Monday, August 31, 2009

Football and Faith

"Take your positions with helmets on!"
Jeremiah 46:4 Jim and Joshua yesterday afternoon as they prepare for the first game of our first tackle football season. Joshua is playing various position, including running back and tight end. Jim is serving as "Team Medic".
The league put on a very impressive, exciting and professional-esque Pep Rally for the New Hope-Solebury Lions last Thursday evening!
Joshua is in the center in the picture below. #48.


Joshua's dream of playing in a "real" tackle football game was realized yesterday. He has been asking for a few years, but we have kept him in flag football until this season. God's guidance and timing was perfect. Joshua was ready. Mommy was ready. Jim and I agreed, this year we could say "yes" to our son. I have been so excited for him. He loves football.
God's guidance was amazing. Our home town does not have a Pop Warner Football Team, so we default to a neighboring township. However, we didn't feel a peace about participating there. So, many months ago, when some dear friends of ours unexpectedly asked us to have Joshua come play on the P-W township league in their town, we felt that was the right thing. We asked the Lord for His plans to prevail. After following a few requirements to play for a different township, the door was wide open for us to play for the New Hope-Solebury Lions!
Our friends thought for sure that our sons would be on the same team. The dads talked about coaching together. My girlfriend and I were giddy over spending hours together on the bleachers cheering our young football players on (and having some girl chat!).
As it turned out, our sons were placed on different teams because of slight differences in their stature and age. We are still disappointed we are not together, but we see the Lord's hand in it all. Each of our boys are right where they should be. My girlfriend and I are going to plan to "overlap" on each game day so we can share some time together and still cheer each other's sons on during their respective games. (Her son's game will always be right before Joshua's game.) We know we are where we are supposed to be. I am thankful our friends reached out and invited us to play for their township, even though our sons are not in the same weight class this year. The Lord used their invitation to us to get us where He wanted us. His plans are always best. I expect Him to grow my faith through football.
Joshua's first game yesterday was very exciting. He played the whole time and his team did very well. They were not victorious on the scoreboard, but they are all winners to us. They played hard, and most of all they demonstrated great sportsmanship and character. That's what means the most to this mommy's heart.
While watching my son play tackle football ignites my heart in a way I never imagined, it also keeps me on my knees as I ask the Lord to protect every inch of Joshua's body and to develop His godly character into Joshua's heart. The football field with be a precious threshing floor of sorts, and I am trusting God to use it to separate the wheat from the chaff. Our Kinsman-Redeemer is the ultimate life coach. Football and faith. Sounds like it will be a good season for all of us!
We are also looking forward to having a lot of fun! Am I ready for some football? YES! Bring it on!
Go New Hope-Solebury Lions!

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Pretense

"'In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but only in pretense,' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 3:10 (NIV)
In reading through the Bible in a year, I have written many scriptures in my journals. Recently, as I was reading through Jeremiah, I took note of chapter 3, verse 10 above. In digging a little deeper, it struck me that the only two verses in scripture that refer to "pretense" are concerning the female gender. The other scripture is 1 Kings 14:6: "“Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense?" We women can be pretentious, can't we?
In Jeremiah 3:10, the word for "pretense" in the King James Version is "deception". Ouch. "Pretense" seems a bit softer than "deception". The original word for deception in Jeremiah 3:10 is "sheqer". (Oh my, the word "she" is in that!) In the Blue Letter Bible (click here), the definition for sheqer is:
1) lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood
a) deception (what deceives or disappoints or betrays one)
b) deceit, fraud, wrong
1) fraudulently, wrongfully (as adverb)
c) falsehood (injurious in testimony)
1) testify falsehood, false oath, swear falsely
d) falsity (of false or self-deceived prophets)
e) lie, falsehood (in general)
1) false tongue
f) in vain
These verses concerning women and pretense have stirred me. A prayer has been revived in my heart.
Dear Lord, please let there be no pretense in my prayers to you. No pretense in personal prayers that only You hear. No pretense in group prayer as I pray corporately with others. Let sincerity, reverence and truth reign in my heart and in my prayers. May my utterances reflect the true desires of my heart. And may You give me courage to live out those desires that are rooted in You.
Lord, I want to live a blameless life in my own home, with my own family first. May there be no pretense in our home and in our hearts. Let us serve and love each other with humility and passion. Help us to recognize pretense in each other and be the gentle vessel of healing for one another. I want to be authentic in my own home first. Our home is a precious threshing floor of sorts. Let the wheat be separated from the chaff here first. May we taste the fruit of authentic, abiding lives in You here in our home first.
Lord, may there be no pretense outside of my home. I pray others see You in me. May You shine through and be evident in the midst of other's opinion, conclusions, judgment and misperception of pretense. May I always be willing to be broken and humbled so that You can do your good works in and through me. Keep my heart soft and teachable.
May the fruit of an authentic, abiding private life pour out effortlessly outside of my four walls.
Give me the grace and unconditional love to reach beyond the pretense of others. Give me discernment to recognize a heart that is crying out. The privilege of being Your vessel for another is precious and holy. Pretense is bondage. We want to be free in Your truth. You are our Safe Place to fall. You desire truth in the inner parts of our souls.
Make us holy, Lord. Authenticity pursuing Your holiness. No pretense. No phonies. Only You, the Truth.
In your Name and by Your grace.
"Surely You desire truth in the inner parts;
You teach me wisdom in the inmost place."
Psalm 51:6

