August 12, 2008

I’d like to ask for prayer for my friend, Cindy. She’s a single mom with two daughters in college. Cindy is undergoing surgery for breast cancer today. Some tests have shown other “possible problem areas” as well. Cindy is a sold-out follower of Jesus who has put her life in His capable hands. Please pray for her and her daughters when God brings them to mind. Thank you very much!


Heart of the Matter Conference Links

August 3, 2008





HEART OF WISDOM – What Your Child needs to Know When

HEART OF THE MATTER MAGAZINE ONLINE (August 8, 2008 edition) : “How to tell WHY your child is struggling” (Focus/Attention and Diet)


July 29, 2008

1. Vehicle is old. And tired. And won’t start. Get up at 5:45. . . . a.m. . . . . to take hubby to work. So I could borrow his car today.

2. Get home in time to wake 2 children for early piano lessons. Teacher calls, is sick, no piano.

3. Use unexpected “piano time” to finish article – 4 days early. (yay me!)

4. Rush son #2 to life-guard job (first shift)

5. Post finished article. Wash 213 loads of laundry.

6. Get online to gather questions for conference Q&A on Sunday.

7. Pick up son from work. Start dinner.

8. Son #1 brings home a mouse rescued by his friends from a glue trap at church. The mouse has no fur on his knees. Stuck to the glue trap I’m told. His name is ‘Lil Greg. Apparently he looks like Greg.

9. Stop dinner. Deliver homeschool info to a neighbor.

10. Deliver an employee time sheet.

11. Start dinner.

12. Stop dinner. Meet niece in city to deliver wedding photo CDs.

13. Rush to get life-guard boy to second shift.

14. Restart dinner. Fold 213 loads of laundry.

15. Stop dinner. Rush to pick Hubby up from work.

16. Quick stop at my Father’s house for Hubby to do a 5 minute computer job.

17. Computer job takes an hour because, “Your Dad’s computer is the slowest in history!”

18. Go home. Start dinner again.

19. Phone alarm says it’s time to get online with genius friend Amy. She intends to teach me how to use conference software. She wishes she didn’t know me.

20. Daughter #1 informs me that ‘Lil Greg escaped his mouse house when she opened the top to take his photo.

21. Lil Greg is now living behind my fridge. Probably giving birth.

22. It’s only Monday.

It’s all in the details

July 15, 2008
Long, long ago . . . in a galaxy far, far away . . . when gas cost about 68 cents/gallon . . . as I was driving home from work, I noticed that the gas gauge in my car was desperately trying to inform me that I was seriously way past “empty” – so empty, in fact, that I wasn’t even sure I’d make it home. Thankfully, I was approaching a gas station and pulled right in. A quick ‘purse dive’ later, and I had gathered a whopping $6.00! Definitely not enough to ‘fill ‘er up’ but it would get me home.

A few minutes later, I was pumping the gas and glancing around at all of the folks milling in and out of the gas station/convenience store. Immediately, a certain gentleman caught my attention. He was a giant, slightly angry-looking man about 6.5 feet tall. He was carrying the biggest bottle of whiskey I’d ever seen – in his bare hands (no bag) and a stack of adult magazines.I had a sudden urge to pray.

I asked God to intervene in his life – quickly. I prayed for any woman or children he might be going home to. I prayed for God to shed light on his twisted, distorted view of life and break any spiritual bondage. I asked God to begin healing his deep wounds and to undo what the devil had begun. I prayed for this man to receive a life-changing visitation from his Maker. I prayed for the whiskey to spill all over the magazines. (Cause I’m deep like that.) I prayed for him to meet Jesus in a powerful way. And, before I could pray one more thing, I heard the sound of the gas pump shut off. (Ahhhhhhhhhhh!)

I had been so absorbed in praying for the scary man, I completely forgot that I was putting gas in my car! Before I could force myself look at the price on the pump, I began to try to figure out how in the world I was going to be able to leave that gas station without paying for all of my gas. Scary man was on his own.

