What goes around comes around...
God gave me a sweet blessing today. You see I woke up with KILLER CRAMPS. (No that wasn't the blessing but it opened the opportunity for me to get one.) These were the debilitating kind that make you bend over and scream or cause you to wonder if someone's inside of you with a knife. I mean, the kind of cramps we got in high school!

Here is where the blessing came from the curse. My kids were out of school today. I had just promised them some fresh blueberry muffins but soon discovered that we had no eggs, and I was in no condition for a grocery store run. So I laid down on the couch and shouted out to them that I couldn't cook them breakfast after all. Both Joshua and Andrew came downstairs to see what their options were and discovered me on the couch in fetal position. Well, not really, but I think it was obvious I wasn't moving. Both of them asked what was wrong. They need to know these things about the "female species" so I just flat out told them. Instead of being grossed out, they got all concerned. Oh how my husband has trained them to be such thoughtful guys!!!

They were telling me to stay on the couch and asking if I needed anything. So I took full advantage of the whole situation and asked for coffee and a blanket to put over my feet. Andrew brought me water and set up a place for me to put my coffee on the footstool so it'd be easy for me to reach. Then he asked if I wanted him to make me a bagel or something to eat. I told them how sweet they were and Josh quipped back, "Mom, you take care of us when we're not feeling good so we want to take care of you, too."

They joined me on the couch. We watched t.v. and talked while Ibuprofen took it's course and relieved me of my great pain!

Around lunch time when I got off the couch to make them something to eat, I was thinking about all those times I feel selfish self-pity and wonder if all I do ever really gets noticed - the laundry, the cooking and cleaning, the caring and sharing of all things sacred. Raising kids is a labor of love. But today, God gave me a sweet reminder that He notices, He blesses, He returns the investments we make in our relationship with Him and others. Today, I saw that what goes around, comes around (eventually) and I got be be the recipient of His circle of love.

I am back from Camp Berea in Hebron, NH! Another amazing weekend that I will not soon forget. I have to admit I was a little nervous going into these two past weekends because these women have had the amazing privilege of having Priscilla Evans Shirer speak at their retreat last year and another one before that.

She is such an anointed and gifted Bible teacher! Sharing the stage she taught from was an honor. But I'm human. I'm a woman. And you know we women tend to compare. But I also new God wanted me there. I was completely expectant and dependent on Him to show up BIG TIME!!! And He did not disappoint. He exceeded all expectations and hopes. At least 10 women made first time commitments to Jesus as Savior and close to 100 re-committed their lives to following Him with all of their hearts! I am so thankful I got to be part of it!!!! When we step out in faith and obedience, He can't help but bless!

Thank you so much Berea retreat team: Kristen, Sue, Lisa, Cissy, Deb, Donna, Nate, Matt, Anoli and so many others!! You are the best. I was so thankful I got to serve with such an amazing team and what a way to kick off my fall speaking season. To you and my new Camp Berea friends, I miss you already. Oh how I wish we could have "remained" together just a little longer - talking, laughing, encouraging, sharing stories, praying. I keep hearing the words of our theme song, "Love is Near" in my head. He sure was near, wasn't He!? I feel so blessed to have drawn near to Him with each of you!

Praying God's Word, Praying God's Will
I shared in a devotion featured today at Proverbs 31 and Crosswalk.com that I used to struggle with what to say in my prayers. Then I learned about the practice of praying God's Word, and experienced the power of praying God's will. It completely changed my outlook on prayer and my outlook on life. It also really helped me hide God's Word in my heart. The more I prayed it, the more I remembered what God's Word promises and the more I believed.

Here are a few verses I pray for others and for myself. I either put I, me or my name in the blanks or someone else's name, or both.

