Born to Face Rejection

(Also posted on the God Encounters Women's Ministry blog for Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC.)

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

Ever feel rejected? A failure by the world’s standards?

If so, you are not alone.

We can all identify in some way. We face all kinds of rejection in life and it always stings.

In my past, I have experienced rejection in one of its worst capacities. A little over a decade ago, my first husband left me when I was seven months pregnant with our second child and our daughter was just shy of 3 years old.

At the time I couldn’t imagine a more awful form of rejection.

This past week, the type of rejection I confronted was much more minuscule, but deflating nonetheless. Several months ago I had the opportunity to meet with a Christian publisher about taking on my already self-published book. Although the competition is very tight in the industry, I was encouraged that she had agreed to consider my book proposal.

So as I read the words in my inbox, “I am so sorry but I’m going to have to pass on this one,” I understood. It was too “testimonial.” But I also wanted to cry. It was in fact my story, written from the heart, meant to give God the glory for His faithfulness. It had been my desire that it would encourage others and give them hope.

Due to the personal nature of my book, I know the enemy has enjoyed stirring up all kinds of feelings of insecurity in my little brain since it was published two years ago. I even remember my mother-in-law asking me if I felt like I was “walking around naked.” And that’s exactly how I would describe it!

And so this past week after reading the rejection email, it was easy to let those feelings of self-doubt creep in and to feel almost ridiculous for thinking that I should have written a book in the first place. Everyone has a testimony, so why should mine be any different?
Then I was reminded of why I did it. I am sure I had felt the leading of the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t just my story. It was HIS story. If He wants to use it, He will; on His terms, in His time.

And then I remembered that almost no one gets a book contract on their first try. I recounted one well-known Christian author and speaker’s publishing story she shared at a conference I attended this past summer. Her advice? Keep writing.

But most importantly, it occurred to me that Jesus Himself was rejected while He was here on earth and those verses from Isaiah immediately came to mind. I also remembered the passage in Luke 4 when Jesus was rejected in His own hometown and was reminded that in many cases, family members can be the most critical.

So as we celebrate the birth of sweet Baby Jesus lying in the manger this Christmas, let us not forget that He is the One Who was born to face the ultimate rejection.

I love the way The Message translation describes Isaiah 53:2-3:

“The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.”

So again I’ll ask, ever been rejected? Looked down on? Passed over? Felt unattractive? Even like scum?

Whatever we face in our earthly trials is only a snippet of what Jesus suffered on our behalf. May we somehow be able to grasp the bigger picture of His earthly presence. That as we sing “Away in a Manger” we remember the Son of the Most High, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was rejected by men right from the start. Even as there was no room for Him in the inn and He entered the world in a stable filled with smelly animals.

Lord Jesus, no matter what emotions I am feeling from the cold, sometimes cruel world I am temporarily living in, surround me with Your unfailing love, Your peace, Your acceptance, and Your very real presence as I celebrate Your birthday this year. Help me to remember that there is no form of rejection I can face that even comes close to what you willingly came to face just for me. Thank You, Lord Jesus for loving me that much!

Verses for Today:

“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. “1 Peter 4:13-14 (NIV)

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit.” Philippians 1:27a (NIV)

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25 (NIV)

© 2010 by Christy Long. All Rights Reserved.

"Just Like My Daddy"

(Also posted on the God Encounters Women's Ministry blog for Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC.)

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

Deer season in the South is upon us and recently, my four-year-old son, Bryson, was playing in the garage pretending to be deer hunting with his toy camouflage rifle. When I stepped out to check on him, he pretended to type on his toy cell phone and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I was just sending you a text message! I was sending you a picture of my deer. It’s a Monster Buck!”

I could not contain my laughter! You see, my precious preschooler had heard these words before. He had admired the picture of the deer his dad sent us via his camera phone last year during hunting season!

My son is a mini-version of his father. Of course they have the same DNA, but Bryson makes it a point to watch his dad and do everything just the way he does.

Saturdays are extra special because that is the one day of the week that Bryson looks forward to being his daddy’s shadow. Whatever chore his dad is working on, my son has a toy version to follow right alongside him; from a John Deere Power Wheels lawn mower, to an orange Black and Decker battery-operated weed-eater.

Bryson and his dad also share a love for baseball. At a baseball game last spring another dad asked Bryson what he wanted to be when he grows up, expecting his response to be “a baseball player.” Instead, Bryson thought for a second and the proudly stated, “I want to be just like my daddy!”

Then this past summer, while watching the two of them play on the beach together in their matching wide-brimmed desert camo hats, this verse from Ephesians came to mind. “Be imitators of God…”

Do I imitate my Heavenly Father as well as my son imitates his earthly father? Is it my mission in life to follow Him?

Do I look like Him? – radiant from time spent with him? (See Psalm 34:5)

Do I dress like Him? - clothing myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? (See Colossians 3:12)

Do I love like Him? – having a deep love for other people? (See 1 Peter 4:8)

Do I live like Him? – bearing the fruit of the Spirit -love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? (See Galatians 5:22-23)

My sisters in Christ, we should be learning from our Father above, resembling Him more and more, imitating Him. The more time we spend in sweet fellowship with our Daddy, the God of the Universe, the more we will eagerly look forward to those special times. The more we learn from reading His Word, the more we will tend to embrace his likes and dislikes and conform to His way of thinking.

Certainly an impossible feat on our own, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we should begin a gradual but noticeable transformation into His image, eventually reflecting His glory.

This plan sounds so simple, but I must confess that I have blown it way too often. It does require deliberate time spent with the Father and total reliance on the Holy Spirit 24/7. While my fleshly qualities do not naturally share the same characteristics as the fruit of the Spirit, I am “growing up” spiritually, and my desire is to become more and more “just like my Daddy!”

Father, I want to be just like You, Lord. I confess to You that I do not always look like Your child. Show me specific areas of my life where I need to be more like You. Who do I need to love? Which areas of my heart need a new wardrobe? Fill me with the power of Your Holy Spirit so that I may resemble You more, allowing others to recognize me as Your daughter.

Key Scriptures:

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ..Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-23;25 (NIV)

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)

Copyright 2010 by Christy Long. All Rights Reserved.

Crisco Cat

"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs 3:7-8

Cats are funny creatures. I've always been a dog person - the little fru-fru lap dog type. I had a Shih Tzu when I was growing up and that's the kind of dog we have now. Bo is my baby. He is totally dependent on me. He follows me around all over the house. In fact, he is sitting at my feet under my desk as I type this right now.

My cat Spooky showed up at our house almost a year ago. She is black with big, greenish moonlike eyes and she will startle you when you least expect it. She is dark and quiet and suddenly appears when you don't know she's around. And since she showed up last fall we gave her the very original name of Spooky.

Spooky is much different than Bo. In fact Bo is more like a scaredy cat when she is around. She enjoys hiding and then jumping out to surprise Bo. It's fun for her! Of course, then Bo runs behind my legs!

She also walks around the house like she owns the place. Not surprising that a cat would act that way. They are known for acting as though they are better than humans and they think it is our job to serve them. And we do. At least I do.

This once upon a time stray cat that someone apparently set out near our home out in the country hit the jack pot! She was hungry and skin and bones. I couldn't turn her away. I told her that she picked the right day to show up at our house because I had spotted a mouse inside earlier that morning and had just commented to my husband that we needed a cat. Seriously though, God cares for animals and I do believe it was His plan to guide her to us because he softened our hearts toward her and we took her in. And quickly grew to love her!

However, she was originally supposed to stay outside only. Then the weather turned colder and we let her in the garage. Then she began jumping on top of our vehicles so every night I cover them up with old quilts and comforters. I'm sure she thinks I do it merely for her comfort!

Next, we began to let her come inside to get warm and before you knew it she had begun pouncing on top of our bed to snuggle. Hmmm. Smart cat!

