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Happy Gratefulgiving

Happy Gratefulgiving

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Thanksgiving season is upon us. Although, Thanksgiving should be year round, not a once a year holiday. Pumpkin pie year round! I think I could handle that! Buried in Cool Whip of course!

There is much to be thankful for; a roof over my head, a car that runs, heat during the winter and air conditioning during the summer, food on the table, jobs I enjoy, friends to share life with, kids that call me mom. We could go on and on about people, places and things we are thankful for. 

Is there a difference between being thankful and grateful? I believe there is. When I say, “Thank you.” It’s because someone has done something for me. A stranger held the door open at the bank. My son unloaded softener salt from my car. My daughter ran a few loads of laundry while I was at work. An assistant helped me find records I was looking for at work. The UPS driver delivered my new cell phone. Another driver let me go first at a 4-way stop. A neighbor invited me to a gathering. I am truly thankful for all of these things. And my “Thank You,” comes from my heart. The receiver and the giver of the saying Thank You acknowledges that you notice someone else doing something generous for you. Giving thanks is an important reminder of the gifts of life all around us.

Around a fourth of the books in the New Testament were written by Paul. Once Paul encountered Jesus, got to know Him, and was in His presence, he told anyone and everyone about Jesus. Paul and several other disciples were church planters back in the day. They left what they knew, what was comfortable and hit the road. 

When I get a new book, I have a tendency to read the first few pages and the last few pages to decide if I’m going to read it. (Enter eye roll from my bookworm sister! 🙂 ) Anyway, when I read the first handful of verses and the last few verses of the books Paul has written, I sense more than thankfulness. There is a deeper emotion, a deeper connection with whom he is writing to. I believe he was expressing gratitude, an extension of thanksgiving. 

A few Sundays ago, we were to go to three different people and say, “I am grateful for you because…….” and fill in the blank. One of the ladies came up to me and said, “I am grateful for you in my life and your support during the last year.” Melt my heart and bring a tear to my eye! Her gratitude was a deep, heartfelt, genuine appreciation for the connection she and I have made over the years. 

Gratitude is a deeper, personal appreciation for receiving an act of kindness from another. When gratitude is given, the soul of the giver and receiver are graced with God’s presence and blessing.

Paul knew and understood the power of giving and receiving gratitude. Giving thanks or telling someone thank you has its own unique grace. Giving gratitude for a specific occurrence fills an empty well within.  

The focus during this season is of thanksgiving. We do have much to be thankful for. We do often forget or dismiss the importance of expressing our thanks to those around us. Tell someone or many someones around you, “Thank you for …….” and fill in the blank.

I’ll be the first to admit that telling someone you are grateful and why is a bit awkward. You are sharing your honest feelings and emotions. That’s not easy for some. For some it comes naturally. Either way, awkwardness has a way of creeping in. Paul plunged right in with his gratitude and let the people know specifically why he was grateful for them. Pause with me for a moment. Who was the last person you spoke to? Think of why you are grateful for that person. I am grateful for my daughter’s spunky personality that keeps things lively around here. I am grateful for my son’s strength to move the freezer back into place. I am grateful for a dinner guest’s openness to get to know one another. I am grateful for neighbors who are willing to take an old broken dryer off my hands. I am grateful for the curiosity and persistence to get to know Jesus at a deeper level. I am grateful that Jesus loves me and wants the best for me. 

I am going to pass the challenge on to you. Take a look around or think about a few people. Go to them and say, “I am grateful for you because…..” and fill in the blank. Notice how their demeanor changes, how your heart softens and the presence of the Holy Spirit is evident.

My friend, I am grateful for you because you take time out of your day to share a moment with me. 

Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this gratefully together in Him.

Share this moment we’ve shared with someone else. You can find more blogs and podcasts at my website: http://www.mollimoments.com to share with others. Be blessed and see you next time.

Nothing But Net

Nothing But Net

To listen to the podcast, click here.

