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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oh No! Nothing Bad Has Happened On Our Trip!

Oh no! Nothing bad has happened on our trip. Larry and I are sitting in the airport at Amsterdam waiting for our flight to Athens. Then the next day we'll head to Zakynthos (Greece) where we will spend four weeks ministering through seminars and connecting with people. We'll be gone a total of 5 weeks and will spend the last week back in Athens to continue speaking and connecting.

But here's what I'm nervous about. Nothing bad has happened yet. We've been on the road for more than 24 hours and it's been one of the smoothest and easiest trips we've made. Now you understand why I'm nervous?

Or maybe you're confused. I can understand that. So let me explain.

You've heard it said all the time: 

  • Wow, I'm having so many obstacles to leave for this trip that Satan really must not want me to go, so he knows lots of good ministry will occur.
  • Wow, we are having so many problems with lining up details for this event, now we know God's going to work powerfully. 
  • Wow, so many connected with this idea have been disagreeing, Satan must be trying to block us. 

I've said those kinds of things myself.

But if these ideas are correct, then doesn't it seem logical that if a trip or event or project goes smoothly, Satan is cheering it on...and therefore, it must not be God's will?

Now I know these ideas really shouldn't be framed as "all or nothing." The truth is that good and bad, obstacles and clear sailing, can mean different things. But I'm wondering at the wisdom of making conclusions based upon those things--because that's what we're doing if we attribute something to Satan or to God. 

I even believe that God can bring obstacles to something that He has created, designed, and intends to accomplish. It's all in the way we define "smooth sailing" or "obstacles."

I can't help but think of Martha and Mary's conclusions as Lazarus dies. Their conclusion? "Jesus doesn't love us" and I have to believe that included "Jesus can't heal." We know that Mary's belief was "You could heal him while he was sick but you can't heal him now that he's dead."

But Jesus just had a different plan that wasn't "smooth sailing" yet gained greater glory for His Father and Himself. But to get there, the ultimate "obstacle" of death or "Satan's work" had to happen. 

I hate to say it but I think we should be more careful attributing an obstacle to Satan or smooth sailing to God. And I think we should be careful attributing an obstacle to God and smooth sailing to Satan. 

We just don't really know for sure. 
What do you think?

(While we're overseas, my time may be limited for posting on my blog, so please forgive me that I've pre-scheduled vignettes and excerpts from our book Never Ever Be the Same. I'm not just trying to promote the book (well, maybe I'm doing that too!). I'm trying to make sure I have posts to share with you while we're gone).

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Infamous Cereal Caper

DRUM ROLL! The winner of Write for Him is Nicci. Congratulations!! Nicki, please send me your mailing address to kathycollardmiller AT gmail DOT com.  I'll pass along your address to Hillary who will send you the book.

For two-and-a-half years, Larry’s mother, Audrey, lived with us and God used that time to purify our motives and develop greater selflessness. Audrey suffered from Lewy-Body Dementia, which caused her to be paranoid and have delusions and hallucinations. It was a difficult time where we learned to slow down our reactions and work through what was really motivating us.
I, Kathy, remember one morning Audrey was eating her bran cereal. Every morning I had to soak the cereal in milk for at least thirty minutes to make it soft. But this morning the delusion of her Lewy Body Dementia was “alive.”
She said to me, “There're rocks in my cereal. I know you're trying to kill me.”
I could feel the hair on the back of my neck begin to rise. But I prayed quickly, “Lord, this is my old pattern of wanting to be approved and not wanting to be seen as undependable. I'm going to pause because I know in Christ I am dependable, loved, and approved.” 
Audrey mumbled something else and then said, “And I wish you'd do a better job of it.”
Of course, she meant that I should make her cereal without rocks. But the juxtaposition was funny. I should do a better job of killing her? I stifled a laugh and wasn't upset—for once! 
Another morning she shuffled down the hall toward me exclaiming, “Don't lie to me, you attacked me last night!” 
Oh! That is one of my hot buttons of being called a liar. I so wanted to be mean in return, but I again slowed down my reaction and prayed, asking God to help me see myself as he sees me—as a daughter of the King. The Lord gave me compassion for Audrey who was also a daughter of the King, yet was mentally influenced by dementia. Her words didn't bother me in the least. God was doing a work within me of “small things” and although I still reacted in unloving ways at times, those reactions diminished over time. The rock in the whirlpool was being chipped off.
And now I'm the primary caregiver for my mother, even though she doesn't live in our home. The truth God revealed about my Wounds, Messages, Vows, and Strategies during the time I cared for my mother-in-law now empower me to love my own mother better. At times, I'm tempted in the “old ways” because there are still rocks in the whirlpool, but I'm not getting Hooked as much as I was with Audrey.

