Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bible Study

Yesterday (the day after Christmas) I ran into one of my Bible Study friends. She reminded me that we have a very short window of a few months before baseball season started to get together and try to resume (or revive) our group. She said, "Even if we can get together and just read the scriptures, I think that would be great." Her sweet comments made me smile.

Honestly, I haven't even thought about Bible Study. It's probably been four or five months since we've all gotten together. And as moms and working women, it's rather hard to get together every month. That's why we agreed that even getting together every few months would be better than nothing. But it's hard to have a close group that way.

I've decided that I am going to pray about it none-the-less. As the discussion leader, I feel that it's important to be prepared to lead our group in whatever God has planned for us - we have no set devotion or study guide. I think the girls like it that way. However, it requires alot of prayer and a close walk with my Savior, which is something that I feel I am lacking in these days.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I am sitting here in my quiet house (no daughter or husband) listening to Christmas music via the satellite and watching the twinkling lights on our tree. Resting. On the Lord's Day.

I can hear the dish washer. And I hear the dryer in the utility room (the washing machine is finished with yet another load of laundry and "patiently" waiting to be emptied). Our air is on - if you can believe that!

And I gently hear the voice of the Lord say, "Rest." What a great word!

I like to think of Mary at this time of year. Nine months pregnant and riding a donkey all that way to Bethlehem? My crazy, selfish brain wants to ask, "What in the world were you thinking? How did you deliver your own child?" I think she must have been pretty darn special - in every way. God obviously did. A girl, yet a woman, too. Did she have any type of conversation with her mother before she and Joseph struck out about what to expect? What to do? Was Joseph any help at all? What did it feel like - in between contractions - to quickly be told there is no where to lay down? No where to rest?

Oh, Father, may there always be plenty of room in my heart and life for You to find complete and utter rest.

Monday, December 8, 2008


“Lord, how can I love You today?”

“What act of worship can I do?”

“What words can I utter that will honor and bless You?”

“What act of service can I do to represent Your love?”

“How would Your Spirit inspire me to pray today?”

These five questions were the topic of this weekend’s devotional in December’s issue of Journey magazine (which I love. I keep my copy on my desk at work). I thought they were great questions to ponder over.

Where I work, we are driven and graded by satisfaction scores. Those scores are then compared and evaluated against other benchmarking facilities within our peer group. The goal is always to be performing at the highest percentile of your benchmarking group. Maybe one facility has high employee turnover. That facility can in turn, contact someone within their peer group who may be performing at a much lower turnover rate and ask, “What are you doing to encourage employee morale? What benefits are you offering to retain employees?” so that they can try new methodologies to improve their own satisfaction scores.

Another thing that we pride ourselves on is customer service. We are training our employees to ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

When I read over the five questions above, I thought of them as benchmarks to my own prayer life. How often do I tell God that I truly love Him? Do I just rattle through my prayers and then go about my day as I want? Do I really put God first in all that I say and do? Is God honored with my actions and words? Do I magnify the name of Jesus with my life or do I belittle it? Do I hinder others from knowing the Lord?

I admit, when I benchmark my prayer life against these questions, I feel so inadequate. I am so careful to pray for the protection of my family through out the day and wisdom for myself for my job, but I never stop to ask, “Lord, what can I do for you today? Is there anything else I can do for you today, Lord?”

Stop. Ponder. Benchmark. Improve.

Monday, December 1, 2008

2 Corinthians 4:16

December 2002 was not a good month for me. I was nearing my 30th birthday (in January) and was probably suffering from the beginning stages of depression. I was not looking forward to turning the big 3-0 at all. I felt like my life was slipping away from me.

Even though I was battling that huge cloud of gloom, I managed to continue my daily quiet times and Bible reading. But God still seemed distant and silent.

One Saturday afternoon, I took advantage of the quiet house (I remember Wayne was at the camp) and opened my Bible and began reading in 2 Corinthians.

I love when God speaks, but I hate when he uses a megaphone. That day, I was sitting on the couch and the words to the following verse seemed to just jump off the page at me, " Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). In the margin of my Bible, I wrote, "30th Birthday 12/23/02."

I remember thinking, "Wow!" But, God was saying, "Hello?! Anybody home (knocking on the door of my heart) ? Are you getting this, Laura? It's not about your outward body. It's not about you getting older. It's not about you. It's about your heart." That day, my dark and gloomy life began to see sunlight again.