In 2006, Larry Byrd and Michael Jordan were in a McDonald’s commercial together. They “played” for a Big Mac meal. The first one to miss lost the meal. At the end of each description of the shot, they said, “Nothing but Net.” The ball bounced off walls, went through rafters, hit just the right angle on the scoreboard and bounced through windows hitting nothing but net. They did a series of commercials with the same theme. They had to hit their shots with nothing but net every time. And every time, they both hit their shots with nothing but net. We all knew they were going to hit their shots. We were anticipating what they had to bounce the ball off of to hit nothing but net. Each shot added an extra element to test the ability of the other. Yet, every time, without a shadow of doubt, their shots were nothing but net. We all could count on and depend on each shot being nothing but net. 

Long before Larry Byrd and Michael Jordan was a guy named Saul. He made a living of ridiculing, putting down and dismissing anyone who did not believe what he did. His life mission was to destroy any Christ believer that crossed his path. He was like a bulldog that wouldn’t let go. He grabbed on, yanked, pulled and dug his teeth in, until they cried “Uncle” and submitted to his ways. All of his needs were met. He lacked for nothing. 

One day he went for a walk and intersected Jesus himself. The man he has been denying anyone to believe in, the man whom he himself despised, stood in front of and mocked him. Little did he know the power of Jesus!! Jesus has His own nothing but net accuracy. After an intense conversation and interaction, Saul became Paul. Paul became an all in, nothing but net, believer, witness and son of God. His life was forever changed. 

We have an illusionment that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the road we now walk is clear of all pebbles, rocks and speed bumps. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not it. Paul is a living testament of that.

Paul experienced a transformation like none other. There was no doubt in His mind that Jesus is the Son of God. Paul dedicated the rest of his life to sharing his love of Jesus with all he met. Instead of wanting to kill Christ believers, he wanted to bring them to Jesus to know him like he knew him. 

If you think you’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, think again. Paul was shipwrecked and left to die several times, Shackled to a prison guard 24/7, beaten beyond recognition, on the brink of death, stoned, robbed, hungry and naked. On top of that, he cared deeply and ministered to churches around him.

Paul’s drive in his life was now to spread the love of Jesus everywhere he went. Jesus was his nothing but net. No matter what life threw at him, Jesus was his constant companion. The One he relied on, the One that provided nourishment, shelter, healing, his next breath and his hope. Paul knew he could rely on Jesus to provide every time, every day, no matter the odds. 

What if you had the nothing but net guarantee of provision every time, every day? 

I played some high school basketball. I use “play” loosely. I was a decent defender, but not so great on the offensive side. My consistency in shooting was my inconsistency. I was a bench warmer, cheerleader. My shots were not nothing but net. They are bricks, bank shots and a few air balls. I surprised myself when it went in. It may have been ugly, but 2 points is 2 points. By no means could my team count on my shots being nothing but net. 

Thank goodness I don’t have to count on my shots being nothing but net. Thank goodness I have Jesus. Thank goodness His shots are nothing but net every time, all day long.

Jesus’ dependability is far beyond nothing but net quality. It may look different than what we think we need, but in the end, His way, His shots are much better, and always will be better, than mine. Everytime.

How do you allow Jesus to take your shot for you? I was $40,000 in debt. Jesus provided a resource to use to become debt free. My hot water heater went out. Jesus provided a person to inform me how to get through the weekend and replace it without weekend cost. I needed a home for my family. Jesus provided the house and the friend to show me the house. The battery died and my car wouldn’t start. Jesus provided friend’s to jump start my car and the help to get it replaced. I was at the end of my rope with a teenager attitude. Jesus provided the grace and mercy to sustain the circumstance. I thought I had lost myself in the world around me. Jesus revealed the truth of who I am in Him. Every time, without a doubt or missed shot Jesus was, is and always will be my nothing but net shot. 

Friends, co-workers, bosses, acquaintances, jobs and all other circumstances will let you down at some point in life. Sad, but true. Jesus is in the business of eternal reliability. He is living in you, with you and works through you. Of course He is going to have your back and not let you down. It’s a leap of faith to let Jesus be your all, be your nothing but net. Pass the ball over, He can make any and every shot with nothing but net. 

Thanks for sharing this moment with me. We are in this together, shooting nothing but net, with Him.

Share this moment we’ve shared with someone else. You can find more blogs and podcasts at my website: http://www.mollimoments.com to share with others. Be blessed and see you next time.

