Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Is Blogging Dead?

Is blogging dead? Only you know the answer to that question, as it relates to my blog.  Some blogs flourish and grow, others dwindle. I have some ideas to spruce up my blog in 2012. However, I need your help.  My blog's goal is pretty broad, to share how God influence's my every day normal (and not so normal) life in the hope that you will notice God in your every day life too.

What would you like to see on my blog that would keep you engaged and coming back on a regular basis?  What changes could I make that would make you encourage your friends to read my blog?  What other blogs do you read and why?

I'd love to hear what you think. If you are not comfortable leaving your answer in a comment, please email me at chattykelly@comcast.net

Thanks!


Chatty Kelly

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Bells

Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year." Yet, for so many it brings heartache. I can't help but think about the new reality for so many people at this Christmas.  A family whose young son is paralyzed after a diving accident, so thankful to be home for the Christmas, but to a new reality.  Families who have lost children and wait longingly to be reunited with them in heaven.  Families out of work, families fighting illness, families with loved ones at war.

Last year after Christmas I was wondering where God was during all of this.  I read this from the Jesus Calling Devotional...a devotional written as if Jesus were talking to you.

"As this year draws to a close, receive my peace. This is still your deepest need, and I , your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness.  my abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match. I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own. I created you as a jar of clay, set apart for sacred use. I want you to be filled with my very being, permeated through and through with Peace."

And I heard this beautiful song, below, by Casting Crowns, based on the Henry Wadworth Longfellow song of the same title.  "God is not dead, nor does he sleep." God is with us, God is for us, God is in us.

There is pain.  But there is peace in knowing Jesus.  May you know the Peace of Jesus at Christmas and forever.







Chatty Kelly

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As you go on your way may Christ go with you. May he go before you to show you the way; May he go behind you to encourage you; Beside you to befriend you; Above you to watch over you; Within you to give you peace.

 Merry Christmas!

  Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas is about Presents

"What did you get for Christmas?" No doubt, that question will be asked a lot in the next few weeks. Let's face it, Christmas is about the presents, right?

No doubt, my family loves gift giving! We sponsored a young man through social services and bought his Christmas gifts, as we have for the past several years. We send gifts to children through our church mission, and make donations through our school. And of course we give and receive gifts from each other. We love presents!

But the truth is, many folks think Christmas is JUST about the presents. And that isn't true. Christmas is about Jesus. We do love to give gifts. But the gifts are to draw our attention to the gift of eternal life we received through Jesus coming to earth as a baby on the first Christmas, growing up, dying on the cross, taking our sins with him, rising up from the dead and conquering death for us all.

Presents are what the wise men brought to young Jesus to honor him. Gifts are not a bad thing. But when you think Christmas is only about the presents you get confused. Christmas is about Jesus, and the fact that he came to earth, and gave us His presence. And through the Holy Spirit we can always have His presence with us. Christmas really is about presence!

Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent - Waiting

The season of Advent began on Sunday, (Nov 27). Advent is defined by the arrival of something that was awaited, something we were waiting for. The world was waiting for a Savior who arrived on Christmas, and we Christians are waiting now for his second coming.

Waiting…what does that word mean to you? Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking; in a small way - like waiting in line in the grocery store when you're in a hurry, or in a big way - like waiting for that phone call with the test results. Sometimes it can be exciting like waiting for your vacation or birthday. The Bible says we should be ready, waiting for Jesus to come again. What exactly does that mean - - waiting?

Dictionary.com offers several different definitions to the word wait. Which definition expresses how you are WAITING for Jesus to return? The first definition is “to remain inactive until something expected happens.” Like waiting for a bus. So are you inactive, just living your life the way you want, until Jesus comes?

Another definition is “to remain neglected for a time,” like a matter that can wait. Are you neglecting Jesus, not giving a thought to him or his second coming?

The third definition is “to look forward to eagerly.” That is a great definition of the attitude we should have as we wait for Christ.

But, if you dig deeper, you’ll find some archaic or ancient definitions of the word wait. One is “to be in readiness for”…we are to be ready for the return of Christ. Do you think you’re ready? If you knew Jesus was returning tomorrow, what would you do today? Why aren’t you doing it?

Finally comes the definition “attend upon, as a sign of respect.” We should be attentive to Jesus. How? By reading his word (the Bible), praying, and following his will as a sign of our respect. That is the real meaning of waiting for Jesus to come again. So which definition of wait will you use?

And how will it define you?

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return…. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not
expect him." Luke 12:35-36a, 40



Chatty Kelly

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's the Holiday Season!

With the whoop-de-do, and hickory dock...are you ready for the holidays? The holidays are a time of great joy, although for some they are a time of stress, or even sadness.  I feel blessed that the holidays do not bring me any sadness, but only joy. However, even in the joy I do feel stressed.

Shopping, wrapping, baking, and decorating are all things I enjoy! But it can get overwhelming when coupled with all of the day-to-day things like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning.  Several years ago I made a decision. So I could fully focus on my family and the "reason for the season" I took the month of December off from blogging.  It was a great time of relaxation and joy for me.

At the time I took the blog break, I had almost 100 daily readers and averaged 25+ comments a day.  However my blog never recovered from that break. Now on average I have about 35 daily readers and get a comment or two on occasion.  Do I regret my decision to take the holiday season off?  Well, honestly, a little.

