Clever Fakeness

The Texas Panhandle has had an unusual spring this year. For once in a very long time, the trees and flowers have been allowed full bloom…that is a rare occurrence here. Last Sunday, Steve and I were going to church and we noticed that one of our neighbors had a particularly unique and beautiful cluster of daffodils in the front yard. Steve made the comment that they “almost looked fake.” I replied that maybe they were—fake. He wondered why anybody would put fake flowers in their yard.  I said, “People are clever with their fakeness.” Whoa! That is a devotion right there. Isn’t it true how clever we are in our fakeness? Steve went on to ask, “Is that even a word—fakeness?” That comment made me laugh because I thought…it should be!

Fakeness is real and it is hard to be truly transparent with others. I struggle and I have stifling trust issues that still plague me to this day as I enter into my sixtieth year on earth! I know that much of my problem comes from my childhood and the desertion of my father. Every time I think that I’ve moved on, fear grips me again and I feel, at times, that I will never make headway. Still, the LORD in his infinite patience and mercy draws me near to him and reminds me that he is trustworthy. I don’t have to be fake with Jesus. He knows my struggles and sin and loves me anyway.

In 1 Samuel 16, God tells Samuel to stop mourning for the failed king Saul and to go anoint a new king. God sent him to a man who had eight sons, Jesse. One by one Jesse parades seven of his eight sons before Samuel. God said no:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7).

We know the rest of the story. The eighth son and young shepherd David is the chosen one to be the new king.

So, what is your clever fakeness? Are you bogged down with perfectionism? Is it materialism or performance that pulls your heart from God? How about the worldly obsession with youth and beauty? Whatever it is, it is important to remember that God isn’t interested in how you look, where you live…he looks straight into your heart.

Have you let Jesus look straight into your heart? In the Gospel of Luke there is, to me, a very interesting detail that is different from Matthew, Mark, and John.  Please ponder on this a moment or two. Peter had just denied Jesus and the rooster had crowed. “The LORD turned and looked straight at Peter” (Luke 22:60a). I can’t imagine how Peter must have felt having God dead-eye him at that moment. Peter knew his fakeness had been revealed. I’m encouraged because, after the resurrection, Jesus fully restores Peter. I need that full restoration too because I am no different than Peter. And while I may struggle to be real with my friends and family, I don’t need to with my Savior. Let’s put aside our fakeness before him and receive Christ’s gift of restoration. “The grace of the LORD Jesus be with God’s People. Amen” (Rev 22:21).

The Celebrity of Jesus

Recently, my husband and I took our vacation in NYC. What a great trip! During our stay we ate, we walked, we visited famous places, we walked, we ate some more, we walked…and we saw five musicals! The talent was truly incredible; one show in particular had some very well-known cast members. Such fun!!

One day our trek brought us to the outdoor set of a popular morning show. It was pretty chilly and the anchors basically ran out and ran back in. The crowd went bonkers when they saw them! Later in the day, we walked by a big crowd waiting to glimpse another celebrity.

I’ve never been ga-ga about famous people. I had a short “thing” for Tom Jones when I was a preteen but that is pretty much it. In other words, I’ve never really been star-struck. Sure, I can appreciate talent in sports and entertainment and I do. But…I don’t give these strangers my affection.

There was a woman one time who was gravely ill. She had been bleeding for years. In her city a crowd was gathering; they were following a man she had heard of. It was hot and dusty but she pressed in and stretched her hand out as far as she could. The strain of the crowd was becoming unbearable. She thought to herself, “If I can just touch him.” Her arm ached; she felt like she might faint from weakness. Straining further she grasped the fibers of the hem of the One everyone was seeking. Instantly, she was healed. She knew it and so did He as He turned to acknowledge her.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (‭Luke‬ ‭8‬:‭45-48‬ NIV)

Now…that’s celebrity.

Going All Jesus!

