Soul Scents

Periodically I fall into something really good, and when I do, I always try to share. Recently I fell into something good for the soul. It's called Soul Scents.

Paula Moldenhauer is a wife, a mother of four, a homeschool mom, a writer, and a passionate worshipper. My kind of gal. The stuff she writes is honest, real, and powerful. AND, she delivers!!! If you don't have time to check a site regularly, she'll send her stuff straight to you, and trust me, it is good food for the soul.

I don't know how I came across Soul Scents, but I'm glad I did, and if you check it out, you'll be glad you did, too.



What is and What Could Be

I found this roaming around my draft list. It is so pertinent to where I am right now that I had to share it with you.

The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.- Charles Du Bos


Thank you FCHN!

I want to thank the wonderful members of FCHN who invited me to share with them about encouragement. I had such a lovely time. The food was delicious, and the fellowship was fantastic. You folks certainly know how to make a gal feel welcome, and I hope to hang out with y'all again soon.

Be blessed!


TV Theology

This morning my son invited me to the couch so we could watch some TV together and snuggle. This is prime time, folks, so I followed him into the TV room, and we made ourselves comfy and hit the button on the remote. Nothing.


I pushed the "source" button. Nothing.

I turned the DVD player off and rebooted it. Nothing.

I turned the DVR box off and on. Nothing.

Finally, in an act of frustration--there was no desperation but definite frustration--I called WonderMan on his cell phone. Our conversation went something like this:

"The TV won't work."

"Is it on?"

Trying to curb my tone, "Yes."

"Change the source button."

"I did. Nothing."

"Are you sure it is in the right place?" I read the "source" information to him. "Huh. Try the DVD box."

"Turned it off and rebooted it."

"You know you have to reset it."

"There is nothing to reset. There are no words on the screen asking me to pick a language. There is nothing."

"Huh. Have you....?" He told me to do everything I had already done. Then a lightbulb went on. "Is it just black?'


"Then that channel isn't working. Change the channel."

I hit the channel up button, and lo and behold, TV!

I was glad to get the TV going, but I confess, I was a bit annoyed. I'm old enough to remember when we had four channels to watch, and you know what? I never had to call tehnical help to find out how to pull the on/off button out or push it in. I never had to call anyone to find out how to turn the knob to change the channels. It was so much simpler.

Some argue TV is better now because it offers so many options and so much information. Really? Then why do people I talk to complain that they have 100s of channels with nothing to see on them? Seems like it offers a bunch of distractions that encourage us to sit in our comfy spots instead of getting out and getting involved in life. Some call it escape. I tend to think it is hiding, but that is my opinion. Take it for what the Holy Spirit says it is worth.

Personally, simple works for me.

This morning I was sitting in my comfy spot having my quiet time, and I asked the Lord simply, "What do you want to speak to me?" He took me to the last chapter of Matthew. I've read it several times, but I truly believed it was of God so I read it again.

The chapter tells of Jesus being tried, condemned, crucified, buried, and raised again. It tells how He made His resurrection known to people, but some still doubted. It also ends simply: Then Jesus came to them and said, "18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Does theology get any easier than that?

--Jesus has all authority.

--Make disciples. Folks need to learn to be like Jesus. thsi step is learning our try identities, becoming who we were truly created to be. We were created for His glory. In being disciples we learn how to glorify the Father.

--Baptizing them. EVERYONE should be baptized. Notice the baptizing comes after the acceptance of Christ.

--Teach them to obey everything I commanded. That sounds daunting, but it isn't. What did Jesus command? Love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our mind and with all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourself. In short, Jesus' command is simple--LOVE!

Too simple? Like a 4-channel TV set? Well, it has the essential information, and it doesn't waste my time on opinion, debates, and unnecessary information. AND it puts the responsibility to act back on me. It doesn't allow me a comfy spot where I can live vicariously through others. It doesn't give me the opportunity to channel surf because I don't like what's on. Instead, it says simply, "Jesus is the one in charge, and He says I am responsible for developing a relationship with God and growing in it. " No place to hide there, is there?

Yep, simple works for me.

Praying the Lord keeps reminding me of the power of simple faith especially when others tell me complicated is better...


A Word

I am taking a break. I will be speaking to a group of homeschool parents Thursday night. My topic, which I love, is encouragement. I'll discuss the biblical principle of encouragement, the difference between encouragement and praise, the power of encouragement, the negatives of praise by itself, and how to make encouragement a daily act of ministry.

As I said, I love this topic because it has the power to change a live, and it really takes so little effort.

I have had the opportunity to speak/teach on this topic in the past. I've taught on this in a class series. I've taught onit at a women's breakfast. I've also taught on it at a women's retreat. I'll be honest, the class series was a bust. People really didn't see the need for this skill. Sad. The women's breakfast was a joy. I knew the women. I loved them then and love them now. The one that struck me the most, though, was the women's retreat. It was powerful, and it really had far more to do with God than it did me. I was the vessel, but truly, what happened there was beyond what mortal words could accomplish. When I start thinking my abilities are about me, I always think back to that and remember that God did a work beyond anything I could do.