Eventually, of course, I looked at the pump. Much to my complete shock, the price was only $6.37. Hope was alive! Surely, the attendant wouldn’t hold me there and call the police for 37 cents! I quickly grabbed my purse to find the $6.00 cash and as I did, I heard coins clanking around somewhere in the unknown recesses of my bag. You can probably guess that there was exactly 37 cents in loose change waiting for me there. Hallelujah! No big-house for me!

That little incident happened over 20 years ago, but God reminds me of it from time to time. It helps me remember that His eyes are always on me. His eyes are always on my details.

On that particular day, my ‘job’ was to intercede for someone who probably would not pray for himself. I have no way of knowing what went on before or after that day in that man’s life. What I do know, is that when I submitted to what God placed before me – intercession – without concern for my own situation (more accurately – I zoned out for a minute), God covered me. I didn’t know that there was 37 cents in the bottom of my purse, but God did. In my fervor, I stopped paying attention to the gas pump for a few moments, but God didn’t. I did not know the circumstances surrounding the scary man’s life. God did. And when I stepped out to do the only thing I knew to do, He moved in and handled my details.

God didn’t have to stop the gas pump for me. He didn’t have to. He chose to. Most people (myself included) might call that a ‘small thing’. Yet I’m forced to realize that the God who chose to create the universe, dry up the Red Sea, deliver millions of Hebrew slaves, raise the dead, and give His life for a people so very undeserving – that same God – chose to stop a gas pump exactly where I needed it. He stepped out of the endless vastness of eternity, into time, to do a ‘small thing’. A detail.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

The God Who has numbered the hairs on our heads and Who knows the whereabouts of every sparrow – that God – knows our details. Our details: the fear, the uncertainty, the loss, the tears, the “what-ifs”, . . . He KNOWS ! And, despite what we secretly believe in the back of our minds, He is Oh so willing to get involved in our details – our ‘small things’.

Let’s shake off the idea that we shouldn’t “bother” God unless we’ve got a mountain to move. He’s not kidding about knowing the number of hairs on your head! Doesn’t that sound like Someone Who might possibly be interested in your details today?

Also posted at Internet Cafe Devotions

A Word Please?

June 17, 2008

I simply cannot express how it pains me to begin this devotional. Why? Because to do so, I am forced to use a phrase that I’m not ready to use. Just . not . ready. I know that I am a mother of 5 children. I am aware that 4 of them are teens and one is halfway through college! I understand that I am no longer 20-somethin’. (Heck, my marriage is 20-somethin’.) But knowing these facts deep inside my brain, and saying them out loud, are two different things. However, in the interest of becoming more mature and less vain, (and in the interest of finally getting to the message) here goes . . .

Almost 20 years ago, (That’s the criminal phrase. How in the world has it been that long? Seriously? How? – sorry) . . . Almost 20 years ago, (sigh) I sat in an obstetrician’s office, nearing the end of my first pregnancy, in the process of having my excitement exchanged for fear.

Week after week, the doctor continued to comment about my not gaining weight. It seemed that my weight gain had stopped progressing at about 7 and 1/2 months, and every week, she commented about it. Every week I tried to tell her that my fat-girl pants and skirts were getting noticeably tighter around my noticeably bigger belly, and at the same time, my arms and legs were getting thinner. (Think Mrs. Potato Head.) It made perfect sense to me. My baby was growing, while every other part of me was shrinking. All I had to do was look in the mirror – it was seriously, very obvious. It seemed that my body was losing weight at the same rate that the baby was gaining. The doctor ignored my non-medical school observations and only cared what the scale told her. Since it was my first prego experience, I wasn’t sure enough of myself to protest.

Every week, after weighing me, she wrote secret doctor things in my chart. On this particular day, however, with only one week until the due date, she dropped the bomb about her secret.