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Psalm 5:12


"For surely, O Lord, You bless the righteous;
You surround them with Your favor
as with a shield." Psalm 5:12
Happy Treasure Verse Tuesday! Today's verse is one that I wrote in my Family Prayer Journal as a prayer for our little family. For months, I had prayed for God's favor on my family, together and individually. His favor to build and guard our character in such a way that honors Him. His favor to bring forth fruit for His Name as we abide in Him. His favor to be vessels for His glory wherein He shines His goodness, life and truth. His favor to protect us from the intents and words of naysayers. His favor so we are transparent and He is evident. His favor so He is made manifest.
When I read this verse, it expressed my heart's cry exactly. Dear Lord, please surround us with Your favor as with a shield. His favor as with a shield. Peace and assurance fill my heart and mind as I soak in this scripture.
He surrounds us with His favor. His favor shields us. We are completely surrounded by His love, favor and protection.
Surely, He blesses the righteous. Amazingly, HE has made us righteous. "...through the obedience of the One man the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:12
"God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Cor. 5:21
How awesome that He makes us His righteousness, and then He blesses us for being righteous. I pray you soak in that truth and His goodness today!
Thank you for visiting on Treasure Verse Tuesday. Did this verse minister to you personally? Share another verse that has popped off the pages of your Bible and into your heart recently. I can't wait to hear about your treasures!
To read today's treasure verse in context and to do some more digging for God's treasures of Truth, click here: Blue Letter Bible.

Friday, August 21, 2009

He Has Done Great Things

But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things
the LORD has done.
Deuteronomy 11:7

(Tricia and Me pictured above)
Happy Friday! I hope you are soaking up the goodness of the last few weeks of summer!
We have a winner from Tuesday's P31 devotion "A Table For Two" blog post give-away! Before the winner of the Note Cards by Kristen and "Hidden Joy In A Dark Corner" book by Wendy Blight is announced, I wanted to introduce my fabulous friend, Tricia, to you. Tricia and her hubby own the Jersey shore house where God miraculously placed the table to meet with Him. The Lord blesses us with such sweet surprises in friendships when we honor Him with those gifts of friendship. My heart is deeply thankful and humbled. Tricia, you are the perfect "keeper of the table". With our own eyes, the Carpenter has given us the joy of seeing the miracle together. My heart is tickled that you, too, will enjoy many quiet times with our Lord at "The Table For Two"!
The winner was chosen through http://www.random.org/ but I prayed God would really choose the winner before I hit the "generate" button. The winner is:
LeeAnn at Encouragement is Contagious! And what a great way to encourage others...by sending a hand-written note! LeeAnn, enjoy those adorable note cards made by Kristen! And the Lord will bless you through Wendy Blight's book as it is rich with God's Word and Truth. Congratulations!

You can contact Kristen for home-made note cards at: ksdurn@msn.com
"But be sure to fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

"...for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is His name." Luke 1:49


"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Table For Two...and A Give-Away

(Pictures of the table at the shore house. Our friends, Dan and Tricia, who own the shore house, are now the wonderful stewards of this precious gift from the Carpenter.)
"'Where did this Man get these things?' they asked. 'What's this wisdom that has been given Him, that He even does miracles! Isn't this the carpenter?" Mark 6:2-3 (NIV)
"Lord, I stand in awe of Your fame, I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known." Habakkuk 3:2

"They were all filled with awe and praised God." Luke 7:16

Today I have a devotion published through Proverbs 31 Ministry (click here), which shares my "Table Testimony". As the verse above says, I stood in awe of His gracious deed toward me in providing a table for me for my morning quiet time on vacation. The Carpenter's gift was a serendipitous and sweet answer to prayer.

