November 23, 2016
I had the honor to speak at chapel for my daughter’s school on 11/16/16. I love speaking to the 4th 5th and 6th graders at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and their teachers and administrators.
This time I was assigned “thanksgiving” as the topic, which was way better than “forgiveness” which I had last time. Or so I thought…
The presentation started really well as I shared the meaning of the word “thanksgiving” as found in Psalm 95:2 and Psalm 100:4. These were the anchor verses I’d been given. But, because my daughter Koah warned me to “not be boring,” we added a short skit with 13 students from her religious studies class. Two teachers had even given all of the “actors” a tunic from another event. We were doing a skit from a day in the life of Jesus, as He healed the Ten Lepers.
As background leprosy was/is a devastating disease of the central nervous system. It made the body numb and caused lepers to injury their limbs, eyes, faces. Often they had sores and deformities. To make it worse the disease was highly contagious. If a person contracted it, he or she was banished from society. The afflicted loss their family, friends, job, synagogue, wealth… lives. Lepers often lived together, but isolated away from everyone else.
This story also confronts what sounds like 21st century bigotry. One of the lepers in the story is noted as a Samaritan. To our modern ears we hear this in context that is much different than the original audience. Samaria was at one time the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. But it fell quickly into sin and was judged by God. It was captured and its enemies moved in and took over. In time the Jewish people intermarried with the Gentile captors. The rest of Israel referred to Samaria’s citizen base as despised half-breeds. The Jewish people in the southern Kingdom hated the Samaritans so much that they would walk miles and miles out of the way to avoid going through Samaria, even through it was the direct route through the territory.
With this said, the actual story is short so I’ll share it directly from Luke 17:11-19 (Amplified Bible)
While Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing [along the border] between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” Jesus said to him, “Get up and go [on your way]. Your faith [your personal trust in Me and your confidence in God’s power] has restored you to health.”
- Jesus is available to those who seek Him
When the lepers cried out, He was listening and responded
- Everyone Needs Jesus
Whether we know it or not, we all need His offer of salvation
- Jesus is willing and able to help/heal
What ever your situation Christ has the ability to make a difference
- It is wise to ask for His help
- We have a role – to obey
The lepers were healed as they walked. Obedience to His instruction is crucial.
- Thankfulness is a choice
Only one person who was healed choose to thank Jesus
- Those who are thankful get closer to Him
The Samaritan, was in a sense the furthest from Christ as an “outsider” but he was the only one who was healed of leprosy, but had the privilege of having a true and conversation with Jesus. He was brought closer, by expressing thanksgiving.
- When we give thanks we lift Jesus up and encourage others to receive Him
By sharing our thankfulness with others, we have the opportunity to tell them about Christ and how good He is
As I was sharing the above lessons from the story I was hit with a big aha… I asked the student why did the others not come back. And God said to me… maybe they think they DESERVED to be healed. Kelly, maybe this why YOU are not always thankful. You believe that you deserve my grace.
Yikes!!!!! As I heard God’s words to me, I’m sure that my expression was that of horror, sadness, and conviction. I was so taken aback that I just shared the revelation with the audience right then. And they looked the same way. Am I really one of the nine?
I am. But prayerfully, not going forward. From now on I am the tenth. I am going to thank God privately and publicly for what He does and I am going to praise Him for who He is. (Because He does what He does, because He is, who He is.)
Here is my challenge to you and me. It’s called 1-4-2.
Praise God at least 1 time, before you start your day. Ideally when you open your eyes and realize that you are awake and lived through the night. Some days I do this. But candidly some days I am downstairs in the kitchen having a cup of coffee and it is not until 15-20 minutes that I say, Good Morning Father. Thank You for giving me life. Some days, it’s much later.
4 is thanking God, four times throughout the day while you are at school, work, running errands, raising your kids. I asked the kids and parents that day for ideals on what we could thank God for: passing a test, pizza for lunch, no homework, enough money to get a full tank of gas, for health, a new pair of show, that we can read, we have enough food, our family, our jobs, etc., etc., etc.
2 encourages us to thank God, at least two more times when you get home or in the evening. Ideally one of these times is when you climb back into bed, as you are grateful to have survived another day.
On this Thanksgiving-Eve in the United State I challenge you to give thanks using 1-4-2 daily between now and CHRISTmas.
If you don’t do it, no condemnation, just try again when you remember. And if you do, no haughtiness, because it is only by God’s grace that we do anything well.
I’d love to hear what you think and how it goes… Thank You Lord, for allowing me to share what You told me to share. May if bring people closer to You, myself included.
Happy Thanksgiving, on Thursday 11-24-16 and everyday!!!