Jumping for Joy

Jumping for Joy

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Cynicism and skepticism are children of doubt. They are clandestine joy stealers. Does anyone categorize a good day when it’s laced with cynicism or skepticism? Does joy overflow when it comes from you or you are around it constantly? I didn’t think so.

The first four books in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) overflow with miracles of healing by Jesus. God has been and always will be in the business of healing. He gave us the gift of His Son as a human, just like you and me. Jesus lived and walked among us as a living example of God. 

People in that time period were used to following a religious regiment of doing and saying certain things a certain way. Jesus came and rocked everyone’s world. Being the son of God, Jesus was and always will be in the same business as His Father. 

Ten men were consumed with the same disease that alienated them from family, friends and all of society. They created their own support group and lived amongst one another. Through word of mouth, they heard about the healing of Jesus. As Jesus was traveling through their area, from a distance, they cried out to Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus told them to go see their Spiritual leaders. As they went, they were healed of their disease. 

The cynics of the world say, “Yeah, right! Those guys have been like that for years. There is no way they can be healed instantaneously.“ This is doubt weaseling its way into defunk Jesus. 

Why do you think Jesus told the guys to go to their Spiritual leaders? The Spiritual leaders knew who they were, knew they had a disease that had no cure, knew the reason why they lived where they lived. The leaders, family and their community just got the shock of their lives. Ten guys who had an incurable disease were now healed. I would have liked to have been a witness of that. To be a living, breathing, healed by Jesus walking testimony would be a lifetime of joy-filled days. Cynicism and skepticism can not exist with joy. It’s one or the other. Which do you choose? 

Two thousand years ago and today doubt is a stumbling block to knowing, seeing and believing God’s healing. We are all infected with a disease that steals our joy. External and internal ailments consume our mind into believing we are unhealable. BIG. FAT. LIE.

When you face a circumstance with the mindset of failure, then most likely failure will occur. When you face a circumstance expecting success and healing, by your faith, you will be healed. Often Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” Faith in what? Faith is God’s Word and healing power. 

Specialized doctors told me I would not carry a child full term. Two years later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A year and a half later I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. God healed my physical ailments and gave me two gifts of His grace. 

At times, the hardest battle to fight is the one within our mind that few people can see. Several years ago, I was questioning my identity in Christ and who I was as a woman, wife, mother, pastor’s wife and teacher. My mom, (who knows me better than I know myself!) gently asked what was bothering me. She said, “You’re not yourself. My daughter is hurting and I want to help ease the pain.” (Yep. I’m blessed to have her as my mom!) Tears overflowed as I poured out my hurt and pain. Over time, with the power of my mom’s prayers and the power of God’s Word, my darkness turned to light. I was awakened to the daughter God had created me to be. Because of my faith, He healed me. 

Sadness, loss, despair and emptiness almost stole my joy for good. At times, my only prayer was, “Have mercy, Father. Please have mercy.” Through my faith, belief and grasp on His promises, He poured mercy over me and the darkness turned to light. Relief of the inner pain. Relief from the merry-go-round conversation rolling around in my head. Relief from feeling this was as good as it’s going to get. Not just relief, even better, healing. Jesus heals physical, outword diseases. Jesus also heals inward battles of our hearts and minds. 

The ten guys that were healed from their physical disease, jumped for joy, ran for joy as a  living, breathing miracle of Jesus. YOU are a living, breathing, walking, jumping for joy example of the power and miracles of Jesus. You are a walking witness of His great and mighty power of His Word and healing. Do you believe He has healed you? Are you jumping for joy? Are you excited to go tell someone how God has healed you?

“Let me tell you ‘bout my Jesus. Let my Jesus change your life.” Anne Wilson – “My Jesus”

Reflect on how and when Jesus has healed you. Tell someone about your Jesus. Help others see Jesus through you. Jump for joy in His healing. 

Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this together, jumping for joy, in Him. 

Share this moment we’ve shared with someone else. You can find more blogs and podcasts at my website: http://www.mollimoments.com to share with others. Be blessed and see you next time.

One Up

One Up

To listen to the podcast, click here.

