Friday, September 30, 2011


What's your purpose in life?" My brother asked me - for the umpteenth time.

"I don't know!" I blurted back at him, annoyed at his persistence with such a futile question.

Growing up with an older brother obsessed with such global questions seemed a little confusing to me.

Now that I'm an adult and have children of my own, I find myself asking them the same question, only with a twist, "What do you want to become when you grow up?"  Ironically, I still find myself musing at my purpose in life (but don't tell my brother!).

Until three years ago, being a wife and mom to six kids would have been my answer.  But now, I realize God has a different definition for my life's purpose.

"He has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time," (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV)

We are here to become His holy vessels.  In each one of us, it will look quite different, but we are all going through trials of various kinds so that the trying of our faith will produce steadfastness. Once steadfastness has its full effect, we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Paraphrase from James 1:2-4)

That's why pastor's can say, "no matter what you do, do it unto the glory of God."  No matter what path we take or what curves life may throw our way, we are all striving to become holy vessels - lacking nothing.  In this way, we will be ready to spend eternity with our perfect Savior!

Now I just need my brother to ask me that question once again..."What's your purpose in life?"

When he does ask me, I'll be ready and confident with my answer: "To become God's holy vessel."


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have been doing  a study by Priscilla Shirer called "He Speaks to Me". It has been such a great study tool to really help me get deeper in the Word and focus more on preparing myself to hear from God.  Part of this process of preparation involves committing ourselves to a sanctified lifestyle which will in turn cause us to desire full surrender of ourselves to Him. She list 4 important reasons that we should willingly surrender our lives to God. 

These 4 reasons were given by Joshua to the Israelites as he had them assembled at Shechem to remind them of the faithfulness of God.

1. Remember the Call

God had called Abram away from his past lifestyle and into a calling of service. We, too, must remember when God placed that call on our lives, out of darkness into the light of His Glory.

2. Remember the Promise

Joshua reminds the people that God made a special promise to the seed of Abraham (Joshua 24:3-4). He promised that He would make him a great nation and bless him through his seed. God makes those same promises to his children today through the Holy Scriptures. Power resides in remembering God's promises. 

"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall
be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:39)

3. Remember the Protection

We can all look back and see the mighty Hand of God's protection in our lives. Sometimes it was evident at the time and sometimes it is only evident to us as we look back at the situation. But God always has His Hand of protection upon us. He doesn't always protect us FROM things, but He always protects us THROUGH things. 

4. Remember the Source

In Joshua 24:13, he reminds the Israelites that  all the things that they had received were not of their own making. God alone was the source of all that they had. He alone is the source of every good thing that happens to us. He is the source of all our victories! 

We have no excuses for not living a holy life without compromise. None. It is urgent that we make the choice to fear God and to serve Him and fully surrender our lives to Him. We need to be Seeking Him Higher each day of our lives.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Dynamics

Home Dynamics

Businesses and churches often work with a game plan to achieve their goals and be successful. Game plans involve:

1) Identity

Sounds simple, but a clear understanding of one’s identity is critical. A business has to know if it makes shoes or bakes bread. A church has to know if it honors Christ or not. Identity leads to the next item in the game plan.

2) Purpose

Purpose is the fulfilment of one’s identity. If it is a show or bread company, they will produce those products.

3) Vision

Vision grows out of identity and purpose. Vision is the view for the future. Businesses ask how they can better produce their product, publicize their company, and market their product. Churches may envision reaching a particular neighborhood or segment of the population with the Gospel. Vision is where you see your self in one, five or ten years.

4) Function

Function simply means the company or church is now doing what it’s identity, purpose and vision leads them to. For a church, it would be preaching, teaching, leading others to Christ and maturing them in faith. For a business, it might be producing a product or shipping someone else’s product.

How does this apply to home dynamics? Businesses or churches can slip into daily routines and habits and never answer the larger questions of who are we? Why do we do what we do? What is our vision for the future? And what is the best way for us to do that?

Families can avoid those questions, too. Family life can become a series of routines: going to school, rushing to school and athletic functions, going to work, watching tv in the evening, going to church on Sunday. But where is the family heading to? What is the family becoming?

It is healthy for mom and dad to have some definite objectives for all their activity and function. A long drive to a ball game can become a meaningful event if the parents include some heart-felt discussion of an important spiritual or moral issue; church can become an opportunity for genuine spiritual revival and spiritual growth; school can become a conscious stepping-stone to advanced study or career preparation.