October 6, 2016
I have a soft place in my heart for Halloween. Maybe it’s because October 31st is my birthday. When I was a little girl, back in the stone ages, we dressed up as princesses or cheerleaders and paraded through the neighborhood with parents watching. Today the world has more risk and caution is needed. Some in the Christian Community think it is “ungodly” to celebrate.
Several years ago I read an intriguing book called, Redeeming Halloween, Celebrating without Selling Out by Kim Weir and Pam McCune. They discuss the origin of the holiday and its tie to All Saints Day, which was a time to remember and celebrate Saints and martyrs from Christian history. In a practical sense it is a perfect opportunity to show the love of Christ to the people who ring our doorbells.
Before you start typing a rebuttal email, I ask you to consider two passages from the Bible:
This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJ) and Jesus says of Himself, in Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
In a nutshell the first verse says that the enemy has not created any days. October 31 is NOT his day. God is the Creator of time and every day belongs to Him. 10/31 is no different. So I am going to rejoice by giving out candied blessings to the people who come to Trick or Treat.
The second passage is where Jesus quotes Isaiah stating that He is now on earth to do what was promised. In the great commission Jesus extends this work to all His followers. Because of the Holy Spirit we now have the ability and responsibility to share the good news of His love with other people so that they can be fully connected with Him. One simple way to share this message is with the treats you giveaway.
A few years ago, our church provided stickers to place on candy that said “Because God Loves you BIG! (Not just fun sized.)” And they encouraged us to buy large sized candy bars to give away. You can create your own version on your computer and tape them to the candy and maybe include the website URL for the place where you worship or your address.
Our family often gives a sample Adventure in Odyssey CD to the first 20 families along with some candy. (Adventures in Odyssey is an outstanding children’s radio program that teaches faith-based concepts in a creative storyline. Check your local radio station for air times, or listen online at http://www.whitsend.org.) You can get samplers online.
If you’ve already bought a bunch of fun sized candy packs, maybe you can bundle them with a note that says – Here’s some Fun Sized Candy to say, “I love you” from a Super-Sized God.
I think this is a great way to show the generosity of our Father.
As you give out treats at your door or walk in your community, you could dress as a person from the Bible… or some other positive role model in history as you smile and share His joy. Who knows, your Queen Esther or Prime Minister Joseph costume might spark great conversations.
Please let me know how you decide to celebrate the Lord of the Harvest, with Halloween babies everywhere.
Blessings to you and yours,
June 7, 2016
I stopped my SUV in the parking lot of the church behind my daughter’s school like I do most mornings. I flipped the visor and mirror door to apply my blush and lipstick.
To my surprise was a “Post-It” note was taped on the mirror with blue painters tape. It was from my 10-year-old daughter and said “you are beautiful”
I laughed and wondered when she had time to execute this precious show of love and encouragement. Not only was I touched by her affection I was impressed by her thinking ahead.
Aside from making me feel like a queen, her words of affirmation and encouragement reminded me of the power of a kind word to build a person up.
I’m asking each person who reads this post to place a post-it-note with a word of affirmation or encouragement on a desk, night stand, lunchbox, lamp, mirror, underwear drawer, cabinet door, etc., and really make someone’s day. You might be changing a life in the process.
“So encourage each other and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
After your “encouragement target” sees the post-it – please post it – to this blog!
March 22, 2016
Easter or as my Pastor calls it Resurrection Sunday, is fast approaching and I see people being more open to teachings from the Bible.
I am so glad that the Bible speaks about all aspects of life, including our dwelling places.
In Deuteronomy 6:9, it says that believers are to write God’s commandments “on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”
One modern way to do this is with art and décor. Here are two ideas…
As you celebrate the glory and joy of the risen Savior on Easter, capture the season by hiding His word in your heart and displaying it in your home and office. This is a great faith builder.
December 28, 2015
At the end of each calendar year, I always pray for ideas to make the next year better. Here is my top ten list as of today. Maybe some of these will work for you too.
- If I am what I eat, I want to be made up of good things. Eating healthier foods and beverages will give energy and help with weight management. Whole foods will be featured at every meal.
- Water will be the beverage of choice. Soda will be a “treat” rather than a staple.
- Take a few minutes on Saturday or Sunday to plan your dinner meals for the upcoming week. You can capture the plan on your calendar or smart phone notes.
