Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the Women's Ministry Team from NorthStar Church have a blessed Christmas! 

We will be back in 2013 with new updates and announcements for the new year! 

Ascents and Descents on the High Road

Read Matthew 2:1-12; see also 1 Samuel 24:8-13; John 21:19; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Habakkuk 3:19

I have enjoyed my journey with You, Lord! You have been so good--teaching, guiding, nudging me in the right direction, even sometimes pulling me along. I know there have been times when I raced ahead of You because I thought I knew a better way. Imagine that! But I always got lost. And there were times when I foolishly ran away from You, only to hit a lot of dead ends. I'm not always a good follower. But You, Lord, are the best Leader!

You have patiently waited for me. You have been faithful to forgive my foolish wanderings. You have blessed all of my efforts and given me a wonderful family and circle of friends. You have placed me in a church that honors and glorifies Your name. And every time it looked to me like things had gone wrong, in the end You showed me a better plan. I know I have a long way to go on this journey. Remind me every day, Lord, that Your way is best. I want to always trust and follow Your lead.
-- Andrew

I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents. In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts. Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path. Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me. Learn to trust Me when things go "wrong." Disruptions to your routine highlight your dependence on Me. Trusting acceptance of trials brings blessings that far outweigh them all.
Walk hand in hand with Me through this day. I have lovingly planned every inch of the way. Trust does not falter when the path becomes rocky and steep. Breathe deep draughts of My Presence, and hold tightly to My hand. Together we can make it!

(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

As you look toward Christmas day, what single event or challenge or relationship in the days ahead seems to call most for you to place your trust in God? How can placing your full trust in your Lord make this Christmas into something extraordinary?

From Jesus Calling Christmas Devotional 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Trust and Love Go Hand in Hand

Read Isaiah 55:3-5; see also Psalm 28:7; 18:1, 2; Isaiah 55:9

I thought I loved You, Lord, but I'm feeling threatened by the upheavals where I work and the loss of family members I leaned on for support. When I committed my life to You, I felt such joy in serving You. I had faith in Your goodness and mercy. So I can't understand why all these bad things are happening to me now. How can I trust You, much less praise You, when my world is falling apart? I feel surrounded by bad news from every quarter. Who will be laid off tomorrow? What loved one will succumb to illness?

I try to keep busy so that I won't have time to think, but I'm tired and I can't seem to find the peace You promise in Your Word. Maybe it's because I use "activity," not just as a shield against discouragement, but as a way to hide from You. I have to admit, I do flee from the discipline of spending time alone with You each day. I'm afraid to face You when I feel so out of sync with Your will for me.
-- Dane

I am your Strength and your Shield. I continually work--sometimes in wondrous ways--to help and protect you. As you put your trust in Me, your heart can leap for Joy! Trusting Me and loving Me go hand in hand. When I search the hearts of My children, what I focus on most of all is the measure of love and trust within them. If you say you love Me but you do not really trust Me--to take care of you and your loved ones, providing what is best in your lives--then your words ring hollow.

To trust Me wholeheartedly, you must rest in My sovereignty: My absolute control over the universe. When circumstances seem to be spinning out of control, it's essential to believe I know what I am doing. I orchestrate every event of your life--including suffering and loss--to benefit you in this world and the next. While you are in the throes of adversity, your greatest challenge is to keep trusting that I am both sovereign and good. Do not expect to understand My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than yours. The best response is simply to thank Me, believing I can bring much good out of the unwanted circumstances. This act of faith will encourage you and glorify Me. I rejoice when My struggling children give thanks to Me in song.

(From Jesus Lives by Sarah Young)

Christmas is a great time for singing, because so many treasured and meaningful carols have been created through the years, just for the season. Regardless of how you're feeling, take a quarter hour or so and sing some of your favorites. Let "Silent Night," or "Angels We Have Heard on High," or "O Holy Night," or any other favorite carol direct your voice and your thoughts to the God who asks you to trust Him.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Trust Him at All Times

Read Proverbs 3:5-6; see also Deuteronomy 33:27; Jeremiah 29:13, 14; Matthew 1:18-24

Lord, it has been one of those weeks. The car has been making a funny noise, and the mechanic is claiming that only a costly repair can fix it. My daughter needs dental work that will run into the thousands. The athletic director has asked me to help organize a team fund-raiser, my boss moved a project deadline up two weeks, and my in-laws announced they'll be visiting for three days starting tomorrow. 

Overwhelmed? Yes. So much so that I just want to curl up in bed until next week. Or next year.

I know, God, that You have blessed me richly. I know that You provide for my needs. I have a car, after all. I have healthy children. The school places confidence in me, my boss relies on me, and my in-laws enjoy visiting. Why then, does my trust waver when demands pile up? Why is it so difficult to peel my eyes away from my circumstances and rest on Your promises?

