Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Legacy Lives On

Dear Friends,

Get ready because Joy's life lives on in her granddaughter Kristie! When she asked me to create a Bible study for her women in Phoenix God's anointing fell all over this project. The result? The Phoenix Girls Short and Sweet Bible Study exclusively designed for women on the go in ministry. The theme throughout is living a life of balance, meaning and purpose with passion. This 21 week study on the Book of John has Phoenix Girls' stories interwoven in every chapter giving great take away value to each lesson. Stories of dealing with everything from diet, depression, alcohol, sexuality, kids, marriage, work, stress, growing up, rejection, forgiveness, lonliness and much more.

You'll find yourself saying, "If she can do it, so can I!" It is the most relational study I have ever seen. You will end up with a deeper more abiding relationship with Jesus. Let's face it. It's all about Him! He loves you so much, He died for you so you can have eternal life with Him. Living His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven is easier with women who face the same stuff you do every day. Due out in January of next year, I will definitely keep you updated on its publishing date!

Remember, God already has friends in your life who are meant to be there. Pray and ask for Holy Spirit revelation on who He wants you to connect with. Go for it!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ode To Joy

Dear Friends,

This is a note of mixed joy and sadness. Friday, my dear and precious friend Joy passed away at 1:05pm. She was 89, it was her time to leave this earth and she lived strong to the end. She is now at peace with Jesus in heaven!

Joy truly enjoyed God, daily abided in Jesus and loved every person she met. This was the greatest common bond in our beautiful Godly friendship.

One of her favorite Scriptures was John 15:7
"If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you."

Joy said, "If I want what He wants, I will be praying for what He wants, so of course He will answer my prayers. My answered prayers are simply the consequence of abiding in Jesus.

"I am the branch on the Vine, and Jesus, Himself, is the Vine flowing through me; that makes me a child of God in the sense that when I pray, the Father sees me as Jesus. When He sees me in the righteousness of His own Son, He will not deny me. I know God is wonderful and that He loves me.

"When I speak to the Father, He sees me as He sees Jesus. That's the way I learned to pray when I understood who I was in His sight, and here I am because of Him. When you actually awaken to the fact that the Life of the Vine is in you, what happens is that it becomes a healing flow.

"It's a renewing flow, an understanding flow that keeps me safe. I understand who I am, because I know Who is in me. Anyone can have this; it doesn't matter who your earthly father is."

Now Joy is enjoying Jesus face to Face! She was so outstanding for who she was and how she lived. As we wrote together, I would tell her I have an 'Ode to Joy' written out in my mind to her that needed to be told. "Honey," she would laugh, "You just save it for my funeral!"

Tomorrow I am headed to her hometown to do just that. I will miss Joy acutely and deeply. But I am forever grateful that God gave me such a phenomenal friendship, that I loved Joy, enjoyed her, respected her and took the baton that God gave me through her and ran with it. Living with no regrets in our most precious relationships is priceless. And even when there is regret, Joy showed me how to live in redemption because God does restore the lost and broken pieces and makes us and those closest to us whole!

Joy is thrilled in heaven that I am posting her ode on our website:

Ode To Joy

Joy had a listening heart because she knew
Listening felt like love.
Joy walked with me the rugged road to forgiveness
Because she knew
This was the only way to true lasting happiness.

She taught me not to take offense
And let it roll off my back,
To hold my own with quiet dignity.
She taught me unconditional respect at the point of conflict
It is why I am still married!

She showed me how not to be
So heavenly bound
That I’d be no earthly good,
Because she knew God’s practical ways
Lead us to His spiritual principles.

She wanted to be like Mother Theresa
But not look like her!
She was like Mother Theresa
Because she knew
Like Mother Theresa you need to be somebody to someone.

Joy was a blessing to me in every way
Not because of anything she did
But just because of who she was.
Our friendship had no personal hidden agendas-
Just love and be there for each other.

Her favorite song was:
“Out in the highways and byways of life
Many are weary and sad,
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
Making the sorrowing glad

“Make me a blessing
Make me a blessing
Out of my life may Jesus shine
Make me a blessing, oh Savior, I pray
Make me a blessing to someone today.”

Christmas is when we sing Joy to the world!
She is singing with Jesus right now
in all the glory He has for her
She would want each one of us to know right now…
“There’s a little bit of Joy in each one of us!”
Joy Barnett
1918 - 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Do you love Jesus most?

Dear Friends,

God loves us and wants the best for us. We receive His best when we put Him first. He wants us to love Him first and others as ourselves. As simple as this sounds, it is often difficult to accomplish. In Jeremiah Chapters 42-44, the people would not listen to Jeremiah prefering to hold on to their idolatrous ways. Tired and defeated by their enemies, they ran to Jeremiah, asking, Show us what to do and we'll do it.

God responded through Jeremiah saying, Remain where you are and I'll build you up. Don't fear the king of Babylon for he is a mere man, while I am the all-wise, all-powerful and ever-present God. If you choose not to stay, violence and hunger shall overtake you.

A few proud and insolent men, including the leaders refused to believe God's Word through Jeremiah, robbing the rest of the people of God's mercy. God responded through Jeremiah, You and your wives have both decared with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands. You confirm your vows and perform your vows! You defy My warnings.

Only a handful of people survived. Are you defying His warnings or deifying His Word? God is so great and so merciful He sent His only begotten Son to pay the price for our sins so that we might have eternal life!