Sunday – Lasagna & Spinach Salad
Monday – Teriyaki Chicken Wings, Brown Rice & Mixed Veggies
Tuesday – Roast Beef, Baked Potatoes & Corn
Wednesday – Beef Soup (made from leftover Roast Beef) and Super Salad
Thursday – Baked Chicken, Hash Browns & Salad with Beets & Goat Cheese
Friday – Pizza from Donatos (Kenny & Kids – Pepperoni, Kels – Veggie)
Saturday – Scrounging leftovers from the week’s meals
- Try to move more throughout the day. Experts say walking 10,000 steps each day is great for our hearts, bodies and minds. Stand up – while you type at your desk. Park far away from the door and use the walk from the parking lot to get some extra steps. Take the stairs up. Secure a pedometer in an after CHRISTmas sale.
- Get and stay connected. Call a friend while driving to work. Have a lunch date with your honey-boo. Text your tweens, teens and young adults between meetings. Write a hand-written letter to an older relative; ask him/her to respond to your family history questions.
- Laugh more.
- Hire a coach to help you set and achieve meaningful goals. Check out http://www.betterdaybetterlife.com for one approach.
- Take time to rest. Some days I realize that I hardly sat down all day. I don’t want to live like that anymore. This year I will rest more and take time to savor the moment. I might have some full days of Sabbath where I plan ahead and just focus on Christ.
- Fret less and pray more. Lean on God’s word as found in the Holy Scriptures. Philippians 4:19 says, And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (NIV). Memorize this verse and then speak it to yourself as needs arise throughout the day.
- Spend quality time with God, your Creator and Lord, daily. Perhaps the first 10-30 minutes can be spent in prayer and reading your Bible. (Start with the Gospel of Matthew and read through Acts by July 4th.) You might have to go to bed 30 minutes earlier, to be up early enough to get a good soaking in His word. It will be worth every moment that you invest, paying eternal dividends. I wish you a productive and joyful 2016!
December 11, 2015
Names have great power; even for inanimate objects.
When we moved into the house where we live now, for the first time ever God gave me a name for our new home. The name is Grace Haven.
That was eight years ago and this name has defined and influenced so many things.
When contractors were doing work in our hot attic in the first month of being here, God said to me, at Grace Haven there is water and a snack for the people who are doing work. It prompted me to take beverages and fruit to the crew.
When I was ready to explode at my teenage son who was defiant. God said, at Grace Haven – there is grace… Don’t yell. Talk.
When I get frustrated with my own mistakes and failures, He says, there is grace for Kelly at Grace Haven.
In time, I started incorporating the words around the house. When people walk through our front door, they walk under the word grace. It prompts me to pray for guests who come to visit, that they would feel the love and faithfulness of God while they are here. Haven is over the back door that my immediate family and I enter and exit daily. I pray that our home is a haven for each of us.
The name Grace Haven has instructed me on what to do and what not do. It has given me something to aspire to. It has encouraged me to see our dwelling as a type of embassy for Christ. Just like embassies in different countries are the “property of” the nation it represents. I hope that our home is God’s territory within our neighborhood.
I am so grateful for the power of this simple name and I pray that God will tell you the name He has for the place where you live… and that you will live accordingly in it.
December 1, 2015
My dear friend Tracy had a fabulous 50th birthday party in October. She is a sweetheart and looks great. I’m sure few people would guess that she was born in 1965. Her husband hired a professional photographer for the event. A few weeks later Tracy was gracious to email pictures to guests. They featured the person or groups who were in the photo. But there is bad news… when I opened the photos that featured moi, I was aghast at how many l.b.s.’ I have gained.
In my best Martin Lawrence as Sheneneh voice – I have to say – “Oh my goodness.”
Okay so now that I have new awareness of the situation I’ve got to make changes and I am calling on Leslie Sansone to help. Aside from changing my diet I am going to start using her walk at home video series. It helped me in the past and I trust it will help again.
Leslie Sansone is an internationally recognized fitness expert and creator of the Walk at Home fitness program. Her walking videos are easy to use and fun. I love that I can watch by DVD and now play them on YouTube.com using an adapter on my TV. It is especially helpful that I can walk early in the morning in my family room before going to work, since walking outdoors is tough because it’s so dark.
So hopefully in the upcoming weeks and months I will be walking my way to a stronger heart and thinner torso. What a great gift from me to me!
November 17, 2015
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holiday celebrations. It is a combination of things I love: I get to cook, eat, and host my family and friends. And best of all – tell God and hear others tell Him how grateful we are.
Here is my 2015 Top Ten list of Thanksgiving tips and ideas…
- The week before Thanksgiving is the perfect time to clean out your refrigerator and freezer. You are going to need that space for the feast and leftovers. I typically plan our pre-Thanksgiving week menu to eat whatever is currently in the frig/freezer food. Sometimes there are some creative combinations…
- If you are making a dish for the first time, or one you haven’t made in a long time, make it this week as a practice dry run. That way you will be confident when the big dinner arrives.