As I shared this story with family and friends, many were understandably looking for some sort of logical explanation as to how the table got in our friends' (Dan and Tricia) shore home, which we were renting for vacation. Recently during a gathering at our home, one of my friends, Cheryll, asked me to share the "Table Testimony" with our guests. After I told the story, there was silence. I felt as though I needed to say something more, give some sort of explanation as I could see our guests' wheels turning in their heads. Cheryll, discerning what was going on in my heart, quietly said, "Just let that be the end of the story." No reasonable explanation. No logic. Simply, it was a miracle. "God wanted to bless you, Sharon", Cheryll said. It still overwhelms me.

He gets all the glory! A few days after Cheryll so beautifully spoke those words to my heart, I was reading Wendy Blight's book "Hidden Joy In A Dark Corner". In her book she was sharing about a miraculous answer to prayer concerning a "wall of angels" surrounding her home. She then wrote, "He did not want rationalizations and logical explanations to prevail. He wanted all the glory." He receives and deserves all the glory.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Col. 4:2
Now, my prayer in sharing this testimony of God's amazing provision and love is that your faith will grow. Desiring to draw closer to Him. Praying and watching with expectation for His answers. Thanking Him, giving Him the glory and sharing what He has done. "Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony..." John 4:39 Amen!

"May my life be one unbroken gaze fixed upon the beauty of Your face." Vicky Beeching
At my daily devotion table here in my home, I keep a stack of pretty note cards. One of my favorite things to do since I was a very little girl is to write notes and collect note cards. Stationery stores beckon me from afar. I love to "shower the people you love with love", as James Taylor's song tells us. And often the Lord will put someone on my heart during my quiet time, so I'll write them a quick little note and put it in the mail.


Recently, during our annual family trip to Camp Of The Woods (a Christian family camp in the Adirondacks of New York), I met a new friend, Kristen. She and her family were seated at the table right next to us in the dining hall. Maryland is where she now resides with her husband and two sons,but both she and her hubby grew up right here in our home town in Pennsylvania!


Kristen makes beautiful note cards. I confessed to her that I am a note card fanatic! I asked her if she'd join me in a little give-away here at Joy In The Truth. So, if you love note cards and filling mail boxes with colorful and friendly envelopes (rather than bills and advertisements), please leave me a comment, including your contact information. Also, along with the note cards, you'll receive a copy of Wendy Blight's book "Hidden Joy In A Dark Corner". A winner will be chosen on Friday 8/21. Pictures of Kristen and me and her adorable note cards are below.


I pray His truth has filled you with joy today. Be sure to meet Him today. He has prepared a table just for you.

Kristen and Me


You can contact Kristen for home-made note cards at: ksdurn@msn.com

"I...am writing this with my own hand."
Philemon 1:19

"This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Camp Of The Woods 2009 - Photographs

"You are resplendent with light,
more majestic than mountains..."
Psalm 67:4
Here is a "Slideshow" of some of our vacation pictures at Camp of the Woods on Lake Pleasant.
Thank you for indulging us and letting us share them with you!
(Thank you, Jill, for helping me with the Slideshow!)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Authenticity and Holiness

"Surely You desire truth in the inner parts ;
You teach me wisdom in the inmost place."
Psalm 51:6

The other day, I read this article by James MacDonald's son, Luke, on the Harvest Bible Fellowship "Straight Up" site. I think it is well worth reading, so I am sharing it here. It is short and meaty. To get to the site directly, click here: James MacDonald - Harvest Bible Fellowship.

Posted By Luke MacDonald on August 6, 2009
One of the hallmarks of the moment in many movements in the evangelical church is a huge push for authenticity. Pastors not acting like they have it all together. Church-goers getting honest in relationships about the true struggles in their lives. A push against the overly perfect acting caricature of the previous generation’s church experience. I love the concept of creating a environment where everyone who is moving towards heaven are still works-in-progress. There is massive freedom in knowing all those around you are still struggling with sin.
HOWEVER
That struggle MUST be going somewhere. Victory must be increasing. Honesty is not an end in itself. Extending grace towards an admission of sin is important, but so is living out Romans 6.
1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Authenticity is an amazing starting point. However, if our honesty is not converted into increasing obedience to Christ, it is merely cheap grace exulting in sin.
Authentic: yes. but Increasing Holiness: YES YES.
"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."
2 Corinthians 7:1

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Treasure Verse Tuesday - Jeremiah 24:6-7

"My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD. They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart." Jeremiah 24:6-7

One morning last week as I was having my quiet time at Camp of The Woods, as I read through a few chapters of Jeremiah, this was one of several verses that stopped me in my tracks. It leaped off the page and into my heart. His love ministered to my heart. I read it several times and lifted it up to Him as a prayer for me and my family, and for others we love as well. I wrote it in my Family Prayer Journal as a prayer lifted up to Him for each of us in our family. I love His precious promises to His people in this scripture. Soak it in.

