Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unanswered Prayers

Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Garth Brooks

Saturday, April 28, 2012

His Will be Done

Whenever I start saying the phrase, “I never want to live in (insert place name here),” my husband gives me that face: raised eyebrows, knowing smirk. After 25 years and several moves together, he knows that many of those moves were preceded long before with the phrase, “I never want to live there.”

The statement is nearly a prayer, and many times that prayer has been answered, “Sure you do.” God knows better than I do where I should be, what I should be doing, and where I am headed. Thus, the ever-present second part to my earlier statement, “But, God’s will be done.”

I figure since God created the world and everything in it, He knows best directing my path, and in giving me the desires of my heart. This realization, however, has come from growth and experience, not initial conviction. God has shown me over the years that the goals I had initially established for myself as worthy of pursuit were not bad, but not His best for me at that time.

When my husband took us along on a business trip to central New York, after four hours drive, I said, “I could never live out here. If I see one more farm, I will do myself in.” One year later, we moved to Ithaca, New York, which became one of my favorite places on the planet, and filled with people who helped launch us on the trajectory toward full-time ministry.

A few years ago, there was the possibility of a ministry position in New England that I was convinced God would open up to us: it was near family, came with a home, and, importantly for a lover of all things New York and Boston, was on the train line. When that opportunity closed, I was crushed. After moving so far from family and many friends for so many years, I had my heart set on being back in Connecticut.

Then, Tim received a call from a church in Rochester, New York. We knew Rochester in a sense, having visited there a few times, being not too far from Ithaca. I knew it was cold and snowy there in the winter. “I don’t want to live there, ” I said.

“This is one of the places you ‘okayed’ a couple of months ago,” Tim replied. He knew that every place he would look at as a potential pastorate would have to pass muster with not only me, but our two daughters still at home. “I did?” I had some vague recollection of that, but being in my final year of a master’s program with three children in three different stages of life, my brain power was limited.

So, Rochester it was, and is. An easy move? No. But God knows me, and he gave me gifts to make it easier: my youngest daughter has an awesome high school and has met some special friends; we see our closest friends from Ithaca frequently; I founded a book group with another newbie Rochesterian that quickly filled with awesome women; and we live in a picturesque village along the Eire Canal. No, I did not want to live here. But I do now. His will be done.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hey Tony C...there's absolutely nothing wrong with My plan.

I've written extensively about my passion to minister to young adults, and the fact I believe that to be my true calling. That doesn't mean, however, that while the mission has been clearly stated, my execution has at times not struggled.

After I finally started listening to God and received my marching orders, I most people...eager to get started. On my bed stand to this day is the brainstorming journal where I logged my ideas and plans to fulfill the mission I was beginning. Pages and pages of thoughts and expansions of those muses are crammed inside. About halfway through the journal, on a single page, circled numerous times for effect, you find the words:


From that point, all the following notes revolve around developing that single idea. A website dedicated to providing information for young adults struggling with issues of faith or looking for information about the Christian faith.


I spent much time in prayer asking for more direction and, more importantly, blessings for the project. After several month, the crude website went up and began filling with information. Day and night I combed through online forums and chat rooms plugging the site at every chance. While I was extremely proud of, the traffic count I has originally target never came close to transpiring. So, I prayed even more.

The site putted along for almost a year with the daily traffic count never breaking the 200 hit mark. What had I done wrong? Why wasn't this working? Did I misunderstand God's plan for me?

My passion had overridden my reason in this case. First off, I wasn't formally trained for website design, so my site never had the look or feel that it should have to appeal to my target audience. Secondly, mush can be said about the limitation of the proverbial army of one. Don't take that wrong. God could have easily overcome my personal limitation. So, why wasn't He? Finally, the realization that launching a big website might have been more about me and less about glory to Him.

I'm a stubborn person. There. I admit it. So, I stepped back and looked for another avenue to reach out. At the time, MySpace was all the rage. I learned all I could learn about this new social media site and put up a page. Next, I started blogging and sharing my thought from that page.

Almost immediately, the response to my page took off. I started connected not only with Christian youth all over the world, but I made some very meaningful connection with young people in my own backyard.

As social media became THE buzzword of a generation, I was smack in the middle. Blogs, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and more! It became clear to me that my role wasn't to stand out in a crowd among the internet billions, but rather to blend and mingle while sharing the goods news with that same crowd.

