Captivating Contentment

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Over the last several weeks, I have felt the Lord speaking to me about various issues on contentment. Last week, I had the privilege of guest posting on my friend, Angela Mackey’s blog, Rethinking My Thinking where I shared my personal story of finding Contentment in God Alone.

Today, I share my last blog post on the contentment series. This will also be my final blog post. Comfort to Comfort will continue to exist as an informational website with my testimony, book information, and speaking events.

I will also continue posting to the Comfort to Comfort Ministries Facebook page with various verses, prayers, quotes, and encouragement. To follow, just click on the Comfort to Comfort Ministries Facebook page on the right sidebar of this site, and then hit the “like” button. I pray you will be encouraged!

It has been my honor and privilege to blog for anyone who may have enjoyed reading my posts. :) I love sharing from my heart and plan to spend some time working on new writing projects as well as serve on our women’s ministry blog team at my church.

Now, back to Captivating Contentment…my last post dealt with contentment as a heart issue. But it is also very much a head issue.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” It took me a long time to understand this verse. Unfortunately, for most of my life I didn’t know it, much less practice it.

And even once I heard it, was a tough one to digest. How many times did I let my negative thoughts control me and defeat me?

Too many to remember or count, I’m sure.

Finally one day, it clicked. I envisioned a little thought bubble appearing in my head like a cartoon character. Then, I hold up those thought words beside words of Scripture, relating to the same topic. If my thought words go against God’s words, based on what I know to be Biblically true, my thought words get taken captive.

They are moved out of the way. And they get thrown out! Out of my head and into the dark place where they belong!

Our thoughts lead to feelings. And our feelings many times lead to actions.

Contentment is a choice. We first make that choice in our mind. If we don’t deal with it there, it can settle down inside of our heart where it breeds discontentment.

Here’s one way to remember:

When a negative thought enters your head, take God’s Word and strike it dead!

It really goes back to Armor of God (Ephesians 6). Sword of the Spirit (the only weapon mentioned in the armor) is the Word of God. But we first have to know His Word so we can defend ourselves in those mental battles.

So be proactive with contentment. Before those negative thoughts stick around and stir up trouble, take it captive. Pierce it with the sword (of God’s Word) and throw it out!

Choose contentment.

If you’re struggling in area, ask yourself, what does God’s Word say about that? If you’re not sure, find a Bible concordance and search by topic. My Bible has one in the back and it has been a wonderful resource.

Remember, the enemy loves mind games. His goal is to make us ineffective, feel defeated, and ultimately worthless in the Kingdom of God.

Choose your weapon carefully and learn how to use it.

God Bless You, Friends!

For His Glory,


Lord, I pray that instead of trying to fight my own battle inside my head, that I would instead commit Your Word to memory. Help me to remember to use Your weapon effectively against the schemes of the evil one so that negative thoughts do not breed discontentment in my life. I want to live a life that glorifies You. Amen.

Key Scriptures:

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Other Resources:

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Moody Publishers 2001

(c) 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

A Content Heart

The series on contentment continues as God spoke to me this morning through a passage in Ezekiel 36, during my chronological Bible reading.

Ezekiel is prophesying that God would bring His people back from exile into their own land and that Israel would again populate and prosper. God tells Israel, through Ezekiel, that He is not doing it for them, but for Himself, “for the sake of His holy name” (vs. 22) so that “the nations would know I am the Lord.” (vs. 23)

I was struck while I was reading verse 26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you, I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (The Message)

“And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27, The Message)

How does this relate to contentment, you ask?

Well, I believe that being content really is based on the condition of the heart. We know that a hardened heart contributes to all kinds of unhappiness and discontentment with one’s life.

A hardened heart is a selfish heart. It looks out for its own interests. A hardened heart seeks worldly happiness rather than godly contentment.

A hardened heart often leads to divorce. (See Matthew 19:8)

Jesus Himself warns us in Matthew 24:12, in speaking of the end times, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” Stone cold, maybe?

When we harden our hearts, it is actually a form of rebellion. Hebrews 3:8 reminds us,“do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.”

So, how do we protect our hearts from turning to stone?

It is through the daily filling of the Holy Spirit that God puts His love inside of us. We ask Him to make His desires our desires. We ask Him to move us to accomplish His will. And it is through His Spirit that we may live an obedient and thankful life.

A content heart is one that is God-willed rather than self-willed.

Lord, I do not want to end up with a cold, heart of stone. Forgive me for the times that my heart has felt hard, tough, and shone traces of rebellion. Put a new heart in me and with it, give me Your desires for my life. I pray that You would move me to do Your will and to follow Your ways, according to Your word. Remove the parts of my heart that are self-willed, and replace them with a heart that is God-willed.

Key Scriptures:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Ephesians 4:18 (NIV)

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (AMP)

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet. James 4:7-10 (The Message)

© 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

This Old House...

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a friend. We hadn't had a real conversation in a while, so we were catching up. Asking the normal questions like, "How's your mom and dad?...Did you have a good vacation?...Are the kids ready for school?..."

And then my friend asked me, "Do you still love your house?"

Sort of taken aback, I said, "Well, yeah I guess."

You see, my husband and I fixed up his grandparents' old farmhouse several years back. We held a "before" party, where we invited several friends and family members over to the property to have an old-fashioned cookout in the front yard. This way everyone could see the house before the construction began. A year or so later, we had a big open house so everyone could see the results.

My friend had been a part of those little celebrations and she had also known my husband's grandparents.

After I paused to give an honest answer to her question, I added, "You know, there are things I wish I had done differently, but overall I still love it. It's special."

And then I felt a twinge of guilt about all the times I have complained in my heart, or even out loud, about all that is wrong with my house. The crack in the tile floor, the toilet that runs all the time, the seam in my seamless countertop surface, the shutters that need to be secured back into place after a high wind gust...the old basement!

I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with my house. Or maybe it's more like the seven year itch because that is how many years we have lived here.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. I mean all a girl really has to do is watch a little HGTV and suddenly feel like her home is pathetically outdated and unfit for entertaining friends. She becomes discontent with her decorative choices and colors and begins to notice every smudge on the wall, every scratch on the hardwood floor, and every carpet stain.

But then I am reminded of how blessed I felt when we first moved in and I hear the echo of my own voice with the words I wrote in my book just three years ago:

“Sometimes I just feel as though I could burst with thankfulness for what God has blessed us with for a time… I used to place a lot of importance on house, cars, clothes, and money in general. Over the last several years, the Lord has shown me that if those are the things we are focusing our desires on, then we’ve got it all wrong. It has become clear to me that for the short time we are here on earth our priority should be on God and then relationships. All the other things will pass away or be passed on to someone else.”

Point of Grace beautifully sings in How You Live, a melodious line that reminds us "Have what you want, but want what you have."

How true! And yet how easy it is to shift focus! Let us not be robbed of our godly contentment by entertaining thoughts of dissatisfaction.

While reading the story of Adam and Eve from a Children's Bible last night, it struck me that even in the perfect world, Satan succeeded in stirring up discontentment in the very first woman. She had the perfect life with perfect circumstances, yet the evil one had her wanting more!

Today he is no different. Our world is far from perfect, but still God has blessed us with so much. Let's make the choice to be thankful and to cherish the blessings God has given us.

Let’s choose contentment with the home God has blessed us and rejoice if it is lived in!

