Laugh Till You Cry!

It all started with her laugh – and not just any laugh, but a great-big-laugh-till-you-cry belly kind of laughter. By now many of you have probably seen the video of the Texas mom, Candace Payne, who bought a Star Wars Chewbacca mask and took a video of herself in her car trying on the mask and then laughing hysterically because she thought it was so funny.

They say her video “blew up the internet” with the millions of views and shares it received. This young mom is now enjoying her “15 minutes of fame” and has appeared on numerous television shows, including late night and early morning national programs. Ms. Payne was introduced to J.J. Abrams who is a famous Hollywood director, writer, producer and coincidentally, one of the co-writers of the latest Star Wars films. Ms. Payne was also gifted with several thousand dollars worth of fabulous gift cards and merchandise from Kohl’s, the department store where she purchased the mask.

Within 48 hours of her video fame she was asked to speak to art students at an Arts Conference in Texas. During her talk she shared that “at the age of 16 she had a vision and a dream from the Lord about her future and being used by God for His glory.” She confessed that she didn’t completely understand the interpretation of the vision and throughout her life (she is currently 37) she struggled with how exactly that would look since she felt God had gifted her in many areas but yet she didn’t really feel as though she’d mastered anything. She says she never forgot that vision and dream though and it affected her walk with Jesus throughout her life.

When Ms. Payne spoke at the Texas conference, one of the takeaway points for the students was so profound that it must be shared. She said: “It doesn’t matter how talented, how anointed, how gifted, how passionate, or how willing you are if you’re not fit to do the things that God has called you to do … And that is spiritually fit. The thing that will take you further and farther in the Kingdom of God is three things: diligence, patience, and obedience … Do not try to make a name for yourself. His name will always out shadow yours.” ~ Candace Payne

It took 21 years for Ms. Payne to see her dream come to fruition, proving that she was indeed obedient and patient as she waited on God. In this day and age, we read stories of people wanting to make a name for themselves in the music industry or in movies or in the sports arena and they’re willing to take dangerous shortcuts in order to achieve success. So many of those pursing fame have been sold a bill of goods that make it seem as though fame and wealth equal happiness and success.

Those of us who’ve been around for any length of time know for a fact that fame and wealth are not a guarantee of happiness — and success doesn’t necessarily mean financial freedom. There are countless stories of those who’ve achieved fame and stardom only to discover that fame, notoriety and success come at a very high price and can actually make life lonelier, yet many are willing to compromise their beliefs and their integrity in order to achieve fame.

God waited 21 years to bring about the fulfillment of the vision and dream this young woman received at the age of 16. Rather than chasing her dream trying to make something happen under her own steam or just sitting around doing nothing as she waited for some big platform to magically appear, Candace was doing what she knew to do. She got up every day and went about doing good; being a good wife and mom, loving Jesus and finding joy in the little things while she cherished that vision and dream hidden in her heart and mind. And suddenly what started as a little thing … laughter, God stepped in and turned her laughter into a big, giant platform for sharing the gospel of Christ – and that is nothing to laugh about!

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (AMP)

Are you harboring a dream or vision from God that feels like it’s never going to happen? Candace Payne’s story is a reminder to us all to never give up – as when you least expect it … suddenly God moves!

LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. Jeremiah 10:6 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

A Pound of Knowledge

With summer nearly upon us, TV ads and internet articles are suddenly filled with schemes, scams, pills and too-good-to-be-true diet plans all designed to help us be “bikini-body-ready” in time for swimsuit season.

For me personally, it’s not even about swimsuit season, but more about wedding season. Two of my three children are engaged to be married within the next 10 months. The first of the two weddings is in six months. All I can think about is how I want to look in wedding photos. The harsh reality is thanks to my not-so-secretive affair with Mr. Menopause, I’m more than a few pounds past my ideal “wedding” weight. I’ve found myself resorting to old mindsets and bad habits when it comes to losing weight.

