Saturday, September 22, 2012

Be Yourself...By Nina Keegan Owens

Imagine with me for a moment a beautiful mountain side meadow covered in wildly blooming flowers of every imaginable persuasion. There is a brooding herd of wild horses so unexpectedly rare stopping to drink in the crystal clear stream that had been formed by the pure mountain snows that had so recently melted. These melting rivers of snow create cascading waterfalls as they stream down the cliffs etching out valleys within the mountain's walls. The stream's glassy, mirror like, finish reflects the glorious magesty of mother nature's hand standing so statuesquely above its banks. The day is crisp and has a chill in the sweet air. With a unique clarity you can see the dew drops teetering on their host blades of bright green grass. The sky is vibrant and brilliantly colored . The earth it seems is a hollographic reflection of pristine beauty. The day is astoundingly perfect and breath taking in its splendor. It is beyond the likes of any day we have ever seen before.

Now if I were to ask you all to sit down with a sketch pad, pencils, paints, and colorful markers and requested you each draw how you saw that scene in your mind as you read the words, what would your drawing look like? Were your mountains rocky, covered in pine trees, or topped with snow? What colors and varieties were all of the wild flowers? The horses, how many did you see and what colors were they? How did you picture the stream, the meadow, and the waterfalls? Did you visualize a sunny sky, or a bright blue one dotted with clouds?

If we all were to hang our drawings side by side in a beautiful art gallery, we would see that no two would ever be alike. Not even close! Even though we all are drawing the same exact scene, our minds think so differently. Every drawing would be so highly individualized. Some may be very abstract, colorful and left to our own interpretations. Others like a perfect photograph crafted from the depths of our minds. Our visions are all so unique. We are absolutely incapable of seeing, thinking, learning, visualizing and creating something exactly like someone else.

God has made us all to be unparalleled individuals. The Bible says that He has drawn each of us, we are His art work. We are one of a kind, individuals, we all have certain talents and gifts that we share with no other soul on this planet.

Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord appeared to us saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness."

If we can grasp the concept that we are not ever meant to be just like someone else, that it is a complete impossibility, we can stop comparing ourselves to others and stop wishing we could be different. We are always looking over our shoulders to see how we measure up to the next person in line. We beat ourselves up in our comparison processes. We seem to go through a mental check list to see where we fit in, or where we don't. We are always trying to stack the deck in our favor by mentally inflating our attributes. We rationalize our inferiorities and insecurities in our minds. We spend so much time trying to be something were not that we miss out on being the fearfully and wonderfully made human beings that God designed us to be. When we constantly compare ourselves to others and give in to our secret qualms, we are basically telling God that he did not do a good enough job with us. He must have screwed up somewhere right? I have even heard people say that they must have been in the back of the line when God was doling out the talents.

We have our long, on going lists of changes we'd make if only we could. Wouldn't it just be great to be prettier, smarter, thinner, taller, more outgoing, happier, more content in our lives? We think of all the possibilities. What you do not realize is that many others are looking up to you and are envious of your many wonderful qualities too. We can even be envious of someone else's level of faith. We often wish that we had that same kind of relationship with the Lord.

Not one of us will ever pray the same or have the same walk with God as those people we hold in such high reguard. The fact of the matter is, God does not love them any more than He loves you. We are never going to be just like every one else in any arena except in the arena of God's infinite love for us all. God reaches us all differently but loves us the same. We are called to worship Him through His grace and His glory not our own.

Having a negative attitude and an insecure way of thinking will stifle your abilities. Not embracing all the wonderful attributes you do have, will prevent you from becoming all that God made you to be. We simply step over rocks to pick up stones. Metaphorically speaking, we try so hard to be like someone else or to get what someone else has that we overlook and never see the full benefits of all the amazing attributes we ourselves possess.

For those of us that are parents, we often marvel at how completely different each of our children are even though they are growing up in the exact same environment. The reason is simple, they are who God has made them to be. No two alike! We need to embrace our individuality and run with it. When we can learn to love ourselves 100% completely and wholely, good and bad, we will be amazed at the favor of God that will present itself in our lives. The shift in blessings and opportunities that will be awarded you when you start being yourself will be astounding.

We are after all created in God's very image. The scriptures say that He has prepared good works for each of us to do, and to walk in. We have a purpose, a talent, a mind and a soul that cannot be duplicated ever!

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

It's time to stand up and be proud of who you are. Others can like you or not, we don't all have to click with everyone all the time. We only need to do what we are meant to do for God and Him alone. You have every right to think the way you think, to feel the way you feel. Be who you are meant to be. You are a complete package all tied up with God's securely woven ribbons, and sealed with His mighty stamp of approval. You can make your own decisions and your own mistakes. You get to follow your own dreams and not some dream some one else decided you should have. You are exactly who you are for reasons and purposes that only God knows. If we knew what God knows, we would never change a thing! So go paint that picture in your mind exactly how you see it! Your drawing will be a perfect creation. You should never feel like less of a person because you dont fit into someone else's box ... You can just get a bigger and better box!

