christafowler

What I'm learning about love, life, family, and God…

Talking fast March 31, 2016

Filed under: General,Uncategorized — christafowler @ 6:30 am
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Yes, I do talk fast, especially when called upon to rehearse announcements at church.  For some reason, I find it my personal mission to make “announcements” the most exciting part of the morning.  *Sigh*

As I was reading Proverbs 31 (in the Amplified Bible) this morning, I came across verses 26 & 27 and almost became weary…  **In reality, it was the Holy Spirit giving correction to this area of my life.**

“She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel & instruction].”  (Verse 26)

Initially, I thought, “Yep, that’s me.  I often give counsel and instruction.”  Kids, church members, extended family, and my husband often receive some sort of counsel and instruction from me.  In fact, I’m asked quite often for my opinion on things.  But, then, I read on…

“She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.” (Verse 27)

Excuse me while I go and wipe the bread of idleness off my mouth.  I have a few crumbs left over…

Hand over mouth

So, as I was confessing my shortcomings to the Lord in this area of my life, I wrote in my journal…”Maybe I should go on a “talking only when necessary” fast.  You know, like a “fast from food,” but instead of food, WORDS!  As I prayed through this, I realized (OBVIOUSLY) that I can’t walk through my day without talking at all.  Everyone will think I’ve lost my mind or am seriously upset.  However, I am going to do a few things before I speak:

  1. Think first (duh, right?)
  2. Consider the best way to communicate my point of view
  3. Those bread of idleness words will not be given a chance to rise… gossip, discontent, and self-pity, will not even exit my mouth: With God’s help, of course.
  4. Put on a smile

This is a difficult task, for sure, but I’m believing what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible.”

I’ll let you know how it goes…🙂

 

But God November 16, 2015

Filed under: God Stories,Uncategorized — christafowler @ 7:10 am

Mortality is not something I ponder on a regular basis.  In fact, it’s something I don’t often think about except when another young mom passes away and leaves a husband and kids behind.  Then, I worry about all the details after my inevitable death, not so much in the way I will die.  To say I was close to death last Friday night (November 13, 2015) is not an understatement in any way.

Women of Purpose…  Whew.  What a start to a conference all day on Friday.  My lovely friends and I had a blast learning, worshipping, and growing closer to the Lord, and I just dropped them off at our church (thankfully) and was on my way back home for the evening.  As I was approaching a traffic light, another woman turned left to get on another highway right in front of me, and there was no time to stop.  I slammed on my brakes, screamed, and braced myself for the worst.  CRASH!  I hit her passenger side and completely crushed the front of my van.  When I came to, I rushed out of my van, ran to her vehicle, which was pinned to the guide rail overlooking the highway below, and tried to open her doors to no avail.  A nice man came, calmed me down, and we called 911.  In MOMENTS (whew, very fast response), police, fire rescue, and ambulances came to our aid.

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My husband, Josh, came to get me after our gracious neighbors came to stay with our kids as they peacefully slept.  As we sat on the couch and I relived the experience with Josh, we just took some time to recount God’s faithfulness in this situation.  SO MANY variables could have made this accident so much worse, BUT GOD.  There’s no other way to dress it up pretty…  BUT GOD.

~ I had no other passengers… BUT GOD

~ I wasn’t distracted (my phone was in my purse behind my seat) or going too fast (if you know me, this is a MIRACLE!)…BUT GOD

~ The other vehicle had no other passengers… BUT GOD

~ I don’t have to buy new car seats because I took them out to fit everyone riding with me to the conference… BUT GOD

I woke up Saturday morning with a little boy snuggling in my arms and a song on my heart… “He’s ALWAYS Been Faithful.”  While it could have been “my time,” He’s not finished with me.  I still have a mandate, a job to do for His honor and glory.  I still get to cuddle and love my kids.  I still get to rest in the strong arms of my husband.  I still get to be blessing.  I still get to teach.  I still get to write and learn.  I still get drive.  I still get to sing.  He’s ALWAYS Been Faithful…

While there are still some unanswered questions as to insurance and adjusters and appraisers and other things I don’t know much about because I’m new at this whole “accident” thing, we’re believing God for continued faithfulness.  We need a new van (because we see that even a full-size car doesn’t fit our three car seats) at the RIGHT price.  We’re praying for favor in the eyes of the insurance adjusters.  Would you pray with us?  While we don’t worry because we know our lives are not our own and in the hands of our able Father, we still do have concerns.

 

***UPDATE 2-26-16…  I have recovered FULLY and can even drive without too much anxiety when coming to the intersection!  We LOVE our “new to us” Buick Terazza mini-van and are still awaiting some settlements with cleanup of the accident.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued prayers, love, and support.

