  My upper body twisted and fell over into the passenger seat forcing my legs to my left to be crushed under the driver’s side door. 

Here’s where the miracle’s come in:

My friend, who I had asked to come along, who was pregnant with twins, would have also been in that accident if she had decided differently.

The woman’s voice I heard was a nurse, who was on her way home from work.  I found out later that she has an agreement with herself to never stop at car accidents.  This time, she just felt something inside her that told her to make an exception this time.  So she did.  No other medical persons were there yet.  She was the first, and she was the one keeping me conscious and calm through the first part of my nightmare.

There was a volunteer fire department that was only a half a mile down the road.  When the men got there, they couldn’t pull me out of the car because of the damage, so they had to use the Jaws of Life.  When they used those massive Jaws to cut the top of the car off, they broke apart on the last cut.  They were able to pull me out.
I later found out from a medic who arrived on the scene, that when they pulled me out, my heart rate dropped so low that they thought they had lost me.

I also found out later that my seatbelt had broken at the impact or just before???  Who knows, but if my seatbelt had done it’s job and held me in place, I would have been crushed by the steering wheel unable to fall into the passenger seat.

The doctors originally thought that I had internal bleeding, crushed ankles, broken spleen and a broken pelvis.  I only had the broken pelvis.  The doctors were amazed.  They were also surprised to find that the bone that I had broken into six places hadn’t shifted during the accident.  Every break was perfectly lined up in my pelvis.  I didn’t need surgery because of that alignment, so I was able to let it heal on my own.

Two months later, after physical therapy, a wheelchair, a walker and a cane, I had retrained my body to walk again.  Three years after that, I was completely healed by God of all pain…but that’s another Heart Song……

October 30th 1995 was the day I almost died and the day God saved me from death.
Has there been a time in your life where you’ve seen the hand of God?  Unexplainable times where you might have died, but God saved you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good Grief?

 Psalm 31:9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress;
   my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
   my soul and body with grief. (NIV)

I grew up watching Charlie Brown specials on TV (especially around the holidays).  One of Charlie Brown’s favorite sayings was, “Good grief.”  When is grief ever good?  Here is a chapter from my book, soon to be published, “Path of the Blessing.”  It is a short story of how the paths, or choices of other’s around us effect us and can cause us to grieve.

Charlie Brown by Charles Schultz
 At the end of Genesis chapter 26, there is a side note to Esau’s situation.  Remember Esau?  He is one of Isaac’s twins, and Isaac’s favorite.  He is the one that has been prophesied that he will serve his younger brother.

   He married two women and in verse 35, it says that they were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.  Yikes!  Two daughter in-laws that were a source of grief!  How terrible for Isaac and Rebekah.

   Maybe you can relate in some way?  I know I can.  Whether it is a daughter in-law, or any other relative, when someone marries into the family, and they have no regard for God and no desire to know him, it will cause you to grieve.  Either you are grieving for the one who married that person, or grieving for the person’s soul to enter into relationship with the Lord.  Grief is defined as deep sorrow or annoyance.  Honestly, there are times when I’ve felt both emotions over someone who refuses to know the Lord.  –And it’s especially hard when it’s someone who’s married a relative that you love.

   Esau had married two women that were Hittite’s.  They worshipped other gods rather than the One True God. This is an act of disobedience to what the Lord had commanded.  Esau chose to walk another path, a path he thought was best for him.

This situation could also fall into the category of friendships.  Maybe you’ve been childhood friends and now you find your friend has chosen a path to walk that is opposed to yours.  Or maybe it’s a newer friendship, where it seems like you have everything in common. Then you realize your friendship wasn’t what it seemed.  Finding that you are heading down one path and that friend is choosing to head down another, you are deeply grieved.  Many times what can divide us as friends is where the Lord is leading us individually.  Your close friend may want to walk down the same path with you, but only one of you can walk this path and your friend must wait.  This may cause hurt and misunderstanding resulting in detours along their path.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, where friendships can overcome these differences is on a path filled with grace, love and support for the other person.  Each one must choose.

   Whether you are in a family or friendship, other people’s decisions to follow a certain path can affect you.