God has blessed me with a job and the temperament to fulfill this roll. A part of my day, every day, is connecting with someone in His name...just like now. The target group I believe He challenges me to minister to are, by far, the largest group I reach. Not the only group mind you, but now I have resources in the form of other mature Christians who have their own personal journeys to share that may more easily relate to someone I'm in contact with struggling with their faith.

From this role, I've been invited to teach and speech in a number of different venues. I've been able to share resources and encourage others in the ministry as they counsel young adults. I have the privilege to teach a Sunday School class for college-aged young adults. Starting soon, I will be branching out to local radio in a daily devotional/encouragement piece centered around my blogging experiences and stories.

Absolutely none of these blessings are about me! God is moving through SO many people these days. Just look at the tremendous writers I'm blessed to share with on this blog that just continues to grow in quality, as well as, quantity of readership!

I'm just so thankful for the small part He has for me in the building of His glorious Kingdom...Hallelujah!

* Pastor Mark Harris is running the domain Stick With Jesus now and doing a great job. Check his site out, as well as, his Facebook page. God bless you brother!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wait for a Champion! by Jenna Vick Silliman

Your worth is far above rubies--you are a champion!
“Wait for a champion! Don’t settle for less!” Disappointed in love, my sister made up her mind to wait for her prince charming. She has a success story in the works right now and I’m thinking I hear wedding bells very faintly. I’ve been married and settled for almost 32 years, but I have a lot of single friends. I’ve seen them go through thinking they’ve met “the one” and when it doesn’t work out, it is heartbreaking. Sometimes I want to say the cliché thing, “God has someone better for you.” However, “Wait for a champion.” sounds a lot better!

Recently I mentioned the concept of waiting on God for His provision to my pastor, John Himmelberger. He suggested a word study to better understand the word “wait.” He said it is related to the word, “ambush.” Hmmm…that changes things! How do you ambush a champion?

BE a champion! If you become more of a champion, when you meet the right champion, he or she will recognize you as their champion. In other words, take care of your half of the apple. We can’t really change anyone else, so what can we improve in ourselves?

We have the life of Christ at work in us and God promises to complete the good work He has begun in us. We have gifts, talents, goals, dreams, and visions to develop. It is fine to dream about being married and to pray about who and when and what will happen in the future, but don’t stop there. What does God dream for you? What does He have for you, Champion?

Each of us is God’s treasured possession, His beautiful creation. When anything is created for a specific purpose, it’s not really complete unless it’s being used for that purpose. Take a diamond necklace gleaming on black velvet in a jeweler’s window. It’s beautiful, desirable, but cooly impersonal. Now put it on the neck of a lovely woman; place her, dressed in a crimson, silk, evening gown at a candlelit dinner table, and the picture becomes complete; the jewels are as they are supposed to be: ornamenting and enhancing a person who is warm, vibrant, living. You are a jewel of infinite value to be set as a blazing ornament for the King of Kings. Single or married, this is your highest purpose.

Quickly write down ten things you look for in your champion. Now turn those around and apply them to yourself. Assuming you are not going to rob a cradle, your champion is out there somewhere and he or she is looking for you. What are the ten things your champion is looking for? Here are some examples.
Someone who loves the Lord Jesus and meditates on His word every day.
2.      Someone who is good with children and is involved in teaching them.
3.      Someone who likes to dance and wants to go dancing at least once a week.
4.      Someone who is healthy, is energetic, likes salad, and avoids junk food.
5.      Someone who has a heart for the poor and is involved in serving them.

See what I mean? There are plenty of things to work on! If you work on your half of the apple, when you meet your champion, you will recognize each other!

Sometimes Divorce is a Gift

Once upon a time, I prayed and prayed for God to restore my marriage. I was very young when I married a budding preacher in Central Missouri. I remember going to the local VW dealer in hope of buying a VW van that would be our evangelist transportation rather than a hippie vehicle. We dreamed of making peace by preaching the gospel. Things were never right, but I was too young to understand or even know what abuse was - looking back, it was always there.

 Verbal and emotional turned quickly to physical. Eventually drinking and other women followed. I was in my early twenties with two children and no education. I'd stand in line for food and clothes for my children. Pushed by my mother to divorce him and to put my children in foster care I chose the divorce but refused to let my children go anywhere but with me. I prayed. OH, did I pray! I believed that marriage was forever. I believe that God would restore my marriage.