I’ve worked for Chanel as a makeup artist for many years. It is my habit to pray and ask God to send me someone that I can help feel pretty. Makeup is powerful! My style is a natural makeup. If you want lots of drama and fake eyelashes, I’m not going to be your gal.

The other day, I went to the counter for a few hours. One of my beautiful co-workers Brooke was doing a makeover. I put my billfold and keys in my drawer and walked over to see if I could help in anyway. We were launching a new lipstick and Brooke was applying it as I walked up. The customer was looking at herself in the mirror; over and over she would comment about how fat she thought she was. Finally…I said to her, “Don’t speak that over yourself! You are created in the image of God!” Well, she looked at me and said, “Oh! Are you going to go all Jesus on me?” I laughed and said, “I guess I am.” I think Brooke was a little uncomfortable but it completely cracked me up.

A long time ago God spoke into my heart that when I share the life He has given me it will make people uncomfortable. It has broken my heart at times but I cannot…let me repeat that…cannot…I cannot help myself. I have to share Jesus with people. He has spoken these words to me, “Phyllis they are not offended by you, they are offended by ME.”

I guess one would call it “witnessing” but I just call it living. Jesus died on the Cross to give me life in Him. He did it for you too! He sure did. I’m not one to use fancy words or canned speeches. I don’t lead people through a specific prayer. I just talk about Him and how He has changed me. He starts His work of salvation by my mere utterance of His Name. Jesus! Oh the power of the name Jesus!!

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (‭John‬ ‭10‬:‭10‬b ESV)

Indeed, He has given me that abundant life! If you haven't joined your heart with Jesus Christ, now is your big day. He is waiting...

The Sparrow and The Cardinal

Since our mom and dad passed away, the family farmhouse has been a quiet retreat for me. My sister has diligently worked on it, making improvements, repairs, and decorating it with acquired treasure both donated and purchased. Susan is happy out here working because she feels close to Dad. It is a happiness place for me too!

This morning, I awoke and got a cup of coffee. I returned to the bed to drink it and waited for the house to warm up…my excuse anyway. My practice is to drink coffee, check social media, and check the weather. I’m returning home in the morning and the forecast calls for snow. I scrolled through the many activities of my friends on Facebook and stop to listen to a rendition of “How Great Thou Art” by a couple of country artists. Wow! So…beautiful.

The song brings me to tears and I raised my hands to heaven and worshiped my Jesus! I thanked him for His faithfulness and how He has changed me. How I love You Lord!!

I wiped my eyes and then…God got my attention. I heard a familiar little sound outside the window. Oh my gosh! I rushed to the window and opened the blinds to see. Where is it God? My eyes searched the bush, the water pump, the clothes line. My eyes looked upward and there it was!!! He was so beautiful that little male cardinal, bright red on top of the vapor-light pole. I was in tears again because of God’s amazing tenderness to me. He appointed that bird to cheer me, to encourage me.

Beloved friends…don’t you think for a single minute that He isn’t watching you, caring for you, sustaining you like my sister does for this old house.

I discovered the application of a new word in describing the Lord: magnificent. Indeed He is magnificent! It isn’t because He appointed a little red bird to entertain me. It is because He can. He is sovereign over ALL the earth.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭38-39‬ ESV)

One Shade of Red

One Shade of Red

My heart is really heavy this morning and I feel compelled to visit with you about a movie that is coming to theaters. I’m not going to mention the name because you already know it. In fact, you may have already read the book.

I am begging you to not go to this movie! Please! I have very good and personal reasons why I am asking this. I’m going to tell you about my journey towards healing.

My first husband was a sex addict and I was exposed to pornography. By the time we were married, I’d already been living the philosophy of: if it feels good do it.

I will not get into the graphic details but suffice to say that it has been a hard road for me to health in this area.

The problem with porn is you can NEVER get the images out of your head. I will repeat this. NEVER. I can be sitting in church listening to the pastor and an image will pop into my head. I immediately take that thought, “captive to Christ.” It takes sheer determination to change the focus.