Renew my faith, Lord. Pull my focus from the swirling whirlwind of chaos to the calm of Your presence. I need to know that I can come to You for peace in the midst of the craziness and trust that You'll bring me through.
-- Nathan

I am taking care of you. Trust Me at all times. Trust Me in all circumstances. Trust Me with all your heart. When you are weary and everything seems to be going wrong, you can still utter these four words: "I trust You, Jesus." By doing so, you release matters into My control, and you fall back into the security of My everlasting arms. Before you arise from your bed in the morning, I have already arranged the events of your day. Every day provides many opportunities for you to learn My ways and grow closer to Me. Signs of My Presence brighten even the dullest day when you have eyes that really see. Search for Me as for hidden treasure. I will be found by you.

(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Put yourself in Joseph's shoes for a moment. Mary, your fiancée, has come to you bearing news that she's pregnant. You know you're not the father, and Mary claims the child is the offspring of the Holy Spirit. You love her, but her story is so . . . utterly unbelievable. And then God shows up in the night and instructs you to marry the girl and give her son the name "Jesus." It's a moment of truth, a moment of trust. If you obey, surely you will hear the whispered gossip of those who also disbelieve Mary's story. What makes you trust God and obey? What consequences might you have to endure for your obedience? And how can these insights help you today, in your real life?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Stay in Touch

Read Job 19:25-27; see also Matthew 2:13-23; Psalm 18:33; Habakkuk 3:17-19

Dearest Jesus, You know I want to do so much for You and for those I love. But things just keep going wrong, and I cannot seem to stem the tide of failure. I am clumsy and slow. My efforts seem to cause damage rather than relieve pain. The words I say in comfort come out flat, lacking consolation. The service I render feels inadequate--a single drop of rain in a desert of need. What I lack in skill, I try to make up for in effort, in the hopes that expending twice as much time and energy will bring many more results. Yet the needs remain and no one is satisfied. It is frustrating to feel so ineffective when my greatest desire is to help others.

When will I see something positive for my efforts, Lord? You know my heart. You know my desire to serve You. And You know how hard it is to see things falling apart around me. I long for my life to be marked by successes rather than by failures.
-- Ava

When things seem to be going all wrong, stop and affirm your trust in Me. Calmly bring these matters to Me, and leave them in My capable hands. Then, simply do the next thing. Stay in touch with Me through thankful, trusting prayers, resting in My sovereign control. Rejoice in Me--exult in the God of your salvation! As you trust in Me, I make your feet like the feet of a deer. I enable you to walk and make progress upon your high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility.

(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

If you had created the universe, would you have sent Your Son into a warped and sinful world . . . as a helpless infant? Would you have given Him into the care of a desperately poor teenager and her peasant fiancé? Would you have forced this young couple to take a long and uncomfortable trip just before her delivery date? Would you have allowed a murderous king to attempt an assassination of Your Son? Yet our loving God allowed all these things. Why do you suppose He did so? What was the point?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Devotions Continue........

Read Jeremiah 33:15-16; see also Ephesians 5:15, 16; Psalm 119:105

Thank You, Lord God, for these precious minutes of peace and quiet that You have provided. The week has been crazy and busy thus far; and with the weight of stress on my mind, there is nothing I need more at this time than a quiet moment in Your presence. When life's problems surround me, I'm prone to neglect You and rely on my own instincts--only later to discover the extent of my foolishness. You'd think I'd have learned by now what a waste of time my fretting is, how pointless my "wisdom" is.

But I'm still on the learning curve, Lord! That's why I am so marvelously grateful for Your patience with me. I stumble in my walk with You, yet You never turn away. I go astray again and again, yet You remain right beside me. You are a God who is worthy of all my confidence. Give me a desire to know You and Your Word so thoroughly that I may always trust Your plans for me. And from here on out, would You please persuade me to come to You early on? I never need to worry when I am in Your hands.
-- Julie

Relax in My healing, holy Presence. Allow Me to transform you through this time alone with Me. As your thoughts center more and more on Me, trust displaces fear and worry. Your mind is somewhat like a seesaw. As your trust in Me goes up, fear and worry automatically go down. Time spent with Me not only increases your trust; it also helps you discern what is important and what is not. Energy and time are precious, limited entities. Therefore, you need to use them wisely, focusing on what is truly important. As you walk close to Me, saturating your mind with Scripture, I will show you how to spend your time and energy. My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path.

(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Take a little time to remind yourself how God has come through for you in Christmas seasons' past. What answered prayers can you remember? Perhaps it was a healed relationship, or some funds arriving just in time, or a safe trip despite terrible weather. Whatever it might be, thank God for it again--and use the memories to quell any worry you might be feeling this yuletide season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trusting in His Sheltering Presence

Read Genesis 49:8-10; see also Psalm 90:1; 91:1, 2; 36:7; 118:8, 9; Proverbs 11:28

You are a mighty and awesome God with all-surpassing power. I know that. I believe that! I remember the stories of how You kept the lions from harming Daniel, and how the flames in the blazing furnace didn't touch Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego. And how could I ever forget the way you gave David the strength and courage to fight Goliath? But sometimes, Lord, I wonder. When I see all of the evil in the world and the innocent people who are often hurt by it, I wonder. When I hear about car accidents, or a fire that destroyed a family home, or a father of six who lost his job, I wonder. I wonder if I should live more carefully. I wonder if I should save more money or look for a better job. I wonder if I can really trust You. I wonder if You will protect me.