“Since you haven’t gained any weight for the last six weeks, I must assume that the baby is not growing. Because he/she should be gaining more weight at this point than at any other time during the pregnancy, there must be something wrong. I’ll send you for an ultra-sound to determine if the baby is even big enough for me to induce labor. (Apparently, babies under 5 pounds don’t fare well in the induction process.) If he/she is anywhere near 5 pounds, we’ll induce. If not, the baby could die.”

Bedside manner was not her specialty.

I remember little of the following week except fear and tears and tests. There were ultra-sounds that suggested that the baby was “approaching” 5 pounds and therefore “medically viable for induction.” There were forms to sign giving permission to ” induce labor despite blah, blah, blah . . .”. Suddenly, nine bliss-filled, medically uneventful, eat-all-you-want months turned into a nightmare that I was not prepared to process. So I did the next, hormonally logical thing. I blamed God.

God, what’s the matter? What have I done wrong? What’s going on? Are You here? The doctor said . . . The ultra-sound technician said . . . Why is this happening? Can’t You do something? What if . . . There’s no reason for this God! What good can possibly come from this? Are You listening?! Do You hear what they’re saying?!

In the midst of my desperate, faithless, whining, I heard God’s still, small voice speak 5 words that changed everything:

Those are not MY words.

In an instant, everything changed. In an instant, I knew that He was in control and had not left the throne. In an instant, I understood that I had swallowed fear in massive doses without once consulting Him – the One who has the last word on everything.

The next few minutes featured a very pregnant short girl on her knees. I repented and promised God that I trusted Him with the outcome. I trusted Him to equip my husband and I to handle whatever happened. I asked Him to speak louder in my head than the doctor’s words. I began to realize that, though this situation had caught me completely off guard, it had not surprised Him at all. I forced myself to stop mentally reciting (worshiping) the doctors’ reports.

Those are not MY words

Two days later I was in the hospital holding my new, over 8 pounds, perfectly healthy, perfectly perfect, perfectly lookin’-like-his-daddy, baby boy.

Don’t you just love it when God knows what He’s talking about?

Those are not MY words.

How incredible is that? No 5 point sermon. No lengthy, guilt-inducing speech beginning with, “Oh, woman of little faith!” Just a gentle nudge to remind me that I had forgotten whose words I should be seeking and listening to and meditating on and trusting. A short but powerful glance at myself from His perspective.

God has much to say about each and every aspect of our lives. Whatever burden you are carrying – voluntarily or otherwise – He knows about it. I am convinced that He has a life-giving, burden-lifting, eye-opening, soul-healing, joy-imparting, world-changing word for E*V*E*R*Y setting we find ourselves in. And the bonus is that HIS words are not simply sweet little doses of encouragement – they are power and life and healing and deliverance and peace and so much more! And they are available to us as believers . . . simply for the asking.

Your word is a Lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105)

This Book of the Law (Your Word) shall not depart from my mouth but I shall meditate on it day and night. (Joshua 1:8 )

The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord. (Psalms 27:33)

I will make known to you the path of life. (Psalms 16:11)

I know the plans I have for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. (Psalms 32:8 )

In Him . . .

(Also posted at The Internet Cafe’)

Blame or Fame?

May 22, 2008

By now we’ve all heard of the Chapman family tragedy. I have been at a loss for words all day. My friend Lisa, however, has not. She has a powerful word for the Body of Christ in light of this situation. I urge you to take a quick jump over to her site to read “Blame or Fame”. It is an on-time word for today.

(PS – Don’t forget to pray for the Chapman family, especially their young son. What the enemy intends for destruction, God desires to turn into something magnificent and holy – all to His Glory.)


May 18, 2008

The word ‘Sovereign’ is one of those words. One of those words that we are not altogether unfamiliar with, yet we’d be hard pressed to say that we fully “get it” – especially when the word is used to describe God. So I did what all over-thinkers do. I looked it up.

Sovereign: possessed of supreme power; above or higher than (in place or position); independent of and unlimited by any other.