For really "getting"
God's love:
Lord, I pray that ________ would be rooted and established in Your love, and that ________ would have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that ______may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

Lord, I thank you that because of Your great love and compassion You said that "though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, Your unfailing love for (me) ______ will not be shaken, and Your covenant of peace will not be removed." Today, I choose to believe and live in the security and promise of your unfailing love. Isaiah 54:10 (NIV)

For anxieties or worries:

Lord, please help ____ to remember that You are near. And because you are near, please help ______ to choose not to worry about anything, but instead to pray about everything. I pray that _______would simply tell you what ______ need and thank you for all that you have already done. Because when _____ do/does this, Your word says that the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard their heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Today, I commit to obey your word so that I can become a prayer warrior instead of a prayer worrier. Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)

Jesus , You said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, trust also in Me." So, today I choose not to LET my heart fill with trouble and worries. When they start filling my heart, I will bring them to You and place them in Your trusting and capable hands.
John 14:1 (NIV)

For hope and peace:
I pray that You God, the source of hope, will fill_____ completely with joy and peace because ______trusts in You. Then _____will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15: 13 (NLT)

Lord, because You supply all of ________ needs, I pray that _________ would still and quiet _____ soul; like a weaned child with it's mother, like a weaned child is ______soul within (me) _________. Help_______ put _______hope in You LORD both now and forevermore. Psalm131:2 (NIV)

For strength and faith:
Lord, I pray that out of Your glorious riches You would strengthen_______ with power through Your Spirit in______ inner being, so that Christ may dwell in _______heart through faith. Help me see your blessings and riches in my life that I so easily miss in my busy and exhausting schedule. Lord, reveal Your life to _______and through ________ as________rely on Your strength in me. Ephesians 3:1-17, (NIV)

For growing in our love for God and others:
“And this is my prayer for _________: that ________ love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” Philippians 1:9 (NIV)

I would love to hear your thoughts on prayer. Also, what are some of your favorite verses? Please click on the word "comments" below to share yours. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could print out a huge list after today and experience
the fullness God intends for our lives, as we pray His Words and pray His will together?

This is The Truth!
Sometimes we believe lies.

Sometimes we lose hope and feel confused.

Sometimes we wonder if life could ever be different.

Sometimes we question what is real.

Sometimes we forget what is True.

Please take a minute to watch this video completely. (Caution: Be careful if other videos pop up when it's done. Many are inappropriate. I am only recommending this ONE.) Just click on the arrow and it will start. I pray that this video moves your soul as much as it moves mine!!!

This my friend is THE TRUTH!!!!!! Oh, how I praise HIM!!!!!!!

PS. Berea Camp friends I couldn't find the video clip on Sermon Spice anymore. I had purchased it back in June but it's not on there today. So I went searching for it and found it on YouTube. Perhaps God wanted me to show it here for those who haven't seen it who need to know the Truth. I hope you can figure out how to download it. I have no idea how that works :-).

I'm Home!
We landed in Charlotte at about 3:30pm this afternoon. If you are visiting my blog for the first time after attending the Camp Berea retreat - welcome!!! I am so glad you stopped by. I had so much fun with all of you this weekend. As much as I wanted to see my family, I didn't want to leave. You are engraved on my heart today! And I promise to keep you in my prayers!

Also, if you would like for me to send you a link to video clip from Sat nights session, just click on the word "comments" below, and be sure to list your email address so I can send a link.

To my friends who were praying - THANK YOU ! The weekend in NH was amazing! God showed up in such a powerful and personal way. At least seven women prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, and countless others re-committed to seek and follow Him with all their hearts! It left me speechless. Hard to imagine huh?

I also want to encourage you because God used you this weekend to minister with me through your comments last week. Thank you so much for opening your hearts once again and for being so transparent about your worries in my last post.

I was able to take the comments and split them into "worries" and "ways we can find rest" and share them with the women at the retreat. It was so good to be able to not only speak from my own experiences but to share from your life experiences so that they could see how very much we are all alike. Your stories of how you process your worries and pursue His truth wove together so beautifully with my teaching points for how we can press into the heart of God for peace and His perspective, finding rest in Him instead of wrestling with our worries.