I'm scared, Lord. Sometimes I stay home instead of venturing out because I'm afraid of what might happen. I've missed many adventures for this reason, and yet I keep catching myself reacting out of fear instead of faith. I long to be confident that You are watching over me. I want to rest in Your loving embrace and feel safe in Your Presence. I desire to live boldly for You. Please help me understand how.
-- Marlon

Rest in the assurance of My sheltering Presence that keeps you safe. Let My promises of protection strengthen and comfort you--like huge heavenly bells pealing out ancient, changeless truth. I want you to take refuge in My Shaddai-shadow more and more, by placing your trust fully in Me. It is tempting to take shelter in people, money, success, good health. These are blessings from Me, but you must not rely on them. Any or all of them could vanish instantly. The unending protection I offer--refuge in the shadow of My wings--is available to both high and low among men.

In addition, I freely give you the priceless gift of My unfailing Love! Since I offer you so much, it makes sense to put your trust in Me above all else. Listen to the psalmist's proclamation: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes." Solomon, the wisest of all men, wrote: "He who trusts in his riches will fall." Whenever you start to feel anxious, let these feelings serve as a warning that you're putting your trust in the wrong place. You need to stop listening to your worry-thoughts, and instead tell yourself the truth--that I am totally trustworthy. Then turn your attention to Me, saying: "Lord, You're my refuge. I trust in You and I'm safe!"

(From Jesus Lives by Sarah Young)

In this season of joy when we remember the long-ago coming of the Messiah, Jesus, what elements of our modern-day celebration make it tough for you to put your trust in God alone? Wondering how you'll pay for all the gifts you want to buy? Dealing with the frenetic schedule of the holiday season? Whatever those difficulties might be, name them specifically--and then bring each one to the Lord, trusting that He will make this Christmas one to remember . . . for all the right reasons.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Trust as an Adventure

Read Genesis 3:13-15; see also Acts 15:13-18; Psalm 118:24; 1 Peter 2:21

Father, I woke up this morning with a new idea in mind: I want today to be different. So often it seems as though my first waking thought is either, Grr! I didn't get enough sleep or I don't have enough time to get everything done today. And right away, my day starts on a negative note. There's no way that this is what You intended for me. So, Father, I want to approach today differently. I want to lay my negative mind-set at the foot of the cross and start fresh with You.

I know I can't do this on my own. I need You, God. I need to view life as You view it and try singing a different song--one of praise, belief, trust, and worship. It would be so great to begin my day excited about the possibilities that each moment holds. Please help me to do this. Help me to live the next twenty-four hours with a spirit of anticipation.
-- Gene

Try to view each day as an adventure, carefully planned out by your Guide. Instead of staring into the day that is ahead of you, attempting to program it according to your will, be attentive to Me and to all I have prepared for you. Thank Me for this day of life, recognizing that it is a precious, unrepeatable gift. Trust that I am with you each moment, whether you sense My Presence or not. A thankful, trusting attitude helps you to see events in your life from My perspective. A life lived close to Me will never be dull or predictable. Expect each day to contain surprises! Resist your tendency to search for the easiest route through the day. Be willing to follow wherever I lead. No matter how steep or treacherous the path before you, the safest place to be is by My side.
(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

To what "adventure" might God be calling you this Christmas season? What is He doing in your life right now that seems a little different, a little out of the ordinary, maybe even a little surprising? Make this a matter of prayer and ask the Lord what new thing He might want to do in your life this Christmas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Create a Spiritual Vision Board

Have you ever created a Vision Board? You’ve probably seen one on Oprah before…it’s a collage of images carefully selected to represent the things, people, experiences and feelings you want to attract or create in your life.  The idea is that the Vision Board serves as a visual reminder of our dreams and goals and helps us turn those thoughts into reality. Even the process of creating a Vision Board enables us to consciously dedicate our attention to the kind of life we want to live.

Several years ago, I began making Spiritual Vision Boards – colorful collages or art boards that center around a scripture quote or life verse. The process is somewhat of a spiritual retreat for me, and the outcome is a daily reminder of my commitment to living my faith.

Here’s how to make one of your own:

Step 1: Select a scripture quote. Any Bible verse that seems to be calling your name. Don’t overthink this part. You can make it easy and choose my verse if you want!

Step 2: Gather your supplies: a poster board or art journal; paint, markers or colored pencils; magazines, stickers or colorful paper; glue stick, rubber cement or craft paste; any images or phrases that inspire you. Some great resources are greeting cards, Christian magazines such as P31 Woman and materials from Bible studies you’ve attended.

Step 3: Set the tone. Play some inspirational Christian music. Light a candle or use your favorite essential oil for aromatherapy. Be sure you have an hour of time where you will be uninterrupted so you can fully immerse yourself in the creative process and use the time to reflect on God’s message.