She is smart. But she still makes mistakes. And yesterday morning she made a bad one. Because these days she is enjoying her life of luxury too much to bother chasing mice around, we still use sticky pads in inconspicuous places. And unfortunately she happened upon one of those places!

All of a sudden I heard her meowing and streaking through the house with a sticky pad stuck to her side near her hind leg. I caught her and carried her outside in the grass with a bottle of Crisco oil...something oily to unstick the pad from her fur. Poor thing!

She wasn't too sure about what I was doing. Oh, I think she knew she needed my help, but after the first slosh of oil on her body she was running from me again. When I tried a second time to approach her, she hissed at me. She NEVER hisses at me unless she's in pain. I cornered her and continued pouring the Crisco on her until the sticky pad unattached easily so as not to pull her hair.

Then I scooped her up and carried her back inside the garage. I knew I had to get the oil off of her and I remembered the Dawn dishwashing liquid commercial about how Dawn was used to help the animals that are rescued in oil spills, etc. So, you guessed it, I prepared a pitcher of warm water with Dawn and put Spooky in my bathtub where I proceeded to pour the suds on the dark, oily feline.

You should have seen her scramble! She was so mad at me that she hid under the sofa in the kid's playroom for at least an hour!

She is much better now. While her fur still looks a little greasy, she is content and back to demonstrating her entitled, princess-like demeanor.

The moral of the story? Her instinct was to run. She was in trouble and in pain. She needed my help to get out of her mess. Just like we need the Lord's help when we are experiencing problems and turmoil. And for me, often times my troubles are self-inflicted - just like poor Spooky.

I have to just stop right here and ask God to forgive me for when I have tried to be "wise in my own eyes." Sometimes I think I've got it all figured out. Whatever it is. Way to often I criticize others for not handling things the way I think they should, or just identifying the faults I see in other people, when I certainly have plenty of shortcomings of my own.

Extending a little more grace is just the prescription I need! The preceeding verses, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

I'm choosing today to trust God, not myself. I admit that I do not always know the facts or understand what another person is carrying. Simply put, I just don't know everything. I need to trust HIM in EVERYTHING! When I struggle on my own, I end up pulling my hair out!

Heal me, Lord Jesus. Bring nourishment to my bones. Forgive me for seeming wise in my own eyes. Help me to love others and show grace to those who may have hurt me. I acknowledge that I do not always know all the details and I want to trust You completely in all of life's situations. Please help me break free from the sticky pads that I get myself into (worry, pride, hurt, disappointment, loneliness, etc.). Pour on me your oil of gladness so that I may live freely with You as my loving Master who always knows best.

Wrinkles in Time

Is not wisdom found among the aged?
Does not long life bring understanding? Job 12:12

Yesterday I turned the big 4-0! Still hard for me to believe, and I will confess I started out the day a bit grumpy.

In case you can't make out the sign in the photo, it says, "Christy Long - Made in 1970," - courtesy of my lovely daughter, Madison. Does that mean I'm an antique? It was posted on the fence in our front yard so that all the people who drive up and down our road would be sure to see it!

At first, I was tempted to pull the covers back over my head, but then I paused and remembered to count my blessings.

God has blessed me with 40 years of life. And I can't complain. Except for a couple of years at the beginning of the last decade, I've had a pretty good life overall. Oh I know that more trials are bound to come my way as long as I'm still here on this earth, but I choose to thank God for the good He brought out of the bad in my life. He has blessed me beyond measure and I am forever thankful for His amazing love and redeeming grace.

So instead, I decided my new motto would be, "40 and Fabulous!"

Funny though because even as I get older I still feel young on the inside. There are wrinkles on my face that didn't used to be there and I unfortunately don't wear the same size clothing I wore 15-20 years ago. However, in my heart, I'm still the same girl I've always been. An oldie goldie 80's tune will take me back and I can't help but sing along or sometimes even dance to my children's horror! But thank goodness I believe I have a little more wisdom than I did back in the day.

Of course, I am far from perfect and I still have much to learn. Certain that I will still be every bit as dependent on Him at 80 (Lord willing) as I am at 40, praise God that He is not finished with me yet. I stumble and mess up all too often, but His Word gives me hope... "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

I'll close with two quotes from Mark Twain:

"Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been."

And, "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Praising God for His blessings over the past 40 years and hoping my wrinkles show a lifetime of smiles! :)

Ecclesiastes - When Life Doesn't Make Sense

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV)

These poetic verses were read at my grandmother's funeral several years ago. They were some of her favorite Bible verses and they have become some of my favorites as well.

My daily Bible reading has taken me to the Book of Ecclesiastes the past couple of days and the timing was perfect to revisit some of those "trying to make sense of life" Scriptures.

This past weekend our community was shaken by a horrible tragedy. A 17-year-old girl was killed in a senseless incident. A young man threw a heavy brick through the windshield of a car; she was injured and died several hours later. I can not imagine what the girl's family is going through. She left behind a mom and dad and a little sister. The local high school has been mourning her loss as well and there will be a candlelight vigil in her memory tonight.

However, there is also another family involved here. The young man who threw the brick also has parents and siblings who love him very much and are also in disbelief over what has happened. He has been charged with murder. I can not fathom what his family is going through either.

I am sure that both families are hurting deeply and they need lots of prayer.

Another terrible incident happened over the weekend to a friend from church. He is an Alcohol Law Enforcement Officer and was working undercover at a local pub. When he attempted to arrest some young men for drinking underage, he was attacked and received a blow to the head. He suffered multiple blow out fractures and a deep laceration to the head. Praise the Lord he will be okay! He is married and has two small sons. Can you imagine what his wife felt when she got the phone call?

And then some of our friends and neighbors lost a loved one this weekend. An elderly man who was loved as a husband, a father, and a grandfather. He was the grandfather of one of my daughter's best friends and Madison and I visited the funeral home last evening. Grief is everywhere.

Life is precious. We lose loved ones, both young and old. But how do we make sense of the tragedies in life? Why do some live to be grandparents, even great-grandparents and others are taken way before their life even really gets started?

I certainly do not have the answer. It's a sobering thought, but eventually we will all die.

Ecclesiastes 9:12 says, "Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them."

It sounds so cliche but we don't know when our last day will be and we really should live each day like it could be our last. Kind of makes me want to hug my kids a little tighter and tell my mama and daddy that I love them.

The author of Ecclesiastes (thought to be Solomon) talks on and on about life being "Meaningless! Meaningless!, Everything is meaningless!" (Eccl. 12:8) Only to conclude in the end that it is the duty of man to fear God and keep his commandments. (See Eccl 12:13) "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14

God knows everything. If you read Psalm 139 you will find that He knows everything that will happen in our life before we are ever born. "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

James 4:14 asks, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Again, I am not going to pretend to know or understand why bad things happen. Here's what I do know. We have a Savior who loves us and has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him. (See the following Salvation verses: John 3:16; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Our life may be a mist and as someone who's turning 40 in just a few days, each year is starting to go by quicker and quicker. 40 used to sound really old!

Praise God this life is NOT all there is! If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we can look forward to the day when we will live with Him forever and "He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain..." Revelation 21:4 This is the only true comfort I can find when life just doesn't make sense.

Only a life without Jesus is meaningless!

Praying for the hurting and the lost,


Bountiful Fruit - My Father's Pride and Joy

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NIV)

My dad has the most beautifully manicured vineyard of anyone I have ever known. Each August, his grapes are a display of his hard work and meticulate care throughout the year. It is truly a beautiful sight to take in as you drive down the slower paced, rural road and even his neighbors are impressed with the astonishing view resulting from his labor.

Of course, if you live near my dad, you also know that it can be a bit noisy this time of year as well! You see, to protect all of that hard work my dad makes his rounds wearing a wide brimmed hat, and firing his shotgun in order to protect his delicious grapes from birds, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons...anything that enjoys devouring his mouthwatering crop. It is quite a sight! "Everybody likes a grape!," he exclaims jokingly.