James 4:1-3 gives us a warning about those “rocks”: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” 
Those verses refer to the underlying motives of sinful reactions: wanting, coveting and wrong-asking because we demand our desires be fulfilled. What we think we need for happiness, security and love are being withheld and we believe we must fight to have them. 
But the more we surrender to making God our Source, the less the rocks bother us.

(This is an excerpt from our book Never Ever Be the Same http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Give-Away: "Write for Him"

You can win a copy of "Write for Him." Read below for the instructions. 

Do you know of a young woman or teen who loves to write? Then you'll especially be interested in my post today. 

Because I recently became aware of a unique and wonderful book called Write for Him: The Story of GGFG. It tells the story of how God brought together an online community of girls, bound together by a hobby of writing. The 25 young ladies featured in this book represent 10 different countries and many different backgrounds. They put their trust in God to overcome addictions, put away distorted views of God, learn how to cope with losing a parent, deal with bullies, face their fears about the future, and trade the messages of this world for the Truth. 

When they wrote these devotionals, fictional stories, testimonies, poems, and quizzes, they ranged in age from 11 to 24. Each writer desires to glorify God and encourage others by sharing a part of her life. 

Hillary Beth Koenig is the creator of the idea and founder of Godly Girls For God Webzine and author/editor of Write for
Him: The Story of GGFG. You can find the book here: www.amzn.com/1300504730

Currently, GGFG has 30 or so Site Writers ages 11-26. They write devotionals and stories, which we post every Friday. Some of the past and present writers have been featured in our book,Write for Him: The Story of GGFG. Our site is www.godlygirlsforgod.com

Here's an interview with Hillary Beth Koenig:

When did you start writing in general?
As a very young child. In kindergarten, I started a journal that my mother encouraged me to write in daily, and I stuck with it through my teen years.

When did you start writing for GGFG?
We started GGFG in 2004. I was 15 by the time it really took off as a Webzine.

How have your experiences influenced your writing?
I loved the quiet mysteries of our backyard in Florida, and was often inspired to write because of those moments I felt God was near. I experienced some very trying times in my family. I was, at times, very depressed as a teenager, and could not think clearly. Writing helped. I would even write out my prayers sometimes.

What has God taught you through writing?
He is working all over the world in hearts, and that we are far more alike than we realize as true believers in Jesus. We are not alone. We can find others going through very similar things. Satan's biggest lie is that no one else could possibly understand me. It isolates us so that it's hard for us to open ourselves up to God and others in healthy ways.

Do you have a favorite part of this book?
My favorite parts are where the Gospel changes lives... and the sweet innocence of pure faith in God.

What would you like to accomplish by writing?
I want to make sure every girl knows that they are not too young to serve the Lord, and are not alone serving Him, no matter what their family, school, or other life situation.

What does the butterfly symbolism in the book's graphics mean to you?
The butterfly represents new life in Christ, and has been our mascot all along. The purple often represents royalty. it reminds me that we are called to become more like our King, Jesus. The world on the cover reminds me of the many countries represented within GGFG. Our faith in Jesus unites us in an absolutely amazing way. And the hands remind me that God is holding us all.

When did you decide to start the book?
I was backing up a copy of the website on my computer. I felt like God was telling me it was time to try a book. It had been in the back of my mind... I turned to my husband and said, "I'm going to write a book." It was November 2011. May 1st, 2013, I held my first box of books in my hands! Since then we've had several speaking opportunities, book signings, and conversations where we could share the Truth with others.