 A few months after the divorce, he returned. I love you - I had a dramatic reconversion experience on a ball field. God had answered my prayers! We remarried and as before, immediately, I was pregnant. Five months later with a swelling belly he took an ice scaper and beat me with it - never again did we live together as husband and wife. I still prayed. I still asked God to restore my marriage.

 I somehow found the courage to go to school. Still buying food with food stamps, I'd tend to my children and then spend hours writing papers or reading for school. I did well in school. I finished a BS with 142 credit hours (more than I needed because I had a hard time deciding on a major) in 3 1/2 years. I finished just shy of an honors graduation and made the deans list for seven semesters.

 As I received my degree, my belly was also swelling - I was pregnant. No, God didn't answer my prayer to restore my marriage. God gave me a much greater and better answer to my prayers, my husband of now 34 years. God gave me new hope, new life, an education, and a total of eight beautiful children.

 I know this doesn't fit with most people's theology, and that's okay. However, God knew the character and the hard heart of my first husband. He knew that restoring our marriage would have just led to a life of more abuse. He freed me from that and gave me a new life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I love gifts. Many more “mature” people suggest Christmas is for kids because they love to see the delight and excitement over Christmas morning on their children’s faces and it’s better to give than to receive but I seriously love getting gifts. I love giving gifts too, but I like presents and some of the best ones are the unexpected gifts, like the time when my Man got me a full spa day with 5 treatments. It was so good, and unfortunately for him, the experience turned me into a spa girl.

This week on Kingdom Bloggers we’re sharing stories about receiving a better gift, something opposite of what we asked for but it turning out better.


I’ve been sharing a lot about experiences surrounding my trouble in my marriage. Generally, I live in the present and don’t want to live in the past but it’s also good to remember the alters of the past and see how God moved because it becomes a testimony of what God will do again.

My Man was not a Christian when we were married and in 1998, I began praying [more passionately] for God to move in my Man’s heart. My exact prayer was, “Please change Gary’s heart, but leave me alone.” I had watched God bring people to a place where they cry out to him and often it’s a low point. Where two are one (because of marriage), that means it affects both people. I liked my comfortable life and didn’t want to change it.

God answered my prayer in the EXACT opposite of what I prayed. My heart was changed and my Man’s was not (at least not with any obvious fruit).

I don’t believe God causes bad things to happen because he is a good God and likes to give good gifts to his people but sometimes the traumas in our lives work out so beautifully they almost seem as if they purposed and ordered by God - almost, but not quite. God takes everything and makes it beautiful so what the enemy purposed for destruction, God uses it for good. That’s what happened.

I moved from a lowercase ‘c’ christian to a capital ‘c’ Christian. My heart was completely wrecked for Jesus, it’s been 14 years and my heart burns brighter than ever before. I suppose it was the crux of my salvation testimony. It was the inciting incident that was a catalyst for my faith, which is still being fulfilled to this day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

He read it

He stands on the front porch of His Kingdom.

With only a glance, the seraphim know His command, and they chime bells that ring pure and holy.

He sits on a rocking chair of pure gold—and opens a book.

Never tired of hearing His words, we gather around our King. The chiming bells grow quiet. He rocks a bit and reads in silence. And then, He tilts back, and laughter booms like thunder. His eyes shine and His smile glows.

We've been here thousands of years, or maybe just a few—I don’t know, since time no longer exists—but we’ve never gotten bored. Each moment is something new. Just as we catch our breath, it's taken again, as we view another aspect of the glory and splendor of this wonderful heaven.

Like right now, is something new. Maybe it’s the way He’s rocking in that chair, or maybe, it’s the twinkle in His eye, but for some reason—He reminds me of my grandpa, Bill. Once upon a time—for what seemed like a blink—grandpa and I were on earth, to make our decision, where we’d spend eternity. I decided to follow Jesus, and I didn't know until I got here—Grandpa Bill did, too. On earth, Grandpa was always laughing, with that twinkle in his eye. He’d show my picture to his buddies—or anyone who happened to be near—and brag about the fish we'd caught. To his dying day he’d kept every letter I’d sent—and I was told—he even memorized a few.

I whisper. "Maybe the Lord is going to read to us, again." It’s so amazing – The Word reading The Word. It comes to life - literally. I wonder what new awesomeness He'll share with us this time.