Step 4: Create! Start wherever you feel most comfortable – you may want to paint or sketch an image on your poster board or journal paper. Or you may prefer to flip through the magazines and tear out images and words that resonate with you and arrange them on the board. Just cover your paper, overlapping images and adding decorative items like ribbon or stickers. Be sure to add your life verse somewhere on the board!

Step 5: Reflect. Find a place to hang your Spiritual Vision Board where you will see it daily. Take 10 minutes a day to reflect on the images and say a prayer. My Spiritual Vision Board serves as a daily reminder of my life verse. It invites me to devote my attention to the verse every day and it conjures up memories of the nourishing and rejuvenating retreat I attended.

This is the perfect activity for a girls’ weekend, solo retreat or even a snow day with the kids. Do you have a life verse? Share it with me here (no pressure!).

Today's Blog Post By: Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a mentor to moms who are running a business that supports faith and family. As president and founder of the International Christian Mompreneur Network, she empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace. Join the International Christian Mompreneur Network for free and receive the Ten Commandments of a Mompreneur toolkit! 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

7 Ways To De-stress Your Holidays

‘Tis the season to be merry… and stressed.   Sometimes holiday emotions make us feel more tangled up than lights on the Christmas tree, no matter how we feel them.

For those who aren’t fans of the Christmas season, the hustle, bustle and emotional rustle that this time of year brings on can elicit overwhelming feelings, including irritability, loneliness, and even depression.

For those who love the holiday season, those same feelings can still secretly weave themselves into our spirits, as busyness and expectations take their toll on our hearts.

Unfortunately regardless of opinion, Christmas can be a season of stress and anxiety, leaving us feeling as messy as ripped up wrapping paper strewn around the living room on Christmas morning.  The holidays often bring on a flood of heightened emotions which vary in intensity from person to person, and often result in dangerous stress levels.

When holiday stress is piled on top of regular stressors, some people even resort to harmful methods of coping – such as over indulging in food, alcohol, caffeine or even drugs. In fact, the American Psychological Association found that nearly all women in the U.S, experience such heightened stress during the holidays that their health is put at risk. Studies also showed that 41% of women use food, and 28% of women use alcohol to curb their pain during the holidays.  

In addition to potential harm to our health, these coping methods can result in additional stress long after the Christmas decorations have been put away.  So regardless of what it is about the holidays that makes us feel anxious, holiday stress is not to be ignored. 

Fortunately, we can counteract the negative impact of holiday stress by following a few simple suggestions.  Here are 7 strategies to keep in mind to avoid letting holiday stress steal your joy, squelch your Christmas spirit, and damage your health.

1.       Plan for your stress.
You are probably well aware of the holiday stressors that push you to the limit, so why wait until the holidays come around again to face them?

For example, if you know the task of decorating your home makes you stressed, invite some friends or family members to help out. If you know that trying to bake goods for the PTA bake sale makes you feel burdened, give yourself permission to sit this year out. If a certain family function causes annual chaos, pray for God’s divine intervention in dealing with family conflict this year.  If searching for the hottest toys makes your head spin each year, set expectations with your children in advance.  If wrapping gifts that look like they belong under a Christmas tree at Belk’s makes you stressed, start a new tradition of having kids or grandkids wrap the presents, then treasure the experience, not the appearance, of the wrapping.

When we are proactive in making plans for how to deal with common holiday stressors, we are less likely to react in the same stressed-out way that we always have. Ponder the things you know make you stressed, and plan a better way to approach them this year, so the same holiday stress doesn’t repeat its annual cycle.

2.       Pursue a positive attitude.
Whether the holidays are our favorite time of year or not, we still need to pursue a loving, Godly attitude in the midst of the chaos. If we let crowds and traffic put us in a bad mood, we’ll take it out on our family later. If we allow obligations to stretch us thin, we’ll be too busy to enjoy the season. If we focus on all the negative aspects the holidays may bring, we will lose sight of the fact that we are really celebrating the birth of Jesus. 

Our attitudes and our thoughts will carry us to a destination of a joy, or a destination of bitterness and grumpiness.  If you struggle with a Grinch attitude every year, ask God to help you pursue a new attitude for this season, and find real joy in Christ.

3.       Purposely get enough sleep.
If you want to be able to stay in a good mood during the holidays, don’t forget to rest! Sleep deprivation has a serious negative impact on people’s moods and their ability to manage even small stressors. Commit to getting to bed at a decent hour and getting a good night’s rest as often as possible. 

4.       Party sensibly. 
Even though being at every holiday party we are invited to makes us feel and look like social butterflies, all that party-going may leave us bound up in a cocoon of stress.  Choose your social events selectively, and only attend those which are most important to you.  Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse a gentle and polite response to share when someone invites you to a function that you know will not fit into your schedule.

5.       Prepare a routine for the month of December.
Write down your typical holiday obligations, and set a daily schedule for each day in December for fulfilling them. This might sound compulsively organized or even impossible, but it will be time and effort well spent, because good planning sets the stage for peace. 