Most of us know that weight quickly lost is usually quickly regained (and then some) and the promise of an instant weight-loss fix really is too good to be true. It’s the tried and true methods that are necessary to shed unwanted pounds. The old standard of burning more and consuming less calories is really the only thing that works when it comes to losing weight.

The most important aspect of weight loss other than what’s going into your mouth, is what’s coming out of your mouth. Besides limiting our caloric intake — it’s how we think about our bodies, weight loss and exercise that can sometimes have the most effect on our weight loss journey.

If we continually speak negatively about our weight … “I look like a beached whale in this swimsuit,” or “I’m going to be the fattest person in every wedding photo,” how can we expect to successfully lose weight? We’re killing our success with the very words of our mouth. That’s why it’s so important to rely on the Word of God when it comes to something as important as making lifestyle changes with regards to our weight loss.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

Even though most of the last decade of my life has been about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I’ve noticed that I’ve slacked off a little. I’ve gotten somewhat lazy. As the weddings approach, I’ve dusted off my food scale and measuring cups and I’m making a more concerted effort to accurately track what I’m eating.

Thanks to some wonderful new modern technology, I now track my activity and my food intake with the My Fitness Pal app on my smart phone. This app is so wonderfully easy allowing you to simply scan the bar code on your food packages, making it easier than ever to keep track of your food intake. I also use an app for tracking all of my exercise and activities called Map My Ride. Both are available for iPhone and Android and are free apps.

In addition to tracking and recording my food and exercise I’m filling my mind with positive reinforcement from my daily devotional book that I wrote several years ago entitled, Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers, 365 Days of Encouragement for Dieters. This is a great resource for getting Scripture and prayer into your daily weight loss trials as well as encouraging you with snippets of life’s struggles from someone who has been battling weight loss and low self-esteem issues for a good portion of her life.

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I recently was introduced to a new author, Janet K. Brown, who has written a similar daily devotional for dieters entitled, Divine Dining, 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight & Abundant Wellness. Ms. Brown’s book is filled with Scripture and encouragement and provides a very transparent snapshot into the personal struggles she faced as she successfully lost 95-pounds many years ago. Ms. Brown has effectively maintained her weight loss for nearly two decades using the methods outlined in her book.

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Both of these daily devotions are great tools for helping you to take control of your health and weight struggles as they point the reader to the source of health and hope: The Lord Jesus Christ. Both books are available on Amazon.com.

If you’re tired of the enemy stealing your life one lie at a time, one pound at a time through one cookie at a time, today is the day to stop and take the control back. Turn your weight loss struggles over to the King of Kings and remember that the scale does not define you! You are more than just a number on the scale. You are a child of the most-High King, not a slave to the Burger King!

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. ~ Author Unknown.

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

 

Nestled in God

The design was flawless. The architect and builder had done an incredible job of creating the perfect home; it was designed to withstand the harshest elements. Nestled high above the ground it was safe from predators, save for one: an overzealous tree trimmer who accidentally dislodged the little nest hidden in the shade of palm fronds 30 feet above the ground. The bird’s nest crashed to the sidewalk, the eggs quickly snatched up by a waiting pillager whose good fortune it was to be in the right place at the right time.

I stopped to inspect the now empty bird’s nest and marveled at the intricate design of a home created entirely of twigs and grass. How does a bird instinctively know to expertly fashion such a spectacular dwelling without blueprints and schematics?