I bring this memory up because 2 Corinthians 4:16 was part of my devotional reading tonight. I was able to go back to that personal altar and remember. It seems so childish now, but God can use the silliest ideas and turn them in to something so amazing for His honor and glory. I know that from experience. And I love Him for it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent: Preparing My Heart

Updated: I was just about to push the publish button when my mother called to tell me that my Grandmother has been diagnosed with three brain tumors. The largest is the size of a fist. She is 83.

Today is the first Sunday of the 2008 Advent Season.

The word "advent" is not something that I grew up hearing a whole lot in a Christian home and Baptist Church. It was simply, Christmas. The celebration of Jesus' birth. However, a few years ago, I did a little research on the advent season and it's meaning and I was greatly surprised that it's meaning and origin pretains to so much more than just the birth of Christ.

Advent has much to do with the preparation and anticipation of Christ's second coming. As Christians, our hope rests in the anticipation of a Messiah that will one day rule with peace, justice, and righteousness. It is the joy that floods our souls upon knowing that we will be reunited with our loved ones again. God poured Himself into a babe in a manger so that the world would know of His great love and longing to reconcile His creation to Himself. First came the virgin birth and now we await His second arrival.

I'm excited about Christmas this year and not for any particuliar reason. There is a renewed spirit within me for what the season truly means: celebration and expectation.

I want to do things differently this year. I want to prepare my heart by means of enlarging it for whatever God has planned for me this Advent season. I want to spend time in His word daily and find renewed love for Him and His purposes. And sometimes that is so hard. My desires normally come first and I have a three year old. But for the next 31 days, I want to fully commit to doing things God's way and exalting Him above all else.

The verse that comes to my mind tonight is Isaiah 9:6, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Birth. Longing for redemption from an evil world. Anticipation of the second coming. Soon.

8 Spiritual Things About Me

1. I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was in the third grade. I remember wearing my pink Easter dress with the slits in the sleeves that year when I walked down the aisle that Sunday night with my daddy. Walking down the aisle was a big deal to me and something that I absolutely did not want to do, but Daddy made me do it anyway. Of course, I was crying, because even then, I cried about everything!

2. I was baptized in a white and purple gingham dress. Imagine that! I'm not sure how long after I accepted Christ that I was baptized, but it wasn't very long. My mom was with me in the baptistry, not beside me, but there just the same.

3. When I was a teenager, I had one of those white Bibles that zipped up. It was the rage.

4. The year before Wayne and I got married, I taught second graders in Sunday School at my home church. On promotion day, the day I got "my class," the preacher handed me the roll and said, "Bless you, Child." I didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Those kids are in college now.

5. My mom never let me go to church with my friends that believed differently than we or were a different religion. My friends could come to church with me, but not vice versa. For instance, my favorite neighborhood friend was Luthern and no matter how many times we begged, I could never go to church with her. It would be years before I would step into a Methodist church and TONS of years later before I would attend a Catholic wedding.

6. My life verse is Jeremiah 29:11. That's where it all began for me.

7. I don't read my Bible like I should. I love God's Word and I consider it a love letter to His children, but I tend to take it for granted and not appreciate it or hide it in my heart like I should. I have a bad habit of putting other reading before His.

8. In college, God used a very spiritual guy that I went to church with, but didn't know personally, to convince me to leave a dysfuntional relationship that I was in with someone else. At the time, I knew this particuliar relationship was not right for me and I was earnestly praying that God would send me a Chrisitan husband. I thought this guy from my church was him. Wrong. A few months later, I met Wayne. See Jeremiah 29:11.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mirya Carey Quote

Mariah Carey is on the front cover of "Redbook's" December issue. I did not read the entire interview but I thought the following quote was interesting.

Mariah said that she celebrates Christmas with family and friends at her home in Aspen, Colorado. When describing her decorations, she says, "...And we have a manager set up in the front room because, to me, the season is about celebrating, about being with friends and loved ones, but first and foremost it's about the birth of Christ, and I think it's important to remember that."

The interviewer's next question is: "How does that religious aspect of the holiday fit into your celebration?"

Mariah responds, "One year I did a concert for Camp Mariah....that benefits underprivileged children. And every year I work with the foster kids of Denver. We do holiday events for them....Santa comes...."

My question is, did Mariah totally misunderstand that last question or does she totally misunderstand the "religious aspect of the holiday being the birth of Christ"?

(Source: Redbook, December 2008, "Mariah's Sweet Dreams of Christmas, by Julia Dahl, page 122)