After taking a few pictures of some of the breathtaking clusters from this year's harvest, I was reminded of John 15 - Jesus: The true vine. The whole passage is so applicable and if you have time, please read the entire thing. But there are a couple of points that strike me after reading AND seeing.

In verses 4 anad 5, Jesus says, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

How many times have I felt spiritually dry...prayerless...powerless? More times that I would care to admit. But there is one common denominator that has occurred during those times - a lack of connection in my relationship with Jesus. Periods with less or no time spent reading His Word, no time sitting in quiet fellowship with Him, or simply not taking the time to talk with Him or saving room in my schedule for listening to His voice through Scripture or gentle nudging.

Communication is a two-way street. Sometimes I am guilty of simply reading the Bible and then rushing off to wake up the kids, make breakfast, or answer the phone and then never make it back to that quiet place I started from.

I have come to realize that I NEED Jesus every day. Most of us can attest to feeling too busy to spend time with Him and then later noticing a distance in our relationship. Honestly, I know there will be times that I'm taken off guard and I will not be able to meet with Him first thing - a sick child, an alarm clock didn't go off...things will come up.

There will always be distractions. My goal is to make sure I get right back on the wagon and make my time with Him a priority! After all, I don't think I ever forget to eat! Abiding with Him needs to be just as important to me as physically eating. His Word is clear. Apart from Him I can do NOTHING. (vs. 5) What a feeling of hopelessness!

Also, you may not have noticed in the picture, but my dad protects his grapes, the fruit of his labor, with a special netting. This is to make it harder for small animals to help themselves to the crop until it is time to pick the grapes. This reminds me that we have an enemy who desires to pick away at our hearts, our minds, and our souls. Anything he can use - doubt, fear, worry, busyness, all of life's little distractions that keep us from simply abiding in the True Vine.

We should always be on alert, just as my dad patrols his vineyard. Ephesians 6 is a well-known passage that describes the "Armor of God." Instead of a shotgun, our weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, or the Word of God. And in verse 18 we are told to, "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, 'be alert' and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Emphasis mine)

In other words, keep talking to Jesus all the time, about everything, and be alert!

Another reason it is important to remain in Him is found in verse 7. "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." This certainly does not imply a "genie in the bottle" idea of Jesus, giving us whatever we want. Rather, I believe it supports a verse found in James 5:16, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." An effective prayer life comes from staying connected to Jesus, remaining in Him.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, we should remain in Him and bear fruit to be a display of God's glory! "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8 Oh, to be the grape cluster of His eye!

Father, your Word tells me that you love me and that I am to remain in you and obey your commands. This is so that Your joy may be in me and that my joy may be complete. (See John 15:9-11) Lord, it is my desire to be Your pride and joy, bearing much fruit, just as an exquisite cluster of grapes. Forgive me, Father when I have become distracted and neglected to abide in You. Help me to remain alert to the enemy's crafty tools he uses to take me away from time spent with You and Your Word, and help me simply to remain in You.

He Speaks at She Speaks!

This summer is racing right on by! We celebrated all three children's birthdays in June. I have been away quite a bit and unfortunately I am one of the few people I know who does not own their own laptop. Hence, the number of recent posts! :)

I flew to San Diego with my husband the end of June and spent my time shopping and touring as he worked a conference there. In July, I vacationed with with family and friends for two weeks at Cherry Grove Beach, South Carolina. And this past weekend I attended the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference in Charlotte.

It seems like only a few short weeks ago, I registered for this event on March 15th, the last day to receive a discount for early registration. How many times did I consider cancelling? Too many to count, I'm sure! And now, I am certain that it was the enemy who attempted to alter my course for a phenomenal weekend of receiving spiritual nourishment, attaining practical information, and simply having fun and making new friends from all over the country and even Canada!

The conference was amazing. I had prayed that God would give me clear direction and boy, did he ever! He most definitely met me there this weekend.

Before I start, let me say that my dad has supported me with the publishing of my book, but he has told me over and over the last couple of years, "Your children need you...I don't belive it's God's timing for your ministry to 'take off'...maybe later after your children are grown..."

Even leading a women's Bible study, my dad does not agree with my priorities. In fact, he just told me at the beach a few weeks ago, "this is a critical time in your children's life."

Still, I wanted to lead a Bible study. My flesh kept fighting. The morning we packed up to come home, I opened my Bible to Proverbs hoping to find a clear answer about facilitating a study and participating in women's ministry again at my church. I began reading through Proverbs 22 where I found the familiar verse, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Prov. 22:6)

Hmmmmm. Was that an indication that I should be focusing on my children?

Just in case I misunderstood, I decided to keep reading.

Suddenly, there it was! Proverbs 23:22, "Listen to your father, who gave you life."

Okay God. I get it. My daddy was right. I guess I should listen, huh?

So, I decided leading a women's Bible study was not the right move for me at this time, and a week later I drove to Charlotte to She Speaks to learn more about pursuing my writing and speaking ministry.

It was profound.

There were over 600 women at the conference and I have no doubt that God spoke to each one in His own way.

So today, I wanted to share a few of my "take home" messages.

First, Lysa TerKeurst is a dynamic speaker! I have received Proverbs 31 daily devotionals for as long as I can remember and they bless me each day. However, I have never heard Lysa speak in person. Let me just say it was powerful.

She instructed that ministry is 24/7. That means at home, with your family. Ouch!

She also pointed out that our reaction determines our reach. Our reactions (good or bad) determine the potential of our reach in ministry. Something to meditate on as I head over to the DMV this week to renew my driver's license! Not looking forward to standing in that line. Again, ministry is 24/7. I shall smile and be patient. :)

Seriously, Lysa stated, "when we pause, the Holy Spirit has time to interrupt our natural flesh reaction." Please Jesus, help me remember to PAUSE!

Renee Swope explained that there are different seasons in a woman's life and ministry. Taking care of small children, the illness of a parent, empty get the idea.

"GO" seasons are when we are speaking and writing regularly and are at a place where we are able to put a lot of time into our ministry. "SLOW" seasons are where maybe we can do some ministry work, but know that we need to be there for our families as well, and there are "NO" seasons when we realize we must tend to the needs of family only and put our ministry on hold.

Okay, so I am in a slow season. It has to be this way now. My daughter is 13, one son is 10, and the other son is 4. My children need me at home. My husband needs me at home. He is wonderful to support me in ministry and let me go do what I like to do, but I want to be sure I am not overdoing it.

Angela Thomas spoke on Saturday night. I LOVE THIS WOMAN! She was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina and she lives in Greensboro. She even has an accent like mine. And she said it's OKAY to sound this way! :)

She talked about the Sovereignty of God in our "calling." Simply put, "The Lord is the decider of who does what calling." When you see others doing things in ministry you would like to be doing, it's okay. Her response was, "Maybe it's not my turn yet." Our job is to become a woman who is ready while we are waiting for our turn.

Angela also instructed that we are to be seeking God first (Matthew 6:33). And very matter of factly said, "You can't 'bring it' if you haven't been somewhere to 'get it!'"

She was a treat to hear!

Karen Ehman gave the Sunday morning message based on Revelation 2, staying true to your first love. Good works are great, but they mean nothing if you have forgotten your first love...Jesus! She spoke to my heart about not allowing yourself to become distracted by all the things that tune out our time with Him (TV, facebook, whatever it is that are our time wasters). Keep Jesus our focus!

Finally, the most powerful message that I heard was from our surprise guest via video - Beth Moore! Her message was short, but packed full of Truth and practical advice. My eyes began to well up with tears as she spoke the very message my dad has been giving me for many months.

It was as if she said, "Christy Long, your Father wanted me to tell you..."

- "Never neglect your family for ministry."

- "Never go beyond where your husband is willing to bless what you are doing."

- "No amount of success in ministry makes up for failure with your family."

And the last's the clincher...

- "Your speaking ministry will still be there after your children are grown!"

Was that why I was at the conference? To hear those words?


I needed new perspective. Unfortunately, it took Beth Moore saying it before it began to resonate with me.