What's your favorite page on GGFG's site?
I have always been madly in love with the Hard Q's page, because I treasure having a safe place to ask questions. I always loved the devotionals page, too, which holdfs the majority of our articles.

What encouragement would you like to give to other writers?
Write daily - or at least often. Read a lot. Don't be ashamed to let others read your work. Take criticism in stride. Only you can say what you have to say... God has put you in the situations in your life so you can glorify Him, and encourage others. Don't keep things to yourself just because you are afraid. God can do great things through you if you are willing! 

Book Link / Amazon: Write For Him: The Story of Ggfg

To put your name into the drawing to receive a copy of Write for Him, make a comment on my blog. I will draw the winner on Saturday, Feb. 21st 2015. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Love Being Offended. Oppss. Did I Actually Confess That?

Congratulations to Mona who is the winner of the drawing for Deb DeArmond's book I Choose to Love. Mona, please send me your mailing address: KathyCollardMiller @ gmail DOT com.

Maybe you're like me. I love being offended. Oppsss. Did I actually write that? Do I really want to confess to that? But sadly, it's true. There's something satisfying about being offended. But then I begin to understand the truth about what it means to be offended, and I'm sad to think of my sin. Yes, sin.
"stockimages" at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Being offended is actually a defensive way of saying, “You're seeing me in a way that I am determined you won't see me.” Or “You're treating me in a way that I am determined no one will treat me.” It's a form of anger that deals in an ungodly method to prevent being exposed or having a goal blocked.
Pastor and author Tim Keller writes in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, “People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings can’t be hurt! It is the ego that hurts—my sense of self, my identity...It is very hard to get through a whole day without feeling snubbed or ignored or feeling stupid or getting down on ourselves. That is because there is something wrong with my ego. There is something wrong with my identity.”
Instead of the words “being offended,” we can use other words that seem acceptable, even righteous: like “being hurt.” Regardless of the wording, it easily turns into resentment and bitterness if it's not curtailed by accepting God's view of us and trusting his sovereign control over everything that happens to us. 
Along with not abiding in our inheritance in Christ, being offended is also a way of saying, “God doesn't know what he's doing because I am more important and valuable than to be treated like this.” It's a diversionary tactic saying, “Don't see me the way this situation seems to be reflecting me.”
Isaiah 49:7 says, 

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

God is identifying how Israel thinks of itself: despised, abhorred, and a servant. After all, at this time, it's true: the Israelites are despised, abhorred, and in servitude because they are exiles in Babylon. Without trust and faith in God, they could be justified in calling themselves by those terms. 
But what is God's solution and perspective in that verse? The ones who regard Israel as abhorred will eventually “prostrate” themselves by honoring Israel. Why? Because God has their back. He has chosen Israel as his own. It's all about God's view of Israel, not anything else. 
Later in the chapter, Zion/Israel whines, “But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me'” (verse 14).
Zion complains that because of the difficult circumstances it is going through, God has forsaken her. Sounds like she is looking for justification for being hurt and offended. 
What is God's reply?

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
Your builders make haste;
your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
Lift up your eyes around and see;
they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, declares the Lord,
you shall put them all on as an ornament;
you shall bind them on as a bride does. (verses 15-18)

At this point in Israel's history, they are exiled captives in Babylon and the walls of Jerusalem are crumbled and ruined. From all outward appearances, their self-evaluation is correct. Just like the areas of our lives where we are needy, destroyed or hopeless—and everyone else knows it—to our chagrin.
But God says his view of them is more important and that he has a purpose for the difficult circumstances they are facing.  
Here are his points:

  • You are on my mind as much as a mother nursing her child. A mother thinks a lot about the needs of a nursing child.
  • You are engraved on the palms of my hands. Have you noticed that your hands are continually out in front of your sight?
  • You don't see what I see. He has a plan.
  • You will look as glorious as a gilded, ornamented bride. Have you noticed that a happy bride is the most radiant person on earth? That's how Israelites will become, radiating God's glory.