Lord, how quick I can be to forget a blessing! Please forgive me for the times I have become unhappy with the things you have blessed me with and have desired something more. I pray that You would help me to recognize all I have, and that it would be exactly what I want, according to Your will. Amen.

Life Applications

1) Think of 3 things you love about your home today.

2) Praise God for the simple stuff.

3) Change the things that bug you – a fresh coat of paint, clean the carpet, repair what needs fixing, de-clutter. But choose to be content. If you continue to long for something more, simply and sincerely ask God to help you want what you have.

Key Scriptures

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” Hebrews 13:5 (NASB)

Don't collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (HSCB)

I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (The Message)

© 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Confessions from the Domestically Challenged

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Proverbs 31:27

Domestically Challenged! That’s what the plaque says before entering my kitchen!

Funny, it was always my dream job to be a stay-at-home mom. And it still is…it’s just that it hasn’t exactly turned out the way I expected.

I dreamed of a clean, organized home where visitors could pop in unexpectedly and find everything spotless. And I would offer them something homemade because I had plenty of time to bake.

Okay, let me pause for a minute while I have myself a big ole belly laugh! :)

It’s true! I wanted to be just like June Cleaver and Carol Brady! Of course, Carol had Alice to help her out! ;)

I remember writing in my book, God Keeps His Promises, that I wanted to pinch myself when I took a right turn out of my children’s school parking lot to return home each morning, rather than making the left turn that would take me in the direction of my job I had held for several years.

My dream job! For a while, I was so happy and content just being at home.

Soon, I discovered that I was eligible to take part in activities I was not able to previously because I worked full time. I was asked to be the grade mom for my son’s class. I began attending women’s Bible study on Wednesday mornings while my mother babysat for me. I joined the prayer team. Before I knew it I was helping lead a Bible study, coordinating the prayer team, and teaching a ladies’ Sunday school class. And I never turned down an opportunity to speak when I was invited.

I loved volunteering to chaperone field trips or help plan parties for my children’s classes, because that was something I had missed out on when I worked outside the home.

All this on top of the normal grocery shopping, Costco runs, and hauling my kids to dance, ball practice, and just waiting in the normal car rider lines soon had me feeling like I was driving in one big, giant circle. Over. And over. And over. Day in. And day out.

My home was far from the haven I had envisioned. Probably because this stay-at-home mom was seldom at home!

Serving and volunteering is all good. Please do not misunderstand. But repeatedly over the last 2-3 years, I have heard the same message. Good things are not always the best things. I recognized that I needed help in this area and contentment was at the heart of the matter.

I realized I wasn’t really content just staying at home. I had been searching out other ways to connect with others and fulfill a purpose while neglecting the #1 calling God had given me.

Ashamed now for all the times I would catch myself saying things like, “When B goes to preschool…” or “When B starts kindergarten…” I will have so much more time to do X . Whether home projects, writing more regularly, serving in my church or community, or just meeting a friend for lunch…I was making plans for the future rather than enjoying the present. Doesn’t sound like one who is very content, huh?

The fastest five years of my life have just passed me by. My baby is starting kindergarten next week. I’m thankful for the time I’ve had with him, but I’m also a bit saddened because I know I will never get that time back or have the opportunity for a do over.

This chapter is finished.

Because I couldn’t keep doing so many of those good things that kept me frazzled, I took several things off of my plate. Last year especially, I made an effort to stay home more. I actually learned to say no. I try now to stop and ask God before I jump and say yes to every event or opportunity.

However, I still have a long way to go! I have been playing catch up with my house from all of the disorganization that accumulated while I was trying to fly in a cape! (I crashed of course!)

Titus 2:3-5 (NIV) says, Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

There is much to be gleaned from these verses but three words are crying out to me!

Busy At Home.

Oh, that we would learn to be content where God has called us! Even in the laundry, the dishes, the kids’ toys, and their homework!

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to make it their ambition to lead a quiet life. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

To be busy at home and living a quiet life may sound boring, but it is good. It is a blessing, after all.

There is hope for the domestically challenged to become the domestically content!

Lord, You have blessed me in so many ways. I am ashamed that I have struggled with being content in my circumstances. Help me not to dwell on my past failures, but embrace the calling I have been given right now, resisting the urge to wish my life away. May I find opportunities to minister to others, especially my family, each day and not take these precious years for granted. Amen.

What about you?

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are feeling less than content?

Be honest with God and ask Him to help you become content with your circumstances – “Bloom where you’re planted” so to speak.

Make a list of positives in your current situation and give praise to God.

Ask Him to show you His will and His plans for your life. That He would make His desires your desires. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (NASB)

For His Glory,


PS – Before I completed this blog entry, I was given an opportunity to say yes to something else. Once again, I had to stop myself before committing in order to take some time to discuss it with God first. Trying to wait for His answer. Maybe one day I’ll get it right! :)

© 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

The Secret of Contentment

...For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ~ Philippians 4:11-12

What is the secret of contentment that Paul is talking about? Why do so many of us struggle with being content in our circumstances?

I believe we do not need to go very far on the page to find out what Paul is talking about. In the passage before, he tells us, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

1) Praise God no matter what. Sometimes our circumstances may seem so severe or hopeless we may find it difficult to praise God. Yet in verse 6, the Bible reminds us, "The Lord is near." We are not alone and we can always count our blessings! Lets face it. Most of us have not gone hungry yet or even missed any meals! When I am praising God, it takes the focus off of myself and puts the focus on God and who He is. And He is able!

More powerful passages follow...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

2) Pray about everything and experience a peace beyond understanding. When we pray, we let go of our burdens and instead give them to God for Him to handle. In return, we experience peace knowing that He is in control.

Next passage:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

3) Pure thoughts keep our focus right. Negative thoughts become negative attitudes. Before you know it, we have allowed the seeds of discontentment to be planted in our hearts and we are dissatisfied with our life. Keeping our mind on what is noble and true, etc. cultivates contentment.

Finally, Paul makes a statement immediately after his comments on learning the secret of contentment and it is one of the most popular verses in the Bible - a favorite of many. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

4) Possible only with Christ. I believe true contentment is not something we can learn in our own strength. The world is just too full of "the grass looks greener" temptations, or coveting the next best gadget or shiny thing that comes along and captures our attention. If we rely on our own strength instead of Christ, we will most certainly become discouraged and unhappy with the life God has blessed us.

More to come on contentment this week. God has been speaking to my heart on this issue in my own life. Meanwhile, let's thank God for his many blessings in our lives no matter what our circumstances.

I would love some comments. What are your thoughts on contentment? Do any of these verses hit home? What are some blessings you can thank God for today?

Lord, I Praise You for who You are. Thank you for all the ways that You provide even my simplest needs. Help me to remember to pray always, especially when I feel overwhelmed with life. I want to experience Your peace. Protect my thoughts and my mind, keeping my focus on things that are good and pure. And help me to learn the secret of being content in every situation with the help of Jesus Christ.

(c) 2011 Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Generation Me

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD of Hosts: 'The time will certainly come when everything in your palace and all that your fathers have stored up until this day will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,' says the LORD. 'Some of your descendants who come from you will be taken away, and they will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.'"

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good." For he thought: There will be peace and security during my lifetime.
~ Isaiah 39:5-8 (HCSB)

Headlines within the last 2 days:

Stocks Nose-Dive Amid Global Fears
Weak Outlook, Government Debt Worries Drive Dow's Biggest Point Drop Since '08

August 5, 2011, The Wall Street Journal Online

Military Money on Chopping Block as Lawmakers Seek Savings
Published August 04, 2011, Associated Press

US debt now greater than GDP
Hot Air Green Room Posted at 10:12 am on August 4, 2011 by Bruce McQuain

For the last few weeks, we’ve all heard politicians tell us why or why not our country needs to have the debt ceiling raised yet again.