But then, He looks up. He's looking for someone. He's calling a name...

My name.

My name?

Grandpa Bill is next to me. He raises one eyebrow, smiles and nods toward the rocking chair throne.

I’m excited beyond comprehension and walk toward the King. With every step I breath the word; holy.







I reach where His glory illuminates the staircase, which leads to where He’s seated.

I bow—more like I fall, face down—and cry; “Holy, holy, holy are you Lord God almighty. Holy and awesome and true are You.”

He stands, walks to me, and lifts my head. He lifts my head.

He actually stood to greet me

He hugs me… Amazing Love wraps me, saturates me.

And then we sit.

He opens the book. An, I'm- so- proud- of- you smile fills his face.

I wonder if He’ll ask me to read.

An innumerable sea of saints, stand before Him. On earth, this would have scared me to death, but here—no fear. Just Love.

He's going to read.

He clears His throat – just to be funny. Lifts the document, as if trying to focus his eyes on the words—just like Grandpa Bill used to do—and then, with a twinkle in His eye, He begins to read.

What’s He reading? It’s familiar, but not from His Holy Scripture. I’ve heard it before—but where?

I look at the hands holding the book, beautiful, but scarred, where nails once pierced deep—for me.

I watch the lips speaking words being read—lips that once were swollen, from being punched, and then quivered through blood, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I notice His eyes. He’s still speaking words from the book, but He has no need to read, since He knows them all by heart...And He’s looking right at me. 

And then I recognize the words...they're mine...written about Him.

The words I’d penned to Grandpa when he’d gotten sick. I wrote about how Jesus left heaven and became a man. How He was tempted to sin but didn’t—ever. How He was beaten and rejected and killed, but that was actually His plan. He wanted to pay the price for our sin. So, anyone who would accept Him, could live in Heaven, rather than hell. I wrote about how I had asked Jesus to save my soul. And then I told Grandpa, we could live together forever, if he’d accept Jesus too. It wasn’t long after I’d mailed the letter that Grandpa died.

I wasn’t even sure if he’d read it.

Just as I start to ask why He'd saved this letter, and why now He'd read it.

A vision of Grandpa sitting in his hospital bed appears. He folds wrinkled shaky hands and bows his head to pray...I see a tear stained letter on his lap.

There’s more.

I see a nurse next to Grandpa’s bed. She’s reading. The tear stained letter in her hand starts to shake. A doctor walks in. He questions her tears. She hands him the letter. He reads and bows his head, too.

I shake my head. "I never knew." And then I see Grandpa Bill, standing in front of us. His smile extends from ear to ear, and the twinkle in his eye resembles his King. And behind him, saints line up, as far as I can see. Each one with a story to tell—about a letter I wrote...that I never even knew got read.
Malachi 3:16

"Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name."

Ecclesiastes 11:1

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."

Matt. 19:30

"But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.



"Her little notes were written for her eyes only. To help keep her mind stayed on Thee.
But others saw. Now didn't they? They always do."

* Above is a quote from a post, Mom's Treasure. That post got me to thinking about awards; Heaven’s Awards resulting in two posts; this one and Unread.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Discipline Diva Award

This week on Kingdom Bloggers, we have been given an uncomfortable task: assign ourselves an imagined award from Heaven. Like our recent eulogy posts, I would prefer to skip it. But, I can’t. If I commit to something, I do my darndest to fulfill it. And to get it done on time. It’s not sexy. It won’t win me salvation or fame or even popularity.

I am disciplined. Not in every area of my life--I could exercise more; I could manage my finances better (does it count to close my eyes and hold my breath as I click on my bank account online?). But overall, I am disciplined. And committed. Some of you may think, “Yeah, you need to be committed. To an institution.” Like when my hair started falling out senior year in college, from the stress of trying to do too much and to do it well. That’s perfectionism, not discipline. But those of us who are disciplined may tend toward perfectionism, and then foster judgmentalism toward those less perfect...uh...disciplined.

Our culture seems to despise discipline, and tempts us to go for the shortcuts: liposuction, faked credentials, and sleeping pills, over healthy eating habits, studying hard, or employing good sleep hygiene (I am simplifying here: I know there are sleep disorders!). But, good things come from discipline!

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17, NIV.