   How about marriages?  In the past ten years, I have known about seven couples that have gone through divorce or are on the verge of divorce.  One spouse chooses to walk a path of infidelity, another spouse choses to walk a path of pornography another choses to walk a path of divorce and another choses to walk a path of drugs. Others chose to walk a path devoted to serving a god called “work” and another chose a path of verbal abuse.  But what can we do about this?  What of the other person in the marriage?  Yes, sometimes we do grieve when we are finding ourselves on a path disintegrating before us.  A path that was made through marriage vows you suddenly find is no longer a secure path.  That is when God is giving you a chance to choose, are you going to choose to start anew on your path of blessing beginning with forgiveness or are you going to continue on your own path filled with bitterness and resentment void of blessing?
   Isaac, Esau’s father, was on his path of blessing, but his son’s choices, to walk another path, caused Isaac grief.  We can’t control the path that others around us will choose to walk.  We can try to show them the way to the path of blessing, but in the end, it is their choice.  Sometimes that choice will hurt us, especially when it is someone we deeply care for.  When we are on our path of blessing, it is not always a path free of sorrow or grief.  Not everyone will choose to walk the same path we choose.

Have you experienced sadness or hurt over a relationship?  When you think about that relationship does it still hurt today?  Our deepest wounds can take the longest to heal, but if we allow Jesus to aid in that healing, the pain will subside much quicker.  Expose your wound to Him allowing the healing process to begin. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fighting God

Acts 5:38-39 “…If their plans and actions are only human, they will fail. 39 But if their plans come from God, you won't be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God."

Do you ever feel like you are fighting against God?  These men that are having this discussion are talking about the disciples or followers of Christ.  The religious authorities of that day want to stop these followers from promoting their beliefs, that Jesus is our Savior.  One of those religious men, by the name of Gamaliel, stands up and gives this speech (the verse above).  Noting that if these disciples   –But if they are living out life God’s way; following God’s plans, then they will succeed!
or followers of Christ are living life their own way; by their own plans, they will fail.

Isn’t it interesting that when we fight against what God’s plans are, we are really fighting against God?

Here is a journal entry from March 3,2009.  It was my prayer, and it will continue to be my prayer:

Lord, Let my purposes and activities be from you and not of my own will.  Reveal to me the areas of my life that are fighting against you so that I will be able to be used to the immeasurable amount that you will.

I know I don’t want to be fighting against God and His plans for my life.  How about you?  Is there an area of your life that you feel yourself fighting to go your own way instead of the way that God is leading you?  Take a moment and pray about that, then start off in the right direction following God’s plans for your life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Two Ugly Pets

Competition and jealousy are two ugly pets (spiritually speaking) that we allow in our lives.  Once in a while they will lash out at someone, then we try to reign them back in, only after the damage is done.  If we would not feed our spiritual “pets” by not biting on the bait to respond to one another through words or acts of competition and jealousy, then these spiritual “pets” will starve, and no longer be active in our lives.

-Now, when I say competition, I am not talking sports.  I am talking relationships.  In my book (soon to be published), the lives to two women are laid out for us to examine.  Leah and Rachel were not only sisters, but they were wives.  (Weird? Yes! The intent of the husband, Jacob, was to marry only one, but was tricked into sleeping with the other, so therefore he was stuck with both.  Check out the whole story for yourself in Genesis 29 and then it gets really interesting in Genesis 30.) 

So Jacob did not love the first wife, Leah, and that’s where I’ll pick up from my book…

   When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.  The Lord then blessed Leah with fertility. She had a son and named him Reuben. She then said, “Surely my husband will love me now.” She had another son and named him Simeon. She had another son and named him Levi.

   Leah said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”  She had another son and named him Judah. Leah said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”  Then she stopped having children.

   Now Rachel saw that she was not getting pregnant so she became jealous of her sister. Rachel was desperate and told Jacob to “give her children or she’ll die!” Jacob replied by saying it’s out of his control, its in God’s hands.

   Rachel then said, “Here is Bilhah, my maidservant.  Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.”  Remember Abraham and Sarah?  A path was taken, but it wasn’t the Lord’s path of blessing.

   So what does Jacob do? Jacob slept with her. Bilhah had a son and Rachel named him Dan. Bilhah had another son and Rachel named him Naphtali.  Declaring, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” 

   Doesn’t sound like these two sisters have any peace in their lives.  Apparently it is a competition.  Clearly competition has no place on the path of blessing for peace is one of the components of blessing.

Do you feel like you are competing with the “friends” and family around you?  Or maybe it’s the opposite, and they are always trying to compete with you.  I feel like shouting, “STOP IT WOMEN! STOP COMPETING WITH ONE ANOTHER AND STOP BEING SO JEALOUS OF EACHOTHER!”  This is not a path of peace. Leah and Rachel were never supposed to be competing; this only led to more tension within the family. Do you ever find yourself in competition with other women or making jealous comments towards other women? Maybe you are on the other end, receiving the “lashing” from a woman who is competing with you or is jealous of you.  I know I’ve been on both ends, and it’s time to just STOP.

So I challenge you to think of a way you can bless another woman today, even the woman that you are so jealous of and I want to hear about it.  Tell me, in the comments section, how you blessed another woman today and starved those ugly pets.