Honestly, I’m not trying to start a political argument, and honestly, I don’t know the answer. Was it a good idea to raise it again? Should our nation’s Triple A credit rating been tarnished?

I don’t know.

My question is this. When is our generation going to start thinking about the next generation and the one after that?

Are we like Hezekiah? Do we see our future of inevitably being carried off to Babylon…or China? Yet think to ourselves, it is good…if my 401K survives and I am able to retire without going bankrupt.

Will we, as Americans, be okay with cutting our military spending? Do any of us have any idea how many terrorist plots have been foiled since September 11, 2001? And are we really willing to let our guard down for future generations?

What kind of America will our children and grandchildren live in? Will they be dodging dirty bombs at crowded events and suicide bombers in their local shopping malls?

Yet think to ourselves, it is good…if I do not see nuclear war in my lifetime.

My daughter (the oldest of my 3 kids) starts high school this fall. College is just around the corner. I’m just as concerned as the next person who hopes to have enough money to send their kids to college, and yes, it would be nice if there were something left in their 529s for their education.

But let’s face it. College will do them no good if there are no jobs waiting on them when they graduate.

I will be the first to admit that watching the stock market tumble and the reported job losses makes my stomach churn and my head throb. Sometimes I have to change the channel from Fox News to The Waltons. (Ironic, since the Walton Family was living through The Great Depression! We can learn a lot from that generation.)

Let’s not be like Hezekiah. Thinking it’s all good if there is stability, peace and security in my lifetime - all about "Generation Me."

So, what is the wise answer? Where do we cut our spending? How do we pay for what is really necessary for our government to function properly?

I don’t know. It’s all so confusing. But I do know that there is no quick fix to the mess we have gotten ourselves into. And the answer is NOT to keep borrowing and printing more money.

And it’s time we pray. Really pray. More fervently pray. (And I’m definitely speaking about myself here.)

Simply pray.

I love the way The Message translates 1 Timothy 2:1-3:

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

Let’s commit to praying for our country - wisdom for our leaders, the upcoming Presidential election, those without jobs, and for spiritual revival.

Pray for our children and future generations, lest they be carried off to the country we owe the most.

Take a few minutes to read Jeremiah 33 about God's restoration of a nation.

Verses of Comfort:

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. Jeremiah 33:6-7 (NIV)

Praying for our future,

© 2011 by Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Comfort Food - What to do with Summer Squash & Zucchini

Summer in the South! For many of us, it involves having a garden!

The first two recipes are straight out of my Grandma Dot’s cookbook! The last is a healthier way I have discovered to enjoy an alternative to fried squash and zucchini.


Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled, grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 T. cinnamon
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ cup nuts

Beat eggs until light and foamy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla, mixing lightly but well. Combine dry ingredients and blend with egg mixture. Add nuts. Divide batter into 2 greased loaf pans, and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until done. Remove from pan at once and cool on rack.

Summer Squash Patties

1 ¼ cups self-rising flour
½ tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup sour cream
1 egg
1 T. vegetable oil
3 cups coarsely grated yellow squash
1 medium onion, coarsely grated
Pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients, beating until smooth. Stir in squash and onion, and pepper, if desired. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto a hot, greased skillet. Cook until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

Almost as Good as Fried Squash

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Pam or cooking spray with butter or olive oil. Slice squash and/or zucchini and place on the pan. Spray squash with cooking spray. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, or I like to use McCormick Perfect Pinch salt-free Garlic & Herb flavor seasoning.
Broil on high until squash reached desired brownness. I eat them right off the pan!

I’ve also tried this with green tomatoes from the garden! Yummy!

From One Grasshopper to Another

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. ~ Isaiah 40:22 (NIV)

“Wow! These seats are awfully high!” My mother exclaimed as we plopped down in Section 225, Row K, seats 11 & 12.

Although the escalator ride had been long and steep, it hadn’t really occurred to me just how high UP the upper level was going to be!

My palms began to sweat, and the lower half of my body weakened as I stared down into the floor seats, the stage, and the lower level in general. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could force myself to stand back up when the time would come!

Even the TV screens were quite a bit lower. Our only surroundings that seemed even close to eye level were the rafters! And of course the other American Idol fans that had purchased tickets in the upper level of the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte last week!

We burst out in laughter at ourselves – me especially, since I was surprised at how affected I seemed to be over the heights! (Of course my husband has a story about me freaking out on the ladder of a deer stand last fall!)

Breathing more deeply and gazing at the scene below us, I remembered a verse I had recently read in Isaiah about God being in heaven and we being like grasshoppers!

Could this be a smidgen of what God saw? Of course, I hardly felt like God, but at that moment I began to reflect on just how BIG God is. I had no idea how many individuals were there in that place on that night – thousands for sure. Yet God loves every person. He knows every one of them by name and everything about each of their lives.

I thought about how God is so intricately involved in the lives of His grasshoppers – drawing the lost ones to Himself, loving each and every one in spite of our sinfulness.

Weaving the futures of each one of His children together for their good and His glory. Comforting them in their pain. Hearing their prayers. Providing their needs. Healing their hurts. He takes care of the tiniest of details in each person’s circumstances.

It’s just impossible to wrap one’s head around the greatness of God. One Who sees all and knows all, One Whose power and love we cannot comprehend.

God - HUGE.
Me - small.

I thought of the great multitude from every tribe and nation that will one day stand before the throne and worship Jesus! (Rev 7:9-12) And was reminded that He has got it all under control – now and forever.

Fully aware of His presence, my palms stopped sweating and my knees felt stronger. It was time to enjoy the show!

Lord, help me to remember and be comforted that You alone are God. You made the heavens and the earth and there is no one like You. There is no need for us to fear or worry. When I feel weak help me to remember that it is from You that I get my strength. I trust that even in uncertain times and circumstances, You have everything under control and are working it all out for my good and Your glory. Thank You, Jesus! I love you!

Have you ever been in a situation that was out of your comfort zone and felt God’s presence and control?

Are you fully aware of His presence in your daily routine? He wants to meet us there.

Please feel free to post your comments!

More Scripture and Resources:

Take a few moments to read Isaiah 40, if not the whole chapter, focus on verses 21-31.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. ~ Isaiah 40:28

You may also enjoy the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.

For His Glory,


© 2011 by Christy Long. All rights reserved.

Savoring Summer with a Good Read

More reading and less writing. That's definitely been my motto for July!

I think next summer I will "officially" take the month of July off from blogging.;)

Since I've been quite the little bookworm this month, I thought I would pass along a couple of books I thoroughly enjoyed reading in my surf chair on the beach.

Christian Fiction: The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen

Wow! A wonderful story about second chances that takes place at Sunset Beach, NC! If you were a teenager in the 80s you will especially love this book! I'm pretty sure I have been humming The Boys of Summer by Don Henley ever since I turned the last page!

Can't wait to read Marybeth's next novel - She Makes It Look Easy.

Christian Non-Fiction: Weird by Craig Groeschel

Weird, Because normal isn't working, is a candid, yet humorous look at our Christian faith. (I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book on the beach! The man tells some funny stories!)

In a nutshell, as Christians, we should be living as aliens in this world. We should be well... weird.