Yet, I knew I did was best for me personally, as well as my family.  A wise person once said, "writing may be your gift, but your family is your ministry."  My family is my ministry. And so I always try to put them first.  In doing so, I am honoring God who gave me both the gift of writing, and the bigger gift of my family.

So, if you notice the blog posts coming less frequently during over the next month, don't be surprised.  I'm honoring God and my family, and taking a well earned rest.  After all, it's the holiday season!  So whoop-de-do!

Chatty Kelly

Monday, November 14, 2011

The "Joy" of Church

"Church should bring you joy...not suck it out of you."

I had to laugh at the above quote, on a church sign no less! As I drove past, I kept laughing. What a funny quote.  And, is "suck" a church word?  Cause we don't use that word at our church. (*smile*) As I continued pondering, I realized that while it's a nice thought that church should bring you joy, and mine certainly does, I don't want to attend a church that only brings me joy.

I want a church that challenges me, convicts me and pushes me to grow...sometimes even when I don't want to!  In the book of John, chapter 6, Jesus preaches some hard teaching.  It says many of his disciples left him that day.

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?"    From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”   John 6:60-61, 66-68

Today, so many of us want a "feel good" message and we certainly don't want a church that is going to point out our sin and challenge us to change.  However, Jesus' preaching offended many, and he was willing to lose disciples over it.  But those closest to him realized that only he had the words of eternal life.  

So, I'm thankful for my church, which is willing to preach the hard lessons, and while it might not bring me joy on every Sunday, the end result is eternal life.  And that brings true joy.

Reflection Question:  Would you rather attend a church that shares an easy message each Sunday, or a church that challenges you (encouragingly) to grow? 



Chatty Kelly

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Bitter Aftertaste

Coca-Cola Blak was going to be the next big thing. Introduced in 2006, this drink was a mix of Coke and coffee.  Immediately I was allured.  Coke?  Coffee?  What's not to love?  A sugary, sweet, caffeinated delight. I couldn't wait to try it.

I bought my first Coke Blak, and took a big sip.  

"Coke...Mmmmmm!  Coffee...Mmmmmm.  What? Blech!"  

The drink had 3 distinct flavors when you tasted it.  The first two, coke and coffee were delicious. But the after taste was so repugnant, I had to take another sip to see if I had imagined it. Yuck! Still there!  I joked that instead of calling it Coke Blak, they should name it Coke Blech!  Evidently I wasn't alone in my opinion, as the drink was discontinued in 2008.

It reminds me of the allure of forbidden fruit (sin). We often seek things that look pleasing to the eye or that seem like they may delight, so we take a sip.   At first we may encounter sweetness, but make no mistake.  Forbidden fruit always, always, always comes with a bitter aftertaste.

What is tempting you to take just a sip?  It's not worth the bitter aftertaste. Do not try the fruit that is tempting you.  Because like Coke Blak, if you avoid it long enough, eventually it will be discontinued.

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Chatty Kelly

Monday, November 7, 2011

Light in the Darkness or Light in the Light?

Last week I blogged about being in the world, but not of the world. It's a difficult balance, as Christians, to be relevant to those outside the faith while still standing apart from worldly things. Too often in our efforts to avoid being of the world, we cease to be "in" the world as well. But how can we be salt and light to the world, if we never enter into the world?

Have you ever shined a flash light during the day.  It doesn't do much, does it? But turn on the same light at night and it makes a huge impact. If, as Christians, we only "shine our light" to other Christians, yes we will still be a light, but nothing compared to if we shine our light into the darkness.

Jesus associated with the tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, and sinners. He shunned the pharisees (religious leaders) of his day. He offered salvation to all, and loved us while we were still sinners.

My world is small, and I am surrounded by light. It is easy to shine in this environment. Am I courageous enough, and relevant enough, to dare to face the darkness, and shine my light there? Are you?

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16



Chatty Kelly

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Speaking the truth in...laughter!

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Eph 4:15

You've probably heard the above verse about speaking the truth in love. Well this week someone spoke the truth to me...in laughter!  It seems my pastor was stalking me on facebook reading through the scrolling timeline on facebook, and saw I had commented on a video entitled "Should Christians participate in Halloween?" The video talked about how our culture is becoming desensitized to evil, and I commented, "The desensitizing toward evil (vampires particularly) is already happening or happened."

Seeing my comment, my pastor watched the video. He commented how the most interesting thing about the video was the "Elvira" beside it.  I was confused.  I had watched the video but I hadn't seen it.  "Not in the video, beside it," he laughed.  After I moment, I realized he meant me!  Embarrassingly enough, I had changed my profile photo for Halloween to one of me in 1998, where I'd won a costume contest.  This is the photo:




When I realized what he was talking about I couldn't help but laugh. He was laughing too, and said he literally laughed out loud at the irony.  He than said jokingly, "Hypocrite!" I laughed too, but indeed he was speaking the truth (in laughter).

As I mentioned on my blog on Monday, I am conflicted about Halloween.  My pastor (who readily admits to being a hypocrite as well) made a great point that if we turn everything over to the devil for evil, then evil abounds.  But if we reclaim and redeem things, we can make them for good.  Halloween is a controversial subject, and I certainly do not have all the answers!  But I am thankful for a pastor who speaks the truth in laughter.