It has been awhile since I've done public speaking. I still love it. I can't even explain it. It's like taking a deep breath of the purest air imaginable. It really is life within me. Still, there are times when I start to get nervous. After having the chance to teach at length on this topic, I have 45 minutes this week, and I've never been known for being brief. That is a bit unnerving. Plus, there are simply so many things I want to say. I want these parents to understand the power they have to influence their children simply by the words they choose to use. I feel such urgency to present examples and stories and...

It is really easy to get caught up in what I want to convey, what I want them to know, what I want them to understand, so I take a break periodically and stop. I stop and get still and ask, "Lord, what do you want them to hear? What do you want them to know?" It isn't what Jerri says or what Jerri thinks that will affect these families. It is what God says both through the words and through the Spirit that will make the difference.

I know that. I've seen the truth of it repeatedly in my speaking and home life. Truly, God's word supercedes mine everytime. Still, we are told in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth." In other words, if you hope to hear the words of God coming out of your mouth, you better spend the time putting them into your heart, which I better get back to doing.

Praying I never grow lazy in putting the Word of God in my heart so He can put the right words in my mouth to speak to other people's hearts...


You Can Say That Again

I like quotes. This is one I find to be true in virtually every human endeavor. Of course, God can jump in and change things whenever He wants, but as a rule....

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going."- Beverly Sills


Wearing Down

I'm tired. I'm so tired I ache. It isn't so much what I did today either. It is what I have done for the last three days. On Sunday WonderMan and I worked in the yard. We got lots of good work done, and I got some plants rearranged and my seeds down in one bed before the rain started Sunday night. That was good. My back, however, wasn't thrilled. Yesterday the children and I spent over three hours doing errands and buying groceries. It really wasn't a hard day, but with an already tender back, it had some rough consequences last night. Today, the children made banana bread, and I swept up after them and swept the other tile floors in the house. I also did some work in the sun room. When I realized I couldn't get everything organized I needed put away, I decided to make the much needed shelves. WonderMan had already cut the wood. It simply needed to be screwed together and painted. The children helped, which was a blessing, but it still meant a lot of bending and stooping, and now, I am paying the price for my industrious efforts.

If I continue at this pace, I could end up with bulging discs again. I spent 8 weeks in misery before because I didn't know when to quit pushing my limits. I still deal with consequences of that delusional perception of immortality.

Too often I think we don't realize the effects of seemingly negligible behavior. Physically, as an athlete, I was taught a real athletes plays with pain and never gripes. Real athletes also often face surgeries, life-time pain, and drug problems due to damage that cannot be fixed. While I believe God used basketball as part of my sanity, I still find it a highly questionable risk.

Spiritually, we risk far more when we begin to dabble in areas that seem inconsequential. One flirtatious joke. One date with someone who doesn't share our values. One trip to that club on the outskirts of town because that is where everyone at the office is going. One lie about one's income. One. Just one. I spent one day working in the flower beds. Did it ruin my back? No, but it sure made it susceptible to further injury. The problem is, though, I develop a false security. One time didn't hurt me. Surely I'll be fine doing this. Then comes the rationalization and the second time.

The second joke. The second date. Second trip to the club. The second lie.

Still, I'm a little sore, but I'm doing okay, and it felt good to get those things done. Just like the flirting feels good. The attention feels good. Watching those women (or men) feels good. Having a bigger bank account feels good.

At what point does the delusion that I am doing no damage stop? When I am in an MRI machine finding out whether I'll need surgery? When the flirting becomes kissing or when the kissing becomes intercourse? When the date becomes adulterous or an unequally yoked marriage? Maybe when the fantasies make it nearly impossible to work or maybe when your wife-or worse, your child-finds the porn on your computer or under your bed? Before or after the IRS audits you and takes all you own or sends you to jail?

It doesn't even have to be "the big stuff" listed above. Shopping, eating, coffee with the girls, cleaning, not cleaning...Anything that takes your heart from God and the ministry He has for you both inside your house and has to be seen for what it is. It is sin, and sin leads to destruction.

It destroys families, children, relationships, companies...individuals.

When does the reality of the consequences of our actions become painful enough that we can no longer ignore, but instead, we acknowledge the pain and destruction we are causing and repent of our ways?

Tonight I am taking time to listen to my back. It says my behavior is destructive. I can listen now or be forced to deal with the consequences of my behavior later. Destructive behavior cannot be ignored forever.

Praying the Quiet Voice whispers loud enough that I can never ignore it...and never want to...


I've Fallen, and I Can't Get Up on my Own

I have this tendency not to write when life becomes "intense", which really means when I feel I am spending more time picking gravel out of my knees because I just fell again than I am actually moving forward.