The book is divided into 5 different sections dealing with Time, Money, Relationships, Sex, and Values. An easy read with thought provoking and life-changing points.

What books have you read this summer?

Recovering from vacation and searching for motivation, ;)


Fruit of the Spirit Smoothie

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (HCSB)

Ahhh! Summer and fruit! What a treat!

Our family has been going through some watermelon, and hopefully we will have a bumper crop in our garden this year.

And peaches! Oh yes, we will make a stop on our July beach trip as the peach harvest will be in peak – fresh, juicy, and delicious! We eat them with the fuzz and all!

And even later on, as summer comes to a close, my crew will help my dad pick the gorgeous grape clusters from his vineyard.

Fresh fruit is all around us in the summer months. And I must say I was thrilled to learn that Weight Watchers allows one to have unlimited fruit! (“Just don’t go bananas on bananas!”;)) No doubt about it! Fruit is an awesome and healthy summer snack!

This past weekend, our lesson in 5th grade Sunday school happened to be on the Fruit of the Spirit. As I prepared the activity, the teacher’s guide suggested making a fruit smoothie. However, the recipe looked rather boring, using orange juice, plain yogurt, and a small amount of fresh fruit.

We purchased a Vitamix last year that I have grown to love and it makes the best, most healthy treats! It is way more powerful than a regular blender!

As I pondered over the lesson plan and the passage of Scripture, I thought it may be a good idea to pack up my Vitamix and take it to Sunday school. Taking a measuring cup, lots of different fresh fruit, and some ice, the kids enjoyed a special treat and hopefully a clear message about living out the fruit of the Spirit.

You see, the measuring cup was for the #1 ingredient in the Fruit of the Spirit Smoothie – water! The water represents the Holy Spirit living inside of us. That is, Jesus living in us. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Living Water (John 4:10).

The key to a Fruit of the Spirit Smoothie is making sure to put in the Living Water first! Because it is impossible to live out the fruit of the Spirit without the help of the Holy Spirit.

Next, we added different types of fruit to represent the fruit of the Spirit - strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, an apple, kiwi, an orange, a banana, grapes, peaches and a lemon. Actually, we ended up with more fruit that there were “fruit of the Spirit” listed in the verses!

But the lemon had a specific purpose. It represents faith. You’ve probably heard, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We all get handed lemons in life. It takes faith to believe that God will work all things for good (Romans 8:28). God can take our lemons and make sweet, refreshing lemonade when we have faith.

And lastly, we needed to throw in lots of ice to make our smoothie. Though ice is not a fruit, it is a good representation of self-control. How many times do I need to cool down when I feel myself start to explode? Whether it’s anger management or not finishing off the leftover birthday cake (and we’ve had a lot of birthday cake lately!), it takes self-control to STOP. Count to 10, go for a walk, chew a piece of gum…whatever it takes to NOT indulge the flesh!

And believe me, I’m preaching to myself!

Making smoothies will never quite be the same for me now. The recipe for a Spirit-filled life is dependent upon one basic ingredient – living water. I will always need WATER. And I will always need ICE (frozen water).

Heavenly Father, help me to always remember to start my day with the Holy Spirit. The Living Water of Jesus is necessary for me to survive spiritually. I desire to live out the Fruit of the Spirit in my life, but I realize I cannot do it alone. Fill me up, Lord, with your Holy Spirit and help me to feed my mind and body with things that are good and healthy. May I live a life that is glorifying to You.


It Happens Every Year

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

Busier than Christmas! That’s how I describe this season each year in our household!

Spring 2011: Baseball and/or t-ball to fill our weeknights and weekends, dance recital, preschool graduation, school music program (my son played Elvis!), honor roll ceremony, awards day for 5th grade, awards day for 8th grade…not to mention that our family averages a major celebration per week from the end of May through the middle of July!

Let’s see, there is my mother’s birthday, my son’s birthday, my other son’s birthday, Father’s Day, my daughter’s birthday, the 4th of July, my husband’s birthday…oh, and at some point I need to pack for the beach!

At least sometime at the end of all these activities, I get to go on vacation! Believe me, I’m already counting down the days. :)

If I sound frazzled, maybe it’s because I am!

Interestingly, a friend invited me to attend a local Bible study at her church. You may have heard of the Frazzled Female by Cindi Wood. So far it’s been a fantastic study for this season.

In fact, the very morning after we began the study, I was so frazzled that I had convinced myself I had either lost my billfold or someone had stolen it out of my purse! I was shopping in one of my favorite bargain clothing stores and had found lots of great stuff. However, when I reached for my billfold to whip out my plastic card, it wasn’t there!

Almost in tears, I began to frantically search for it. It wasn’t in my car. I called a friend who works at the school that my son attends to see if perhaps someone had turned it into the office. (I had been there that morning for a school program and thought it may have fallen out when I grabbed my camera out of my purse.) I was desperate and attempting to retrace my steps!

Nope. It wasn’t there.

I drove home as fast as I could without causing danger to myself or others on the highway. Praying all the way…I had come to terms that if I had to cancel all my credit cards, etc. then at least my family was healthy and we hadn’t lost everything like many families in Joplin and other towns that have been affected by recent tornadoes.

This was something that could be replaced. I knew I needed to count my blessings.

As I opened my kitchen door and unarmed the alarm system, I spotted the Vera Bradley pattern on the island blending in with all the clutter! “Thank You, JESUS!!!” I breathed with relief!

Of course, then I remembered that I had checked to see if I had change for lunch money earlier that morning for my son. When I didn’t have enough ones, I had laid it on the counter rather than putting it back in my purse where it belonged. Duh!

Being frazzled and stressed is something I certainly struggle with this time each year.

Over and over the past week or so, I keep hearing the same message, both through the Frazzled Female study and my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young.

Carving time out of my day, preferably first thing in the morning, to sit with Jesus is essential to keeping my sanity and finding His peace. Inviting Him to be a part of whatever activity I’m doing as I go throughout my day is a way to experience quality time with Him. For instance, yesterday morning I was very aware of His presence as I completed the simple task of watering my flowers.

Another suggestion that Cindi Wood makes in her Frazzled Female study is to take a “Weekend Mini-Retreat” with God. (You don’t have to go anywhere and it doesn’t have to necessarily be over the weekend.) The point is to take some special time to get away from all the distractions and just be with Jesus. Maybe a little extra Bible reading, talk to God in prayer, and just be still and listen as He speaks through His Word, through nature, or to your heart.

Summer is a time for vacations, relaxing, and recharging.

Could this “frazzled female” really work on becoming defrazzled by meeting God first every day and spending some quality time with Him? After all, that’s what He desires most from me, and from you.

So I’m spending my summer with the God of the Universe, basking in His presence and His creation, and hanging out with the people I love, the first ministry to which He has called me – my family!

What about you? How do you plan to spend your summer?

What is your busiest season and what are some ways you defrazzle?

Lord, I pray that you help me to always seek You first, especially in my busiest and most stressful seasons of life. Often it is easier to skip my quiet times in the midst of the chaos, but help me to remember that is when I need You the most. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving me so much that you desire to spend intimate time with me. I love You.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,) and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 (HCSB)

Protecting the Fruit

A good life is a fruit bearing tree… Proverbs 11:30 (MSG)

It’s May! And that means there is a cherry tree in my front yard with bright red cherries! Oh, they are tart! But my boys, especially my youngest, cannot stay away from the tree! He loves cherries and doesn’t seem to notice the sour taste!