The youngest son of a farmer was told that one day he would be given responsibilities higher than his brothers. These responsibilities would save his family and the country. He was only a teenager at the time. His brothers resented him and tried to get rid of him. He survived being trapped in a pit, slavery and prison. All the while, he remembered he was called to something better, something higher. Surely being thrown into a pit or being sold or spending years in prison was his higher calling. No, it wasn’t. The end of the story was his higher calling.

As I’ve mentioned before, my kids are close in age. 34 months separate three kids. At times, it’s like raising triplets. They brought a new meaning to sibling rivalry to our family. Several times over the years I’d be gone for a weekend or several nights in a row. When I come home, all three want to tell me what they did or where they went while I was gone. At first I thought, that’s so sweet. They missed me and wanted to tell me what I missed while I was gone. The longer the three conversations went, the realization of the reality of what was happening came to light. Sibling rivalry kicked in and they were trying to one up each other. So much for having a sentimental mom moment! 

I am not a competitive person by nature. The thrill and excitement of winning is uplifting and encouraging. Yet, winning isn’t everything. It’s just a game and I want to have fun. The only person I am consistently competitive with is myself. If I’m going to one up anyone, I’m going to one up myself. 

“If your path is difficult, it is sometimes because your calling is higher.” – Toby Mac

Life is not a walk in the park. Sometimes it is, but not all the time. Life is hard and difficult. The areas of difficulty look different from person to person, but we all struggle with something at sometime in our lives. We can’t avoid it, it just is. How do you process, handle and work through the hard times? My prayer for you is that with each difficulty you one up yourself and work through the difficulty a little better each time. 

Here’s the thing, we are all called to a higher calling. You don’t have to be a preacher, a world renowned evangelist or a popular Christian artist to have a higher calling. All followers of Christ are called to a higher calling. Are you willing to accept the challenge to one up your relationship with Christ?

Remember the teenage boy with the higher calling left and forgotten in prison? He remembered his higher calling and never gave up on seeing it through. By sustaining his relationship with God and holding onto the promise he was given, he became the ruler of Egypt.Through each trial he one upped his relationship with God and grew closer to his final calling. 

Where you are right now is not your final calling. It’s time to one up your relationship with Christ. It’s time to take a step closer to your higher calling.

How do you know what your higher calling is? You know that nibbling feeling, deep in your gut that says there is more to life than what you have right now? That may be your higher calling. It’s between you and Jesus.

What if the teenage boy gave up, settled on being a prisoner for life and let go of the promise of a higher calling. Sad, isn’t it. We know all parts of the story. We know how it ended. You and I don’t know the ending to our story. We are still writing it. 

At this moment right now, I have a sense of a higher calling. I have an idea of what it is. Maybe it’s my own lack of faith that I could accomplish and reach such a calling. What if I kicked doubt out of the picture and allowed His confidence to rule my hopes and dreams of attaining the higher calling He has for me. 

How do I do that? One step, one choice, one leap at a time. Each baby step leads to another that leads to another. 

If God placed us in our higher calling immediately, we would sink like a ton of rocks. Each step of the way we are a little closer to what He has called us to be. One up yourself today. What do you need to do to take a step closer to your higher calling? 

Seek Him daily. Ask Him who He has called you to be. Lean into His grace and mercy and allow Him to guide you to your higher calling. You are meant for so much more. 

Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this together, one upping our calling, in Him.

Share this moment we’ve shared with someone else. You can find more blogs and podcasts at my website: http://www.mollimoments.com to share with others. Be blessed and see you next time.

Brick Wall

Brick Wall

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Ever feel like you’re talking to a brick wall? “Hey son, come wash the dishes please.” No response. No movement. Not even a grunt to acknowledge I said anything. I wait patiently for about 30 seconds or so. Still nothing. “Hello. Did you hear me?” “Yes.” “Then why aren’t you moving?” Still no movement. Yep, talking to a brick wall. Once I said, “Now would be a good time to come wash dishes!” (said in a stern, about to lose my temper tone!) He finally gets up and washes dishes. This is not the only time it happens. And it’s not just my kids. I was shopping at an electronic store for a new laptop. “Excuse me, Sir. (pause) Hello (pause). Sir?” Nothing. Ok, then. I quickly turned around and walked out. Several jobs ago, I was a customer service phone operator for a music studio. An older man called and wanted a specific video that we didn’t sell anymore. “I’m sorry, Sir, we don’t have that video any more.” “No, Sir, we do not have it.” “Sir, we are all out” “Sir, it is sold out.” He hung up on me still believing we had it and I wouldn’t sell it to him. Another brick wall.