My earthly father had spoken the same exact words to me countless times.

My Heavenly Father had whispered those words in my ear but why had I not listened? Still I pressed on to do what I wanted to do.

I am still available to speak, but I have determined that I am in a "SLOW" season and from now on I will listen to my Father about opportunities that are presented.

I will pour my life into my kids. In fact, I feel His "calling" in helping with the youth -to be more involved with my children and focused on their spiritual needs.

I will wait for my turn in ministry.

I will continue to write.

I will continue to seek the Lord.

I will work to become a real "Proverbs 31" woman who takes care of her husband, her children, and her home.

I will be content with my calling.

And one day...when my Father says, "Now, it is your turn."

I will "BRING IT!"

We traded a lot of cards this weekend at the conference and I would love to hear from other women. What was your "take home" message? Feel free to post any comments.

For His Glory,


A "New and Improved" Book Title?

Next month I will be attending the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference and I will be meeting with a publisher in hopes of getting a contract on my book, God Keeps His Promises - Trusting in the One Who is Faithful When Vows are Broken. You may wonder why I would want to do this since I am already published. However, my book is author-owned which means that I own the rights to it, but all the marketing has fallen on me as well which means there has been virtually none because I simply do not have a budget for it. Therefore, very few people know about the book even though it is available on and other places.

I received some helpful, professional advice from an editor today concerning my book, and I quote, "If I may offer a personal opinion, I think one of the challenges with your book is the title. It doesn’t really tell me what the book is about. Now, I know that it does because it’s essentially about God’s faithfulness. But it doesn’t address a felt need in the reader. I think the subtitle offers more information, but it’s so small on the book cover that it’s not really noticeable. I would rework the title to make it more powerful."

Okay, I understand because originally, I struggled with the title 2 years ago. I am again looking for some fresh ideas!

Here is a brief synopsis of my book:

God's perfect plan is never divorce, but unfortunately we live in a culture today where about half of marriages end in divorce, and sadly Christians are no exception. Many have found themselves in a place they never thought possible - while they took their vows seriously, their spouse wants to call it quits; and some of living in bondage to bitterness from a past divorce.

Christy Long shares a personal story of God's comfort and provision through a painful separation/divorce while expecting her second child. Through time and a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, she has experienced true healing and grace. She wants to give God all the glory and desperately wants others to experience the same for their lives.

[Book Title] shares:

•Christy's personal testimony of God's faithfulness
•Life applications for going through a separation/divorce
•Key Scriptures for hope, healing, and forgiveness

In a nutshell, it's about how God worked all things for good in a very heartbreaking situation. One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This is the main verse that I clung to during my separation/divorce.

I do have one potential title that I came up with today:

Once Upon a Divorce...God Worked All Things for Good

I am just brainstorming currently and would love some more ideas!

Please feel free to leave your comments!

1) Do you like the new title possibility?

2) Do you prefer the original title - God Keeps His Promises?

3) Do you have a creative, catchy yet informative idea for a new title?

Thanks so much for your feedback. I look forward to hearing from you!

For His Glory,


Marveling a Milestone - How Much One's Life Can Change in a Decade!

"For your created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to me." - Psalm 139:13-16

This is one of the verses that I clung to when I was expecting my precious baby. My pregnancy was an extremely stressful time in my life. I had a 2 1/2 year old daughter and my husband left when I was 7 months pregnant with my second baby. I was truly devastated. I couldn't understand why God had chosen to give me a child when He knew my husband was going to leave. I had a dear friend at the time who was going through in vitro fertilization and was unsuccessful and my heart ached for her and her husband. Why God? Surely He knew what He was doing.

We had studied this verse in our Sunday school class during my pregnancy. Not by coincidence as my husband and I were still together at the time. God made sure I knew this verse before the storm came. I had even placed my baby's sonogram picture in my Bible on the page this verse was on. I would refer back to it often over the next few months.

After my husband left, I worried about my baby and my daughter. There were so many things I didn't know and could not understand. So many uncertainties in my life! I didn't even know if I was having a girl or a boy! What would become of us? Who would ever want me and my children? I felt as if I had so much baggage. Some of my friends had not ever married for the first time and here I was going through a separation/divorce with a toddler and a soon to be newborn. How did I get to this place? Had I ruined my life and my children's? They didn't deserve to be in this situation. What had happened to my happily ever after?

I cried a lot. I was sick on my stomach all the time. I even lost 5 pounds in a weekend and the doctor threatened to put me in the hospital if I lost any more weight because I was too far along to be losing weight. I went into premature labor about a month before my baby was due and spent one night in the hospital to stop the contractions. The only explanation for it was stress.

When I would get in the bed at night I would lie in a fetal position and shake because my nerves were just that bad. I was concerned about the little life I was carrying inside me. I had trouble sleeping. It felt as if morning would never come sometimes. My mom said to me, "Why don't you just ask Jesus to wrap His arms around you?" I tried it. I would imagine Him just holding me in his arms and it really helped me to calm down and fall asleep. I also realized that I could talk to Him. He was always awake. I didn't have to wait for morning to call Him on the phone like everyone else.

Finally, on June 7th, 2000, my sweet baby boy, Jackson was born! It was bittersweet, because I was thrilled to have a baby boy, but I wished things had been different with his dad and me. Again, I worried about bringing up this boy without a father at home.

Thankfully, my suffering did not last forever. God did in fact have a plan! My "baby boy" is 10 today and so much has changed in our lives for the better that sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago that we were meeting for the first time in the hospital! Oh, I can remember it like it was yesterday, but I believe that's because God doesn't ever want me to forget. I had to learn to trust God to work it all out. There were many rough spots to go through, but in the grand scheme of life, or even reflecting back on a decade as it may be, the suffering only lasted for a little while.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:10-11

I want to encourage you if you're going through a difficult situation right now. I could never have imagined how God was going to work in my life and bring so much blessing and happiness after so much disappointment and hurt. Take comfort in knowing that God is true to what His Word says. We are not promised as Christians that we will have no suffering or pain in this life, but He does promise that it will not last forever and He will restore us and give us strength. Don't give up hope and allow God to strenghten your faith through your trial. You never know how different things may look in a few short years! He may just use it...

For His Glory!


Worth a Thousand Words

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Romans 8:1 (NIV)

We've all heard the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Boy, is it ever! We've had a lot going on in our family over the past month.

My precious aunt went to be with the Lord on the night of May 1st; my mom received the call while sitting at the table with me at a Women's Gala where I was getting ready to speak. Literally, I was just a couple of minutes away from being introduced and walking up on stage. I knew from the way my mother answered her cell that my aunt had passed. She was in the final stages of Alzheimer's and had taken a turn for the worse that week. Praise God that He got me through that night. I know my brothers and sisters in Christ were praying for me and didn't even yet know of the entire situation. All I know is I felt a calmness and a peace and was able to speak with ease - to God be ALL the glory! I tried not to look at my mom too much while I was speaking, although I did get a glimpse of her and she seemed okay. She later told me that sitting there listening to me talk was actually comforting to her. Again, totally a God thing. She took off as soon as I finished speaking and then my husband and I drove up to be with my family later that night.

Funny how at our busy stages of life my cousins and I (as with so many other families) seldom find the time to get together and reminisce of days gone by until something tragic brings us together. They had pulled out the old photo albums and started going through pictures. Some were so hilarious - especially the ones from the 70's and 80's.

We then started talking about some of those precious memories - like the time when I graduated from high school and I was still only 17 so my parents wouldn't allow me to go on a beach trip with my friends alone. Therefore, my mom and dad went to the beach along with my friends and stayed in a room next door to us in the Myrtle Beach high rise. If that wasn't enough, my mom invited my aunt, my grandma, and my older cousin to come down that week and stay with her. That plan was fine until my aunt walked my little grandma out on the beach and stopped right in front of my blanket while we were sunbathing with some cute guys we had met. I'll never forget how she said in her sweet voice, "Hey Christy...having fun?" I could have buried myself in the sand because the temperature was in the 90s and my cute little grandma was wearing her sweater and a hat, carrying her pocketbook, and even wearing a nose guard over her nose as she had suffered with skin cancer and had to protect herself!