The operative word here is “instinctively.” God, the master architect of our Universe designed birds and animals with the knowledge necessary to survive in the wilds. Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Matthew 6:26 (NLT)

As believers in Christ we must believe that our Heavenly Father designed us with every bit as much care as he did the birds of the air. We are all instinctively born with certain gifts, talents or “intuition,” if you will, that guide us and direct us on our life’s paths. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. (Romans 12:6a NLT)

As we walk through this life, the experiences and trials we encounter serve to point us in a direction that will unearth and hone our natural, “instinctive” and God-given strengths and talents. We are to use those strengths and talents for God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Recently I was watching the movie Forrest Gump. When Forrest is called home to be with his dying mother, he asks her why she is dying and she tells him it’s all part of destiny. She explains to Forrest that she was destined to be his Mama and that we all have to make our own destiny by “doing the best with what God gave you.” Forrest asks Mama what his destiny is, to which she replies, “you’ve got to figure that out for yourself.” What follows is the movie’s iconic line, “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

As with a box of chocolates, we may not know exactly what we’re going to end up with, but some things are certain; you are more valuable to God than the birds of the air and even though in this life we may have trials (John 16:33) we can take heart because God has overcome the world and He has a plan for us: they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).

If you’ve ever struggled with your purpose in life, the answer lies within you. What are your God-given talents; the things you do that just come naturally easy for you? Whether you’re blessed with the ability to build fine structures, sell cars, raise children, clean toilets, teach, research medicine or whatever … God did not create us to hoard our gifts and to live only to please ourselves. Make your own destiny today and Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23 NLT)

Build the best nest that you can and be who God created YOU to be.

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

A Shoulder to Lean on

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message Bible)

The Facebook post was heartbreaking: “Please pray for my teenage grandson who was recently diagnosed with bone cancer in his leg.”

As a grandmother with a grandson the exact same age as my friend’s grandson, my heart was breaking. How does a grandmother or a parent endure such painful circumstances? How does a 15-year-old deal with fighting a cancer battle where the struggle to keep his leg is a very real possibility? What is even more tragic, over the course of many years that I have known this family, they have experienced one crisis after another. Things such as premature infant deaths, fatal car accidents, debilitating illnesses, unemployment, many other cancers – the list is endless.

I ask myself why does my friend and her family continue to struggle with one potential life-changing crisis after another when others in the body of Christ seem to have a significantly easier path to walk? My friend is the most faithful, committed Christian that I know. She has been known to spend hours in her “prayer chair” seeking God’s guidance, direction and peace for her family – yet her family is the most persecuted family I know. Somehow this seems unfair as if the universe is terribly out of balance.

As I was praying and seeking God recently, one of my daily devotionals from the Our Daily Bread series spoke to me about why some people are asked to carry bigger burdens than others. The writer, Marion Stroud, referenced the book of Numbers 7:1-9.

In these verses Moses had finished setting up the tabernacle and he had anointed and consecrated all of the furnishings and utensils. The leaders of Israel, the heads of the families brought their gifts to present them to the Lord. They carried them in on six carts pulled by oxen. The Lord instructed Moses to distribute the gifts to the clans accordingly. The passage is as follows:

So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required,8 and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. 9 But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible. (Emphasis mine)

For whatever reason, the Lord decided the Kohath tribe would be required to carry ‘the holy things for which they were responsible on their shoulders.’ Why were they required to perform such a hard physical task, while the others were allowed to use a wagon pulled by oxen to carry their items? That didn’t seem fair!

The writer of the devotional suggests that “God knows that some things are too precious to be carried on ox-carts and then asks some to carry them on our shoulders.”

Only God knows what each of us is able to endure physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. For my friend I think of how strong her relationship with Christ is. I think of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people she has helped with her Grief Share ministry. If she’d never known such deep personal grief, how would she ever be able to help and empathize with those struggling with grief? My friend has carried this heavy burden of continued family tragedy on her shoulders and through it all she remains ever-faithful and committed to Christ and continues to share the gospel and the goodness of mercy and God’s grace. Perhaps there are those that would never have received this message and come to know Christ were it not for my friend who was willing to go the extra mile and carry this “precious” message in such a difficult fashion.

If you are carrying difficult burdens — you must trust that Christ knows your breaking point. Regardless of what each of us has endured I pray we can come through stronger than ever and even if we don’t feel like it … Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.