You may think, “What’s the big deal?” The big deal is you were created to have sex within the boundaries that God set! When a woman becomes an object to be used, not loved, she eventually becomes invisible. I know this because I lived it! Surely this is speaking to someone…

1 Corinthians 6:18 NIV
[18] Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

It is not good for you. God wants what is good for you. You were paid for at the Cross of Christ. Jesus Christ shed His blood and died for you.

Women: If you need to talk to someone, you know how to reach me and I am available.

Men: If you are involved with porn. You need to seek help immediately. I want this image to pop up in your mind the next time you are involved in porn. That woman you are viewing or using is your wife, your mother, your sister, your niece, your daughter. She is every woman and she has value.

God of Details

After I read Exodus the other morning, about the tabernacle and minutiae of details, I wrote this devotion.

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, (Job 38:22 ESV)”

So…on December 23, 2014 God caused it to snow because of me. If you were inconvenienced, I apologize.

The Monday before Xmas I was heading to my nail appointment, exhausted, and I started to pray and cry. I was feeling very lonely and missing my mom, dad, my brother Mike. It was a clear sky with some clouds far to the north…looked like a winter sky. I had worked almost every day the past few weeks. As I prayed, I asked God for some snow. I said that I knew He knows where the snow is stored and that He could send a little snow and that it would make me feel better, give me hope.

Keep in mind, the last time I looked at the weather there was nothing in the forecast.

I’m sitting in the pedicure chair and a lady came in and said there was going to be scattered showers and that it was clouding up. I said, “Is is supposed to rain, really?” She said it was in the forecast. I started to kind of grin. By the time I left the nail salon it was cloudy! While I felt that God had given me hope, I didn’t really think He would give me snow. I told my friend at work that I had prayed for snow and why.

So…on December 23, 2013 my little 14 year old beagle Lucy suffered what the vet thought was a seizure. At the time it happened, my husband and I really believed that we might possibly have to put her to sleep…it was that bad. We were scared and very tearful. Lucy didn’t recognize the house or us; she was trembling and confused. As soon as the vet’s office opened, I called but couldn’t see the vet until the afternoon.

Within a few hours, Lucy seemed to be improving but I was still heartbroken about what I might find out. I got her in the car and headed to the vet and it is SNOWING! Not a lot but it was an answer to my prayer and God knew I needed that at that exact hour. I somehow felt that Lucy would have another day that it wouldn’t be over for her just yet. I don’t know how long we will have Lucy but December 23, 2014 was not her day.

I’m so grateful that the God of every little detail in His tabernacle is mindful of every little detail in my life and yours. Many people think that things are a coincidence but I know God grows my faith and your faith in many, many ways…sometimes it is with snow.

The Magic of Christmas

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (‭Luke‬ ‭2‬:‭10-12‬ ESV)

The Magic of Christmas

I sat in church this morning with my head bowed. We celebrate communion every Sunday and I usually try to picture Christ on the cross, but my thoughts were different today. I remembered when I was a very little girl.

Before growing up and life quenched my imagination, I knew Jesus. I knew Him as baby Jesus; I talked with Him as the Savior; I sang to Him on the rope swing in our backyard. I remember I told my mom that He talked to me and she quickly told me to stop…I guess she thought that wasn’t acceptable. I stopped.

And so, this morning I sit in church and think about Him. I ask Him during communion to restore in me the magic and wonder of that little girl with a weak, wandering eye, afraid of her own shadow. Please Lord! I want that time back; I want to hear You as I did all those years ago. I stare down at my hand, the emblems of bread and juice…His Body, His Blood. I want to commune again with Jesus.

Funny, how God answers prayer. In the sermon, our pastor begins with a list of symbols associated with Christmas. The list is pretty long; he mentions many, many things. But…as the list continues, a small little voice, a little girl behind me whispers, “baby Jesus, he forgot baby Jesus.” She repeats it several times. I find myself grinning because she keeps insisting. Even as a small child, she knows that this list begins and ends with the birth of the baby Jesus…The Christ Child. The list isn’t complete without Jesus.