It is a delicate balance to be in the world, but not "of" the world. To be a light to the darkness, we have to step toward the darkness. But we cannot become the darkness, but rather shine the light of God there. And as Christians I think we sometimes get so stuck on Oct 31st, that we forget the evil that is happened the other 364 days of the year. Even in looking at my own life, dressing up for Halloween is one of the least sinful things I have done. I am thankful for a God who redeemed and reclaimed me!

So, when do we stand and fight? When do we redeem? When do we boycott? All we can do is pray for wisdom in our decision making, and mercy when our decisions are wrong.

How do you balance being in the world, but not of it? And who can you gently speak the truth to today, perhaps even in laughter?


Chatty Kelly

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: Trick or Treat?

My kids - 2009


Get together a group of Christian moms and ask them about Halloween and you'll get as many different answers as there are women. Some adamantly are against it as the devil's day. Others don't trick or treat, but do alternate "Fall Festivals" complete with costumes and candy. Finally, there are some that say "it's all in fun" and anything goes.

I don't know where I fall. On one hand, I trick or treated as a kid. I loved it! I love Jesus a lot and don't see how I was scarred by trick or treating. At the same time, the bible says to avoid every kind of evil, and that witch craft is evil.

This is one of those gray areas. Another is shows like "Wizards of Waverly Place" and books like "Harry Potter." They are about witchcraft, so I don't let my kids watch them. But I watched Bewitched as a kid, loved it, and played wiggling my nose to create magic spells. It was fun and pretend. Of course, we also pretended to smoke, complete with candy cigarettes! But today I am a non-smoker (and have never smoked). So where do you draw the line?

Some churches recommend using Halloween as an evangelism tool, giving outChristian tracts along with candy. Remember what is meant for evil, God can turn for good. My friend Sharon shares what her family does here. While Susan participates in a reverse trick or treat. You can read about that here.

Finally, I encourage all of you to read Romans 14. It is an excellent example of folks believing different things in Christ (some eat meat, some don't). I believe you could insert "celebrate Halloween" in these verses to get the same result. Verse 13 sums up the chapter when it says "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way."

This is a controversial subject. I'd love to hear what your family does in conjunction with Halloween. What I encourage everyone to do, it not to judge their neighbors decisions to participate or not. Listen to God's prompting for your family life, and make your decisions accordingly.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 -- Avoid every kind of evil.

Chatty Kelly


This post originally ran Halloween 2008.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Capturing Lies

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

Are you ever plagued by self doubt?  You know that little voice in your head that says, "you can't do it," "no one cares," or "why did you do that?"   I hear that little voice.  It puts me down and makes me feel bad about myself, causing me to feel like a failure.  Instead of the truth, perhaps "You shouldn't have yelled at your husband," it says, "You are a horrible wife."  And I used to believe it.


But then a friend shared that her little voice tells her she is a bad mom, and fat.  I couldn't help but laugh because I have that little voice too.  And that's when I realized that the devil couldn't even come up with a new lie. He whispers the same old lies to many of us.  This woman is neither fat, nor a bad mom...and neither am I.  And that is when I began to realize that I needed to start taking my thoughts captive.


When the voice says, "You are a horrible wife," I respond, "No, I am a good wife who had a bad moment." And then I ask my husband and God for forgiveness, and they give it.  When the voice says, "you are fat," I respond, "No, I may not be fit, but I am not fat.  As a matter of fact, according to the CDC stats for 2008,  34% of the population is overweight and another 34% is obese.  Because I am neither, I am smaller than 68% of the population.  Fat? Ha!"


When I argue with the voice, with the thoughts, with the lies, they stop.  They can't fight the voice of truth.


What lies are you believing today?  Take every thought captive, and speak the truth to it.  God loves you, forgives you, redeemed you. Listen to the voice of truth, the one that says you are dearly loved.

Chatty Kelly

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love Notes

Last Friday I went out of town for the women's retreat where I spoke. But before I left, I did what I always do when I go away overnight. I left my family love notes.

Whenever I need to travel overnight, I get an old eye pencil I keep just for this use, and I write notes on their mirrors. For my girls, I write something I love about them, a term of endearment I call them, an area I want them to work on, and "I love you." I might say, "I love you ladybug, you are special and kind, Be compassionate." I include hearts and drawings (perhaps of a ladybug, etc.) I also leave a love note for my husband on his bathroom mirror.

The purposes of my notes are many. I want them to remember me and think about me when I'm not with them. I want them to know of my love for them. I want them to have guidance, even in my absence.

As I was sharing this with a woman at the retreat, it occurred to me that the Bible is just like God's love note to us. He wrote it so we would think of him while we are not with him (in heaven). He wrote it so we would know of his love for us. He wanted us to have guidance, even in his absense.

My family views these love notes in a special way, and leave them up on the mirrors for long periods of time even after I'm home. Because they love me as much as I love them.

Do we love God that much?

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deut 11:18-21


Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grace or Discipline?

"I forgot my lunch. Will you bring it for me?"