With definite identity, purpose, vision and function, families can become more than just harried robotans rushing, rushing, rushing, without any sense of cohesion or underlying purpose. They can become a unified whole moving toward something worthwhile, such as a closer-knit family, a place where Jesus is honored, and a community preparing for heaven.

Family can wander around in uncertainty and indirection, or it can march toward higher levels of relationship and function. The difference is often in the game plan we follow.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, September 23, 2011

Money Makeovers and Attitude Adjustments

During our first year of marriage, Jeff brought home a book called “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. (It must have been a first edition or something.) Needless to say, Jeff devoured it. He is, after all, an accountant.

I, however, cannot say that his newfound delight peaked my interest very much. (Forgive me; I think I was busy reading some seriously theological stuff at the time, like the Left Behind series.)

I remember the basic financial principles though. They were something like, “Blah, blah, blah. Emergency fund. Blah, blah, blah. Snowball. Blah, blah, blah. Debt free.” Yep, that about sums it up.

In all sincerity, though, I thought it sounded very nice. Very responsible and all that. Very Jeff.

But, like I said, I didn’t really get into it with quite the same fervor. It was more Jeff’s speed. And I was more than happy to let him go about his merry way, planning our finances and our future, while I moved on to another book series. (Forgive me; I think it was Harry Potter.)

Fast-forward to a crashing economy and a three-year run of company-down-sizing.

Um, gee, what can I say? I’m glad I married an accountant. Actually, I’m glad I married Jeff. He had the foresight, not to mention the self-discipline, to prepare us for darker days.

Our church is currently offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It’s a 13-week series to help people get on track with their finances. We’ve enrolled, and I have to say that my attitude is different this time. While the information is the same, I am much more willing to participate in the program’s plan, and I am no longer defaulting to Jeff’s strengths and letting him take on the bulk of this responsibility.

Have you participated in this program? Or one similar to it?


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Just mention the word meditation to a Christian, and you're liable to see them get all worked up. After all "we" Christians shouldn't meditate...should we?

I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.Psalm 77:12

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:15

These are just a few of the references to meditation in scripture. This is not to be confused with Eastern meditation which focuses on clearing or emptying your mind. Christian meditation is all about focusing your mind on God, his word, and his law.

In my Sunday School class, last week we did a meditation exercise. We read a story from scripture, and then focused on it. Everyone had their own quiet time. In this case, we read John 6, Jesus feeds the 5000. Some people may have imagined themselves as the boy who donated his lunch, others as one of the disciples, still others as a member of the crowd.

Another option, was just to imagine yourself as you, but imagine that you had an encounter with Jesus. Imagine that he says, "What can I do for you?" Meditate deeply on what you would answer. Then imagine you say to Jesus, "What can I do for you?" Meditate on his answer to you.

Some might call this pure imagination. But Robert Foster (who wrote Celebration of Discipline - The Path to Spiritual Growth, the study we are working from) says, "To believe that God can sanctify and utilize the imaination is simply to take seriously the Christian idea of incarnation."

I had a neat experience doing it, and will blog about it Friday on my personal blog at if you'd like to come visit.

Whether you do or not, what do you think about Christian meditation? Have you ever tried it? Would you be willing to? Why or why not?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The First Thing...

My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.Isaiah 26:9

As the sun makes it's way into our windows, we drowsily awake facing the new day and new mercies God has provided. Our dog, once relegated to her crate overnight has now earned the joy of sleeping at the end of our bed. She spreads out, gently tapping us as the night wears on; checking to assure herself that we are still there; she is safe. I liken this to the way we check in with God.

Hello, God, you still there? Do you see me? Hear me? I sleep better when I know you are there, watching, protecting, loving...

In the morning our precious pup rolls over as soon as one of our toes hits the carmel colored carpet. She begins a morning routine of wagging her forceful tail, in anticipation of a loving belly rub. Thwap, thwap, thwap, becomes louder and louder. One can't help but notice the pure joy with which she greets the day, seeking first her trusted father to walk her and spend time with her. So, this begs the question... what is YOUR first? Do you greet the Lord with joy? Do you seek to spend time with him, nestling carefully in His word first before all else?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

I did not used to begin my day this way. I would bolt out of bed, usually later than I anticipated, flying in seven directions forgetting to pray, neglecting to seek out my Father in Heaven, ignoring his tender pleas, "Come spend time with me." And as with any relationship, how can it flourish when we are giving our seconds, thirds or even lasts instead of giving our first?