O LORD, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
Even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!

Thank you Father that you made me so unique and with a wonderful purpose in mind! I pray that I can be filled with your grace to follow the path you have designed for me. Thank you!! In Jesus name..

Thursday, September 20, 2012

If God Emailed Us... By Nina Keegan-Owens

If God could penetrate all of our modern social medias and technologies that we have today and text us, send out a tweet, or email us, what do you think He would say to us?

I do not begin to think I could ever really know what the heartfelt words of our Lord and savior would be but perhaps, you can imagine with me for a moment that His email to us would sound some thing like this.

My dearest sweet children,
Oh how I love you all, you are all so very special to me, each uniquely wonderful. I have made each and every one of you with special gifts and purposes that are yours alone. I love watching over you all with joy each and every day. I laugh with you and I cry with you. I share every moment whether joyful, sad, triumphant, worrisome, fearful or blissful with you. You are my children and I do not want to miss a thing.

Many of you wonder where I have been, you ask why I seem so distant. Please don't ever for a moment think I am not right by your side. I am always there, lifting you up and holding you in my righteous right hand. I have sent my angels to surround and protect you. They stand guard over you and your families. I have given you my word and amazing promises to follow to help you through any trial that comes before you.

Last week when you were late for work and were recklessly racing through traffic, I was in the passenger seat keeping you safe as you traveled. Did you not hear me when the good news came in from the doctor's office that all the test results were fine? That was me that protected your child and kept them from getting hurt on the play ground. It was me that gave you a better job when you lost the last one and were so worried. I was gently guiding you when you were tempted to make wrong choices and didn't. I have been your hope when all seemed lost. I was the comforting visit from a friend that you received when you were down. I was that random person that payed you a compliment and made you smile. I am the soft breeze you feel on your cheek every morning when you drink your coffee on the back porch. I am in the flowers, the trees, mountains, lakes, rivers and on the beautiful beaches I have given you to enjoy. I am the sweet whispers of your dreams that lull you to sleep at night. I am in the laughter of a child that warms your heart. I am your comforter, your healer, your friend, encourager and your father I am all things to all of you. I have always been right there. I am what you need when you need it most.

Perhaps , you have been to busy to notice me or to even care. Maybe the complaining you do or the negativity in your life prevents you from hearing my voice and feeling my presence. Maybe it's the unforgiveness and anger in your soul that causes you to miss out on my abundant blessings for you. Do you give ungrudgingly to my children in need? Have you hardened your heart toward me and refuse to turn from your sinful ways? Are you trying to do everything your own way while ignoring my gentle nudges to keep you on my path?

It makes me sad to see you hurting, gossiping, angry, jealous and feeling sorry for yourselves. It is not my plan for you to live a defeatest life.

I sent my only child to die an unthinkable death for you to have joyous lives filled with peace and infinite blessings. There is so much you are missing out on by not handing all of these burdens over to me. I want to relieve you of all of these sufferings, but you see I can only be what you invite me to be. I am not a pushy God, you need to choose me first. Call on my name, and seek me first. Oh how I long to be in your hearts. I long for a close, personal relationship with every one of my children. I am standing there right by your side longing for you! Invite me in. I long to perfect all that concerns you. I will give you a new life. A life centered on me will be like nothing you have ever experienced before. I will meet you right where you are. Nothing you have done can make me love you less. I simply cannot love you any more than I do right now. We can conquer it all together if you would give me a chance. I am a jealous God and I want nothing to ever come between us. I long to be the most important part of your world. I have so much to tell you and so many wonderful plans for you. I do not want you to miss one single blessing that is awaiting you.

Please let go of all these petty things that keep a distance between us. Drop these trivial things that keep you from living your best life. Forgive others as I have forgiven you and come away with me. Leave this worldly stuff behind.You see none of it is important. Your relationship with me is all that matters. Please trust me. Lay it all down. I promise I will never leave you or forsake you.

Together we can make this world a better place. People will see your light and your salvation. They will notice my presence in you and long to live in that same peace. The world should live together in love and stop the wide spread suffering. Please send news of me to my children that do not yet know me. Be my ambassadors on earth and lead my people back to me. I will look for you everywhere. I am in the face of the lost souls, the hungry children, the lonely and the oppressed. Do not ignore me or turn from me. Please once and for all, seek diligently my kingdom. I will seat you at my table and tell you great and mighty things that you do not yet know. I will heal my people's hearts, bodies and souls. I will love you with a love that is beyond anything you have ever known.
Do not forget me. I am everywhere you are. Call to me! You are like precious jewels to me. My beautiful children!