I couldn't help but sigh. I guess the fact that my daughter called while I was unloading the dishwasher, her job, that she'd also "forgotten" to do before she left for school. And the fact that I had asked her, before she left, "Do you want me to pack your lunch?" But she had wanted to do it herself. Now she was calling for me to pack and bring her lunch which would force me to change my plans.

"Can't you buy your lunch?" I asked. She didn't like what they were having. I signed again and said, begrudgingly, that I would bring her lunch. "Nevermind, I'll just buy." Now I'd hurt her feelings. *sigh!* I told her it was no problem, and that I'd see her by lunchtime.

Grace? Discipline? Which applied here? Should I have made her buy her lunch, teaching her a lesson in responsibility? Should I have cheerfully agreed, showering her with grace? There are no easy answers! She isn't characterized by forgetting her lunch, in fact this was her first time, and she has a brand new Vera Bradley lunch box she wanted to bring, so I guess I made the right decision. Although I did inform her that next time she forgets, she will be buying her lunch.

I'm thankful for a heavenly father who knows just when to give discipline, and always acts in grace. I'd elaborate more, but now, I need to pack a lunch and run an errand.

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 2 John 1:3

Chatty Kelly

Monday, October 17, 2011

Feedback

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galations1:10


This weekend I spoke at a women's retreat for my home church. Being vulnerable at a speaking engagement is easy when you know you never have to see the ladies again. But being vulnerable before your home church is a little bit harder. These are the ladies who you'll see again and again, who you want to love and respect you. Yet, I knew God was calling me to be share my story, warts and all.


I shared with them my struggles with perfectionism, and being "good enough" but failing. I told them of the grace God showers on me and my failures; grace that I often cannot give to myself.


The retreat could not have gone better, in my opinion. Because I knew I was being obedient to God in sharing my story, I felt confident! (or more accurately God-fident!) After the retreat, I handed out surveys to get feedback from the ladies. Later today, I plan on going through them.


I want to know what the ladies felt, if they feel it went as well as I did. I want the helpful critiques of ways I can improve. However, I also want to maintain my "God-fidence." I know that I walked in faith and did what God wanted. The fact that I felt no anxiety (the first time ever in my speaking) when I should have been filled with anxiety (because it was my home church) showed me that God was there.


Feedback is important to improve my speaking. And already I saw a very helpful critique as I collected the forms. I want to honor those who were brave enough to "speak the truth in love.*" But regardless of the critiques I receive, I want to rest in the God-fidence that I was obedient, and God is pleased. It's a balance, and for me sometimes a hard one. Seeking approval from God alone, when I so desperately want the world to tell me I am "good enough."


So before I look at the feedback forms, I want to make sure that I will not be crushed by criticism, or filled by approval, but simply look to improve my craft of speaking.

God already redeemed me. I don't need feedback forms to do it.


Reflection Question: Are you looking for worldly approval or God's? How do you balance accepting the "truth spoken in love*" but still maintaining your worth as a child of God?


Chatty Kelly

*Ephesians 4:15

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Love is a Verb

On October 1st, New York Times Best Selling author, Gary Chapman released his latest book, Love is a Verb devotional. I was so excited to see it released, because this book is extra special to me. You see, MY devotion can be found published within the pages of this book.

December 3 has my devotion, "God's Rules Rule!" I'm so excited to be included with the other talented writers that Gary Chapman chose to be in his latest book.

If you should by a copy, be sure and look me up! And to God be the glory! Thanks.


Chatty Kelly

Monday, October 10, 2011

The J Factor





Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Would You Be A Martyr?

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” John 15:18-20 NIV

The national news has recently reported about an Iranian pastor who is facing execution for converting others to Christianity and refusing to denounce his Christian faith.

As I read the stories about this pastor, I can't help but wonder would I be willing to die for my faith? This man is just 32 years old, and has two young children. Yet, according to all accounts, he is risking and may in fact lose his life for his faith.

Biblical and historical accounts tell us that John the Baptist, Peter, Thomas, James and most of the apostles were martyred. But as Americans we take for granted the religious freedoms we are given every day.

So today I challenge you with two questions:

1. Would you be willing to give your life for your faith?

2. If it were a crime to be a Christian, would there even be any evidence to prosecute you?

It's something to thing about, isn't it? Pray for the Christians throughout the world today.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12 NIV


Chatty Kelly

Monday, October 3, 2011

Relationship vs. Request

"And Lord, please let the electricity go out again. Amen."

I didn't know whether to laugh or groan at my 7 yr old daughter's prayer request. After being without electricity for several days in August, due to Hurricane Irene, the electricity had finally come back on. But evidently too soon for her. She'd enjoyed the extra outside play time, and fun of "roughing it," although honestly since we have a generator we weren't roughing it too much. We had refrigeration and lights, but no air conditioning, television, phone or Internet. Other people had suffered far more than we had. Thankfully God said no to her prayer.

But how many times have I prayed for something that made God laugh or groan? Things that seem just perfect in my little world, not realizing the impact that it would make on the world at large. Not realizing others suffering, or that they would suffer if my request got a "yes" answer.

The best prayer is "Thy will be done." But so often I pray "MY will be done!" Not literally, no. But certainly my requests seem that way.