So, set aside an hour in November to map out your holiday month to-do’s. Think about all the things you usually do around the holidays, and jot them down on a list.  Write out your gift list, gift suggestions, budget, social outings, travel, packing, shopping, babysitting needs, special events that you cook for, grocery lists, etc.. Then write down a target deadline for getting those things done.

6.       Practice fun. The holidays are supposed to fun. Why do we let busyness and chaos steal that fun from our hearts?  Think about some ways you can have fun with your family or friends.

Sometimes the best entertainment is cost effective, no hassle and stress free! In my family, we love snuggling on the couch and watching every holiday movie ever made, while laughing at the same scenes over and over, year after year.  We enjoy watching the new Hallmark channel holiday movies, and a few of my old-time favorites are Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carey version), and Christmas With the Kranks.  We also love riding around at night looking at Christmas lights in surrounding neighborhoods, having friends over, and sipping hot chocolate while decorating our tree and listening to Christmas music.  

7.       Promote love.
Our inward thoughts will always drive our outward actions, so if we want to show love during the holidays to family, friends and total strangers, we first have to focus on feeling God’s love.

Although every person faces different adversities in life, we can all enjoy the Christmas season if we remember that Christmas is really about celebrating God’s love for us. If we bicker and complain our way through the season, our holiday spirit will exit quicker than Santa up the chimney. But if we focus on the fact that we are supposed to be celebrating peace, joy, and love, our Christmas spirit, our faith, and our love for others will soar. When our hearts are full of love, it’s hard to be a Grinch.

A little holiday stress preparation can be the determining factor in whether your holiday is joy-full, or stress-full  - and a stressed-less holiday will usually lead to a happy holiday!  

Today's Blog Post By: Tracie Miles is a national conference speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. Tracie speaks God's truths to empower and motivate others to depend on Christ in their everyday lives, and lead them to a place of peace and purpose through learning to live intentionally for Christ. Tracie is a contributing writer for Encouragement for Today online devotions that currently touch over 500,000 lives each day around the world.  She is the author of Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World , and lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children. Learn more about her book at www.stressedlessliving.com, and visit her at www.traciemiles.com


Monday, December 10, 2012

NorthStar Announcements & Updates

Happy Monday Ladies, Below are a few announcements from NorthStar:

This Week at NorthStar
December 9 – December 15, 2012
Ladies Bible Study, 6:30-8:30 pm, Carmichael Campus
Grief Recovery, 10:00-12:00 pm, Carmichael Campus
Preschool Ministry, 6:30 pm, Sherrill Campus
Children’s Ministry, 6:30 pm, Sherrill Campus
C.O.W., 6:30 pm, Sherrill Campus

Ministry Opportunity: A group from NorthStar will be traveling to Hyden, KY on Dec 13th to deliver the Christmas items we have collected to the students at Muncy Elementary. If you would like to join us that day, please contact Teal Fulford at fulfordfoot@aol.com

KARM’s Corners of Your Field (COYF) Program from Lev. 19:9-10 is a great opportunity to help Knoxville’s less fortunate as well as those in need at NorthStar! When donating your excess goods, if you choose to donate to KARM Thrift Store, let them know you go to NorthStar, and they will give recurring voucher credits to NorthStar. Those credits would then be given to those in need in our own body to shop at KARM Thrift Stores.

NorthStar on iTunes - If you have to miss a Sunday, want to listen again, or share the service with a friend you may access the sermon from the website or get it as a podcast from iTunes

NorthStar Holiday Service Schedule
Sunday December 23rd, No Church Services
Monday, December 24th, Christmas Eve Services 3:30pm and 5:00pm
(No Childcare Provided...Family Service Together)
Wednesday, December 26th, No Church Services
Wednesday, January 2nd, No Church Services

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tired of Waiting

"Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them." Genesis 25:26b (NIV)

Do you ever get tired of waiting on God to answer your prayers? I do.

I get tired of saying the same old prayer day after day, month after month, year after year. Tired of telling God about the same old problems still going on. Tired of hearing myself pray about the same old issues, leading me to wonder if God is as tired of hearing my prayer requests as I am of praying them.

Recently I bowed my head and admitted to God that I was simply tired of praying and waiting.

In a heavy state of emotional exhaustion, I turned to my Bible. I hoped a few verses would jump straight into my heart and give me patience. That day I read about when Isaac's wife Rebekah gave birth to twin sons.

One sentence in particular caught my eye and God used it to speak hope into my soul.
Genesis 25:26 tells us that Isaac was sixty years old when his twins were born; a simple Bible fact, yet profoundly meaningful to me on that specific day.

You see, Isaac had waited patiently for the Lord to provide the perfect wife. He was forty years old when he married Rebekah. That means Isaac waited twenty years for Rebekah to bear children!

He was a man of great patience who waited on God. And eventually his patient faith was rewarded.
In Genesis 25:21a we see that "Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children." (NLT) He earnestly and strongly prayed about their desires to have kids. He did not half-heartedly ask God for a son, he pleaded! He begged. He poured his heart out.

He trusted that God would provide and continued to pray the same desperate prayer for a son, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Isaac never gave up hope that his Lord could make the impossible, possible. And after twenty years, God gave him a son.