To read this scripture in context and to dig a little deeper, click here:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Celebration Near The Eagles GOAL Post!

"So we make it our goal to please Him..."
2 Corinthians 5:9

We are back from vacation at Camp of the Woods and are excited to share those pictures and memories with you. But....first and ten.....I mean "first things first"! The day before we left on vacation, we celebrated Joshua's 9th birthday in the best way we know how for him....Philadelphia Eagles Football Style! We invited about 25 of his buddies ("teammates") to party with him at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles: Lincoln Financial Field. Many parents joined us as well. After a fun ride to LFF, we all toured the field, press box, interview room, suites, and THE EAGLES LOCKER ROOM! What a thrill! We got a real flavor of what goes on behind the scenes with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here are just a few of the almost 200 pictures we took. (They are not in order....sorry....but Blogger is not cooperating!)

(To find out how to tour Lincoln Financial Field, click here. It's lots of fun!)

In Autumn 2008, when Joshua was doing a Geography Journal for a third grade project, he received a reply letter from Andy Reid, Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Coach Reid encouraged Joshua to continue to work hard in school and thanked Joshua for his faithful support of the Eagles. For Joshua's birthday, we had this letter framed for him.

In honor of the birthday boy Joshua, the Eagles contributed a new football for Rock Ministries. The Eagles representative told Joshua to pick out whichever football he wanted to donate to Rock. This was his choice. Joshua and Uncle PJ in the press box.
Gabrielle and a few of the "sister-friends" she was delighted to have along as cheerleaders!

The Gill Guys checking out Joshua's "Geography Journal" and the letter from Coach Reid.

From left to right:
Nana (Jim's mom), Aunt Anne (my sis), Uncle PJ (my bro), Stephanie (our lovely niece) and Patrick (her wonderful boyfriend)

A few football decorations at home.


Joshua with Nana and Nan Nan (my mom). They have the spirit!



One of our terrific Team Moms (Cheryl) and my mom (Eileen)

It's Game Time!
They lifted up the gate to the tunnel that leads onto the field! We all walked went out just as if we were the Eagles running out to play a game!
Wade, Joshua and Matt

Two of the dads who were serving as the team's "Offensive Coordinators".
Wade and Dan

Mommy in the Eagles Locker Room with Joshua and Gabrielle!
Our friend, Matt, and his son, Jesse, honored and blessed us by driving over an hour from Ocean City, NJ, to join our celebration. Here they are in Donovan McNabb's locker.


Jim and Gabrielle in front of Brian Westbrook's locker!


Penalty Flag! Is that one of our Offensive Coordinators pushing the limit!?!?

Aunt Anne and Nan Nan
Please meet our very special guests from Rock Ministries of Philadelphia.
We were humbled that they joined us!
Joshua invited his family and friends to bring a new football to his party, rather than a birthday gift for himself. Through the generosity and enthusiasm of his guests (thank you family and friends!!!!!!!), 35 new footballs will be donated to Rock Ministries of Philadelphia, which ministers to at-risk young men of Philadelphia's inner city. The young men will earn a new football by memorizing scripture. Truly, we give glory to God and humbly thank Him for this privilege.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Thank you family and friends!
This was a touchdown of a celebration as we rejoice and thank God for entrusting Joshua to our care. He is a gift and inheritance to us from You. Joshua, we love you! You are our MVP!

Please visit Rock Ministries of Philadelphia's website by clicking here:
Rock Ministry. Please prayerfully considering supporting this ministry.
(They have asked us if they could do a story on this, and we have said yes for His glory alone and to spur others on in good works, just as we have been spurred on by others. Click here for Rock Ministry testimony.)
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."
Hebrews 10:24

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"She Prays and She Listens" - Word of God Speak

"We had to speak the word of God to you first." Acts 13:46

Turn up your speakers to hear this beautiful song by Mercy Me called "Word of God Speak". It is my heart's cry and my passionate prayer for me, my family and our precious friends. (Lyrics are below.)


This bloggette and her family are listening for His voice at Camp of The Woods. See you when we get back!
Joshua's party yesterday was a blast! Pictures from our Birthday party to Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles) when we get back from vacation! We all were able to go on the field, in the Eagles locker room and many fun things! Thank you for your prayers and well wishes! God is good!


Praying this song, too, for all the women at P31 She Speaks Conference.



Word of God Speak
I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say


Word of God speak

Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness

Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

1 Peter 4:11