After talking about these good ol' days of which I eventually forgave my mother for tagging along on my senior beach trip, we wanted to find this picture of my grandma sitting on the beach under an umbrella - all decked out in her granny "beach" gear! My mom searched and searched for it. Finally, she found it! I have posted the picture above. It is just priceless and it was the last time my sweet grandma ever saw the ocean. I'm so thankful she was able to go and enjoy it.

However, as my mom was on the hunt for this one photograph, she ran across countless other ones of me from my college days. I spent about an hour one Saturday afternoon looking through old photo albums - lots of old boyfriends, a Student Government retreat when I was in college, several party pictures of when I was a student at Appalachian State - many of them NOT glorifying to God and actually quite embarrassing for me at this point in my life. It was almost like taking a trip in a time machine and I didn't like the girl I was seeing back then. Except for holding out a couple of pictures, I told my mom to put the albums away. I didn't want my kids to see them. Most of the pictures weren't all that terrible, but I didn't feel that it would be a good example for them to see at this point. I pray that they will NOT make the same mistakes that I made in college and I am reminded why my husband and I support Campus Crusade for Christ.

The one picture that really haunted me was one that I feel could have altered the course of my whole life. In the fall of 1990, I had come home for a weekend to go to my best friend's sister's wedding. At that wedding reception, I met the brother of the groom who was quite charming. He later told my friend that he had met someone he would like to go out with. When he described me, she exclaimed, "That's my best friend!" So that night we all went out to play putt-putt after the wedding. In the meantime, my ex-boyfriend from high school (my current husband) just happened to drop by my house with his mother (who was dropping off something to my mom) and stayed to visit for a bit. I hadn't seen Mark in years and was absolutely shocked that he showed up! After all, I was getting ready to go on a date with someone else! My mom had snapped a picture of Mark and I sitting on the sofa, which admittedly was a little awkward and then she proceeded to take pictures of my friend and our dates. (My mom was/is a picture taking machine!)

I was too proud or too naive to realize that Mark may have actually cared about seeing me again at that point in our lives. Duh! He told me after we had reunited years later (after our divorces) that he had always wondered what I was doing...what I was up to. We had really been best friends for 2 1/2 years of our young teenage years and it was a shame that we had drifted apart in college. Seeing that photo made my mind drift back to what might have been. As it turned out, I ended up dating the other guy for about a year and Mark and I never talked again until a few years later after he was engaged. Then he and his fiance came to my wedding and my new husband and I went to their wedding. Totally weird, huh?

In addition to looking back at old photos this past month, I was invited to come and speak to a group of wonderful teenage girls - my cousin's daughter and her friends from their church. They had been reading and discussing the book by Vicki Courtney, The 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, and they had asked me to come and share a little of my experience and advice. As I was preparing for the meeting, I was forced to focus on my past mistakes - mainly the ones I made in college and shortly thereafter. The mistakes of putting other relationships before God - chasing after the "perfect guy" - trying to find someone to "complete me" (I hate that line from Jerry McGuire) - how that I "settled" for less than God's best for my life because of my low self-worth, clearly a result of the poor relationship choices I had made.

I shared with these young ladies how that I wish I had been in love with Jesus back then and stressed the most important commandment that Jesus himself gave us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt 22:38) I believe that if we're focusing on loving the Lord in the way He commands us, the rest of our life will fall into place. This is my prayer for each of my children - that they would love the Lord with all of their heart, their mind, and their soul.

I also shared with them that I wish I had been obedient to God and prayed about everything. Those two things go hand in hand. To have an effective prayer life, we have got to be obedient to God. (James 5:13-16; Psalm 66:18-19) I also had to tell them the story of Ruth and how that we should each strive to be a woman of noble character and be obedient to God. (Ruth 3:11) I told them something I had learned from a speaker by the name of Jackie Kendall at a conference a couple of years ago about never settling - NO BOZO! I'm waiting on my Boaz. Of course she can't use that slogan anymore because Bozo the Clown's heirs wanted royalties from her! Can you believe that???

And seek the Truth - I just couldn't stress it enough! I love the Message translation of Jeremiah 29:13 - "When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed. God's Decree." Wow! And I can use a dose of that every day! I want a continued hunger for more of God's Word - His Truth! The only thing that can powerfully help us to discern the "lies" the enemy would have us to believe about ourselves. Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a wonderful book for women and it's a resource I used for much of last year when I was teaching a ladies' Sunday school class. There is a Bible study for teen girls, Lies Young Women Believe...that I plan to do with my daughter over the summer.

My daughter is just 5 years away from starting college. I just feel as though time is running out and I don't want to mess this up! I want her to be prepared as she goes off to school and I want her to make good decisions and stand firm in what she knows is right and true. But first, she has to KNOW what is right and true.

Another photo album was pulled out of the closet last weekend at my parents' house - our cruise pictures from Spring Break 1992 - my senior year in college. My mom had taken a picture of me sitting on the edge of something on the cruise ship, maybe a pool? Anyway, I was in a strapless bikini with my big 80's-like hair holding a frozen drink with my legs apart (kind of sitting Indian style - or "criss-cross applesauce" if that is more politically correct these days)! I'm sure that my intent was not to look trashy, but when my daughter saw the picture she said, "Mama, you look kind of like a tramp!" OUCH!

The truth hurt, but she was right. I felt like I was looking at someone else. Aside from the big frizzy brown hair which is now straight and colored blonde; and not to mention the great abs I had before I had 3 babies, I just didn't look like myself at all. But for me, it was because I knew what I looked like on the inside at that time as well and it really wasn't as pretty as the outside. I was an ugly mess. I was getting ready to graduate from college and had my whole life ahead of me, but it didn't take long for me to make some really bad decisions.

Do you ever play your life back to yourself like a movie reel. Sometimes I just wish I could take the scissors and just snip out the parts that make me sad, regretful, or even humiliated. Unfortunately, that's not how life works. NONE of us are perfect and we all have done things in our lives that we're not proud of - especially now that we're in Christ. But God does not want us to beat ourselves up about our past mistakes. If we have confessed them, turned away from them, and we believe that Jesus died for our sins - we are FORGIVEN!

Just yesterday my silly almost teenage daughter asked me, "Mama, you're not gonna look like a tramp at the beach this year, are you?" Gee, I guess that picture was worth a thousand words because it really made an impression! I said, "Madison, are you crazy? I don't have the abs for it anymore!" We had a good laugh because she was of course just kidding with me anyway, but then she said to me, "You know it's kind of used to have big frizzy hair and look like a tramp and now you have short straight hair and you wrote a Christian book! Hmmmmm. I must admit that comment stung a little, but I am reminded that I am not that girl anymore. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) Satan would like to remind me of my past and hinder me from sharing the Gospel with others, but the Truth is from the beginning God has used all kinds of sinners and people with a less than honorable past to carry out HIS plan! Don't know who said it, but "When the devil reminds you of your past, just remind him of his future!" (Revelation 19:20; 20:14)

However, the events of the past month and the questions she is asking and will continue to be asking over the next several years have really got me seeking God's Word and the things that He would have me teach her. How about you? Do you ever wish you could turn back time and redo parts or all of your life? If we are in Christ, we have been forgiven and we do not have to feel guilty over the past. Move on! Again, God is able to "work ALL things for the good of those who love him." (Romans 8:28) That's the only way someone like me could end up writing a Christian book - because God is so good that He could restore even my life from the mess I had made. A picture from the past may be worth a thousand words, but there simply are not enough words to describe what an awesome, mighty, loving, powerful Savior we have in Christ Jesus! As John said, if every one of the things that Jesus did were written down, he supposed that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written! (John 21:25) AMEN!

To God be the Glory!