Yep. That’s what I thought . . . And that’s the problem.

I think we’d all agree that if anyone would fit the definition of ‘sovereign’ it would be God – hands down. But what about days (weeks, months …) when our lives are filled with struggles? Is He sovereign then?

‘Struggling’ is my church lady way of describing how I’m sometimes not crazy about the way God is handling an important situation in my life and I am attempting to tell Him about it but He seems to not be listening or changing anything though I am providing Him with evidence and reason and reminders of why I deserve what I am asking for and why the timing is so important along with the subtle suggestion that He might not be as fair as He could be concerning this very important matter which by the way . . . . ‘Struggling’.

When it comes to the sovereignty of God, I think most of us run back and forth between two schools of thought:

1 – God is good, but not totally sovereign.

2 – God is sovereign, but not totally good.

Which is truth? Neither! God is both sovereign AND good!

His power is absolute, total, unlimited, unrestricted, fixed, infallible, precise, undeniable, unquestionable, total – sovereign. He is able to move any mountain, correct any situation, change any decision, touch any life.

He is also absolutely good, merciful, faithful, just, holy, true, loving, peaceful, patient, generous, forgiving and completely willing.

Consider this: A small child toddles innocently into a street where an oncoming semi can’t see him. Mom runs to the rescue and in the nick of time, saves her son. His safety is secure again and all is well. Except for one thing. Now Junior is angry at Mom. In order to rescue him in time, she scooped him up quickly from the street and hurt his arm a bit. Revelation!! Mom is mean! For no reason at all, she’s hurt his innocent little arm. Before this incident, he thought she was so loving, and sweet and protective, but it turns out she’s just mean and uncaring, and unloving and indifferent to his pain. And to make matters worse, she offers no explanation. He’s considering not trusting her anymore.

We all know that it wouldn’t do Mom any good to attempt to explain to Junior that she did what was necessary to save his life – because she loves him. She could spend the rest of the day trying to explain the dynamics of standing in the path of an oncoming vehicle to him, but she doesn’t – because his limited understanding can not grasp it. Instead, she holds him, sheds tears of relief, and ignores the fact that he is angry with her. “One day . . .” she thinks, “One day, he’ll understand my great love for him.” And for now, that is enough for her. She endures his anger and confusion, because she knows – better than he – the danger and the risks. She sees what he can not see . . . yet.

I suppose because we’re “all grown up” it’s a little difficult to believe that we don’t always know what’s best for us. When God doesn’t allow something in our lives that we want so desperately, or when He allows situations that are difficult, it seems logical to distrust His motives.
After all, if He is ‘sovereign‘, if He CAN do something about it, then why doesn’t he?

If He is able to deliver me from ________, then why doesn’t He? Because He’s working out a plan.

If He does love me, then why doesn’t he remove all difficulty? Because He loves me.

If there is a reason behind the madness, why doesn’t He explain? Because He knows, and for now, that is enough.

And because He has a plan. And because His plan involves training us in righteousness and holiness and faith. And because He knows of what we are truly made and what really needs to happen in the secret place of our hearts . . . And because He alone knows what magnificent treasures He has stored in your heart alone. No one else has been as uniquely gifted as you. Your unprecedented combination of gifting and heart and talent and personality and quirkiness and sensitivity and vision and manner of seeing the world is unlike any other. And He requires it to be that way for you to fulfill your calling in the Body and advance His Kingdom . . . while there is still time.

“. . . until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all the kingdoms of men” (Daniel 4:32)

Yes, Father God is absolutely sovereign in the ways of men – and women. Yes, He sees our every struggle, tear, and confused thought. Will we allow Him to use them to do what only He can do, to mold us into the very image of His Son, to produce in us what is only visible to Him, for now?

Because He is truly both sovereign AND good.