Being disciplined or “trained” by our parents, or by those in authority over us (God will use bosses at work who must hold us accountable, or the police when we break the law, or the brave souls in our churches who lovingly confront us when we are pursuing sin instead of God) “isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.” Hebrews 12:3-5, The Message.

When we are trained by others in a healthy way, we may acquire patience, tolerance, emotional regulation, respect, manners and good habits. We can then learn to lead more disciplined lives.
I believe discipline and commitment are intertwined. Discipline usually costs us something: pain, free time, sleep, time with loved ones, fun. Those perceived losses may be too much for some of us to absorb, so we skirt around discipline, we avoid it like we avoid “that person” across the street, or we procrastinate. But if we “train through the pain,” I think we will find that we can meet our commitments more easily and often.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim. 1:7, NIV.

I have not described myself as “disciplined” until recently. Previously, I described myself as type A, or as the type who needed a certain amount of sleep, or who needed to be somewhere on time. But disciplined? The word as applied to myself did not occur to me, because as a child, I internalized statements like, “Oh, Kerry is the messy one.” If I was told to stop reading and get outside, I thought I was being lazy because I liked to read on a daily basis. I would go to bed early and get up early, and that was because I was a “morning person,” not a disciplined person.

In graduate school (I entered at age 45, with my children in middle school, high school and college), I would exasperate my youngest when she asked to borrow my computer to do homework. I would balk, saying, “I am writing a paper!” Suspicious, she would ask, “When is it due?” Then I would sigh, and hand her the laptop. “Three weeks.” She knows me.

Recently, I began what I will call “a personal improvement project.” Two weeks in, the same daughter said to me, “Mom, you are so disciplined!" Hearing that from my own disciplined child is an award in itself.

Friday, April 20, 2012

God provides the ability...all we can supply is our very best effort.

I'm pretty sure most of the awards and trophies I earned playing sports growing up are still in my parent's basement. Maybe someday... I will pull them out of the storage box and relive a few memories with my girls, although I'm not really big on that stuff. Just this week, as a matter of fact, my oldest daughter learned I was a competitive power lifter in college. I'm not even sure how the subject matter came up because I think it's an extremely irrelevant issue that almost 30 years ago I could lift a lot of heavy stuff and had a hard time finding clothes that fit.

In that collection of trophies and plaques, the range of recognitions run from team MVP to just participating in a given sport. I believe, however, the accolades I will be most proud to share with my daughters are those recognizing the fact that when I played...I always, always hustled. The sports cliche of leaving it all on the field was my standard approach to games, as well as, practices. Rarely was I the most talented athlete on the playing field. But where I often came up short when it came to natural abilities, I made up for by working hard in my preparation, situational knowledge and just shear effort toward the task at hand.

That very attitude still burns within me to this day.

God hasn't called me (to this point anyway) to be his next Billy Graham, Chris Tomlin or Francis Chan. What He has called me to do is share His love with as many people as I possibly can, and there are a number of ways He has provided me an avenue to do so.

God has allowed me to be the husband to a pious, virtuous wife. I work hard at being the best husband I can be for His glory. He has blessed me with three beautiful daughters, and while I can't but help think some of that is a little consolation for my wild younger days, my focus is always on being the best father with His guidance that I can possibly be.

God has blessed me with a Sunday School class of college-aged young adults to challenge and strengthen in their spiritual walk and help prepare them for the task of stepping into life on their own...and to warn them of the lurking dangers and threats to their faith that are just ahead. He knows the struggles and darkness I personally journeyed through, by my own choices, when I was at their current stage in life. God charges me to share the lessons as raw and real as each lesson was during that journey to hopefully help them steer clear of those same trappings.

God blessed me with an ability to make music, and nothing fills me more with His blessings than using that talent to worship Him. As I write these very words, I joyfully acknowledge that God has given me the ability to also share His love through my writings. Such a gift comes with tremendous responsibility with the understanding that each word becomes a living testimony lingering within the place we call cyberspace for anyone and everyone to read and closely examine.

I am perfectly at peace knowing that I'm not at the same famously recognized status of a Graham, Tomlin or Chan.  The local Rotary Club will most probably never recognize me as Husband of the Year nor Father of the Year. I don't see a music contract or book publishing deal in my future.

What I do hope and pray is that when all is said and done, and I humbly stand before my Creator, He smiles upon me and declares, "Well here's Mr. Hustle...well done My son. Come and rest."