Are you tired of the wait? Tired of pleading with God just like Isaac? It may take twenty years for God to answer, or it may only take twenty minutes. But today, let's find comfort in remembering Isaac's patient faith and take hope in believing that God is not tired of hearing our prayers.

Dear Lord, please help me have patience and faith while I wait to hear from You. Help me live in excited anticipation for the day when I will see how You answer my prayers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World by Tracie Miles

Reflect and Respond:
Consider prayers that have not been answered, but which you have not prayed about lately. Ask God to give you a renewed hope about those desires and faithfully wait on His timing.
Have you stopped praying about something because you've grown tired of waiting on God?

Power Verses:
Psalm 27:14, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)
Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (KJV)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

17 Things You Can Do Today to Make Your Life Easier Tomorrow

We all know from experience what procrastination can do to our lives. If left unchecked, it can make us late, unorganized, stressed out, embarrassed, overtired, broke, and hungry. I know this because I’ve experienced these symptoms myself.

Take this morning for example. I was trying to get the kids breakfast started when I remembered that I had some important paperwork to take care of. It was already over-due, and it had to be done immediately. So I delayed my shower and sat at the dining room table filling out forms that had passed through my hands several times during the past few weeks. Any number of those times I could have sat down and got the papers in order, but because it was something I dislike taking care of I chose to put it off until the very last minute. As a result, I was thirty minutes late for an appointment that was on my calendar a week ago.

If you’re a procrastinator have no fear there’s an anecdote for all of us–it’s called being proactive. “Pro-action” as I like to call it, is preparing for things before they cause us to react. One example would be washing underwear before you run out–that’s always wise! Another might be picking up shampoo when you start running low. Those are are just two examples of proactive things that most of us do on a regular basis without really thinking about it.

If you start to look around, you’ll probably see things that you would be better off taking care of now than leaving it for later. In fact you’d probably find several. Before you run off and start doing them–I’ll also offer you a list of my own. Here are 17 things that we can do today to make our lives easier tomorrow: 
  1. Pray. Women often waste time over-discussing our problems when going to prayer with them is far more effective.
  2. Make a double portion of your meal and freeze half for another day.
  3. Make school lunches for the next day while you’re cooking dinner. (An idea I got from a reader!)
  4. Clean out your purse and organize it.
  5. Clean out a junk drawer so you can find things easier.
  6. Empty the dishwasher before going to bed.
  7. Grab garbage every time you leave your car.
  8. Pick up small containers to use for organizing and storage. How many times do you clean up loose items in the pantry like crackers or pasta? Storing them in small containers will save you time and keep them fresh.
  9. Make amends where you can.
  10. Take care of a difficult or annoying task that you normally put off. Get it over with today and you’ll feel a weight off your shoulder tomorrow.
  11. Pay your bills before they are due.
  12. Eat well so you’ll have energy tomorrow.
  13. Never handle a piece of paper twice. Remember what I did this morning?  Paper work is a huge time-waster. Every single time that paper went through my hands I wasted time with it. Open your bills and pay them immediately. Have school notes? Grab a pen, sign them and put them in your child’s backpack.
  14. Go to sleep early so you feel refreshed and productive the next day.
  15. Cut veggies up and store them in the fridge so you have healthy snacks on hand. Wash fruit and keep it out on the counter.
  16. Fill bottles of water so you can grab one on the run.
  17. Take the time to train your children to do a task right. Even if it means standing beside them when they make their bed for the first several times. Having them learn to do it correctly will save you all time in the long run.
Darlene Schacht

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Art of Conversation

Today we have a guest post from Sarah Van Beveren.  
I was never the kid who could run and jump into the deep end of the pool. I could be found on the stairs in the shallow end, letting each part of my body adjust to the temperature before going further. I wanted to just run and jump into the deep, to not care about how cold the water was, to believe that it would only last a second before it felt warm. But I had too much fear, and not enough trust.

I find myself approaching friendships the same way I approach swimming.

I sit on the stairs and chat about the safe things. Children and recipes, shopping and the everyday details.

And safe things can be good things, because they’re real. But often I forget that my goal is to swim.

And usually, the longer I stay in the shallow end, the scarier the deep end looks.

I long to just dive right in. To forget the chit-chat and start with the heart. But twenty years later, I still have too much fear and not enough trust. Too much me, and not enough God.


I’m learning though, that small talk has a part and is important. But I’m trying to view it as more than just casual words. I’m trying to listen to the unspoken things they say about the woman speaking them. Her dreams, her passions, her struggles. Who God has wired her to be. I want to get to know her. And I want to weave these small words into the larger, life-giving words.

Connecting is tough, isn’t it? Letting someone see the real you, a messy life clinging to grace? I place the opinion of other women above that of God and I let pride get in the way of authentic relationships and authentic living. I’ll show you my weakness and my sins, as long as you show me yours first.

But can you imagine it? A community of women, united together in grace and being real. No competition, no envy, no fear of rejection. Just a desire to see God glorified in our lives?