God is constantly speaking to us. He speaks through His Word and through the circumstances of our lives. We just need to listen. He uses Godly friends to keep us close to Him. May we declare with our mouths and in our actions that Jesus is our Lover and our Lord! Go for it!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Something significant recently happened with the St. John’s Women’s Book Club. The May Book of the Month was Make a Difference Mentoring Woman to Woman and the April Book of the Month was the Secret. Speaking at the May meeting with mentoring friends, we found everyone's perspective insightful: “We liked most of what the author said in the Secret. She was very positive, loving and encouraging. But… there was something that didn’t quite sit right about it in our minds. When we read your book the following month, we realized what was missing. The Secret’s author takes all the good in her life and says use it for yourself. It is a totally self centered Godless philosophy. There is no meaning in this.

"Make A Difference Mentoring Woman To Woman says use all the good in your life and give it to God for His Glory and for His Purposes. Your book gives life meaning in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need more of this in our lives.” This is truly a God thing! The need for a deeper and more intimate prayer life was also of paramount importance. Since now is the day of salvation, we gathered in a big circle and prayed for each other from our hearts. It was a moment in time walking on holy ground.

Showing our vulnerability in prayer takes a lot of courage and honesty, but is worth the risk. As Mark Twain and Bill Bright said, “It’s lonely out on the limb, but that’s wherethe fruit is.”
Dear Friends,

Today was an amazing day on the Dana Sturgeon Show Live in San Diego. But something in my heart is bothering me. When Mary called into the show asking about Jesus' perspective on adultery, I stopped. She is living with her boyfriend, has children and believes she will be left on the streets if she leaves him. Her first husband was adulterous and their marriage ended in divorce. She also believes she is not free to remarry. When I encouraged her to find a church to help, she responded by saying she has no self esteem and has been to many churches. What did I say? I let her know I too, am divorced and remarried. That the divorce rate is as high in the church as it is in the world. That she is forgiven and we can't use self esteem as an excuse to stay in our sin. But my response was incomplete.

So Mary, if you read this, please know that Jesus called people by name. Jesus calls you by name. He will use whatever it takes to bring you to Him. If it's not church, it will be something else, someone else or some other circumstance. What did He say to Martha who was distracted with things that were not so important?

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed? Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Put Jesus first and trust Him for the results. He knows what you need before you even ask. xoxo

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dear Friends,

The following is an excerpt from Make A Difference Mentoring from Joy's Perspective, now 89 years old, still strong with her keen sharp mind and wits and full of the Holy Spirit:

"As we grow from infancy to maturity, the body is constantly struggling to make necessary adjustments. So it is with our spiritual growth. God knows how to stretch each area so tht we can grow. It may hurt a little. We may not understand because if we understood, the real value of the process would be lost. But when we trust anyway and reach and search, we find new treasures in living that finally reveal to us why those things had to happen in our lives.

"As I get older, I see the cycle of life as children marry and leave. And the people I used to know are one-by-one dying and leaving. I have learned that the season of life bring different identities to us at times.

"There was a time when I was known as Hershel's wife and my children's mom. As I reflect on who I have been, I realize I am still the same person. The circumstances changed, but I did not. I find my identity in Christ Jesus and by blessing the people He puts in my path. You don't have to go looking for it. My identity is the same, but my description changes according to the circumstances and my seasons of life. I've learned not to let the circumstances dictate my identity. New generations come along to define us. When you get stuck in the past, you can't reach the present generation.

"Because of this truth, Lindsey and I stand shoulder to shoulder bridging the generation gap. God initiated this plan, and the Holy Spirit enabled this plan to work. God's mentoring enables us to combine our strengths together. Mentoring reaches a place where it's not just to our needs; it goes far beyond that. Needs become strengths and are united. Strength together can put ten thousand to flight.

"God planned it all. Jesus initiated it and made it possible. The Holy Spirit is here to lead us and to point us to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is our Mentor who walks with us to teach us, to comfort us, and to guide us into all truth. He is our Holy Mentor, God our Father, Jesus our Brother, the Holy Spirit our Mentor."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Red Letter Rhema:

"The prodigal son is still the Father's child."

"So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Loving trusted friendships have helped me stay the course in my walk with God, marriage and family more than anything else. I don't know what I would do without my friends. When I am in an intense place in my relationships at home with my husband or children, my friends fill the void so I can do the right thing and stay right with God. Sometimes I have friction with my friends too, but we work it out. In "A World Waiting to be Born", M. Scott Peck displays insightful perspective on this.

According to Dr. Peck, "When nuns and monks used to come to see me for consultation, ninety-five percent of the time the first thing they wanted to talk to me about was "community." And ninety-five percent of the time what they meant by community was something like "Sister Suzie is driving me up a wall" or "I'm about to strangle Brother Thomas." Many have the fantasy that convents and monasteries are places of great holy tranquility, where the monks and nuns go about their day in unending, prayerful peace of mind. The reality is that they are ususally places of great struggle and tension and friction.

"But even though it is what they most frequently complain about, community is also perhaps the primary reason that nuns and monks join monasteries and convents. They know somehow, correctly, that they need the friction of community to polish them to refine them on their journeys of spritual growth... A marriage properly should be a marriage of two people gathered together for some purpose higher than the mere pleasure of being together: namely, to enhance each other's spiritual journeys."

Even when I don't like truth from my friends, I listen because they love me. "Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]." Proverbs 27:17 Then I thank God for them because they make me feel loved and secure even when I don't feel secure in my circumstances.

I give thanks to my God for you always when I mention you in my prayers... Philemon 1:4 Pray for God to reveal to you Holy Spirit inspired friendships that may already be in your life, friends who love you and are honest with you in a loving way. Then thank God for them. Go for it!