This tree has been in my husband’s family for a while. His grandparents lived in the house we live in and his grandma used to make many a cherry pie from the very same tree.

Because the birds also enjoy eating the cherries right off the tree, someone gave me a helpful tip Grandma Long used to do to protect the fruit. She would place aluminum pie pans in the cherry tree to ward off the birds. The noisy pans in the breeze combined with the reflection from the sun keep the birds away from the beloved tree until the cherries are all picked.

Of course the birds still manage to steal a few cherries, but at least it helps protect the majority of the crop.

As I placed the pans on the tree this week, I thought about my own fruit in my life that I hope to be harvested one day. At this season of my life, raising godly children is at the top of my list.

One of the verses I have been drawn to recently is Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

It doesn’t take a Mama Einstein to know that raising great Christian kids is tough work in the culture we live in. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing enough.

Those cherry feasting birds remind me of the parable that Jesus taught in Luke 4 about sowing seed. “…some fell along the path and the birds ate it up…” Jesus explained that this portion of the parable, “Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.”

In one ear and out the other…

The evil one attempts to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) our teaching and our good efforts. As moms we have our work cut out for us.

Just like shielding my cherry tree with aluminum pie pans, the power of prayer is essential in protecting my fruit – my children.

The same is true for you, my friend. What “fruit” in your life do you need to protect with prayer?

What work has God given you to do that will eventually reap a harvest if you do not give up?

Is the enemy stripping you of your future crop with self-doubt, exhaustion, helplessness?

Those feelings creep in from time to time and Satan loves it when we allow him to “pick” at our tree and steal some of our joy.

Take a little time to read Ephesians 6:10-20 – The Armor of God passage, taking note to stand firm, and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests and to be alert!

Let the Son shine brightly on your armor by staying in His presence. Entrust your crop to the One who is able to grow it and protect it.

And never, ever give up on the work God has placed on your heart to complete!

The fruit will be sweet at the harvest!

For His Glory,


© Christy Long 2011. All rights reserved.

Fill in the Blank: I want to be _____kind of mom.

We had Muffins for Mom at my four-year-old son’s preschool this week in honor of Mother’s Day. Bryson had filled in the blanks to answer some important questions about his mom and gave them to me during our special time. The results are priceless!

According to Bryson, his mom is 40 years old (correct) and weighs 40 lbs. – okay, pretty sure I can’t survive with that weight, but at least he didn’t say 400 lbs! She is also 40 feet tall! Wow!

She has Bo’s hair (that’s our dog- a Shih Tzu!) and blue eyes (correct).

Her favorite food is salad. (Not sure why he picked that one! Except when we go out to lunch at Firebirds after church on Sundays, I always order the Grilled Shrimp & Strawberry Salad. Yummy!)

Her favorite restaurant is Kerley’s (a local barbecue joint we frequent almost every Friday night!). Funny, that happens to be B’s favorite restaurant! He always orders 2 hotdogs (no bun), fries, and sweet tea! Then he races to the cash register before we can even push our chairs in to pick out his favorite Dum Dum lollipop! To be honest, I could use a little more variety, but Bryson and his dad are creatures of habit and their worlds are gently rocked when we miss a Friday night!

He thinks his mom looks funny when she is being chased by his cross bow. Oh my! When did that happen? What an imagination!

We have fun together when we go to Lake Thom-A-Lex. Yes we do! It’s a nice little park with a huge playground beside a lake where you can picnic, fish, and feed the geese. Now I know I need to plan a special time to take him back. It has been almost a year since we’ve been and he still remembers!

His mom is special because she fixes corn on the cob.

He would not trade his mom for a flower!

Isn’t that precious?

Sometimes life is just about the simple things. My baby will start kindergarten in the fall and I am going to miss him more than I can bear to think about!

This is just a sweet reminder to me that life is about taking time to spend with the people we love. I need to set aside a little quality time to go to the park before it gets so hot around here.

It is also a reminder to serve my family. My child obviously feels loved when I make his favorite food (right now it’s corn on the cob, but that is subject to change).

This weekend, I think I’ll take a few minutes to really soak in the Proverbs 31 passage about a woman of noble character. I already know I have a few hundred traits to work on. In fact, just reading about this woman is exhausting!

But if I may dare to sum up the entire passage in 2 points:

1) She loves and fears the Lord.

2) She loves and serves her family.

That’s the kind of woman I am striving to be! What about you?

Lord, Help me to be the wife and mother You desire for me to be. Thank You for seeing past my many flaws and continue to mold me into the kind of mother that pleases and honors You. Give me strength and wisdom for each day! Amen.


PS – If you have kids, a great resource that I should probably re-read is The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman.

PSS – Before I could finish writing this post, I had to stop and make my boy some more corn on the cob! :)

© Christy & Bryson Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.

His Burden Is Light

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

As a recovering people pleaser, I sometimes struggle with the guilt of not doing more. I will admit that my priorities sometimes get out of whack because of taking on too many things.

When I was first able to stay-at-home with my three children after the birth of the youngest, I fell into the trap of signing up for things that I thought I should be doing or that I had always wanted to participate in, but couldn’t because I worked.

It didn’t take long to become overwhelmed. I had to be reminded of why I was at home with my children – they were my first ministry.

I remember being asked several years ago about Comfort to Comfort, “What’s your vision for your ministry?”

First of all, I don’t feel like it is “my ministry.”

But secondly, to answer the question, it was simply an avenue to give others hope and encouragement, by sharing my story when given the opportunity, and perhaps even spreading the message of the comfort of Jesus through my blog by living out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Why then, did I feel like I should be doing more? Perhaps I was putting too much dependence on what others believed, or even what I thought they believed.

In my Jesus Calling devotional this morning, Sarah Young writes, “If pleasing people is your goal, you will be enslaved to them.”

Thinking back to several months ago, as I listened to an expert writer/blogger speak at a conference, I learned that if one could not write on one’s blog at least 3-5 times a week, one should not have a blog. My immediate reaction was, “Oh dear, I don’t write that many times a week. I do well to post once a week!”

And I began to feel enslaved to my blog. I felt discouraged even to the point of giving it up. Then I realized that writing 3-5 times a week is not a practical goal for me. But that doesn’t mean that God can’t use my writing.

Yes, we are to serve God, but our load is not meant to be burdensome and heavy.

And our load will not be the same as someone else’s.

Even today, I still struggle with the desire to do more, knowing which things I need to focus on, and which ones to cross off the list.

I have discovered that when I take deep sighs as I rush throughout my day, or stare at my pocket calendar and wonder how I can possibly fit one more thing into that box, that this not how my Jesus wants me to live.

He wants me to do the obvious work He has entrusted me to do, but He does not want me to put unreasonable expectations on myself or feel guilty about not doing enough.

He just wants me.

He wants an intimate relationship with me. He wants me to come to Him and spend some time reading His word, studying His word. He wants me to stop and share my heart with Him through prayer. And He wants to answer me if I will only be still and listen.

That has given me such freedom! Life does not have to be so hard. Sometimes when it is, we only have ourselves to blame.

Let’s not weigh ourselves down with people pleasing, comparing ourselves to others, and guilt from not serving more. For that yoke is not from Him. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and rest in Him.

For His burden is light!

I would love your comments. What has God shown you about priorities and becoming overwhelmed?


© Christy Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

For those in my generation, you probably remember the cheesy Tombstone pizza commercials…no pun intended!

What do you want on your tombstone?