Of course I won't...there's an eternity of worship for Him to get started! Let's go people! Where's that drumset?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The B.G.S.D.H.A.V.A.S.U.I.N. Award

My mother told me that I didn’t speak for a long time. It was not a developmental delay, rather others spoke for me. Crafty little girl, wasn’t I?
When I finally spoke, they were relieved, but my shyness remained. It wasn’t until I was quite a bit older, (maybe 2 year ago…just kidding) when I realized that people didn’t have a right to speak for me anymore.
I have a unique voice. I have something to say.
My confidence soared along with the beginning my relationship with the Lord.
I found myself speaking at Women’s Groups and other gatherings. I gave the eulogies at my mom and my dad’s funerals. After the services, I was given words of praise and remarks of “This isn’t the Linda we knew.” “Where did you get so bold?” “You used to be so quiet.”
I started to hear messages about sharing our faith, outside the walls of the church. I heard about Christians, tuning into what the Holy Spirit would tell them about other people. Did this person need encouragement? Did they need prayer for healing? And so on. I was intrigued. I wanted to be part of that courageous type of outreach.
When you say to the Lord, I want to do that, He takes you at your word. A new adventure in my faith began with my yes and continues to this day.
My first opportunity happened years ago.
I went to a Library.
As I walked into the study area, I noticed a young man sitting at a table.
I sat down and was into my paperwork, I sensed the voice of the Lord say, “Will you go over to that young man and tell him that I have a plan for his life. I have destined him for great things”
“YIKES!” I thought, “ A total stranger? How can I be sure this is You? What is he going to think of me? And besides Lord, I will be invading his space.” (New Englanders do not like that)
Yes, it became pretty quiet in my soul.
The Holy Spirit gently spoke again. “Are you willing to go over to him and tell him what I said?”
I am reiterating every reason why I could not. Besides, I felt kind of dizzy.  
Another period of silence ensued. The Holy Spirit asked me again.
I said “Ok Lord” I got up and started to walk towards him. I mean, I was so scared and shaky that I wanted to cry.
I introduced myself. I said something like “I am not sure where you stand with God. I am not sure if you even believe in Him but I’ve asked the Lord to show me people that He wants to encourage and bless. I believe that he pointed you out to me”
He didn’t punch me, so I rushed into the message. I continue with more. What happened and still happens today is this. If I speak the little the Lord gives me, He very often expands the words.

I stood there, waiting for him to mock me or dismiss me. What happened next astounded me. He grabbed me into a big bear hug. (He was a big boy!). He said “Mam, you have no idea what your words really mean to me!” “I have been called to be a Pastor.” “I have a successful career as a teacher. I have just been named Teacher of the Year. BUT, I have been running from God’s call on my life.” He continued talking excitedly. He hugged me again, at least two more times. He thanked me for having the courage to give him this message.
I felt such relief of the tension, I started to cry.
He mentioned how he could not wait to tell his wife. We exchanged addresses. A few months later, he wrote to tell me that he was quitting his job. He and his wife were going to complete their preparation for the ministry.
They have an established church in CT. I would guess it is over 15 years ago.
That began my adventure of being a mouthpiece for the Lord. Whether it is a stranger that the Lord points out to me or an acquaintance that I sense the Lord telling me needs encouragement, I have been obedient to speak out.
Is it easy? No, especially with strangers, I still get the runaway heartbeats. I try to talk my way out of it. Sometimes I hear the enemy taunt me with fear. I often doubt that I heard right. But still…I speak!
Try it! There is a world out there, desperate to hear the Words of Life!
By the way, the award I imagine that I would receive in heaven is...By Golly, She Has a Voice and Is Using It Now!
Linda Maynard

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Forever a Child by Jenna Vick Silliman