 

Undivided August 31, 2015

Filed under: God Stories — christafowler @ 6:06 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but I just have to share what’s on my heart.  May my words be graced with love and challenge from His Word and heart.

James 1:6-8, “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”

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I don’t know about you, but that is a challenging passage for me.  Too often, I find myself with divided loyalties or being “doubled-minded” as the King James Version puts it, and quite frankly, I’m tired.  I’m tired of trying to do things on my own without the power of Holy Spirit.  I’m tired of failing.  I’m tired of playing games with my life in Jesus.  I’m tired of knowing what I should do but just don’t “feel like it.”  I’m tired of being the outward “good girl.”  Many times, I can hide what’s going on in the deepest part of myself all the while putting on a good, clean show.  Ever been there?

This passage says that people like me “should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  Ouch, right?  While I’m totally convinced that God is sovereign and heals, protects, and is faithful no matter what we do, I’m sensing that He requires FULL loyalty.  He requires a person to be completely in love with Him, trusting Him with their life, their kids’ lives, their futures.

Do you have divided loyalties?  Maybe you think, well, I don’t have to go to church all the time, right?

OR, I can give a bit here and there, but 10% as a tithe, yeah right!

OR, I serve the church and community, but you can’t expect me to do it with a good attitude or with right motives while I’m at it!

OR, I’m not a “minister.” I can’t share Jesus with just anyone!

All of those answers are, I believe completely off-base and can indicate a heart with divided loyalties.  If I care more about what other people think than I do about whether or not the Lord is pleased, my heart is divided.  If I “serve” all the while grumbling in my heart of all the things I’d rather be doing, my heart is divided.  If I give a token offering in the plate rather than sacrificially giving as the Lord has led me, my heart is divided.

And, when my heart is divided, the scripture is clear…  I cannot expect to “receive anything from the Lord.”  Do you feel like your prayers have fallen on deaf ears?  Check your heart.  Do you not see the breakthroughs you think you should?  Check your heart.  Do you not have peace? Check your heart.  Remember He is not a God of the piece…  He’s the God of the WHOLE.  Our WHOLE heart.  Our WHOLE soul.  Our WHOLE mind.  Our WHOLE strength.

This is not a one-time issue, though.  I’m finding that because I am human, sinful, prone to temptation, I need to check myself pretty often.  And, it’s not a guilt thing.  It’s a LOVE thing.  My husband wouldn’t be pleased if I only gave him some of or even most of my love in our marriage and shared it with other men. (He doesn’t share well…😉 )  The same is true for the Lord.  He so desires our WHOLE loyalty and devotion.

This struggle against a divided heart is real, especially in the world we live.  Jobs, friends, family, social media, entertainment and such all aren’t inherently sinful or bad, but when they take us away from our love for Christ and His Word and ways, we need to take a step back and reevaluate our priorities.  May we all have the same prayer, I know I sure do…

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”  Psalm 86:11

 

My Dash… Your Dash… May 10, 2015

Filed under: God Stories — christafowler @ 2:00 pm

I had the privilege of sharing with our church family this morning, so I thought I would share a good portion of it on here just for those who may need an extra encouragement and challenge!  :)  Here it goes!!

 

Throughout the Bible, there are stories of individuals who have had to go through some pretty difficult life circumstances, not by their own decision many times, but with the Lord’s help, came out either victorious or with incredible favor from the Lord.

 

In Judges, Jephthah, a mighty warrior and the son of a prostitute, was banished from his tribe and ridiculed by his brothers. Later, his brothers and tribe got themselves into some trouble and begged him to come back and lead them into war, defeating the Ammonites and actually becoming a leader among the Israelites and his brothers.

 

Job was tested. He was a man with a prestigious position being a wealthy man with thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. The Lord allowed Job to be tested, and Satan destroyed Job’s children, servants, livestock, and home, but Job trusted God. He had painful sores covering his body, and his wife and friends were no encouragement to him, but Job trusted God. In the end, Job was restored to full health and EVEN more possessions than before, but he STILL trusted God.

 

Jesus, our Lord who ministered with friends who betrayed him, who was accused of things that He didn’t do, and who was put to death for crimes and sins he didn’t commit…. This was the ultimate of difficult times, but He was indeed VICTORIOUS over death and is now seated at the right hand of the Father praying for OUR victory!

 

Read Genesis 37:16-36 (Joseph’s brothers sell him)

  • I’m sure Joseph had a pride problem. He boasted to his older brothers about the incredible dreams he had. Even his father, Jacob, warned Joseph of his pride.
  • The jealousy and bitterness that the brothers held in their heart, was eating away at them, similar to a poison. This sin led to more sin to more sin, and MORE sin.   This is why it’s SO important to ask the Lord’s help for “heart” issues.