As you think of your own temptations to be hurt, offended, resentful or bitter, can you identify the root source? It's distrust of God's sovereign control and a denial of how he sees you.

I'm glad I had the courage to confess that I love being offended. Now I can ask God to forgive me, heal me, and empower me to see myself the way he sees me!

(Excerpted from our new book, Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy )

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Adoption is More Than...

In a recent post I wrote about the ministry of Tiffany Darling and the theme of adoption. Being adopted is more than just being placed into a family. It is what enables a new family member to be considered a full adult heir. And that certainly applies to our adoption as an heir of God.

Image by cuteimage at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Galatians 4:5-7 tells us, "in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."

Here's a fictional story I created that I hope will make adoption in the family of God a little more real.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book Give-Away: "I Choose You Today" by Deb DeArmond

(Look below to see how you can put your name in to win a copy of I Choose You Today.)

I'd written to you recently about how love is "a choice for the

Beloved's highest good." Well, I now have the book in my hands that has confirmed it: I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last by Deb DeArmond. You are going to want this book if you're married. And if it's not for you, it'll make a fabulous wedding present or bridal shower gift. 

I Choose You Today offers 31 practical ways you can make love last by making choices like:

  • be generous with your spouse
  • challenge one another
  • listen mindfully
  • love fiercely
  • bless your spouse
  • forgive
  • share your burdens
  • be adaptable

and many more ideas.

Deb's short chapters are perfect for a quick burst of inspiration and encouragement. Each one starts with a Bible verse and each one ends with:

  1. a "conventional wisdom" quote
  2. questions
  3. prayer

I especially love the little "Conventional wisdom" quotes. Here's the one from Chapter  27 "I Choose to Comfort You": "Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand-in-hand."--Emily Kimbrough.

Deb DeArmond is a highly sought-after executive coach and speaker. Known as a relationship and conflict resolution expert, Deb is dedicated to helping others build successful solutions to the challenges they face at home and at work. She is the co-founder of MyPurposeNow.org, a website for Christian women 50+.  Her blog is DebDeArmond.com.

Would you like to win a copy of Deb's book? I know you'll want to. To put your name into the drawing by making a comment on my blog and I'll draw the winner on Wednesday, February 11. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Compare Myself to Others

Remember my post about Tiffany Darling? Can I be honest? As I've followed their journey of faith, I've compared myself to them. And I come up lacking. I'm so weak I pray that God won't want me to talk to the person seated next to me on the plane! And they are traveling to Ethiopia, spot a street boy and adopt him--which everyone, including government officials, said is impossible! But 3-4 years later, the impossible becomes God's miracle.

Have I ever done anything like that? Nope. 

But have I conquered my own brand of impossibilities? Yes, in God's power. And Tiffany is the first one to say that she never would have had the courage to do the things she's done without God empowering her. 

And that is what God cares about for each one of us. Not how impossible the job is--because even the greatest impossibility can be done in our own strength. The question is: did we do it in His strength? 

That is what God cares about. Whether the challenge is easy or hard, did we seek God's help, guidance, and wisdom? 

When I come to my desk to write, I am capable in myself to do it. But it won't be words with God's wisdom. So I must remember to ask God to empower me.

When I give soul care to someone, I am capable in myself to do it. But it won't be with insights that only God can provide. So I must remember to ask God to reveal what is really going on.

When I prepare to speak, I am capable in myself to do it. But it won't be with the power that will impact the hearts of the listeners. 

What would you put in that formula?

Everything we do, simple or complicated, easy or hard, a-piece-of-cake or challenging, needs to be brought before the Lord for His empowering. 

And because of that, God doesn't compare us with others. 

Tweet This: God doesn't compare us with others.

We each have unique assignments designed by God and every one of them needs God's help. And He doesn't compare us against each other. He just asks, "Will you do this in my power?"

I'm glad and grateful...and relieved. How about you? How do you feel knowing that God doesn't compare you to others?