If heaven was giving out awards, I think I would be in the running for winning the award for “Biggest Kid”. After all, I’m five feet eight inches tall—that is a pretty big kid! Some of my best friends are children. I don’t have very many peers that like to goof off as much as I do—they are probably embarrassed to be seen with me! I like to load up my car with kids and go to the beach, go swim at the pool, go folk dancing, or go to the park. I turn the radio up nice and loud and sing at the top of my vocal capacity. I don’t wanna get a speeding ticket, but I really like to drive fast. What I do is “hug the turns” whenever possible and as fast as possible. It is so fun to make the kids squeal! As a result of hanging out with kids a lot, I get invited to their birthday parties. My favorite one so far was Angelina’s princess party. I am pictured here, dressed as a princess, surrounded by my little friends. I told you I was the biggest kid!
One way I am childlike is that I like to have fun. If you ask me what one of my goals is, I will probably say, “To have fun!” To be funloving is a character quality I admire and hope to develop more and more. I like to goof off with kids because they really know how to have fun. When they go to the beach or the park, kids don’t think about their list of things to do or how much money they have in the bank or about their next appointment—they just have fun. My youngest child, Peter, and his friend, Michel and I went shopping one day and I was having a good time with them skipping in the parking lot, telling jokes, and looking at stuff to buy. Michel paid me a high compliment that day. He said, “You know Jenna, you are more like a kid than a mom!” I said, “THANK YOU VERY MUCH!”
I like to make people laugh. Laughing is SO fun and it is contagious too. One of my favorite scenes from a Disney movie is the one in Mary Poppins where they all start singing “I love to laugh—hahaha!” and they all float up to the ceiling. Wouldn’t that be fun?! Children laugh on an average of 400 times per day! Adults laugh like about 15 times a day. Whew--what a difference! I think I’d rather be a kid, wouldn’t you? If you listen carefully, children call adults “dolts”. So that’s what I’ve started calling them too. Hahaha! I’d rather be a kid than a dolt!
Another way I’m like a kid, is I love to sing silly songs. It is common for me to break out in song and the silly ones are my favorites. (With a last name of Silliman, I can’t be too serious, now can I?) For some examples, you might know this song: “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly…I don’t know why she swallowed a fly; I guess she’ll die!” Do you know this one? “I had a little sister; her name was sister Sue, we put her in the bathtub to see what she would do. She drank up all the water, she ate a bar of soap, she tried to eat the bathtub, but it wouldn’t fit down her throat!” Here’s another favorite: “If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain it would be! I’d stand outside with my mouth open wide, singin’ ah ah, ah ah ah, ah ah!”
Don’t you love the way children are full of wonder and amazement at the world? They chase butterflies, blow dandelion seeds and watch them float on the air, and they love to run and jump and dance around. I love to go swimming with kids and play games in the water. That’s a blast. I like the way kids will get enthusiastic about things too. Why do we have to be so dang reserved all the time? To be childlike is to be more trusting and loving and spontaneous and honest. I teach a children’s dance class and my students never cease to amaze me at how loving they are. They run over and hug me and tell me they love me. They skip and frolic around with carefree abandon. I want to be more like that. Yesterday one little girl told me, “I like your colorful blouse, but I don’t think it matches your twirly skirt very well.” Hahaha! That made me laugh! Kids are so honest. They tell you when they like something and when they don’t.
When I was a girl I was often scolded for daydreaming. My hands would slow down at the task at hand—such as washing dishes, folding laundry, or doing a math assignment. Instead I would stare off into the distance, lost in my dream world. I wrote creative stories about make believe lands and enjoyed reading and daydreaming about what it would be like to be one of the characters in the book. Even now, at age 54, I like to dream. You’d think I would have grown out of it by now, wouldn’t you? No, I like to dream about all the possibilities in life, such as where I’d like to travel and what I’d like to do. The Bible says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” We have an unlimited God and so we need not limit ourselves or our lives either.
As long as I am faithful and responsible and dependable and all those grown-up things, I don’t see anything wrong with being like a kid. In fact, the Lord Jesus said, “Be as a little child to enter My kingdom.” Now I have a new dream. I can picture the Lord saying, “Here’s your award, Princess Jenna.” Jesus walks towards me in a trailing purple robe and in His hands is a golden crown all sparkling with diamonds and jewels of different colors and He places it upon my head and says, “Good job on being childlike! Well done—you have entered into My joy everlasting!”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Heaven's Award Ceremony

On a trip with a few others from the ministry school I was in, I made a comment, saying, “I was most-improved in the Holy Spirit, since entering the school.” It got the appropriate response (playful teasing) and the others razzed me a bit but someone else asked the others, “No, seriously. If heaven gave awards, what would you get yours for?”