Majors and Minors - Seeing God Work in the Little Things

Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

Over the last week, I have seen God at work in the little things in our lives. For myself, I know that I can trust Him to work out the big things and certainly pray for the bigger concerns - a sick friend with cancer, another friend who lost a job, someone in a marital crisis or separation/ get the idea. But so many times I don't "bother" God with my smaller needs or problems because they just don't seem to be "prayer material."

However, there was something that happened over the last few days that gives me the reassurance and comfort I need to know that God is in the small things as well and He does care about ALL of our struggles. My husband is coaching my son's baseball team of 9 and 10 year old boys; it is a community league. They had a pre-season tournament this past weekend and the fellow organizing it called my husband one night last week to inform him of our team's game times: 8:00 Friday night, 1:00 Saturday, and 9:00 Sunday morning - that's right, Sunday morning! I felt sick to my stomach. My husband was not happy about it either and sent out an email to the parents asking for their input and thoughts. He actually told them that he had no problem forfeiting the game because he realized Sunday morning was a time for worship and family time for many families, including ours. In fact, if my husband was not the coach, the decision would have been an easy one; Jackson would not have played on Sunday morning. But the response to his email was mixed. Several families are involved in travel ball and are used to spending many weekends on the ball field; others said they didn't like the time but were willing to be at the game if our team played.

After simply praying for God's Will in the situation, I purchased a book of baseball devotions for my husband in anticipation of playing the game at the scheduled time on Sunday morning. We talked about the possibility of having a short time of devotion for those who wanted to participate. Perhaps it could be an opportunity to witness to others as well as honor God in the midst of a situation that was "not ideal." Our concern was that we would send the wrong message to these kids - that playing baseball is more important that going to church.

On Saturday morning, one of the parents noticed that one of the other teams scheduled to play on Sunday morning had marked out that time and changed it to 7:00 on Saturday night. We questioned whether or not we too could make that change. It just so happened that the coach of the team we were scheduled to play on Sunday morning was standing at the concession stand and he was agreeable to playing on Saturday night as well, as were the umpires. Everything just fell into place perfectly as God worked it all out putting the right people at the right place and time. My response was, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Our team went on to win that game on Saturday night, and then played two more games on Sunday afternoon (after church). Our boys took 2nd Place in their division and went home with trophies last night. But for me the real win is the way that God showed His love for us by working it all out and I am reminded that He enjoys taking care of our "little league" problems too! This tournament was for boys playing at the Majors and Minors level in baseball - and for me, the take away from this weekend is that we should remember to not only pray for the major stuff, but also the minor things as well. God is always good and He cares about everything you're going through!

"Ask as it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

For His Glory,


Comfort in the Midst of Political Controversy

I stayed up late last night to watch the coverage on Fox News of the vote and passing of the Health Care Bill. Personally, I am not a fan for several different reasons, but mainly because of the fear of the unknown. You see, I have no idea what's really in the bill and neither do most other Americans, or even the majority of the politicians that voted on it for that matter!

However, there is one thing I can take comfort in; and that is the fact that my God is Sovereign over my government and He is still in control in the midst of my fears and my concerns.

Two verses of comfort for me today are Proverbs 21:1 - "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases." And Proverbs 21:30 - "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord."

God is in control and if He allows these things to happen, no matter which side of the fence you're on in one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever, you and I can take comfort in His Word and His Sovereignty.

We are encouraged to pray for our leaders. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul says, "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession anda thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

Let's also steer clear from heated arguments in the midst of this debate. Again Paul instructs us in 2 Timothy 2:23-25, "Don't haave anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth."

So there you have it! God is in control and He has a plan. We should be praying for those in power who are making decisions for our country; and we should be kind and respectful to others, even if we passionately disagree!

For His Glory!


Jesus and Germs

In my quiet time this morning, I was reading in the Book of Matthew and was struck by the first part of Chapter 15 (verses 1-20). Some Pharisees and teachers of the law approached Jesus and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"(vs.2) Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (vs.3). He went on to say, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (vs. 7-9) "Listen and understand," Jesus told the crowd, "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean', but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" (vs. 10-11)

Then after telling a parable as Jesus so often did to explain things, Peter, one of his disciples, asked him to explain it to them. (vs. 15) In The Message translation, Jesus replies, "Are you being willfully stupid?" (vs. 16) (Jesus must be thinking, do you still not GET IT???) Finally, Jesus says, "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean', but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean." (vs. 17-20)

Before anyone reading this begins to think that I think it's okay NOT to wash your hands and no longer wants to eat my cooking, let me just say that I wash my hands all the time, especially when I'm in the kitchen. I also teach my children to wash their hands; and anyone who knows my mother knows that she is the germ police! It's just good hygiene to wash hands! I believe what Jesus is saying is that doing something for the sake of tradition only, or falling into legalism by following a set of man made rules is not what's important. He is much more concerned with the condition of the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

We are born with a sinful heart; a selfish heart. Sometimes I will have a bad thought about someone, or spout off a harsh word and then wonder how I could think or say it. Truthfully, it's a little hard for me to wrap my head around, but I believe that as long as we are in these bodies here on earth we will continue to struggle with what's in our heart. For example, What is my real motive here? or Where did that hateful thought come from?

James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."

My mother gave me a plaque that hangs over my guest bathroom sink that says, "Jesus and germs are everywhere, so wash your hands and say your prayers." From now on, as I wash my hands I want to think about washing the germs off of my heart as well. Our foaming hand soap is the Word of God and we are washed clean by the Living Water of Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 11:18 tell us to, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds..." Staying in God's Word each day and meditating on His precepts is the key to keeping clean. When we're more in tune to what His Word says we recognize our own dirt and grime. Hopefully, we are all going through a process of being sanctified (being made holy). 1 Corinthians 6:11 talks about being washed, or santified.

I also love what David says in Psalm 51:2: "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."

Jesus and germs really are everywhere! We are continually coming in contact with viruses and bacteria of evil thoughts and temptations, and we run the risk of becoming sick with sin! Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit (Jesus everywhere!) to guide us, direct us, and convict us in our daily lives.

How about a challenge to examine the condition of our hearts each time we wash our hands? I am reminded of the song by Chris Tomlin, Give Us Clean Hands. It should be our desire to be clean on the inside and out.

For His Glory,


Copyright Christy Long 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Confess This Mess - A Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Most people in our area are so ready for spring. It seems we've had snow on the ground since before Christmas, and it's starting to get old. Recently, I have been working on cleaning out the clutter in my home. Perhaps I'm doing my spring cleaning a little early this year in hopes that the warm weather will actually come a little sooner! This clutter, however, is not something that accumulated overnight; rather it is my stuff that I refused to deal with at the appropriate time. For instance, if I were having company and needed to clean up quickly, I may have thrown items from my kitchen counter or the desk in the study into a laundry basket which was then hidden away in a closet out of sight so that my guests would not see. Afterwards, I forgot about the basket I had put away, only to allow a new stack of clutter to build up again. Needless to say, it doesn't take long for your closets to reach their capacity if you never deal with the stuff you've tucked away thinking you'll deal with it when it's convenient.

I have said many times that I would love to have Niecy Nash, the lady with the flower in her hair, from the HGTV show Clean House to come and clean out my house for me! However, that's not really how it works. We all have to deal with our own stuff that clutters up our space, just like we all have to deal with our own sin. It's never fun to take a good long look inside our heart and see what kind of things are in there that we don't need and don't want in our life. It's much easier to hide it away and hope that nobody notices! Kind of makes me sick; like the sick and sometimes lightheaded feeling that I get when I spend a day cleaning out closets and drawers. Does anybody else know what I'm talking about? What is it about cleaning out our inner spaces that makes us feel so yucky?