Even if I tried, I can't see the big picture like God can. And that is why relationship is so much more important than requests. God wants to know our hearts desire, just like I want to know my daughter's. But that doesn't mean either of us are guaranteed to say yes. It's the relationship that matters, even when we say no.

Spend some time today building that relationship with God through prayer. And remember that sometimes he loves you so much that he answers no.

Chatty Kelly

Monday, September 26, 2011

Prayer Requests - Blessing or Burden?

Have you ever inwardly cringed when someone asked you to pray for them? Come on, admit it. Sometimes prayer requests seem more like a burden than a blessing. What if you forget? How long do you have to pray for this person? What if you really aren't concerned about their request? How shallow is that?!?

I think the problem is we have taken the reverence away from requesting prayer. I joined a Christian writer's facebook group. There were hundreds of ladies in the group (most I did not personally know). The focus of the group left writing and turned to prayer. Not even prayer for the individuals, their family or writing. But many were more like, "Please pray for my brother's cousin's sister's aunt's nephew's best friend's sister who is looking for a job." I needed a org chart or diagram just to figure out who I was praying for!

Prayer is an act of reverence, a chance to come before our God, Lord and King and sit at his feet! It is a chance to WORSHIP him. It is a chance to adore him. It is the place we were are supposed to confess our sins, and the time we thank him for the things in our lives. Then, and only then, do we present our requests. And if our requests are a laundry list of items, many for people so far removed for our lives, how can we sincerely bring them to our Lord?

At the same time, I was recently emailed by a co-worker to pray for a medical need in his family. I hadn't spoken to this person in 12 years! But I was honored that he knew I was a woman of faith, and he knew that he needed God in this situation. I prayed faithfully.

I believe it is a honor and a blessing to pray. However, I think when we blanket message boards with prayers for things far removed from every one's life, it is more of a burden than a blessing. It's not that I don't want to pray for every one's request. It's that it would be impossible to do so.

When someone asks me to pray for them in person, I like to pray immediately, and if they agree with them. That way I am honoring them by covering them with prayer, and knowing I am faithful to my word to pray. If it is not possible to pray at that time, I pray immediately after leaving them, and then as often as they come to my mind.

So how do you manage all the prayer requests you receive? When you pray, do you take time to adore God, confess your sins, and thank him...or do you simply present your laundry lists of items for him to "fix?" What are you thoughts on prayer?

As for me, I am trying to focus more on the reverence and relationship of prayer...and less on the requests.

Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meditation

Just mention the word meditation to a Christian, and you're liable to see them get all worked up. After all "we" Christians shouldn't meditate...should we?


I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.Psalm 77:12

I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:15

These are just a few of the references to meditation in scripture. This is not to be confused with Eastern meditation which focuses on clearing or emptying your mind. Christian meditation is all about focusing your mind on God, his word, and his law.

In my Sunday School class, last week we did a meditation exercise. We read a story from scripture, and then focused on it. Everyone had their own quiet time. In this case, we read John 6, Jesus feeds the 5000. Some people may have imagined themselves as the boy who donated his lunch, others as one of the disciples, still others as a member of the crowd.

Another option, was just to imagine yourself as you, but imagine that you had an encounter with Jesus. Imagine that he says, "What can I do for you?" Meditate deeply on what you would answer. Then imagine you say to Jesus, "What can I do for you?" Meditate on his answer to you.

Some might call this pure imagination. But Robert Foster (who wrote Celebration of Discipline - The Path to Spiritual Growth, the study we are working from) says, "To believe that God can sanctify and utilize the imaination is simply to take seriously the Christian idea of incarnation."

I had a pretty exciting experience (to me anyway), and will share that on Friday. I don't know whether it was my imagination or God's Holy Spirit in me, but I got a very real message! Can't wait to share it with you all.


Chatty Kelly

Monday, September 19, 2011

Knock, Knock, Knock....

Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood.
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood.
Think I better knock.
Knock on Wood, Amii Stewart, 1979

Have you ever prayed for something and not gotten it? Chances are very real this has happened to you. It can be confusing, especially if what you're asking for seems like a good thing. Why wouldn't God heal a child or redeem a marriage? After all, doesn't the Bible say "“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matt 7:7). Then why don't we get it?

I read a different translation of that verse (other than the NIV above) the other day, and I really liked it. It said, "Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you." It's not just asking or seeking or knocking once. We need to keep at it. Think I better knock, knock, knock....

Still even with persistent knocking, seeking and asking, we don't always get what we want. That is when we need to trust that our God is still a good God. Sometimes it's hard. But we must believe he loves us. Like the song says, "it's like thunder, lightening, the way you love me is frightening." God loves us so much, but His ways are not our ways.

There aren't any easy answers. But God does tell us His will for us. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18).

Be joyful always. Pray (ask, seek, knock!) continually. Give thanks in all circumstance.
How are you following God's will for you?

Chatty Kelly

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Honoring Loved Ones

My dad hosts a family dinner about every six weeks. All his children and grandchildren meet for dinner at a pizza place near his house. My dad is like a mother hen, so happy having all his chicks in the nest together. Even though it is chaotic, with so many people, he loves it. And while you can only talk to the those seated around you, and miss lots of the conversation, my dad takes it all in.