 

Read Genesis 39 (Rise in Potiphar’s house and the deceit of Potiphar’s wife)

  • As Joseph reached his destination in Egypt, we see his life in slavery had it’s ups and downs, trials, tragedies, as well as triumphs. No matter WHERE Joseph was serving, the Bible is clear that, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.” I don’t know about you, but I’d be tempted to be bitter and demand retribution for the wrong that had been done to me. “It’s not fair!” Would be a phrase that would most likely plague my soul.
  • I don’t believe this happened by accident. Yes, Joseph was wronged, but I do believe by studying the scriptures that he was man of integrity, one who forgave while still hurt, and chose to bring LIFE rather than DEATH to those around him.

Read Genesis 40 (Baker and cup-bearer’s dreams… the cup-bearer FORGETS about Joseph.)

  • Joseph interpreted these dreams with knowledge that only comes from the Lord and STILL the cup-bearer forgets him. How frustrating!
  • It seems Joseph had the understanding that being bitter and mad at the world only turns people away. Being one who is filled with God’s sweet fragrance of grace will attract, bless, and most importantly draw people to the Lord.

Read Genesis 41 (Joseph interprets Pharoh’s dream and is placed 2nd in command in Egypt.)

  • Somewhere along the way, it seems that the Lord had dealt with Joseph’s issue with pride. Through his trials of being sold, wrongly accused, and thrown into jail, he realized that God was and is his source… God was and is his advocate… God was and still is faithful.
  • Before even hearing Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph declared, “It is beyond my power to do this… But, God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
  • While I’m sure Joseph had his share of missteps, it is clear that God was with him and gave him favor to redeem the mistakes of his brothers.
  • He was placed second in command with full knowledge that he needed a plan to sustain the region for the famine that was to come.
  • Can you imagine? Sold by your brothers, made a slave, rising to take leadership in Potiphar’s household, wrongly accused of rape, thrown into jail, forgotten by someone he helped, then asked to interpret the dream of the highest official in the land, going from prisoner to prince in a matter of moments. What a life lived and he was still a young man!

 

But, the story continues. Because his family was experiencing famine, the brothers traveled to Egypt and was met by Joseph who extended grace by giving them food and ultimately offered parcels of land right outside of Egypt to raise their own families.

 

Sounds like a great ending to the story, right? It would have been, but as scriptures tell, the 12 sons of Jacob grow up, marry, raise their families in Egypt, and become the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

But, many years and generations later, a Pharaoh came into power who did not remember Joseph and his great service to Egypt. This Pharaoh was more concerned that the Israelites would become greater than Egypt. So, as found in Exodus 1:11, “So they [the Egyptians] put slave masters over them [the Israelites] to oppress them with forced labor.” Verses 12 and 13 go on to say, “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.”

  • Let’s think back to that day MANY years and generations earlier when some bitter brothers made a tragic decision. They caused harm not only to their immediate family but eventually to the entire nation of Israel.
  • The effects of their bad decision haunted generations because they lived their lives unaware of the consequences that can from one act of disobedience.

 

Our lives matter… What we do with the time between our birth and our death affect generations to come.

The Dash
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996

​I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
​the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

​So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

 

After all is said and done, it’s the generations after us that will reap what we sow. Whether it be in how we take care of God’s outdoor creation, how we talk to our children, how we respect authority, how we spend our money, and how vibrant and faithful our relationship with the Lord was, is truly the legacy we leave. Talk is cheap, but putting that talk into practice is priceless.

 

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that He does have an incredible plan for us and for generations to come. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 

And, yes that sounds oh so good! And, yes, it’s true. But, when we put it into context with the verses that follow we can see the call not only to trust God with these plans but to have peace in knowing He carries us through. “‘In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.’”

 

This promise of deliverance and restoration was made initially to the Israelites who lived in slavery and captivity simply because of their repeated choice not to follow the LORD wholeheartedly. Sounds quite a bit like me, how about you? But, as we walk each day with the intentionality of serving, obeying, and ultimately loving our Heavenly Father, the legacy we leave behind will be incredible.

 

I have a responsibility today. My responsibility is to lead you to the truth found only in God’s word. But, that’s where my job ends. It’s your responsibility to:

  • 1st ask for forgiveness because we ALL have dark spots on our souls that need a cleaning.
  • Then, when we have repented of our bitterness, complaints, and whatever else is keeping us from an ABUNDANT life in Christ, we can ask for the strength to withstand the tests that come our way. God does allow us to walk through things are difficult for us to handle so that it brings us closer to Him, relying on Him to see us through to victory.

 

“Generations will reap what I sow. I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.”

 

I’m HEALED! March 15, 2015

Filed under: God Stories — christafowler @ 9:20 pm

I’m not one for theatrics, but I just have to share about the GOOD, GRACIOUS HEALING I experienced before church Sunday morning.