We don’t like to think about stuff like that, do we? Or at least, we don’t want to admit, out loud, in case anyone accused us of having pride so it’s hard to confidently say what you’re good enough at to receive an award. We’ve confused humility and false humility. It’s wrong to think too highly of our gifts, as if our identity and value comes from them because we receive the glory to ourselves but denying our talents and gifts offers God no glory either.

This week, Kingdom Bloggers are going to a heavenly award ceremony – Heaven’s Heroes awards. We’re answering the question – if heaven had an award ceremony, what award would you receive? Play along and share your thoughts in the comments.


If I were to receive an award from heaven, it would be Most Improved. Like many others, I have had a sincere devotion to God. I earnestly sought his face and wanted to learn from him – to know him, intimately. I spent many years increasing the foundation of my faith and when I finally came into a powerful encounter with God, I had a foundation to stand on. I did not topple, but I could run with confidence.

I’m in the second year of School of Supernatural Ministry; we’re being trained and activated to walk naturally in the supernatural. In the first year I was very unsure about what I would experience, but excited and anticipated something unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. The Lord did not disappoint me and I moved from never seeing miracles with my own eyes, to praying and having faith God would move when I prayed. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and I haven’t slowed down.

Dream interpretation? No problem, God says I can know the mysteries so I believe it and practice dream interpretation everywhere. Bold witness, backed with signs & wonders? No problem, the Bible says it will happen and I believe it. Need healing? No problem, Jesus healed everyone who came to him; my job is to bring them to him. Prophecy? No problem, I have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit reveals what is his and gives it to me. Living sacrifice for worship? No problem, I’ve been anointed for worship with flags.

All of these experiences are new and I love it. What’s more, is I feel heaven’s delight.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

He took a bullet for me

Protection… Divine protection? I can think of a few.

The first time was a long, long time ago…
Pain’s branding iron pierced my right side. Tears rolled hot. I was alone. I was a boy. And I was dying… I knew it.
“Call Mom”  
Standing straight was out of the question. So hunched and holding my side I made it to the phone.  
Pain’s fingers strangled my voice to a whisper.
“Please, I need to talk to my mom.”
I waited and whispered a painful prayer.
My mom walked and whispered a fervent prayer.
God, help.
In that instant when we whispered…
God heard.
The pain vanished forever, before she reached the phone.   
No theology, I just know it was real. God intervened—and I was healed.
That was the first time I can remember—there have been more.
Like the time the pain wasn’t physical but emotional. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Dad prayed a simple prayer. And I never wet the bed again.
No fancy words. I just know it was real. God intervened and I was free.
And then, the blizzard of ’76 sent my snowmobile sailing through the air and me to the hospital. A concussion and broken collar bone later it was said I should have been dead.
And the snow storm where the power went out, the furnace wouldn’t light, the phone lines were down and the drifts were high. Miles of nothing surrounded the drafty old farm house. The temperatures plummeted below zero. The house turned cold and we were freezing. I knelt in the cold dark basement next to a cold oil burning furnace. With no idea what to do, almost audible I heard the words.
“Lay your hands on it.”
I thought it was crazy. Maybe I was freezing to death, and my mind was playing tricks. But, what did I have to lose?
 I stretched out shivering fingers and touched the cold dead furnace. A rumbling sounded, like a hundred bowling balls rolling, slow. I jerked my hand back, startled. But then I reached out again…and felt the warmth of the most beautiful blaze.
I could go on and would if time would allow. I’d tell you about the time my toddler, Travis fell off the top of the slide, a split second after I had whispered a prayer of protection. He cried so hard, but not because he was hurt—because he spilled his cup of soda. And I could tell you how a drunk bumped us from behind as we traveled about fifty miles an hour down a dark icy freeway. He spiraled out of control and sent several cars into the ditch. We fishtailed like through an icy maze, but managed to stay between the ditches. Was it simply good driving or did Jesus take the wheel?
You, too, could list near misses; moments that could have turned out so wrong, but ended up all-right.
But everything is nothing, compared to what I really want to share.
The ultimate experience is when someone steps in front of a bullet that was meant for you.
I knew better but I did it anyway. I’d gone where I shouldn’t have gone. I’d done what I shouldn’t have done. I’d said what I shouldn’t have said and thought what I shouldn’t have thought. I know this. I had it coming. But He took my place. He stood in the gap and paid the price.
On an old rugged tree my Savior died for me and by His grace I’ve been saved from hell for eternity.
He took the bullet for me…for you.