In my last post, I mentioned that I had just started the Bible Study, Downpour, by James MacDonald. I am at the point in the study where I have to identify sin in my own life. This section is called "Sin in the Mirror", and it's no more fun than cleaning out closets. There is a very long list of various sins that I have to rate on a scale of 1-10 in my life and then confess it, and repent of it. Dealing with sin is essential for true spiritual revival. It's never pleasant, but it's time to stop procrastinating any longer and take care of cleaning out the messy "sin" clutter - just like a good spring cleaning!

Psalm 51, written by David as his own confession and prayer, really hits home with me. Verse 6, "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." (NIV) Verse 10, "Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV) God sees our innermost parts; he sees the mess in our heart. We can't bury our sin deep within the closets of our heart and hope that God won't notice. He sees right through it.

1 John 1:8-9 says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)

I'm ready to confess my mess to God and ask for His help in overcoming my sin clutter. However, it's too big a job for me to handle on my own. "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." James 5:16a (NIV) Based on God's Word, James MacDonald suggests meeting in small groups within the study to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another. Several of us ladies in our Bible Study are meeting tonight to do this. I pray that this is the beginning of "getting real" with other believers and the pathway to ultimate healing and victory over these sin areas.

Over and over, I recognize my need for a Savior - Jesus! Praise God I do not have to clean up my house (or my sin) by my own strength! It would simply never be clean enough. For again, "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NASB) Emphasis mine

For His Glory,


Copyright 2010 by Christy Long. All Rights Reserved.

Facebook - Friend or Foe?

I had originally thought I would write about a completely different topic today, but interestly enough a friend of mine on facebook posted a comment that social sites like facebook make her feel like she's in high school again - "friend request, friend blocking, popularity by numbers, relationship status" - says it "gives her a belly ache!" Sound familiar to anyone?

Needless to say, this has prompted some pretty good discussion about facebook and the time we spend on it, dealing with our insecurities and possibly hurt feelings, and perhaps whether or not we should be on it at all.

I started using facebook about a year ago (February '09) and I must admit that I was a "junkie" for about a month - maybe longer. I was amazed at how quickly people found me and I could look up long lost college friends and see what they looked like, what they were doing for a living, how many kids they have, where they vacationed, etc., etc., etc... I quickly realized the friends who posted a status for hurting their big toe or getting a cup of coffee, and the friends who rarely checked their facebook page or updated their status.

My feelings were hurt when a co-worker friend of my husband's requested me as his friend, only to delete me several weeks later. I wondered what I had done or not done to deserve to be deleted. After all, he sent me the friend request! I noticed a couple of others were no longer my "friends" and then after doing a little research, discovered that they had left facebook altogether which made me feel a little better. And then there's just that old junior high school feeling that creeps back when you feel left out when seeing photos of other friends getting together, or see comments going to and from between other friends on facebook of how much they enjoyed spending time with each other. Maybe you have experienced a situation where your daughter finds out that many of her friends were invited to a party that she wasn't, simply from logging on.

I guess my point is it really "healthy" for us to know everything about each other's business? Or should we all just "get a life"?

I can only speak for myself, but I have spent entirely too much time on facebook over the last year. I have also been going through a spritual "drought" in my life and started a Bible study entitled "Downpour" by James MacDonald last week. The study is based on a verse in Hosea, "He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3 There are many things that have contributed to my personal spiritual drought and I am taking responsiblity for those things. I have made the excuse for too long that I am "burnt out." We do go through periods of burn out, but usually they are directly related to our own choices that we have made. However, we make choices on where to spend our time and energy - whether it's on the couch watching TV, on the computer looking at facebook, or getting alone with our Savior in fellowship and prayer.

The Downpour study also has a song that goes with it. The first part of the lyrics go like this:

"here where self and sin and sadness/have displaced the oil of gladness"

The very first line gets my attention because what ultimately causes the "oil of gladness" to be displaced? SELF! Again, I can only speak for mySELF, but I have been so wrapped up in mySELF this past year. When we focus on SELF (and pardon me, but facebook is all about our SELFs!) we miss the boat. Turning away from God and looking to ourselves, is always the beginning of sin, which inevitably leads to sadness.

The good news is that "the Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly that God wants to revive our relationship with Him. Revival is renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline. He wants to wake us up, to refresh our faith - to fire us up again." (James MacDonald, "Downpour") I am praying that I will get fired up again!

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." Psalm 119:37 This too is my prayer.

Please do not misunderstand what I'm saying. I still like facebook just fine. There are a lot of good things that can be done through facebook. Old friends can find each other, families can stay in touch more easily, and Christians can use it as a witnessing tool for "lost" friends. I have even used it to promote my book and even have a "fan" page for "God Keeps His Promises." But like anything, used in excess, it can be damaging.

Below are some changes that I plan to make:

1) Limit the time I spend on facebook. I have no doubt that is has become a bit of an idol for me and therefore I will only be logging on no more than twice a day. It is also a good idea to check the clock when you sign in, or 10 minutes can quickly turn into 30! (I know this from experience!)

2) Look to Jesus first to fill my relationship needs. As a stay-at-home mom, the house can get pretty quiet during the day while the kids are at school and it's very tempting to log on to facebook or even check my email multiple times a day! Leaving the TV on Fox News is also a way to create some noise, but really what's wrong with the silence? How will I ever hear from God (of course, not audibly!) if I'm not giving myself some "quiet time?" We were made to have a relationship with our Creator, and I'm so guilty of tuning him out during the day.

3) Am I using facebook for God's glory, or am I using it to promote mySELF?

I would love to hear some comments on this one!

For His Glory,


"Comforsations" June 11, 2009

Be Here Now!

Quote: “Now we should live when the pulse of life is strong. Life is a tenuous thing…fragile, fleeting. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!” – Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, Thomas Nelson, 2005.

This year has been extremely busy for me; too busy, in fact. As my children wrapped up the school year this past week, it has caused me to reflect on just how quickly it has passed by – I’m not even sure “super fast” describes it accurately enough! It seems that each year goes by quicker and quicker; much like our birthdays once we’ve passed over into adulthood. The above quote struck me in such a way that I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. We just finished studying Captivating – Unveiling the Mystery of Woman’s Soul , by John and Stasi Eldredge (the counterpart to Wild at Heart for men). As I was reading the last chapter in the book in preparation for my Sunday school lesson, I read the above quote. It was taken from an elderly couple the authors met who shared their “family motto” with them. In fact, the couple even said that these words have been on their refrigerator for the past thirty years! I had to ask myself these questions, “Have I been living like this? Am I really here for my family and the people who matter most to me, or am I just going through the motions of the everyday demands of life, surviving the craziness of each weekday morning, racing to beat the clock? How often do I wish my life away? Telling myself I will do it tomorrow, next week, when school is out, or next year when my youngest goes to preschool.” Ouch!

For several months now I have felt overwhelmed with some of the commitments I have made this past year and as unusual as it may seem for a stay-at-home mom to say, I have simply become burnt out. However, this year has been a learning process for me, and I believe God has shown me that I need to be more careful in what I sign up for, so to speak. For instance, in our previous study, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, (Moody Press, 2001) we covered an entire chapter on priorities. There are two sentences that I highlighted and starred for myself in the book. First, Nancy says, “The frustration comes when I attempt to take on responsibilities that are not on His agenda for me.” And second, “What God has called you to do as a mother with three toddlers [or in my personal case one toddler and two older children] will not be the same as the ‘job description’ He has for your husband, or for a single, young woman or an empty nester.” I will confess that when I started this website ministry a little over a year ago I was excited about the release of my book and kept trying to determine the vision in ministry that God wanted me to take. I think I was a little too gung ho about jumping in without considering how much time it would actually require. Last fall, I started teaching a Ladies’ Sunday school Class, helped lead a 12 week Beth Moore Bible Study, had a couple of speaking engagements lined up that I had to prepare for (I had never spoken before and used to hyperventilate when giving presentations in college!) and had to proof and re-proof my book as it was not released until November.