You are the best bloggy friends in the world. I appreciate all of you so much. Thanks for encouraging me and being part of what God is doing in my life and in the lives of others.

Treading Water
Hi friends! How are you? I've been treading water these days. The good news is that I am treading Living Water. Not only treading but gulping too. It's been good and God has been so amazingly faithful to provide many things I have needed the past several days.

I had 10 new radio shows due today and pretty much wrote them in 2 hours last night. That's a record breaker for me!

I needed to edit them down some today before I sent them to our radio consultant for review so I know a sigh with big relief - whew they are done! For today anyway. Next week I'll get them back with revisions and then I'll start practicing them for recording next Wednesday.

I also had a batch of P31 devotions to review today and those are done, too! Whoo Hoo!

Also, for the past week, I've been part of a project to connect P31 with Amani, a ministry we are going to promote through P31. It's a really amazing event that is coming to Charlotte next month. (Click here to find out more).

Amani is a ministry in Africa that's bringing 18 women from war-torn areas to the US to do a high-end fashion show with clothing and accessories they have made to sell and support other women there. The fashion show will be interwoven with their testimonies of absolute transformation from brokenness to hope and redemption through Christ. Our family has signed up to host two of the women in our home while they are here.

I am so excited and a little nervous. I am excited to learn more about Africa from women who are much like the mother of the daughter(s) we will adopt. And I'm hoping they can teach me how to cook African food. That is what I am most nervous about - providing them with food they'll like and a place to stay that is comfortable for them. It's so different here. I am sure it will be a bit overwhelming for them, too.

Another big chunk of time has been very well spent the past week or so while I've been digging into the Word to prepare for a retreat I am doing this weekend and next weekend in New Hampshire. I've developed new outlines, new small group questions, new power points, etc. Fun and challenging all at the same time!

Now I am going to go rest and hang out with my guys before we all go to bed.

Oh, and one more thing I've been wanting to ask you - my bloggy friends and oh so wise counselors! One of my sessions for my retreat is about resting in Christ in the midst of worries, concerns and busy schedules. I want to talk to the women about having a rested heart and spirit even if our bodies might not be able to be still as much as we want or need. I will address how we can create those down times. But what I'd love to know is this:

What do you worry about most?

How do you find "rest" in Him when you are struggling with those worries, upset about things, or just feeling restless? What do you do?

PS. Thanks for your prayers for me as the Lord has prompted some of you. I have no doubt that is how I have been able to accomplish all that He's called me to do this past week. I treasure your prayers more than I can say. They carry me!

Getting Into A New Groove
I can't believe it's been a week since I posted last. And even my last post was a little lame. I never did come up with my perfect world list. There are just too many people to choose from!

And let's just say my real world gives me too many choices, too! And I can't seem to keep up with all of them. It's all good stuff, just too much of it these past few weeks. In one sense, I feel like I'm disappointing someone almost every day, but for the first time in a long while I feel like I'm right where God wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do each day. And that is a good place to be.

My biggest challenge has been getting into a new groove with school, homework, laundry, groceries, finding a new schedule between working in the P31 office and working from home, interviewing, hiring and training a new assistant (since my wonderful assistant Aimy got a full-time teaching job last month), working on messages for upcoming events this month, and this new thing called "exercise" that I added to my routine this summer!

Now that I think about it, it's probably the exercise that's throwing me off. Running, and stretching, and doing all that gymnastics stuff Lysa talked me into takes time ya'll. That was always my excuse before - "I can't exercise because I don't have time. " Now it's "I can't ________ because I have to exercise. " But I have to admit, I love it. I feel and sleep so much better now.

While we were on vacation at the end of the summer we made a list of goals for the fall. One of them was to spend more time with friends, and we really have been! Last weekend we went on a double date with some old friends Saturday night. We had a great time laughing and talking. Then we were invited to a cook-out at the home of some friends from Mexico that we met through our kids. It was a whole day of eating! After that we stopped by another cook-out for dessert and games with our church small group.