One of the extended family members doesn't like the restaurant. "Why do we always have to go there, the food is terrible. And we can't even all visit with each other," she complains. The funny thing is I don't particularly care for the food there either. But what I do love is my dad.

The restaurant is close and convenient to his home, and reasonably priced. I don't go for the food, I go for my father. My dad is 75 years old. So I savor these dinners of chaos and craziness, because I know one day, we won't be having them.

And when that day comes, I won't remember the rubbery pizza. I'll remember the contented look on my dad's face when everyone finally got there...right on time, but because he was 10 minutes early (as usual) he was worried someone would forget. I'll remember how he lined the grandchildren up, youngest to oldest, and gave them each a $20 bill. And I'll remember the time he surprised them and gave them all $100 bills. And I might even want to go eat at the pizza place again, just to remember.

And one things for sure, I know I won't ever say "I wish I had eaten at a better restaurant." I will say, "I wish I could eat that rubbery pizza, with my dad, just one more time."

Who can you honor today by putting aside your own desires, and meeting them where they are?

"Honor your father...." Exodus 20:12


Chatty Kelly

Monday, September 12, 2011

Validated!


Recently I had to park in a parking deck. I was surprised at how much parking costs, but since there was no street parking, I didn't really have a choice. I parked and went inside the building.

But there at the front desk I received a surprise. "We validate parking," the sign said. I simply presented my card, the woman gave it an official "validated" stamp, and when I left the lot, I simply showed my stamp and I could leave, with my debt paid.

In real life, I have spent so much of time at "front desks" seeking people to stamp me with their "validated" stamp. According to dictionary.com, validated means to give approval to. I volunteer for positions, and work hard and do a good job, yes in part because I am a hard worker, but also because I was seeking the validation stamp, that "good job," that approval that I am a good person.

But something has changed over time...it's me! God has been working through me. Recently the Bible study class I attended ended as the leader decided to take a break. Ordinarily I would have immediately volunteered to take over. Then everyone could see what I great job I would do. Everyone would see what a hard worker I am. Everyone would validate me. And while that first impulse did rise up in me, I was able to hold it in check, evaluate if this position was truly something I should take, realize my schedule is too full, and walk away from it, without guilt!

I was also recently asked if I would serve on the women's ministry at church. "I've arrived!" That has been my goal since I began attending this church several years ago. Because at the time we joined, that would have validated me. But since I've grown, I didn't feel the need to immediately say yes. Again, I am taking the time to see if this ministry is something that fits into my schedule and that I can bless.

I wish I had a formula to share with you how my validation happened. I don't! I have known all along that Jesus validated me, signed in blood, since I accepted him as my Savior. But this change in me has taken years of study, prayer and growth.

It's nothing I did, but Christ working in me. If you are feeling the need for validation, the need for approval from others, I urge you to continue to draw close to God. There is no secret formula...but God promises that if we draw near to him, he will draw near to us. Then one day, when you least expect it, you will realize the growth and change that he has made in you. To God be the glory!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Chatty Kelly

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post: Back to School...Pray!

Back to School ... Pray!
By Carla McDougal
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:5,7
Excitement’s in the air! Anticipation rises. It’s that time of year when the kids go back to school.
Who can forget watching your child go to "big school" for the first time? I remember those bittersweet moments as each of my four children kissed me good-bye. I always knew that day would arrive, but nothing prepared me for the moment.
Elementary school seemed to fly by and almost overnight they were in junior high and then high school. And in a blink of an eye, they were off to college. Where did the years go?
I learned early on that when my children were away from home, praying for them comforted me. By turning them over to God I experienced a calm peace. Year after year my prayers intensified, yet remained the same…
  • Elementary School – Will he make a friend? Will he eat all his lunch, or just the cookies and chips? God help him to love You with all his heart.
  • Junior/Senior High –Will he make the right friends? Is he paying attention to the teacher? God, help him love You with all his soul.
  • College - Will he make some forever friends? Is he making the right life decisions? God, help him to love You with all his strength.
Just as our children face challenges, we as moms face our own set of challenges…
  • To pray over our children no matter where they are in life.
  • To be on our knees for those God entrusted to us.
  • To ultimately pray for each child to love Jesus with all his heart, soul, and mind!
  • Finally, to let them know we are praying for them each day! What a blessing it is to pray for our children.
    I ask you to take advantage of this new season too. Do you need a fresh start? Where are you in your relationship with God? In my Bible study, Reflecting Him – Living for Jesus and Loving It, I encourage you to find Jesus in your everyday activities. He is there for us 24 hours a day, and He wants to hear our everyday prayers!
    Author Bio
    CARLA MCDOUGAL is founder of Reflective Life Ministries headquartered in the Houston, Texas area. Her true passion for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, shines brightly, whether she is speaking or writing. She shares experiences from her own life to encourage women to live every day for Him. God is sending Carla around the world to speak to women from all walks of life—those living in the best of circumstances to those who have hit rock bottom.
    Carla’s book, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It, is a 10-week study that encourages you to open your eyes to God’s daily life lessons. The more you ask God to be in your life, the more you will recognize His hand on everything you do. For more information on a growing number of products from Reflective Life Ministries, and to see about booking Carla for an event or interview, go to www.reflectivelifeministries.org.
    Chatty Kelly

    Monday, August 29, 2011

    So Many Gifts



    Chatty Kelly

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Vacation!