Do you ever feel like talking to God is like talking to a brick wall? You don’t hear a response or see a change? On the flip side, do you think God feels like He’s talking to a brick wall when He’s talking to you?

“Lord, I could use a nearby parking spot today. I’m in a bit of a hurry.” The only parking spot open is the furthest away. “Lord, can you calm the kids down please. I’m about to lose my ever loving mind?” The kids get louder and I lose my ever loving mind. “Green light! Green light! Please turn green!!” Nope. Longest red light ever!! “Lord, I feel like I’m going to fall apart. A human hug would be good right now.” Jesus’s hug is enough. To no avail, the answers I want are not given. Who knew talking to God could feel like a brick wall sometimes. Here’s the thing. There are no brick walls, at all; no bricks in sight.  If there are no brick walls with God, then why the silent treatment? Well, It’s not the silent treatment. The parking spot in the back of the lot gave me a longer walk to slow down and not be in a rush. I even let someone with fewer items go before me in the check-out line. The rowdy kids reminded me that I have kids to be rowdy. At one point in my life, I didn’t think I’d have kids at all. The forever red light protected me from a fender bender I passed a few blocks down. While I desired the human touch of a hug, I received Jesus’s eternal touch of love and comfort. No brick walls in sight. Instead they were walls of protection. Protecting me from myself. Sheltering me in His arms when I didn’t realize He was there. 

Let’s talk about the flip side for a moment. This might sting a little. What if we are the brick wall God is trying to talk to? Ouch! You know the story of the old man sitting on his roof during a flood and asking why didn’t God save him? He tried with a first responder, a boat passing by and a helicopter flying over. His answers may be different from ours. Since we are looking for the answer we want, we miss the answer He gives us. Which is a much better answer. Our single-mindedness becomes our brick wall. Have you asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do here? Take the job? Wait? What’s the best parenting answer to my kid’s question? Lord, what’s for dinner?” I have asked these questions several times and received silence. Yet, it really wasn’t silence. I may not have heard an audible voice telling me what to do, but He guided through the Holy Spirit in taking the next step, then the next. Or making one decision at a time, then another. Many people, including myself, have relied on my instincts or “Spidey Senses” to make decisions. Your instincts aren’t random. They come from past experience, life circumstances, trial and error and best of all, the Holy Spirit. Over time, as I grow in my knowledge, understanding and wisdom of Christ, my instincts are Christ nudging me. I may not hear His voice, but I feel His nudge. They are one in the same. He communicates with His Word along with His action. You’re not sure you are hearing Jesus? Take a baby step. Was it the right direction? If yes, take another. If not, take a step back and try again. You are not failing. You are fine tuning your instincts with Christ’s. 

Brick walls aren’t always a bad thing. Because we are given free will, we can make our own decisions and choices. God wants to protect us from making poor choices. He wants us to make the best choices we can make. He wants us to grow and succeed. By living with Him in us, He forms a brick wall of protection around us. It’s not a wall for restraint or limitations. It’s a wall of protection from ourselves and dangers to us. Bad and hurtful things happen. We can’t stop them. We can face trials and unwanted circumstances with Him in and beside us as our protector and provider. 

Let your brick wall be God’s brick wall of protection around you. Tune into Christ within you and open your eyes and ears to His answers to your prayers. He hears every word and sees every struggle. Let go of the answer you prefer and become aware of His answer and see how much better His answer is. A little trust and faith can go a long way.

Thanks for sharing this moment with me. We are in this together, in His shelter, in Him. 

Share this moment we’ve shared with someone else. You can find more blogs and podcasts at my website: http://www.mollimoments.com to share with others. Be blessed and see you next time.