I am sending my Son back soon to redeem you for all eternity. Please be ready, willing and waiting with your hearts on fire with love for me. I love you all with an everlasting love. Blessings and peace to you all!

Your heavenly Father,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Seasons Of Change by Nina Keegan Owens

We just had our first quote/unquote "cold" spell of the season in Houston this past weekend. Having been born and raised near Chicago, I find it quite amusing that the temperature falling to the high 70's is considered to be a cold snap.

There is however, so much delight in having a major shift in the weather. A 20 degree drop in one day can be a marvelously welcomed reprieve from the sweltering heat wave that has impacted most our the country over the last several months.

Everyone it seemed could not get enough of the faint, cool, breezes that crooned through the trees. The crisp, new,chilly,autumn air unearthed an enthusiasm and a get up and go attitude that had been missing for quite some time. The world it seemed was brand new and alive with people fervently enjoying the gorgeous weather. The neighborhood parks, golf courses and outdoor eating establishments were awake and booming with people that had a new found freedom to be out and about, no longer banished to the hybernation and house arrest of the constant hum of airconditioning.

What is it about a simple change in weather that can bring out the best in people? It's almost like each new season is a new beginning of sorts. its very representation of newness stirs up changes in our souls. Autumn visions of our favorite warm cozy sweater; rich hot cocoa; and steaming hot apple cider spring into action in our hearts.

We feel the blessings of getting a fresh new start with each new season. We get something inspiring and new to look forward to with great anticipation.

The Bible also references new changes and beginnings in our lives as being seasons. Seasons are metaphors for God's perfect timing in delivering us through all the changes He makes in our lives. These certain seasons can bring about the blessings we reap from having been obedient in following him through those changes even if we did not fully understand or welcome them.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

This scripture tells us to never give up. No matter how long, strenuous and pain staking the road or the trials are in our lives, there is always a new season ahead, a season of new beginnings.

Every day we can make the decision to begin again. We can adopt a positive mindset to overcome, conquer, and live triumphantly. All beginnings must eventually come to an end so a new beginning, a new season, can commence. We need to take the opportunity to look ahead at what can be and forget the what might have beens. We can challenge ourselves to be better, live higher, rise above our own self appointed limitations. We can look ahead to a new season of thinking, speaking, acting and living more positively. Each subtle change we implement towards living a more positive life will eventually take root and manifest itself into our days, weeks, months and years.

A beautiful tree full of wonderful green foliage and rich, ripened fruit can offer shelter, nourishment, and shade, but only temporarily. The leaves eventually turn brilliant hues of crimsons, golds, reds and oranges, offering us a wonderful spectacle to behold, a brushstroke of genius only God can artfully paint. Then, those leaves must fall, leaving that beautiful tree bare and vulnerable as it must survive the harshest of seasons.The tree must go through that season to begin a new life, a new cycle,with budding blossoms fragrant and beautiful.

Psalm 1:3
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yeilds its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

We need to be incessantly grateful and thank God continually even when our future seems very unclear. We can still stay firmly planted in faith so we will never wither but always prosper and produce good fruit. Faith is based on what we can't see, what we do not know, and what we cannot predict.

All glory comes then from daring to begin, daring to change, ushering in each new season, and forever trusting God with each unpredictable new step. Never stop changing and growing. We can never fully know what God's intentions are for us, but we can always do the absolute very best with where He has placed us right now. Only then, when we have learned all there is to learn and are truly grateful in this place, this season, will God move us to a new, more bountiful, and blessed season.

Ecclisiastes 3:1
For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

So as we throw open the windows to let the wonderful autumn breezes waft through our homes, as we breathe in the bright, clean air, or as we step outside to savor this new season that our calender has delivered us right on cue, let's take a moment to thank God for every new season in our lives. Let's appreciate every new day for it's many challenges to overcome and its many blessings to count.

Thank you sweet Father that as the seasons of change are upon us that we grab hold of all that life has to offer. Teach us Lord to have a grateful heart and to trust you with every new day and change that comes our way. Help us to stay positive as we grow in our faith.
We love and praise you in Jesus name!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are you praying or complaining? By Nina Keegan Owens

I know some people, christian people, that just can't seem to get it all together. They are endlessly complaining, and eternally battling something. For some it's never getting ahead in their finances, for others, they are constantly angry and upset and easily offended over every little thing. We all know them, the people who are never happy and have a string of continued complaints that could circle the globe a few dozen times. The ones that constantly feel jipped and overlooked by God. They act like He doles out scads of blessings to everyone else and purposefully passes over them. They fervently feel like the last kid picked to be on the elementary school dodge ball team during gym class.
You know those certain individuals, that when you happen to see them on the street or spy their number on your caller ID, your heart just sinks. You think to yourself, I hope they didn't see me or you talk yourself out of answering their exasperating call. You may all be shocked at my honesty, but you know you are all thinking of those exact senerios you've fallen victim to in your own lives at one point or another. Or just maybe, you yourself, are wondering if you are guilty of being one of those continued complaining perpetrators.