My friend Iona is amazing to me. She can be so completely transparent about her victories, encouragement, discouragement, and failings. Today I was reading a book by Lisa Whelchel (www.LisaWhelchel.com), and she talked about her failings and weaknesses a lot more openly than most folks I know. Folks who can lay their heart out there for all to see amaze me.

Now, the irony is that I have been told repeatedly that the strength of my writing is in my willingness to be transparent and vulnerable. People want to know they are not the only ones who struggle, tumble, and pick gravel from their knees. Of course, I can only speak for me, but I like to know I'm not in this struggle alone, and I doubt I am the only one who feels that way.

As I sat here and thought about that, I think there are primarily two groups of people who like to know they are not alone in the "gravel picking" department. I think the first group likes to point at others' failures and use them as excuses for how they are. Perhaps that is cynical. I tend to think some folks call things cynical because the truth of the statement hits too close to home, but then, I could be cynical about that as well. Anyway, the second group that likes to know they aren't alone in picking gravel are the ones who desire to be the best they can be, to be a good and faithful servant. Sometimes it is nice to know that even those who "have it all together" really don't. It gives us hope that we are not beyond change. It helps us be encouraged that someday we won't trip over that same rock...again. Somehow knowing others struggle make us feel less like failures and more like works in progress.

In theory, we shouldn't need anyone else to help us with that. The Bible says that He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). Paul says he moves forward to take hold of the prize, not that he already has, but that he is in the process (Philippians 3). In fact, Paul says the following:

8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things..."

Yesterday was one of those days that left me lying face down on the path to eternity, and while it involved an abundance of humility, it was not an act of worship that put me there.

Simply stated, things that were unresolved built up to ungodly levels (Note that if things are not addressed and settled to the glory of God, they are unresolved at an ungodly level, so we had long since taken a flying leap into ungodly levels of unresolved issues). The result was an even more ungodly explosion of anger, hurt, and accusations. Beloved Husband is out of town, so he didn't see the full display, but he heard it. By the time the children went to bed, they had ample opportunity to witness Mommy repenting and explaining that even when someone hurts you or makes you angry, voices elevated to high decibel levels are not the way to handle the situation. The children were forgiving. Beloved Hubby understood the root issues and was forgiving, and when the dust had settled, I lay in the floor and cried.

I hadn't just stumbled. I had taken a header, and from what I could see, I was pretty disfigured. I emailed my friend MaryB and confessed everything. She was loving and kind, and then said the most Realistic thing she could. She said, "But I say, 'Get up. He sees your tears. He knows your humanity. He also knows your familiy's humanity. And He loves because He truly knows YOU.'"

Sounds a lot like Paul, in my opinion. Perhaps Paul's words could be paraphrased, "Instead of lying on the floor crying because I blew it, I get up and move on because I know my righteousness is not dependent on my ability because I have none. My righteousness is dependent on my faith in Christ Jesus who has already become righteousness for me. He is already my perfection, and I am in the process of becoming like Him. I'm not like Him yet, and I won't get there by lying on the floor crying. I choose to press on with faith in Him to make me who He has said I am."

So I embraced Mary's directive, and I got off the floor. I blew it yesterday. I blew it some today. I'm in the process.

You know what really makes me stop and think, though? What utterly fascinates me in all this is my real role in this process. Do you notice that Paul never mentions what he can do to overcome all of his failures? Paul has no four-point plan on how to modify his behavior or stop committing a particular sin. To the contrary, Paul says he recognizes that he will never achieve anything on his own, and his solution is not to "modify" the flesh but to let it die. In fact, Paul considers any effort he can make for his own righteousness to be rubbish, and instead, longs to embrace the absolute necessity of righteousness through Christ as the only means to eternal life. Paul is completely convinced he can do nothing for himself.

So where does change come from? In the two scriptures I just mentioned, we find two simple answers:
1. Dying with Christ and taking His righteousness.
2. Letting God do His job and get out of His way. Notice that Paul does not say, "And if you work really hard, you'll finally get there." No, Paul said that the Father, who began a good work in you, is faithful to complete it.

The last thing I want to mention as a necessity is the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12: 1 and 2 say, " 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. "

How is your mind renewed?
1. Dying to yourself and living in Christ.
2. Letting God do His work in you.
3. Letting the Holy Spirit lead you into all truth (John 16:13).

I won't tell you it is an easy journey. It's not. It hurts. If it were easy, every human being would be flocking to it. However, if you want answers, I got those. I have ALL the answers because I know there is only one Answer, and even when I am lying on my face in the gravel where I just fell over the most obvious rock in the world, He is still the Answer, and when I call to Him, He is faithful to answer.

Praying you remeber that even when the questions are hard or you think you might be bombing your test, there is only one Answer, and He is faithful to answer you when you call to Him...