Every Easter weekend I have a chance to look at many tombstones from my ancestors and even complete strangers that happen to be buried near them.

I used to accompany my grandparents to Old Salem’s graveyard, known as God’s Acre. We would clean the flat, white stones with Comet cleaner and place flowers on the graves of my great-grandparents.

We would also put flowers on the grave of my grandmother’s uncle whom she never met. He died in a car accident in his early twenties not far from my home - 1913, I believe. Cars had barely been invented at the time!

Hard to believe he has been gone from this earth for almost 100 years and he still has descendants that think of him each Easter. He was the very dear brother of my great-grandmother, so the family has continued to honor his memory because of her love for him.

Now my dad and I take care of the graves of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and even my great-great-grandparents, as well as “Tob,” (short for Thomas) the beloved brother.

I must admit, I went a little picture crazy at the cemeteries on Saturday. God’s Acre in the Moravian graveyard is always the most special place because of my Moravian heritage and that now my grandparents are both buried there. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so tranquil. And there is so much history there!

When I think of the Rapture of the Church, I imagine it happening at God’s Acre…

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

How comforting is that?

Isn’t that really what Easter is all about? Worshiping a Savior who conquered death and knowing that we can also if we know Him personally and have accepted His gift of salvation.


Reading the stones is comforting for me also. Because it usually speaks to the faith of the one who is buried there, asleep in Jesus.

For instance, the stones for both of my grandparents read, “God is my Refuge and Strength.” - A plaque that decorated their living area for as long as I knew them. Incidentally, it now graces my living room wall.

But my most favorite stone that I’ve ever seen in any cemetery belongs to my own great-great-grandmother. “I am in my Savior’s hands. I am His and it’s alright.”

What peace and comfort that must have brought to her immediate family after her passing! What great joy to know here and now, that I will most likely meet her one day!

She certainly sounds like a woman of faith and a woman who loved the Lord! I would love to hear this amazing testimony of a mother who lived during the Civil War. I can’t help but wonder how God must have proved Himself faithful to her in those dark days… In fact, family history indicates that her mother died when she was only 3 days old and she was raised by her 14 year old sister. Tough times, indeed. Yet she appears to have endured and grown up to be a strong Christian woman.

What about you? What would you like on your tombstone?

Is there a special verse that illustrates your life? I would love to read your comments!

For me, there are several verses that I hold very dear. But my favorite has got to be Romans 8:28, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What message would you like to speak to the generations to come, if the Lord should tarry? Perhaps one day it would be a silent witness to a great-great-grandchild that this life is not all there is.

It may seem morbid to some that we visit graveyards at Easter. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about new life, the anticipation of meeting Jesus in the clouds, and long awaited family reunions!

I hope that you all had a blessed Easter weekend! Still reflecting on the cross and what it all means to have a Savior who conquered the grave...

© Christy Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Sharing the Crown

“…How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” ~ Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)

As I opened my 4-year-old preschooler’s red folder that had been hiding in his camouflage back pack all weekend, I discovered a cut out crown with glued-on jewels in various feminine colors. The thick paper crown was white and written on it in purple letters (in the teacher’s neatly, printed handwriting) were the words, “My Mom is Queen of the House.”

“Wow!” I said to Bryson, “How sweet!”

As I proudly grabbed a couple of magnets off the refrigerator and found a conspicuous place to display this wonderful recognition of my reigning title, he then said something that totally burst my bubble.

“But you know, Mama, you have to share your crown with Spooky, because she is Queen of the House too!”

“What?” I asked in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that I have to share my crown with a cat???”

Of course, I had to laugh; although, my sweet 4-year-old was completely serious. He had heard me say numerous times that Spooky is Queen of the House, or so she thinks!

How could I be angry? His statement was simply precious.

But it did trigger some thought provoking questions on my part though.

I began to think about how silly it seemed for me to have to share my crown and my title as Queen of the House with our pet.

After all, I am the one who saved her. She came to us as a stray, starving for food and for love. We adopted her, provided her shelter (a rather nice castle for her highness), and have loved her like our own pedigree dog that we purchased as the family Christmas present several years ago.

It would seem absurd that I would have to share my crown with her.

How much more then does God feel disrespected by His child when I expect Him to share His crown with something or someone else?

Whether I'm situating myself on the throne by making life all about me, or if I'm placing something else in His reserved spot – looking for affirmation from other people...leaving the TV on to drown out the quiet when I should embrace that time to be still and hear from Him...Maybe it’s searching the pantry to satisfy my inner void with something crunchy…

Whatever it is, I fear that I do not give Him total reign over my life all the time. I fear that I do not solely let Him wear the crown.

I'm afraid that sometimes I try to share it.

The God of the Universe loved me enough to save me and to adopt me as His own. Everything I am and everything I have is because of Him.

May God be glorified in all that I do! For He alone is worthy to wear the crown! And He will not share!

Lord, Your Word is clear. You will not let Yourself be defamed and You will not yield Your glory to another. You are unwilling to share the crown. Forgive me when I have put other things in Your place – even when I have unknowingly sought to bring glory to myself and have worshiped the idols of our culture. For You, Lord, are King of my House and Lord of my Life.

More Verses:

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)

“Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)

“Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty- he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:10 (NIV)

Bump in the Night

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Severe thunderstorms rolled through our area of North Carolina on Monday night and early Tuesday morning. At times the lightning was so intense it almost looked like daylight was breaking ahead of schedule. Booms of thunder…wailing wind gusts…shutters flapping against the house…wind chimes that were rockin’ and rollin’…

A night with much interrupted sleep. Thankfully, I had already given my dog his Xanax, so he wasn’t too upset. But I kind of wish somebody had given me something!

Since my husband was out of town on business, both boys and the dog were sleeping with me in our king size bed. My daughter was in her upstairs room, directly above us. As the weather radio went off multiple times in the wee hours, blaring out warnings of severe thunderstorms with instructions not to go near windows because of flying debris, it occurred to me that maybe we should move into the living room.

I corralled everyone in the central location just in case we needed to make a dash down the basement stairs. News that a tornado had been spotted a few miles over in the next town was confirmation that I had made the right decision, though I hated to wake my sleeping children.

Then, click! The power went out. And except for the flashes of lightning, it was pitch dark!

Bumping into things, I made my way to the nightstand beside my bed and opened the drawer. I felt around inside, searching for a flashlight…there it was! Though the battery seemed a little low, as the light was a bit dim, it did the trick.

I could now find my way in the dark. The kids and I sat in the living room for maybe half an hour until the worst of the storm seemed to pass. Then, Madison asked me to walk her back upstairs and down the hallway to her room. It was really dark and we needed the flashlight to light our way.

The verse from Psalm 119 popped into my head. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. It had real meaning for me on this night!

We are so used to simply turning on the light switch and having instant, total brightness in our homes today. In fact, our power was out for around 15 hours or so and the entire time it was out the kids and I habitually continued to flip on the light switches throughout our house.

Of course we know nothing about living in a time period in which people actually had to read by candlelight, or find their way from one room to the next with a small lamp. How it put things in perspective!

God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.

Just enough light to find our way in a given situation…we don’t necessarily need to see the whole room lit up in its entirety, just take our life journey one step at a time, totally dependent on the flashlight so as not to stumble in the darkness.