- If you are hosting the dinner, layout the serving dishes that you plan to use a few days in advance. That way you will know what you have and what you might want to borrow.
- Take pictures of the preparation and throughout the big day. Don’t worry about posting them anywhere. Just keep them, the good, the bad, the ugly, like the dozen uncooked yeast rolls that my dog pulled from the table before I got a chance to bake them, to savor during future holidays. (And if you must share just do a quick air drop to people in the house.)
- Create a cooking schedule. I always do some cooking the weekend before Thanksgiving. (That’s why I need my freezer to be ready.) I start by making a list of everything we are having. Then I type the person who is making or bringing the item. For the things I will be preparing, I add the day I am planning to cook it. That way I can pace myself.
- If you are a house-guest, ask how you can help. Men folk, maybe you can keep an eye on all the garage cans in the house and be the emptier/bag replacer. My favorite guests help clean the mountain of dishes from dinner. That is one of the best gifts.
- Our dining room table isn’t big enough for all our guests to sit there. So we dress-up the kitchen table and add a cute table in the family room, so the football heads can watch the game while they enjoy the meal after we say grace. Each is decorated and set with plates and utensils that guests can carry through the buffet line.
- Consider setting up the food buffet style. We sit the serving dishes around our kitchen counter-tops so folks can serve and get seconds easily. I try to make it attractive while self-sustaining once the eating begins.
- Make it a priority to enjoy the process of cooking, cleaning, visiting, laughing, etc. Play music or listen to books on tape/CD while you cook and clean or pack if you are traveling. Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Make popcorn if you dare. Gather up some board games to play when dinner is over.
- Starting today, tell God how grateful you are for His grace and mercy in your life. Be thankful and don’t stop. (Psalm 103:1-5)
July 9, 2015
I love fresh-squeezed lemonade. And I make it very often. It’s actually really easy and hardly anything is better. Here ‘s how I make it.
I start by rinsing and drying three large lemons. To get the maximum amount of juice I microwave them on a plate for 30 seconds at 100% power.
Lemons vary widely in size and juiciness. From a big lemon you will likely get 1/5 to 1/4 cup of juice.
I have a hand juicer, which I what I typically use. I also have an electric juicer for times when I am making lots of batches.
Pour the juice into a pitcher. I prefer glass because it doesn’t hold flavors from one beverage to the next. (My husband loves Kool-Aid and I don’t want his flavored drink affecting my fresh lem-mo-nade.)
Add 5 cups of water, stir, then taste. I know, it’s not sweet yet. But it is often easier to tell whether the juice to water ratio is right before you add sugar. If there the mix is too lemony add another half or full up of water until you get a the right ratio. I prefer more lemony than too watery. If it’s too watery, add more lemon juice.
Next stir in the sugar. I add it 1/4 cup at a time. I like sweet lemonade, but some like it tart which might be at 3/4 cups of sugar.
I usually need a cup and a half. I know… make it to your own liking.
I’ll also use this a moment to make a plug for beet sugar. It dissolves well and some say it is easier to digest than cane sugar. I get my beet sugar at Meijer grocery store. It’s the only place I’ve seen it to date.
Now… that you have the perfect mix, you could add a few lemon wedges or slices to the pitcher for visual beauty. If you do, don’t leave them in over night between the lemonade will get bitter. Serve your delicious fresh squeezed lemonade in a beautiful glass, over ice.
March 29, 2014
When my daughter, Kennedy, died in 2003, I didn’t think I would ever “thrive” again. Like many people who have lived through a great loss, a part of us, dies with the hurt. But God was faithful to me, and in time He shared a model for living that enabled me to go from ashes to a new life where there is hope and joy again.
Occasionally, I host workshops to share the model and how it has worked, not only for me, but for many others. Some of these people were in tough situations like me and others were just going from one good place to another.
I will be hosting the next Thriving… One Day at a Time (half-day) Workshop for Women in greater Cincinnati on April 26, 2014.
Details: Saturday, April 26, 2014, 9am to 12:30pm, At Boost… for Meetings Sake, 5939 Deerfield Blvd. Suite 201B, Mason, OH 45040. Cost: $25
There will be dynamic presenters who will focus on creating a vision (Kim Floyd), how to write to get published (Mary Busha), tips on managing personal finances (S. Yvon Harper) and I will be sharing the Better Day-Better Life model and how to use it to thrive in your life.
We will also feature a few women-owned businesses who will offer trinkets including: Park Lane Jewelry, Thirty-One and hand-made housewares.
If you are in the area, please plan to join us. Tickets are being sold via Eventbrite. Click the link below for details.
Come get refreshed and rejuvenated… “But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. Psalm 52:8”