Imagine the Lord's joy when we greet him in the morning, eager, ready asking Him to spend time with us...anxious to give Him our first. Like the unbridled joy of a vibrant, faithful friend, so we too should greet our day and our Lord with our first act of love, seeking His face and His word.

What is it you are putting first? If you are not already, try spending your first moments with the One who can prepare you for all the moments in your day.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

are you ready to worship?

Are we living our lives like we truly believe that God is our Lord and Master? Do we reverence Him and respect Him like He is so deserving of? Are there times that we are simply going through the motions but not really giving Him our whole heart and our full devotion?

It is easy to get caught up in the religiosity of our lives and not focus on the spirituality of our purpose here. We can just find ourselves going to church because "that's what we do" and not going because we have a deep and intense longing to be in the House of the Lord. 

If you find yourself in this place right now, it is not the end of the world. It's just time to get things right. Spend some much needed time in prayer. Some serious face-down, flat on the floor kind of prayer. Cry out to God and ask Him to forgive you for your negligence of His Holiness. Earnestly confess and repent. Then spend some time thanking Him for the many blessings He bestows on you daily! Begin to utter praises to His Name. Praise Him for who He is. Praise Him for His mighty Creation. Praise Him with all that you have within you. When you rise from the floor, you will be different. Purpose within yourself that it is time to be more passionate in your pursuit of God. Begin each day in a time of praise. God will move in your life and next Sunday, you will find yourself running to the church house ready to worship your King!

"Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord"
(Psalm 150:6)

Seeking Higher in all things of Him,

Monday, September 12, 2011

TREASURE in Marriage

Treasure in Marriage

In her book, Discovering the Treasure of Marriage Dr. Debbie Cherry teaches distressed and angry spouses to like each other again by teaching them to treasure their husband or wife. Each letter in the word T-R-E-A-S-U-R-E stands for positive thought or action we can take toward our spouse to give them our heart and value them in our own.

T = Think Positively about your husband or wife. Intentionally overlook irritating behaviors in him or her and focus attention on what is good.

R = Respect your spouse. To respect means to hold in high regard and treat with consideration and care.

E = Enjoy the company of your partner. “Rejoice in the wife (or husband) of your youth” (Prov. 5:18). Remember when pleasure and laughter was natural to the relationship? It can be again.

A = Attend to the needs of your spouse, serving them and offering genuine praise.

S = Shield your husband or wife from hurtful words and behaviors (maybe even from you). “Love always protects” (1 Cor. 13:7).

U = Understand your spouse’s needs. Give the attention it takes to learn what those needs are. The golden rule for marriage is: “Do unto others as they need you to do.”

R = Romance your mate. Think about your spouse when you are apart and show love when you are together. When is the last date you had together?

E = Edify your partner. “Encourage one another and build each other up ...” (1 Thess. 5:11) ought to apply as much to marriage as any other relationship! One way to edify is to show appreciation. (Pp.66-76)

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” means we have control over where we place our affection. We have the power to decide to give our husband or wife our positive energy. We can treasure them and our hearts will follow. The joy and pleasure that characterized the early days of our marriage can thrive today when we honor our spouse as treasure from Heaven.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, September 9, 2011

It’s That Time of Year Again

It’s that time of year again when my husband’s birthday is just around the corner. Normally, I love planning birthdays. I love creating or thinking up “just the right gift.” However, Jeff, who is typically a most amiable fellow, can be very difficult to plan a birthday for.

When Jeff says he doesn’t want anything for his birthday, he means it. He doesn’t want stuff. Not anything. Nada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. He’s the least materialistic person I know. But this can make for tricky birthday planning, especially when the kids really want to give Daddy something for his birthday.

For several years, I evaded this annual dilemma with the arrival of a new hobby. Jeff took up woodworking, which meant a whole new world in terms of tools required. Thus, every birthday, anniversary, and Father’s Day allowed the opportunity for me to find yet another piece of machinery for his workshop. The kids and I had a lot of fun with this, and I secretly suspect that Jeff did too.