    Vacation, had to get away.
    Vacation, Go-Gos, 1982

    It's about time for my family to head out of town on vacation. I can't wait! We've got our bags packed, the house sitter is scheduled to take care of the dogs, and all is well. Sometimes it's hard to get away. Life is busy, and there is always something we could be doing, other than vacationing.

    However, God himself implemented the very important task of resting. Resting doesn't seem like a task. It seems more of an anti-task. Yet, the Bible tells us on the 7th day, God rested. If the all-powerful creator of the Universe made it a point to rest, shouldn't we?

    The Bible goes on to tell us that Jesus will provide us his rest, which is peace. If your soul is troubled, your faith in Jesus will give you the peace that passes human understanding.

    I'm so thankful for my faith in God! He provides me peace. And I am so thankful for his example to take a physical rest too.

    VACATION - here we come!

    Chatty Kelly

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Which Disciple Are You?

    Chatty Kelly

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Hosta La Vista!

    On the walk up to my front door grow 5 of the biggest, heartiest, most beautiful hostas you have ever seen. Every year anyone who comes to visit comments on them. They were show pieces. And my response to everyone who asked what I did to make them grow that way, was always truthfully, "nothing."

    This year, without warning, the voles ate the roots of my beautiful plants. I noticed first they were browning at the tips of the leaves. I thought they needed water, but watering didn't do anything. Then as I touched leaves, I realized they could be pulled up without any roots attached. The voles had eaten the roots.

    All of my beautiful plants have been destroyed. "Hosta" La Vista! I took them so much for granted, that I never even took a photo of them.

    Sometimes we have other "show pieces" in our lives. Our marriage, our children, even our faith can look beautiful on the outside, but if we are doing "nothing" to maintain them, we can't expect them to stay healthy. Evil is waiting to burrow into the roots of our relationship destroying them.

    Spend time with your loved ones telling them they are appreciated. Pray for them. Spend time with God praying and studying His word. Be vigilant looking for the one who comes to steal and destroy. When we appreciate those things dear to us, we worry less that they'll say "Hasta la vista." We can honor our relationships, pray for them, and watch them grow with the power of the Son.

    Chatty Kelly

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Never Let Them See You Sweat

    Put your game face on. Put your best foot forward. Never let them see you sweat. These phrases demonstrate our society's attitude toward showing vulnerability. In fact, showing weakness can be considered a sign of weakness.

    Last week I blogged about my self-doubt. I, in fact, let you see me sweat. But something wonderful came from that. So many women told me how they could relate!

    Even though our society says not to show weakness, I think that when we share our vulnerabilities in a safe place it allows other women to realize they are not alone or unusual in their thought process. When we show that we are not perfect, it allows those around us to safely be imperfect as well.

    It's funny that the deodorant Secret, used the catch phrase "Never let them see you sweat." Because when we hide our weaknesses, not letting the world see us sweat, we are in fact keeping a secret.

    2 Corin 11:30 states, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." Sharing our weaknesses, not keeping the secret, opens the way for us to experience the superabundant strength of God's grace.

    So while it's true that I have weaknesses, flaws, struggles and doubts, I also have a God who loves me anyway and raises me beyond what little I can do and be, to what He wants me to do and be. So do you. Together let's focus on who we are in Christ. For he said, "My power is made perfect in weakness."

    When I am weak, then I am strong.*

    Chatty Kelly
    *2 Corin 12:9,10

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Good-bye Self Doubt!

    Those who know me may see a woman filled with self confidence...but behind that mask is a scared kid full of self doubt. That little voice that whispers, "You're nothing. Why would anyone care about what you have to share. They won't like you." The thing that surprises me every time, however, is how God ministers to my doubt with His perfect timing!

    After much encouragement from friends I submitted my first article, sure it wasn't good enough, but with a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe my friends were right. Maybe I was an okay writer. It was accepted for publication. God knew if it had been rejected, I would have never submitted another thing, but buoyed by that success, I continued writing for publication. Good-bye self-doubt.

    In 2009, after a writers conference I decided to stop writing for a while. I wrote this post, explaining that I was tired of rejections, and felt like there were so many better writers. But the day before I posted it, I got an contract for a piece that the editor had already rejected! It had already been rejected! But God...he knew I wasn't going to keep writing, so he encouraged me that my writing is His plan. Good-bye self doubt.

    Yesterday was a self doubt day for my speaking. While my She Speaks conference was excellent, all those self doubts came back. There are better speakers, I don't want to risk rejection, why did I agree to do a women's retreat?!?! And so yesterday, I told a friend that I might stop speaking after I do the women's retreat in October. Self doubt.

    My mouth said, "I don't want to speak again." My heart said, "Why would anyone want to listen to me? I have nothing to share. What if they don't like me? I can't do it."

    And this morning, in my email inbox was a request to speak at a women's event. No self-promotion or seeking on my part, just God whispering to my heart, "You have something to say, I believe in you. Share My Word." Good-bye self doubt.

    Why doubts are plaguing you today? Why not turn them over to God. He can turn your self doubt into God confidence! Then you too can say, "Good-bye Self Doubt!"