And the truth is, we have nothing to fear in baring our souls. We are already loved and already accepted and already forgiven.

And that woman in front of you? She doesn’t need your perfection. Just like you, she needs someone to remind her that it’s okay to not be okay. Showing each other our need for Jesus is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Is there someone you can bless today by opening up?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Modern Family- Money, Money, Money

This week we are catching up on our Current Sermon Series at NorthStar. Pastor Scott talks about the number 1 reason for divorce in America; Money. The bible gives us clear instruction and teaching on how to spend, save, and give away all that God has given us.

Modern Family- Money, Money, Money from Northstar Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Modern Family- He Said, She Said

Here is another update from our Current Sermon Series called "Modern Family"

Pastor Scott talks about how to resolve conflict within marriages and relationships. He gives insights and practical steps to take in order that problems are solved biblical way.

Modern Family- He Said, She Said from Northstar Church on Vimeo.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Modern Family..........Week #1

If you have missed the past few weeks at NorthStar, check out our latest sermon series called Modern Family. 

Pastor Scott gives an introduction to Modern Family at Northstar. This week marks the start of a 6 Week journey into pourning into the families at Northstar. This week he encourages everyone to start to evalute the health of their families situations and to start dialogue on hard to deal with issues.

Modern Family Week 1 from Northstar Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mark Your Calendars!!!

  •  Holiday Edition of “Conversations” is on Dec. 1st 9am-11am at the Sherrill Campus. Join us for breakfast, holiday games & prizes, an ornament exchange (bring one day of) and enjoy joyful fellowship and celebration! Signups begin today at Connection Point and online at www.northstarknox.com! 
  • Holiday Craft Crew Day will follow from 12pm to 3pm also on Dec. 1st! Choose from multiple crafts that can be used for those on your gift list—or bring any craft you are currently working on. Either way sign up and pick up a shopping list for each craft at Connection Point today. Deadline to register for both activities is Sunday Nov.25th.
  • Now that the new children’s building is completed, we will be going back to two services starting December 2nd, 9:30 and 11:15 am. Help spread the word!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Join the Holiday Fun!

Our special holiday edition of "Conversations" signups begin Sunday at Connection Point or online now 
Join us Saturday morning Dec 1st 9am-11am at the Sherrill Campus for breakfast, holiday games & prizes, a special presentation we hope will bless you, an ornament exchange (bring one with you the day of) and enjoy some joyful fellowship and celebration!  

**Deadline to register is Sunday Nov 25th

Our “Holiday Crafty Crew Day”  will follow from 12pm to 3pm also on Dec 1st!
Choose from making Beaded Book Marks, Earrings, Christmas Cards, and Scented Sugar Body Scrub for those on your gift list - or bring any craft/hobby you are already working on.
(Sign up either way please so we know how to provide space for each craft area).

Register at Connection Point and pick up the shopping list for each craft - and we suggest only two separate crafts due to time constraints :)

**Deadline to register is Sunday Nov 25th

Both events will be fun so please plan to join us!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

From Overpowered to Empowered

By: Lysa Terkeurst

A few weeks ago I drove to the airport in the pouring rain. The skies were grey. The day felt a bit gloomy. And honestly, so did I.

There were just a lot of little things swarming my thoughts. Feelings of inadequacy stinging. “There are so many things I’m responsible for and never enough hours in the day. I do enough to keep things from sinking. But I just wonder if I’m doing anything well. I don’t think I am – doing anything well.”

The more I focused on these thoughts, the more overpowered I became. The more overpowered I became, the more withdrawn I felt.

I pulled into the parking space and started the fight with my luggage. My suitcase has two wheels missing. And of course I keep intending to do something about this. But I don’t have time. So I make do with a crazy suitcase and a crazy life and a crazy sense I should just pack my family up and move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.

Surely that would fix everything.

Except that I know it wouldn’t.

Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.

I boarded the plane. I stared out the window. I watched the grey clouds envelop us.

And then the grey broke.

Suddenly, we rose above the clouds and the sun was shining crazy bright and far wide and fabulously clear.

The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn’t stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun. And it wasn’t just the sky that appeared a little brighter. My mood did as well.

I started to shift from feeling overpowered to empowered as I realized three things:

* Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.
Just like I felt the sun was gone but it was very much still there, I might feel like I’m not doing anything well, but it doesn’t make it true. The fact that I have weaknesses doesn’t make everything about me weak. I have plenty of strengths.

All I have to do is ask a couple of my friends or my family members to help me see what I do well. I can celebrate those, and then get a plan for bettering things that need improvement. I can start by identifying one thing to improve on this month. And do a little toward making that one thing better.

* There are a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.
Yes, I have a lot to manage. And yes, sometimes things get a little foggy. But that doesn’t mean I have to stay swallowed up in the grey. That means I need to get my head above the clouds and see all the many places where the sun is shining brightly in my life. So, I can start making a list of things for which I need to be thankful.

* My mind needs some space to think.
If I always run at a breakneck pace, I’m eventually going to break. My mind is a powerful tool, capable of seeing things that can be done more efficiently and effectively if I give myself time to think. When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?