Lord, I know my habit is to turn on the light switch myself. I confess that I do not always use Your Word as my flashlight. In my impatience and impulsiveness, I want to see the big picture as I head down the long hallway. Help me to walk in Your Light, taking things at Your pace, in Your direction. I pray that you keep me from tripping over my own self-directed, false light. May I learn to apply Your Word in my everyday life…in every situation, so that I may stay on the path that You have prepared for me.

Black Jelly Beans and Why I Love Them!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 (NIV)

Not everybody’s favorite, but my Grandma Dot and I shared a love for them. With a strong, licorice-like taste, much different from the sweet, fruity flavors, the black jelly beans are often the ones left untouched. But for me, it was just the opposite.

As a child, during the Easter season, I remember eating black jelly beans with my grandmother at her house while we watched TV together. (Yes, they make bags with only the black jelly beans, so believe it or not, it must be the flavor of choice for at least some of the population!)

Receiving my bag of black jelly beans from my Grandma Dot became somewhat of an Easter tradition. It was my special little treat from her every year – even well into my adulthood.

Sadly, my grandmother died unexpectedly on the Monday morning of April 26th, 2004, not too many weeks after Easter. Sometime after she had passed, I found in a drawer a bag of black jelly beans that she had given me. I almost couldn’t bear to look at them or eat them for a while because I missed my grandmother so much.

This year my family has been working on a huge jar of Jelly Bellies from Costco, though in my opinion there are not enough black ones in the extensive assortment. As I longed to taste some black jelly beans and remembered those special times with my Grandma Dot – I began to crave them!

So I stopped by Rite-Aid and bought 2 bags!

You may have heard what the different colors of jelly beans represent concerning the plan of salvation – the black ones represents sin.

Certainly not a surprise that the color black symbolizes darkness or death – Ephesians 2:1 reminds us that we “were dead in our sins.” Romans 6:23 states, “the wages of sin is death…”

But like the bittersweet taste of the black jelly bean, “…God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross because He loved us that much!

If our sins are forgiven, death is not eternal. We will die an earthly death at some point, but if we have chosen to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we will be victorious over death!

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Yes, I miss eating black jelly beans with my Grandma Dot. Death has separated us temporarily. But because of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross, those black jelly beans are ever so sweet.

Because of Jesus, I can savor each black jelly bean and look forward to the day I meet Him face to face and thank Him in person for loving me enough to save me from the punishment I deserve! And I can also look forward to a happy reunion with my Grandma Dot where we can celebrate Easter every day with Jesus - together!

What about you? Are your sins forgiven? If you have any doubt whatsoever, why not take care of that today? I pray that everyone can eat their favorite jelly beans this Easter with the assurance of their own salvation.

Dear God, I acknowledge and confess to you that I am a sinner and have missed the mark of the standard You set, Lord. I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and I want to turn away from those sins. Today Lord, I accept Your gift of forgiveness. I desire to have a personal relationship with You and I want to follow You all of my life.

Salvation Verses:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23 (NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)

Lifting the Ban – Something to Celebrate!

“…God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs...” Psalm 103:4-21 (The Message)

Krispy Kreme doughnuts! My mouth waters as I drive by their store if the “Hot Doughnuts Now” red light is on! The plain glazed being my favorite!

Living in the same town as their headquarters, we grew up on Krispy Kreme. It was even the doughnut of choice for my grandparents!

My older two children sort of grew up on Krispy Kreme too. That is until my husband decided to hold a grudge against the doughnut maker when a business deal fell through and they chose to buy from a competitor. My husband, being in sales, decided that if they wouldn’t buy from him, we shouldn’t buy from them.

Our family was suddenly banned from purchasing and enjoying the beloved doughnuts. My husband and I didn’t even partake when they were brought to Sunday school! I’ll admit, sometimes that was tough, especially when my stomach was growling!

While my kids showed no loyalty when they were with their dad, or if Grandma became their enabler and snuck them a few here and there, my husband and I did not eat a Krispy Kreme for at least 5 years. I know this because the ban began before our youngest was born in 2006.

Little B never tasted a Krispy Kreme. He was growing up on Dunkin and Sweet Sixteen instead!

A couple of weeks ago, Bryson’s preschool had Doughnuts for Dad. And Bryson excitedly reported to his dad that they were going to have Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast that morning! (I truly believe he thought his dad had never tried one before!)

I told my husband, “You know you’re going to have to eat a doughnut. It would be rude if you didn’t.”

To my surprise he replied, “I know. I’ve been thinking about lifting the ban anyway.”

And so the ban was lifted! And it was a happy day in the Long household again. Bryson and I celebrated by visiting the store with friends after a Friday morning adventure to the Children’s Museum! And it was a sweet time!

So sweet in fact that I ended up buying 3 more boxes before the weekend was over! Guess I was making up for lost time, huh?

Grudges are no good. God doesn’t want us to hold grudges. He doesn’t hold them against us forever, as the psalm says, and He expects us to behave the same in our relationships.

The times in my life that I held a grudge, I later discovered that I was the one who missed out!

Is there a situation in your life where you need to lift the ban? Let it go…let bygones be bygones?

I guarantee that life will be much sweeter if you do!

Lord, forgive me for the times I have held grudges against others. Open my eyes to show me if there is any unforgiveness I’m still holding on to and help me to lift any bans that I have established over my heart that hinders my relationship with others. It is my desire to let go of them and surrender them to You.

Blooming Nicer While I'm Here

“…Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here...” Psalm 103:6-18 (The Message)

Lots of sadness this past week… Losses… Witnessing suffering and grief.

And I am reminded that life is just too short.

1) I was notified of my 43-year-old cousin’s passing. He lived several states away and while I did not see him very often, I was grieved; mourning his loss and praying for those he left behind: his mother, his wife and 2 beautiful daughters, and his siblings.

2) As I cooked and delivered a meal to a dear friend from church, I was saddened of the suffering she is experiencing as a result of breast cancer. It was a rough week of chemotherapy for her and I have been praying for her strength and complete healing.

3) There was a terrible car accident that took place on the outskirts of our small community last week. A young mother was killed and left behind a husband and a precious little boy. I learned that her son attends the same preschool as my youngest son. For some reason, this tragedy has really affected me. My heart has ached for this family and I have shed tears for a woman I did not even know.

4) And of course on an international level, there is the news coverage on Japan – the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami. Footage of parents calling out for their child in the rubble, reports of tens of thousands missing and most likely dead. The threat of a nuclear power plant exploding and possibly destroying even more lives…

I’m probably beginning to sound like “Debbie Downer” but this is what has been going on. And yes, it is depressing.

Overwhelming sadness…followed by counting my blessings. Vowing to make the most of every day with my family…yet still struggling to live in my flesh. This has been the formula of my emotions the past few days.

Thoughts of my own mortality have consumed me. What if I were suddenly gone? What would be left undone in my relationships? What kind of memories would my husband and children have of me?

Life is busy. Life can be hard. There is so much to be done, so little time…I take it for granted that I will have breath in me tomorrow.

That I will get around to doing that special thing with my child, or having that particular conversation. That tomorrow will be different somehow. That I will finally make it through a day without raising my voice; or grumbling about picking up toys or pieces of popcorn on the rug beside the sofa…

My daughter made a comment to me on the way to school this week. It seemed funny at the time, but it is kind of a reality check.

Madison: Have you already had your coffee this morning? Me: Yeah, why do you ask? Madison: Because I don’t see a cup and you’re nicer!

Ouch! Is that how she sees me as I drop her off at school each day? A grumpy, old woman who needs caffeine intravenously in the mornings?

What kind of legacy am I leaving my children?