These days, though, his workshop only requires the occasional saw-blade replacement. So I am back to square one when it comes to gift ideas. What do you get someone who doesn’t want anything?

Of course, the focus of any birthday celebration shouldn’t really be the presents. We’ve tried to emphasize this in our family as we have created our own family tradition for birthdays.

Yet, I must confess, it came about rather by accident.

Several years ago, I took the kids, who were toddlers at the time, to the nearest Party City. As we strolled the aisles, trying to pick out some festive – albeit masculine – birthday plates and napkins, my kids went chimpanzee on me when we came to the Little Einstein section of birthday paraphernalia.

This is obviously what they would have liked for their own birthday party, but they were convinced that Daddy would want the same thing. Needless to say, I went with it.

Daddy came home from work that night to a birthday dinner served on Little Einstein plates, complete with matching tablecloth, napkins, and cups. The kids loved it. So did I. And so did Jeff.

Our family birthday dinners have remained such ever since. The kids are no longer interested in Cinderella or Diego, but we still go with a new cartoon character for a themed family birthday dinner every year. And since there are five of us in our family, we do this five times a year.

So Jeff’s birthday is up next. The kids are voting for a Star Wars birthday. Again. It’s one of our favorites. But then there’s always the final question: what do we get him? He still doesn’t want anything.

I’m thinking we’ll probably give him the same thing we got him last year (and the year before): a Costco-sized jar of jellybeans, a mega-pack of his favorite chewing gum, and another case of his butter-free popcorn. We will have our Star Wars dinner, open our traditional “gifts,” and then watch a family movie while giving Daddy his own bowl of yucky popcorn.

Celebrating our birthdays the way we do is one of the things I’ve come to love most about our married life together. We’ve given each other permission not to stress about the whole gift-giving thing. And we’ve made it fun in a silly sort of way. The kids love it. Deep down, we do too.

Do you have a birthday tradition?


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Not Laboring in Vain

"Unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

When I met the man who would become my husband, he had one thing on his mind...his house. He was deep in the throes of building a beautiful home on a quiet little street. Eventually, he would finish the house and we would marry making our sweet Victorian house into a home. We have welcomed two children in this home, and mourned the losses of three others. This year, our youngest will have her kindergarten pictures snapped on our homey wrap around porch, the same place her older sister had hers taken when she was five.

Big old trees surround our property and an old, historic carriage house stands somewhat precariously at the forefront of our little patch of Heaven. Ten years have elapsed, our home now needs work...painting and fixing and hammering, oh my! But I would not trade our humble abode for a perfect one, without the dents, scratches and history.

This house knows how far I have come and how much I have grown to love where God planted us. When our elder daughter came along, I was preoccupied with the thought that our home was not the home I had dreamed of. I had different visions for the kitchen, ours a large farmhouse kitchen that blends unknowingly into the dining room. I had different visions for the steps, ours white with a beautiful Victorian runner adorning each wooden tread, I dreamed of oak hardwood. Needless to say, there were many years I coveted the homes of others and secretly stashed Homes magazines pouring over the pages looking for our perfect home. But God knew all along...He knew this was our home. Over and over, He would provide for me confirmation that He ordained this home to be our own. With prayer and a resignation of my pride, God showed me time and time again to love and nurture this home and not jump ahead of Him.

....I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4: 11b - 13, NIV

As I prayed about my worldly desires and my dream home, God reminded me very clearly, "I am your dwelling place." POOF! Just like that, God had managed to soften that hard place inside, that place that was dishonoring the labors of my husband's hands and the plan God had clearly orchestrated. In an instant, I felt the selfish desires slip away and began to see the beauty and provision in our home. It was in this home that my husband and two children learned how to pray, this home makes light work of driving the children to school and myself to that same school for work, it was in this home, that we consciously changed our lives, doing devotions each day and reading our Bibles consistently.

Ultimately, it became clear to me that the Lord does not desire for us to become attached to our worldly posessions. As special and meaningful as it is that my dear husband built the home we live in, truly it is not a home until we fully recognize the critical role God played in building this home too. Until we submit completely to His will, we are laboring in vain.

So, especially today, I ask, where are you laboring in vain? Are there areas of your life not fully committed to our precious Lord? Each day, I begin with prayer asking God, what is it you have for me today, Lord? I desire to serve Him with a joyful spirit and stand content with where He has He the Lord of your home this day?