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.

An Available Powerhouse

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…Ephesians 1:17-20

Two weeks ago my husband and I cancelled our YWCA membership and joined a gym much closer to our home. The Y is a state of the art facility and it worked well for my husband because his office was nearby and he could work out during his lunch break. For me, however, it only worked for a short while…

Although it boasts the huge, inviting swimming pool and sauna, top of the line weight machines, updated treadmills with personal, built-in TV screens, an indoor track, and Zumba classes, it didn’t work for me for one main reason. It just wasn’t convenient to home and all the places in my normal errand route, and therefore I did not use it. Not to mention I was just plain lazy.

It was an available powerhouse so to speak, but my body was not affected because I did not take advantage of that membership. Yes, I belonged to the Y, but admittedly my outward appearance does not look like one who regularly works out!

And so I began to ponder those same similarities between the Holy Spirit and me - the Christian…

The Holy Spirit is an available Powerhouse to all believers…The Bible tells us, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…” Ephesians 1:13

The Spirit is able to give us wisdom, discernment, and the power to do incredible things we would not otherwise have the capability to do on our own. Believers can tap into this “incomparably great power…like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” (vs. 19-20) Some pretty serious business!

I just finished the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, who happens to be a pastor. It is about his four-year-old son’s trip to Heaven when he almost died several years ago. A must read, and a fascinating story as the parents gradually learned more and more information about his experience in Heaven in the months following his hospital release.

There is a chapter in the book called “Power from Above” and it absolutely gave me chills! The young child told his mother, “I’ve seen power shot down to Daddy…Jesus shoots power down to Daddy while he’s talking.”

When his dad approached him about it, he responded so simply, “It’s the Holy Spirit. I watched Him…He showed me…he shoots down power for you when you’re talking at church.”


All I can say is that has given me a whole new outlook on the power of the Holy Spirit - The True Powerhouse!

If we are believers, we already belong to the club. We don’t even have to go anywhere to get the Power – He has already taken up residence in our body, we just have to ask for His help. It really is that simple.

So, as for my physical workout, I am already more active and I have been working out on a more regular basis. Soon, I hope to see some results in my body, like less of it!

But I also hope to see more results in my spiritual workout…some of the equipment at my gym is called Body Masters…when I see those words written across the weight machines, I think of who the Master of my body really is…my body is God’s Temple and His Spirit lives in me! (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Through Him I can have an available Powerhouse of “endless energy, boundless strength.” (Ephesians 1:19 MSG)

The Equipment stands ready…I just have to use it.

Lord, thank You for this available Powerhouse You have given us through Your Holy Spirit. I am in awe that You would choose to “shoot down power” to your children on earth. Forgive me for all the times I have been too busy or even just too lazy to ask for Your guiding, powerful, discerning Holy Spirit in the various facets of my life. Please fill me with your strength and power and use me for Your glory in a mighty way. Amen!

© Christy Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Moses Moments

Jesus answered, "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water." John 4:10 (MSG)

As I have been reading through the Bible chronologically this year, I have become a little intrigued by Moses. In the past, Moses fascinated me because I could relate with how he felt about public speaking. Because Moses did not believe himself to be a good speaker, God allowed him to take his brother Aaron along to speak for him.

I will admit that I have certainly felt that way in my life. This is the kid who could barely get through a presentation of a research paper in a very small college class without hyperventilating. :) My professor exclaimed, "Breathe, Christy!" And there was laughter. LOL

So imagine how I initially fought those feelings of sharing my testimony publicly later in life. Even in my 30s I felt sick at the thought of speaking to a room full of people. I often wished I could have taken along one of my well-spoken girlfriends from church to speak for me. But God was always faithful and I am never more dependent on the Holy Spirit for strength and power than when I stand up and speak to a group. Only through I able.

I have claimed the verse, "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:5

But there are many other Moses moments that I have been dwelling on in the past few weeks.

1) The Bible tells us in Number 12:3, ...Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

2) Numerous times the Bible references that Moses fell facedown before the Lord.

3) Moses' face was radiant from being in the presence of the Lord. (Exodus 34:29)

Yet, Moses did not enter the Promised Land. It almost doesn't seem fair.

This morning, I read Numbers 20, where Moses struck the rock to provide water to the Israelites, instead of following God's instructions and doing it the way He told him.

This seemed very uncharacteristic of the Moses I have studied thus far and it is something I am continuing to process.

The Instructions: The Lord said to Moses, "Take the staff and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink." Numbers 20:7-8 (NIV)

Easy enough, right? The instructions were clear.

The Act: So Moses took the staff from the Lord's presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. Numbers 20:9-11 (NIV)

Now, I must admit that as I have read this passage before, this didn't really seem like such a big deal. So, Moses gave the rock a couple of taps...the water came out and it was all good. Except it was not all good because this guy Moses, to whom it had been said was the most humble in all the world, suddenly did not act with humility and reverence before God.

So why did he feel the need to do something extra?

The Jamieson-Fausset Brown Bible Commentary puts it this way, "The conduct of this great leader on this occasion was hasty and passionate...He had been instructed to speak to the rock...and, instead...he spoke to the people in a fury."

The moment he messed up? He was hasty and passionate...

How many times have I become hasty and passionate and done something extra that God did not tell me to do?

Honestly, for me, I struggle the most with trying to discern exactly what it is that God wants me to do. There are things that seem like a good idea, good things to do...but maybe I need to spend a little more time hearing from God facedown first.

I don't want to miss a blessing because I'm making hasty decisions and doing things my way instead of God's way. Because that's exactly what happened to Moses.

The Consequence: But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them." Numbers 20:12 (NIV)

The take away for me:

Seek to be humble before God and before others. I read on a church sign a long time ago, "Just when you think you're humble, you've lost it!"

Why did Moses try to make himself look good in front of the people? When have I done the exact same thing? Let's not get "too big for our britches" as my grandmother used to say. Jesus said, "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:12 (NIV)

Trust God at His Word. Don't interfere with His work in progress. Follow His directions. Nothing more...nothing less. Again, I wonder how many times I've taken matters into my own hands and missed out on a greater blessing.

Honor God above all else! May He always get the glory! 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) It's not about us. It's not about me.

Lord, please forgive me when I have acted hastily and passionately in the past instead of waiting to hear from you. May I regularly fall facedown to seek Your Will for my life. Thank You for providing the Living Water that saves my soul and satisfies my thirst. May I live my life in a way that demonstrates Moses' best moments! In Jesus Name, Amen.

For His Glory,


(c) Christy Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.