If the clouds have been looming close lately, maybe it’s time to stop. Pause. Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.

And if you happen to know where I can get some good luggage with sturdy wheels, do tell.

Friday, November 2, 2012

50 Super Encouraging Tweets

Words of encouragement for Christian women 

  1. In the eye of the storm, God is wrapping you around with His whole self. No one walks through the valley alone. @incourage

  2. Don’t forget to remember, fear tells you who you are not, but faith reminds you who you are! @ChristineCaine
  3. Beauty is a state of heart, not of hair. @incourage
  4. Love is a roof that absorbs the storms. #1000gifts @AnnVoskamp
  5. Success isn’t “not failing;” it’s simply trying. @sarahmarkley
  6. Just make friends. Don’t network. @inspiredbryant
  7. When you think your dream is done, it’s the perfect time for the impossible to happen. @squeeinc
  8. When you say: I feel defeated. God says: You are a conqueror! @ReneeSwope
  9. The more we stand in awe of God, the less we’ll stand in judgment of each other. @bobgoff
  10. Reason to be thankful: my gravatar never has a bad hair day. @HolleyGerth

  11. I ask for eyes to see the world brand new every day. ‏@stacey29lincoln
  12. There are times dirt must be ignored. We’re headed to the pool! @RachelWojo
  13. I can always give thanks because an all-powerful God always has all things – always under control. @AnnVoskamp
  14. Just remember that God is on your team and He adores you and your children. He will be faithful to you. @Sally_Clarkson
  15. The truth will set you free… but first, it will make you mad, defensive, and uncomfortable. @THEmollybowman
  16. When you let the walls crumble, you begin to really walk by faith into the Light and everything changes. @sarahmae
  17. Bad moments don’t make bad mamas. @LysaTerKeurst
  18. What happens in us matters far more than what happens to us. Our experiences don’t define us; our response to them does @gritandglory
  19. I think God is whispering to my heart that He is still in the business of doing new things. @stacey29lincoln
  20. God isn’t disappointed in our failures; He delights in our attempts. @bobgoff

  21. Our children don’t expect us to be perfect, they just want us to love them. @Sally_Clarkson
  22. Exhale a little and think about failure being God’s gift of redirection. @TraceePersiko
  23. Sometimes being kind is more important than making our point. ‏@lisajobaker
  24. Be anxious for nothing. God is still in control! @DaySpring
  25. Monday Encouragement: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 @compassion
  26. Cast your care on God, and enjoy your day while He works on your problem. @JoyceMeyer
  27. “Ordinary” is often the disguise of the divine. #lessonsfromGideon So keep your eyes open today. @PriscillaShirer
  28. Accepted in Christ, we now run the race “for the joy that is set before us” rather than “for fear that comes behind us.” @DailyKeller
  29. I am not nothing.You are not nothing. We are daughters of the King bought at a price. We are beloved. @incourage
  30. Anytime we find our way back to God, He’s not just waiting, He’s *running* toward us! @incourage  

  31. When regret weighs heavy, only turning outward and not inward lightens the load. @Kristen_Strong
  32. Help me, Jesus, to never stop learning what you are teaching. @stacey29lincoln
  33. Fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness. God has not given us a spirit of fear—but of power, love & self-control. #Fearless @MaxLucado
  34. Sometimes the benefit of the doubt is the very best gift you can give a friend @incourage
  35. The simple act of [loving] is the most unmitigated and courageous display of Christianity we can show our neighbor. ‏@BiancaOlthoff
  36. If you expect the best of people, that’s usually what you’ll find in them. @incourage
  37. Love is generous. Enthusiastically so. @lisajobaker
  38. Laughter can make moments more memorable. Whether laughing along or with others, it helps us feel good about our memories. @PatsyClairmont
  39. Don’t worry about tomorrow. God is already there. @incourage
  40. New things can be both good and scary. Focus on the good and pursue what’s up ahead with courage! @LisaRWhittle

  41. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Ps. 30:5 — All suffering is temporary. @AGLotz            
  42. Chocolate is proof that God is sensitive to our needs… and meets each one perfectly. @incourage
  43. Beautiful is what happens when no one’s looking: in the laundry room, back row at church, or changing diapers @incourage
  44. Try and fail. Try and succeed. But always try. We don’t know what we’re capable of unless we try. @BiancaOlthoff
  45.  Celebrate your progress; don’t mourn how far you still have to go.  @JoyceMeyer     
  46. Without doubt I believe the best use of your life is love. @pwilson
  47. Laughter can make moments more memorable. Whether laughing along or with others, it helps us feel good about our memories.@PatsyClairmont
  48. Don’t heavy today with yesterday’s regrets or poison it with tomorrow’s troubles. Fill you day with God; choose to make it great! @MaxLucado     
  49. I read on a t-shirt just yesterday & thought of you – “Save planet earth! It’s the only one that has chocolate!” @lifesurrendered
  50. Motherhood isn’t rocket science. It’s harder. @WeareTHATfamily   

 FROM: (in)courage