    I am the LORD your God. I am holding your hand, so don't be afraid. I am here to help you. Isaiah 41:13 (CEV)

    Chatty Kelly

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Being Small for Jesus

    Have you ever thought "I want to be BIG for Jesus!" I must admit, I have! I want to write books, and speak to conferences and be BIG for Jesus. But what if Jesus is calling me to be small?

    At the recent conference I attended, they put on a great skit. The woman in the skit received a gift from Jesus, a mini-coke. She loved her gift, until she saw her friend had received a 12 oz coke. She begged Jesus to also have the 12 oz coke. "But I picked your gift especially for you, because I love you." Jesus told her. She still wanted the 12 oz coke. Then another friend came by with a 20 oz coke. Now she was really mad at Jesus!

    At that point Jesus gave her a 12 oz coke, "just like you asked me for, because I love you." But now the 12 oz wasn't enough, and again she was discontent. And the look on her face when the woman with 2 liter coke came on stage? Priceless!

    What if God is calling me to be a mini-coke? What if my blog, and my devotional additions to compilation books are what he is calling me for? What if speaking to 50 ladies is all he wants from me?

    In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells about the seeds that fall on the fertile soil. "But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matt 13:23)

    Notice that all the good soil did not produce the same crops. While all the seeds were on good soil, some groups produced a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown. What if God is only calling me to a crop yield of 30?

    Can I be happy with that? Can I be content? Am I willing to be small for Jesus, if that is what he is calling me to do?

    What is Jesus calling you to be? And even if it small, or you willing to do it? We must, if we are to ever find contentment. So I keep spreading the seeds, as he has called me to do. And the crop, well I won't know that until it grows. But may I praise him for it, no matter what the bounty is.

    Chatty Kelly

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    She Speaks 2011- Meme Answers

    The Chatty Kelly She Speaks Meme for She Speaks attendees:

    "Even if you think some else has already said what you want to say, and even if they've said it better - say it anyway. YOU might be the one they listen too." - Emily Freeman, Blog to Book Deal.

    Lysa TerKeurst's "sticky message" (speaker track) was the best lesson I learned, and I plan to start implementing it right away in my speaking! When I gave my 5 minute talk for evaluation several people noted that I was using the "sticky message" and I hadn't meant to! I wrote it before attended Lysa's session. How exciting to learn that I had "accidentally" (or perhaps intuitively) done something right!

    I am speaking at a women's conference in October. My current focus will be working on those talks. I also plan to create a new tag line for my blog which better explains the focus of my ministry. And I hope to keep blogging and connecting with new bloggers and She Speaks attendees.

    The Ugly: My clothes! Well, not exactly ugly, but Friday when I came down in my business casual outfit and saw everyone in their cute outfits, I suddenly felt very insecure. I'd like to say I went back up to my room and prayed over it, got over it and moved on. *But* what I really did was convince my room mate to make an emergency trip to the outlet mall, where I bought a cute new top. Now I was ready to take on the world!

    I'm so glad that I have a God who loves me not matter what I'm wearing, and puts up with my silly insecurities. And can I say, you She Speaks ladies are some sharp dressed gals! You looked marvelous!

    Chatty Kelly

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    Following Directions





    This week I'm going to another writers conference at that same hotel. Only this time I am not trusting my GPS. Instead, I've printed directions off of the hotel website. The hotel knows directions to the hotel, by definition. It will get me there safely.

    Obviously, God knows the way to heaven. I can find accurate printed directions in the Bible. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way, regardless of what the world's GPS might say.

    If you want reliable directions to heaven, don't trust the world's GPS. Go directly to the source, the Bible, to find directions right to God's door.


    Chatty Kelly

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    She Speaks 2011 - Perspective

    In less than 1 week I leave to head to She Speaks Writers and Speakers conference. I am very excited. What's not to love about having all your meals cooked for you, served to you, dishes cleared and washed by someone else? Your bed made (by someone else) every morning and the bathroom cleaned every day! As a housewife, this is a close to heaven as it gets on earth!

    Then there is the camaraderie of being with 649 other Christian women praising God and having daily worship. Wow.

    Then there is the education, learning how to be a better speaker and writer, how to be a brighter light for the Lord.

    It's ironic, usually I would be so nervous and freaked out about going. I have to give 2 talks while I'm there, a 3 minute testimony and a 5 minute teaching talk, which will be reviewed and judged by my peers and a professional speaker. While that's nerve-wracking, I am completely peaceful.

    After the loss my family has experienced in the past few weeks, I realize that what I'm about to experience is small in the big picture of life. It is certainly not something to worry about. It is something to enjoy and rejoice about. What a great perspective to take with me.

    Are you going to She Speaks? Let me know, I'd love to connect with you.


    Chatty Kelly

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Is God Enough?

    In the past couple of weeks, my family experienced a terrible tragedy; a six-month old infant died, and the family was left shocked, saddened and confused.

    At a time like this, you are left wondering why. Why would God allow such a terrible thing to happen to someone so young? Where was God? And is God the same "good" God he was before?

    To find out the answer, join me over at Titus 2 in Action, by clicking this link:
    http://titus2inaction.blogspot.com/2011/07/is-god-enough.html

    Chatty Kelly