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So, not many people knew this about me, but over the last few months, I have been dealing with tendinitis (I’m pretty sure) and carpal tunnel syndrome (which I know for sure) in my right arm and hand.  It has been painful to type, to pull drinks out of our fridge, to handwrite, and to play the piano, which quite frankly, has been the most devastating aspect of this ailment.  Saturday night, our family and another family went bowling, and we had a BLAST!!  It was a ton of fun, but I felt the nerves in my right hand instantly twinge on that first throw of the ball.  My heart sank.  I knew I was in for a doozy of game, but I kept my cool and bowled the night away (I got a 108… with bumpers😉 ).

Since I lead worship from the piano at church, I was fearful of what the morning would bring in terms of pain, and unfortunately, I was correct.  My hand was numb and very painful when I tried to stretch it during worship practice.  After we were finished, the men on the worship team laid hands on my hurting hand and prayed in faith for my healing.  “You say to the mountain ‘be removed’ and so it shall be…  we say, ‘this hand is healed in Jesus’ name,” one man prayed confidently.

I went onto my other morning tasks, one of which was to take a full pitcher of water down the steps for the kids’ snacks later that morning.  Halfway down the stairs, I realized I felt absolutely no pain!  I ran down the steps, put the pitcher down and circled my wrist, NO PAIN!  I went upstairs, played the piano, NO PAIN!  I brought home a gallon of milk, walked up to our kitchen, and still, NO PAIN!

I serve a God who heals BIG and SMALL things!  May this continue to increase my own personal faith in a God who does impossible things!

I’m HEALED!

 

Not a cheap imitation January 14, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — christafowler @ 1:45 pm


Oh my sweet little boy…  He LOVES to mimic and imitate others.  Just this morning, after we took the girls to school, I had time to eat my sugary cereal.  SCORE!  Well, my guy wanted some in a bowl, too.  I went to refill my bowl (just to use up the milk because I don’t like drinking cereal milk, but I just don’t like it to go to waste), and I then stood up, leaned against the counter and cupboards to finish.  Caleb toddles down from his chair, just to stand by me and finish his cereal too.  As he looked up at me, I sensed a prodding of the Spirit that stirred my heart as if to say, “Just as He imitates you, you should imitate Me.” Whew.  All in a day’s work, right?

When I need him to wear a special kind of shoe (the pair for church and nicer outfits), I’ve found that he’ll be EXCITED to wear them because he thinks they look like “Papa” shoes (just like his papa).  And, if I pull out khakis to for him to wear…  He’ll excitedly proclaim, “Daddy!”  If I could have that heart when it comes to imitating the Lord.

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Too often, I forget that, I too, need to be a mimic and imitator.  Not of other people, per se, but of God. I see all throughout scripture the great attributes and character of our God, but a passage in Romans really brings the message of who to imitate and mimic to life…  Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:2 (NLT)

But, as one reads on, there’s PRACTICAL ways in which this NEW character and imitation come full throttle, starting in verse 9, Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.  Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:9-16 (NLT)

 

Oh my sweet little boy… May I be more than just an example of how to eat a hurried breakfast.

 

He’s still working on me… January 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — christafowler @ 1:26 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I guess one could call it a “dry spell” in which no words, quips, or anecdotes seemed noteworthy in a public forum. In this time, however, the Lord has been doing a work in me. Things surrounding me are not perfect… I’m looking for ideas to remedy a 2 year old who hits frequently, I’m tired and my weight has gone up, my 1st grader doesn’t enjoy school, my kindergartener has “diva-ed” up and is displaying a new attitude. All that aside, He’s still doing a new work.  (My kiddos are TRULY fabulous…  Don’t we all have issues?  But, aren’t they SO cute?)

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John 21:15-17 recounts a conversation between Jesus and Peter… Three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Yes, of course, why certainly, Peter responded three times, “You know that I love You.” Peter was probably insulted by this line of questioning… Didn’t Jesus see him? Didn’t Jesus notice his obvious devotion?

This afternoon, Jesus asked me this same question… “Christa, do you love me?” Why, but of course, Jesus. Don’t you see all I do? Don’t you know my husband is a pastor? Don’t you know I pray with my kids everyday? Don’t you see I lead worship at church? Don’t you see I teach preschool?

But, I failed to recognize the second half of Jesus’ question and command… “Feed my lambs.” Oh, I definitely think I “feed His lambs” by all the glorious things I “do,” but am I missing something? I do believe so.

Are my motives pure?
Do I have a “true heart” for those who are the “least of these?”
Do I go to Him first with my cares and concerns?

I’m committed to being on this journey of finding my place in “feeding His lambs.” Be it my children, on the missionfield abroad, my backyard (literally), at school, at the grocery store… May my heart and actions line up with His.

“He has told you men what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: Only to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

 

 
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