Would they remember my sharp tongue more than they would remember my soft, loving tone?

Would they have fond memories of special times together, or would they think of how their mother used to nag each time they made their bed or took out the trash?

Does my family really know how much I love them???

Just some things I am pondering these days…and asking the Holy Spirit to help me with my need to be nicer…especially to the ones who matter the most when all is said and done!

And so I’m not stopping at the one verse, but reading the entire Psalm 103 (The Message) and I encourage you to read it also. It begins with these words:

“Oh my soul , bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
Oh my soul, bless God,
don’t forget a single blessing!...”

Lord, please forgive me for taking my days for granted and for all the times I have been short and grumpy with my family. Please help me remember to ask to be filled with Your Holy Spirit each morning, even before I reach for my coffee cup. For You are the true fuel for the day that helps me be nicer and kinder to all You put in my path. Help me to represent You well and count each day and each activity as a precious and beautiful gift – making the most of life as a wildflower!

I would love some feedback! I sure hope I’m not the only one who struggles with this! Please feel free to share your comments!

The Squeaky Duck Saga - Assorted Spiritual Gifts, Individually Styled

Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. 1 Corinthians14:1 (The Message) (Emphasis mine)

School fundraisers! I really dislike them. Not because I don’t want to support my child’s school, but because I would just rather give a donation instead of placing an order for something I really don’t want or need.

Also, I really do not care for the motivational tactics presented to the kids – prizes they can earn with the more they sell! UGH!

Recently, my son’s school did a fundraiser and they enticed the students to sell by offering little 2-inch size squeaky ducks. Oh, they were cute…with various themes…ideal for trading with friends.

We were nearly late for school on more than one occasion because we had to find the squeaky ducks so that my son could trade that day. My friend even turned around and went back home one morning because her daughter forgot her squeaky ducks!

Then, the unthinkable happened! My son lost his chain of squeaky ducks one Wednesday evening, somewhere between our house and church. He was so upset, mostly because he wanted to trade one of his ducks for a different duck, a dinosaur duck the next day.

So like a good mom, I retraced our steps the next morning…the restaurant, the church parking lot, every lost and found on our very large church campus.

But to no avail, I did not find the squeaky ducks.

However, my son came home happy because he traded two of his brand new mechanical pencils for the duck he had anticipated.

Meanwhile, he learned that he could purchase even more of these themed squeaky ducks online…he even used some of his Christmas money to buy most of them – sports ducks, fairy tale ducks, dog ducks, farmer ducks, pirate ducks, safari ducks…I even ordered some luau ducks to place by my bathtub!

Almost every type of duck imaginable was available. There were 3 or more in a set…or so we thought!

Every day after school he couldn’t wait to check the mail. Each day he asked if his ducks had arrived.

Finally, it happened! The doorbell rang. The mailman had set a box on our front porch. I was puzzled, however, because the box looked a little small to have all those sets of themed ducks that we had long awaited.

Hmmmmm. I hurriedly opened the box. To my dismay I soon discovered that we had not received all of the ducks. After sending an email to the company, and taking a second look at their website, I discovered my mistake!

There it was in the fine print…Priced or sold individually. Assorted styles (cannot guarantee style.)

Lovely! We had picked one duck out of each theme. We could have, instead, invested in more ducks within the same theme. Then we would have ended up with a real collection.

Unfortunately, because we spent so much time and effort choosing only one of many different themes of ducks, we were left with a whole lotta nothin’!

The same could be true of my spiritual gifts…Do I spend my time investing in things that are really not my style? Or am I concentrating my efforts on practicing the gift or talent that God gave me?

Am I fulfilling my God-given purpose? Or am I spending too much time and effort dabbling in different themes and comparing myself to others and their spiritual gifts?

I love the way The Message translates Romans 12:6: “So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.”

In How to Reach Your Full Potential for God, Charles Stanley writes, “Let me remind you that your potential lies in the arena of your God-given giftedness. Unless you are fully in the flow of what the Lord has created and authorized you to do, you cannot and will not succeed at accomplishment anything of value or eternal benefit.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to find my spiritual theme or my niche and invest in it. Practice it. Use it for God’s glory.

I don’t want to end up at the end of my life with a whole lotta nothin’!

Lord, show me which spiritual gifts You have for me and how that You desire for me to invest my time and energy for Your glory. Forgive me when I have wasted my efforts on things that are not my gifts and not Your will for my life. Or even when I’ve even secretly wished that I could trade my gift for someone else’s. I praise You because You have created me as a unique individual and that You have a very specific plan for my life during my time on this earth. Help me to accomplish Your will for my life!

Forgetting Where She Came From

“When the Lord your God brings you into…houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant- be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Sleek, black, confident…some may even say fat, but I prefer the word “fluffy,” my cat, Spooky, is all that; or like most cats, she thinks she is!

My gorgeous cat didn’t always boast that beautiful appearance, however. I will never forget the day she showed up in our yard on a warm, fall day more than a year and a half ago. She was not quite fully grown, her long tail looking extra long on her skinny, black body. Someone had clearly set her out.

And it was her lucky day! We live in an old, fixed up farm house that belonged to my husband’s grandparents. Our home sits back off the road with many acres of family land surrounding us - pastures, fields…Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes we have a problem with mice!

It just so happened that very morning I had seen a little mouse behind the glass in our gas logs. I cringed at the thought of it making its way into my living room! When I addressed it with my husband, I declared, “We need a cat!”

He just gave me one of his looks, like yeah, right!

So with a little begging and coaxing, I convinced him to let us keep her. A stop by Food Lion later that evening to purchase some Deli Cat – dry food seemed to be the most economical and the famished feline would certainly be appreciative of anything, I was sure.

As soon as I returned home, I emptied some of the dry mix onto a paper plate and set it outside. She wasted no time gobbling it all up! The next morning, as I started the coffee, I awoke to loud, hungry MEOWS outside my kitchen window. Again, she seemed to treasure every morsel of her meal…we had adopted a cat!

The original plan was for her to stay totally outside. Then the freezing temperatures of winter soon came and we let her inside the garage…eventually progressing into the house. Now, it’s not unusual for her to curl up on the bed with me at night! She’s come a long way baby!

Believe it or not, Spooky has become high maintenance! My once starving stray, grateful for anything to eat, is now finicky…she now turns up her nose at the dry, Deli Cat and prefers Fancy Feast and Friskies wet, canned food!

Two cans a day is now her average consumption! My sweet, homeless stray that according to the vet is even missing a few teeth from her time spent surviving on her own, is living large at the Long house!

Observing her, I can’t help but be reminded of what Moses tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy – “when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (vs. 11-12)

God loves all of His creation, animals included. I believe with all my heart that He led Spooky to our house and He softened my husband’s heart, even allowing a tiny mouse to make an appearance that morning, thus creating our “need” for a cat.

But like the Israelites, it didn’t even take two years for Spooky to forget where she came from…wanting more, expecting more, taking it all for granted!

How many times do I take it for granted, forgetting where I came from? – my sinful past, my need for Jesus to save me, they way He loved me when I had felt so unwanted, all those times He provided for my family and met my needs when I didn’t see a way out…

Life hasn’t always been easy. He has healed a lot of hurts and worked all things for good.

Lord, help me to never forget that You are the One who provides all good things. I never want to forget where I came from, because when I remember my life before I truly found You, it was like wandering in a hopeless desert. May I always remember that You are the One who meets my every need and may I always be content with the blessings You provide.