Instantly, God answered my prayer by placing that little girl behind me in church today. He reminds me that I am still the same little girl; His little girl. I see the magic and wonder of His birth. I talk and sing to my Savior. I hear His voice.

No one tells me to stop.

Cooking with Louise

November 30, 2014

Cooking with Louise

After my parents passed away, my sisters and I divvied up the few items left at the family farm. One item I asked for was a set of Pyrex bowls. Many of you will remember these from your childhood; the original set has four bowls: red, blue, green, and yellow. Mom didn’t have a yellow bowl but I found one on eBay and now pretend that it is from her original set.

Speaking of pretending, I pretend I’m cooking with my mom every time I use these bowls! In fact, these are the only bowls I use. I get them out when I bake and think about my mother. Louise and I cook together.

I don’t remember if my mom and I ever cooked together. But, in my imagination we did and do. I can dream up all sorts of scenarios in my imagination…good and bad.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 Paul speaks about this.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”

Did you notice the word imaginations? Yep. Paul is saying that I need to examine my thoughts through the lens, the filter, of the Word—the knowledge of God. Imagination isn’t necessarily a bad thing; creativity flows through imagination. If, however, my imagination takes me to a place where I’m entertaining a sin, this type of imagination can lead to a big problem. I take “captive” that thought and reject it, not always an easy thing.

I was at a conference the other day and the speaker said that our minds wander 47% of the time. That’s a lot of time for me to get in trouble. Thoughts and imaginations are very powerful and getting them under the control of the Holy Spirit is one key to living a life of freedom. Living in the Spirit can be challenging for sure! Let’s recommit to taking our thought life to a higher level.

1. Where has your mind been wandering to lately? It is from God? Or are you entertaining something that isn’t good for you? Take stock of these thoughts and ask God what He thinks.

2. Is there something in your life that you need to get rid of, a powerful influence to your thought life? I had to give up reading certain books and seeing certain movies because of how my imagination would spin out of control.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Pie

November 24, 2014
Don’t Cry Over Spilt Pie

Thanksgiving week is such a great time to reflect and think about all the many things to be grateful for. I love to bake and look forward to a meal with family and friends. This year is no exception either; I had some extra baking to do for a couple of families who were having a rough year. So…today I needed to bake a pumpkin pie.

Now I love pumpkin pie and make it every year (I think everyone should love it too). It really isn’t any trouble to make an extra one. I had purchased an aluminum foil pan for it because I did not know this family and didn’t want to keep up with a pie pan. I made the crust, made the filling, and popped it in the oven. It turned out beautiful! I contacted the gal who was coordinating the meal but hadn’t heard back from her and since the pie was pretty cool, I decided to put it in the fridge.

Big mistake…those foil pans are kind of flimsy. My beautiful pumpkin pie twisted and proceeded to catapult out of the fridge while smearing down the inside…a big portion rested on top of the freezer drawer, and finally to the floor. Wow!

I’ve got to tell you that pumpkin pie schmooshed into the crevices of refrigerator trays and seals looks a great deal like baby poop. It took some time to clean all that up. It took some time, that is, after I got over the shock…I actually stared at that mess for a few seconds while I contemplated my reaction. Do I laugh? Cry?

My very favorite quotation of all time is by Chuck Swindoll: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

In other words…attitude is everything! The Holy Spirit has really helped me with this over the years. There was a time when I would have let that pie accident ruin my day…but no more. I actually think it was pretty dad-gum funny and wish I’d taken a picture of it to share on Facebook. Oh well!

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Today, I am very grateful for the fruit of the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit has helped me. And, yes that includes spilt pumpkin pie. By the way, my beagle Chyna really loves pumpkin pie too.