Also posted at Internet Cafe’ Devotions

Pray for Robin

May 7, 2008

A friend and contributor to Heart of the Matter home school magazine, Robin Sampson, is in need of prayer. She has spent nearly a year battling heart issues and is currently in the hospital requiring regular transfusions. You can read the details here.

Robin is the author of Heart of Wisdom teaching approach as well as other books and teaching materials. She is also the mother of 11 children – including several younger ones. Please pray for Robin and her family as God brings her to your thoughts and as He leads. Robin and her family thank you very much!

Teenagers. Who knew?

May 4, 2008

When I finished college, I remember telling God that I would teach anywhere – with 2 exceptions: wherever there were preschoolers and wherever there were teenagers. Since I wasn’t married and didn’t have children of my own, I knew I’d never have enough patience for the tiny people – preschoolers. Since I didn’t have children of my own, I knew I’d never have patience for the bigger people – teens. (also, they’re bigger than me). So I spent a few years teaching in middle schools/junior high schools. (ahem. . . they’re bigger than me, too.)

Fast forward a lot of years and all of my best efforts to control the ages of the kid population around me have crumbled. I am now a mother of 5 children, 4 of them teenagers. 4. Yes. Fast forward a lot of years and I realize that all of my dodging the big kids was for naught. Early on, from a distance, before I had a few of my own, I mistakenly decided that teens – at best – had two skills . . . rebellion and attitude. Turns out, they have a few other qualities that are only visible upon closer inspection.

Within the collection of teenagers who live with me everyday, there is no shortage of personalities and gifts. There are leaders, and servants. There are musicians and writers. There are those whose thoughts are known instantly (because they “update” constantly) and there are those whose thoughts run deep – you’ll only know them if you inquire. There are generous givers of money and time. There are a few who “wing it” and never  worry because “God’s got it Mom!” and there is a meticulous planner, born clutching a clip board. There are one or two who could take charge of a gathering at a moment’s notice if called upon. And there is one who would never seek to take charge, but whose words and faith would challenge – but only if you slow down enough to listen. Sometimes there are displays of compassion and maturity among them that surprise me. There are smiling, humming, huggy morning people and there are night owls. There are some who battle perfectionism and some who . . . don’t. Among them there is no shortage of opinions on endless issues. The spectrum can run from constant goofiness and humor to random goofiness and humor. “Bored” is not an adjective I use very often (ever.)

I have learned that God has called each of us to a specific purpose in life. He has gifted every single breathing person with talents and gifts and personality traits that the world needs – desperately. My teenagers, your teenagers,are among those so gifted by God.

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech,conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example. . .(1 Timothy 4:12)

I recently heard the next generation described as a generous, non-judgmental, volunteer, merciful generation!” There is a calling upon this next generation that is unlike any before them. I assume this is because . . . “the times, they are a’changing” – spiritually speaking. In my opinion, this next generation may be responsible for ushering in the remainder of the Body of Christ. They are “wired” differently because that is what is required for the task ahead.

I have been watching for some time now. I have heard the prophecies concerning this generation of youth. I have been paying attention to how they act, what they respond to, what and who they respect, what they cling to and what they give away. They are as comfortable talking to a homeless person under a bridge as they are a person of “prominence”. They are content with last minute changes to the plan. They are equipped to lead and content to follow. They are humble enough to be up front and visible, if necessary, and brave enough to labor behind the scenes. God is up to something. I’m just saying . . .

If there are teens in your life and you don’t yet see anything resembling the previous paragraphs, ask God to begin to open your eyes. Maybe they’re distracted. Maybe the enemy knows the call on their life and he is working full time to make sure they never find out about it. Maybe they just don’t know. Maybe you should tell them.


May 1, 2008

Congratulations Joelle ! ! ! (offspring #3, oldest daughter, AKA – Middle Child)! Joelle was a finalist in the photo contest at Growing In Grace online magazine. Take a look at the 4 final photos! (I secretly call her photo “The Rapture” 😉 )

Carrying that camera around has finally paid off!

YAY! Joelle ! ! !