By January, I was getting tired, and by March (after not having missed a Sunday of teaching) I was feeling the signs of burn out. I had not considered how much time (other than lesson preparation) would go into teaching a class. My house was a mess and I did not feel that I was good at anything because I had spread myself too thin. In retrospect, I had not set proper boundaries in my life and I began to question my motives. What was God’s will for my life and ministry? I was certain that is wasn’t to be stressed out and cranky with my immediate family. Yes, we need to serve within the Body of Christ, but God wants us to take care of our husbands, children, and parents (when the time comes). I have felt guilty because last year I spent much more time praying and reading the Bible with my children. This year, however, I have been putting the spiritual needs of others first. I have been reevaluating my priorities and asking God what He wants me to do in ministry. I feel strongly that a commitment on a weekly basis is not something that I can continue and have therefore told the ladies in my class that I will not be teaching in the fall. I love each of them dearly and have really enjoyed teaching. I have no doubt that God has used it to help me grow this year, but He has also taught me a lesson in boundaries and priorities. He has shown me that I need to “Be Here Now!”

A week or so ago, I awoke to my alarm clock playing an old Billy Joel song – “The Times To Remember.” I had not heard that song in ages and as I lied there in the bed, still groggy, I just listened to the words. My heart began to beat faster as I became very aware of what he was saying. As the beautiful melody played, I heard these words over and over:

“These are the times to remember
Cause it will not last forever.
These are the days to hold onto
Cause we won’t although we’ll want to.
This is the time, but time is going to change.
You’ve given me the best of you,
And now I need the rest of you.”

Good and awake now, I remembered “Be Here Now! Be Here Now! Be Here Now!” My oldest- my daughter Madison, just finished sixth grade. She would only be living in this house six more years before she goes to college. That’s not a long time. I suddenly realized that I need to do everything in my power to make sure that she is spiritually prepared for life; that she will make good choices, and she will know Jesus as her All in All. The same goes for my younger two boys, of course. I’m just beginning to feel the urgency with her as she is quickly becoming a young lady. She is no longer my little girl. Am I giving her my best? Am I giving anybody my best? Lately, I have felt pretty mediocre.

A very dear Christian lady that I love so much, recently told me that this is the most important job I will ever have – being a wife and mother. That resonated with me as well.

Now, having said all that; please don’t misunderstand me. I am not going to sit back and never serve again in any way. Galatians 5:9 reminds us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I am certainly not going to give up. I will continue to post on this website, although I do plan to enjoy the summer with my kids. While I can’t make up for this past year of not “being here,” I can “be here” this summer! I hope to devote more time to this website ministry again in the fall. I am also praying about how Comfort to Comfort Ministries can do some type of monthly outreach and I have some new ideas. Whatever the ministry becomes, whatever I do, I just want to make sure I’m listening to what God’s plans are for the ministry and for my life.

Life Applications

What about you? Have you ever felt overwhelmed with life? Who hasn’t? Maybe it’s time we women get back to basics and examine our priorities. Are we really putting our relationship with God first, then family, then others?

Lord, it’s so easy to get wrapped up with the busyness of life. As I’ve seen this past year, Lord, sometimes it’s the “good” things that can still distract us from what Your perfect will is for our life. Help me, Lord, to hear you clearly. Help me to find the personal, intimate time I need with you daily in order to hear Your direction for my life. I pray that from now on, Lord, I will seek Your will before I make commitments. Help me to remember that I only need to be concerned with pleasing You. There is such freedom in that! May I never grow weary of doing good; and doing my job (the job you have selected for me) to help further Your kingdom.

Key Scriptures

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 5:9 (NIV)

Copyright 2009 by Christy Long
All Rights Reserved. Comfort to Comfort Ministries.

"Comforsations" April 15, 2009

A Date to Remember

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that hey may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

April 15th is a date most of know as Tax Day. Each year at this time we must either send to Uncle Sam our income tax forms that have been prepared, or we must file an extension. Either way, this date is known as the deadline to file our taxes. There will always be a news segment of some kind probably showing the lines at your local post office for those who waited to mail them in at the last minute. However, for me April 15th will always be etched in my brain as the day my husband left me.
Nine years ago today he made the choice to leave our home and never made any attempt at reconciliation. I remember the weeks and especially the final week leading up to the actual separation; I was a nervous wreck. I was physically sick on my stomach as I worried about our marriage and the baby I was carrying inside of me. We had a daughter who was not quite three years old at the time and I was seven months pregnant with our second baby; a son, although we didn’t know at the time if the child was male or female. The tension had become so bad in our home that last week that I finally forced him to make a choice that morning. I couldn’t take it anymore…not knowing whether or not he wanted to stay in the marriage. He couldn’t give me an answer and somehow I just felt that he was trying to stay until after the baby was born. I believed he was planning to make his exit after things settled down.
All day on April 15th, I wondered what he would decide. Would he come back home and tell me he wanted to try to work things out, or would he stay away for good and simply come back for his things at a later time? It was a Saturday. I took my daughter and went to my parents’ house. We all went out for lunch at a Chinese buffet where again I continued to ponder the question – would he stay or would he go?
Later that evening as I talked on the phone with my husband, he informed me that he would not be coming back home. It’s hard to describe the emotion I felt at the time. Betrayed, devastated, sick, anger, relief??? Relief because of the terrible tension I had felt in the home. The tension would no longer be there, but it would soon be replaced with many other emotions…fear was definitely a big one. What was I going to do? How would I be able to stay there by myself? How could he choose to leave his children? They didn’t deserve this – to be part of a broken home. I never wanted to be divorced and have a “dysfunctional” family. Would I be alone the rest of my life? Who would ever want me with all of my baggage?
I’m afraid a Tax Day will never go by without remembering. Just like remembering the date of a family member’s death. After all, this was the death of our marriage. But it’s okay to remember. It was during this time that I learned to “cast all my anxiety on him,” and He absolutely did care for me. It hasn’t even been a complete decade since all of those things happened to me and it not only seems like a lifetime ago, but sometimes it even feels like it happened to someone else. God has been so good to me and He most certainly took care of me and provided for all my needs – not just physical needs, but also emotional and spiritual as well. He had a plan for my life and even though I couldn’t see it when things were dark, gloomy, and uncertain, he was working to fulfill a greater purpose and ultimately reveal His glory!
Looking back, however, I wish I had handled things much differently. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I’m afraid I wasn’t very humble in my situation. I felt that I was the victim in my circumstance and wanted everyone to know what happened because it wasn’t my fault! Of course, I was not and I will never be a perfect person. I made many mistakes in my first marriage and although I had wanted to work things out, I did not initially take responsibility for the role I had played in the failure of the marriage. I wish I had not slandered and talked too much about our situation to people who really didn’t need to know everything. God did “lift me up in due time” but I should have quietly allowed Him to do His work without getting in the way.
April 15th may bear a reminder of past scars, but today I am thanking and praising God that He has healed me. There is truly no more pain when these memories come to mind. If you read What’s Happening on my website, you will see that God has blessed me with a new life and a fun-filled Easter with family. I am now married to a wonderful man, have another child (that makes 3 children total!) and am thankful beyond words for what God has done. Hopefully, He will use me to comfort others who may be struggling with a similar circumstance. He most definitely cares for you!

Life Applications

Are you anxious today about something? Whatever it is, why not give it to God? No matter how large or small, He tells us to cast our anxiety on Him. Remember He cares for you!

If you are hurting now, or even holding on to past hurts, would you be willing to allow God to heal your heart?

Lord, today I am feeling anxious about _______, and I give it to you. I trust You to take care of this because it is too big for me and You alone are God. There is nothing too hard for you as Your Word says. Heal the hurts of my heart, Lord, as only You can. Take away my pain and bind up the wounds so that I only have the bittersweet scars to remind me of Your amazing love and Your powerful work in my life. I look forward to the date and time when You reveal Your glory!

Key Scriptures:

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one;’” Romans 3:10 (NIV)

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. Titus 3:1-2 (NIV)

“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13 (NIV)
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

Copyright 2009 by Christy Long.
All Rights Reserved. Comfort to Comfort Ministries