Sometimes we start feeling selfish because we did not want to listen again to those same old rants of negativity we've heard way to many times before. We dodge them like the a speeding bullet. We certainly don't want them putting any rotten apples into our shiny new apple cart! After all, we are having a great day and we selfishly do not want or need any negativity entering our minds and tainting our pleasant afternoons!

Well, what you do not realize, is that it was probably not by accident that you were put in their paths at that exact same moment. It was not a random happenstance that you were at home when they had phoned you. Perhaps in these situations God is trying to use us to be a blessing to someone else and to help change their negative mindset. Maybe, we just need to come up a little higher, take some time to cast some positive light on to others and their unfavorable circumstances. God uses us and gives us these assignments and missions to speak some positivity and hope into other's weaknesses. We need to unselfishly lend an ear and give ourselves over to the work God has for us to do. We may be the only opportunity they ever get to hear a positive word spoken over them. We should never miss a God appointed chance to be a blessing to someone else.

(1 Peter 4:10)
As each has received a gift, employ it in serving others, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.

Why are all Christians living so differently if we all can have,
be, experience, and live in God's best?Why are we still not seeing our blessings, counting them repeatedly and being ever thankful for His amazing promises?

The difference is the choices we as individuals make each day. When you go before God in prayer, are you praying or complaining? Do you spend your precious time whining over how unfair your life is? Are you jealous and contrite about your neighbors being so blessed while explaining to God that they are not even as Christian like as you are? Well, if that sounds familiar, you need to lay it all down and stop wanting what everyone else has. You need to stop telling God, your creator how to do His job, and start focusing on the many wonderful blessings you do have. I guarantee you there are always neighbors looking over your fence wanting what you have too.

You need to decide right now that you will be happy today, tomorrow and everyday of your life whether or not you ever get another blessing or see another prayer answered. We need to be faithful and thankful for everything we do have and count our blessings daily and at the very least, another 100 times per day.
You can choose to pray for the Lord to handle your issues as He sees fit and in His perfect timing. Turn it all over to Him, cast all your burdens on to the Lord and trust in His enduring love for us all. Trust that His son already paid the ultimate price for us to live wholely and victoriously. Then, know He has heard you and every last, drawn out prayer you've prayed. Then go about enjoying your day. Get your mind off of yourself and your problems and go be a welcomed ray of happiness in someone elses day.

(Luke 12:48)
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

We have all heard that verse from Luke. Summed up, it simply means, to whom much is given, much is required.
This is not solely talking about monetary gifts, but the gifts of the heart. As a Christian, you have been given many gifts, a new life to enjoy, amazing peace, and unbridled joy. You can dwell in the gifts of complete and utter safety. You have amazing compassion and are expected to be kind, helping, caring, and giving. When you begin to get your mind off of yourself, and set about using these many new gifts you've received through salvation, you will begin a new life of living of victoriously reguardless of your circumstances. You will be an amazing presence of hope to others who are suffering.

(Matthew 16:24-25)"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."

Stop living in the flesh! The Bible says we need to die to our flesh and all its woes and anger, complaining and fear, and live in the light! In order to be living in God's will, we need to be out of our own. We have already tried it our own way and failed. We need to stop trying to tell God what to do and how to do it. It's offensive to Him when we think we can do His job more remarkably than Him. Yet, this is what we do every time we choose to go it alone, and not listen to and follow the plan of our creator. When we complain, we remain!

If our goal is to be in God's will all the time. We need to go through some processes to purge ourselves of pride, self-will, selfishness, self-esteem, and all the other things that cause us to think about ourselves first and God second. Those processes will continually lead us on a journey that will involve a certain humility, strengthening of our faith, and will ultimately result in holiness, blessings and a life of unspeakable joy. God makes no mistakes, He has very specific reasons why you are where you are in your life right now. Learn what it is that He expects of you. Change your attitude, live a 'what can I do to help others?' kind of life. When you shift your mindset from yourself to the blessing of others, you will rise up and be blessed in every area of your own life. You are the one that places the shackles on your own feet, and you are the one that holds the key.

I love the lyrics to an Irving Berlin song from the 1954 movie, White Christmas.
Bing Crosby beautifully sings these words, "When you're tired and you can't sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings......."

Thank you Father as we take time today to count our blessings. Thank you for loving us and giving us repeated chances to forget the crazy lives we live and just follow you and your peace. Let us never miss a chance to bless someone through you and may we continually have a grateful heart reguardless of our circumstances!! We praise you, in Jesus name!