This past weekend we went running Saturday morning and then worked in the yard, cleaned house and I spent the whole afternoon putting up our fall decorations. Who cares that it's 95 degrees? I am putting out those fall colors and pumpkin candles! That night we had some new friends from church over to our house. JJ grilled baby-back ribs for the first time ever and they were so delicious! We all just sat around sharing our stories about how we met our spouses, things about parenting we never anticipated, etc. They all have little ones so it's kind of weird to be the ones they are asking for advice. Makes me feel a little old - but also very blessed!

Last night we had dinner with an Ethiopian family that we know through JJ's job. JJ works with the wife, Zemen, who is from Addis. She came her for college and also to join her husband who is also from Addis. It was a wonderful evening learning all about their country, their traditions and enjoying our first ever Ethiopian meal. They are a wonderful source of help and encouragement as we prepare to bring our soon to be adopted Ethiopian daughter(s) home.

Speaking of our adoption, we found this past weekend that our dossier has been finalized and approved in the US. It's on the way to Ethiopia to be interpreted and then processed through their court system. That is a really big deal!

We also had to make some decisions last week about a few girls we were interested in. All of the younger girls had been placed with other families while our paperwork was being finished. But there were some 10yr old girls we were drawn too. Then our agency reminded us that they are outside the age range we listed on our home study so we'd have to do an addendum to get approved - which would delay everything. After much prayer, we decided to wait for more younger girls to choose from. We feel like the Lord told us to adopt between the ages of 4-9 so we need to stay with that.

That has been hard. I have been concerned. What if they were one of our daughters and we just passed them up? But yesterday while I was reading my Bible God reminded me of the verse in Isaiah that talks about those who wait on the Lord. He promises that when we wait on HIM, we will be renewed with strength. I was reminded of His timing in all of this. And then I reminded myself that He already knows her name, He already knows who she is, and He'll make sure she comes home to us.

Well, that's a little re-cap of the past week here at our house. Tomorrow, September 11th, JJ and I are spending the day together for our 15th wedding anniversary! We decided not to go on a special trip since we'll have a lot of travel expense for Ethiopia. So we're going to a spa for a couples massage (first time we've ever done that) and then we'll spend a casual day together, maybe go for a walk, see a movie, have dinner out, just be. I am really looking forward to remembering and celebrating the day I married my best friend!

My Perfect World
My friend LeAnn posted today about a very creative and insightful school project her son was assigned this week. Click here to read about it. I'd love to know the answer...Who would be in your perfect world?

I am still trying to decide about mine.

Satisfy Me in the Morning
I've been reading your stories about how you have also felt that longing for God's unconditional love. Isn't it such a process? The day I described in Friday's post was just the first time I realized what I had been looking for and where I would find it. But clinging to it, living in it and believing that His love is enough to satisfy me - is a daily journey.

One of my favorite verses is in the Psalms when Davids asks God to "satisfy him in the morning with HIS unfailing love, so that he could sing for joy all of his days". (Psalm 90:14) Very rarely do we just wake up satisfied. We have to come to Him each day with our empty cup, our thirsty heart and ask God to satisfy the longing that only He can fill on a continual never ending basis. Heather said that this is a verse that she and a friend are praying for each other. I love that idea.

So that is what I am going to do today, pray that God would satisfy me and each of you with HIS unfailing love. I am asking Him to fill us with a sweet sense of joy knowing that every bit of love we long for, we can find in Him.

But before we go, we need a winner. Thanks to random integer selection, commenters #16 and # 30, are the winners of this weekend's give-away "Searching for Satisfaction" which is a message based on what we've been talking about.

Congratulations Jennifer at goodwijl@gmail.com and Bonelle Pagel. I'll be in touch to get your mailing addresses.

Have a wonderful Labor Day!