Linda's Cozy Mysteries

Growing Up Haunted, Hour-Long Special Radio Show

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

God's Top Ten List by Linda P. Kozar

"Every good gift and every perfect (free, large full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]."—James 1:17, Amplified

The new year looms before us, full of promise, yet laced with hints of world peril and uncertaintly. Change seems to be the one element we can all be certain of in life.

But the word "change" evokes visions of fear or favor. Which will it be?

Families change--children grow up and move on to college, careers, marriage and children. Financial situations shift from stable to steep decline to survival mode. Jobs are lost. Relationships turn from hot to cold in an instant. Children rebel. Friends rise up against friends, family members against family members. People who work beside you suddenly work against you. Marriages disintegrate, chipped away by infidelity or abuse. Loved ones are lost through old age, disease or disaster. Church leaders fall into sin and fail to repent. Those you trust are not to be trusted. Selflessness is replaced by selfishness. But change can also be good. Sweetness often ferments from the sourest of circumstances!

There are 50-year wedding anniversaries to be celebrated--young marriages to plan--babies yet to be born--prizes to be won--prayers to be answered--financial blessings to receive--relationships to be mended and reconciled--loves to be rekindled and renewed--kindnesses yet to be bestowed and treasures of the heart to be shared.

But where is God in all of this. . .and where are we?

Believers are not immune from the unpleasant aspects of change. In fact, we are tested by God through them. Faith is not simply a word or concept. Every word of God we say we believe is put to the test! But rest assured, those who live by faith are never alone through their circumstances or difficulties. Our Father is right beside us. He covers us under the shadow of his wings. He guides us through the dark valleys and hard climbs ever upward. He removes obstacles and builds bridges. He gives us hinds feet for the high places and light for our path in the low places. God is our VERY present help in times of trouble. Read the following passage from The Message Bible for further inspiration. 

Psalm 46
God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us. 

River fountains splash joy, cooling God's city,
this sacred haunt of the Most High
God lives here, the streets are safe, 
God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
but Earth does anything he says.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, the 
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Attention, all! See the marvels of God,
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
"Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything."

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

May you and your family be greatly blessed in 2010--with peace, good health and a holy life before God. May you pass every test by lining up your thoughts, actions and responses to the plumb line of the Word of God! May you love with the purest love of the Father! Be patient, compassionate, caring, faithful, generous, forgiving and pure in thought, deed and motive!

Join me in saying "Amen 2010!"

Now before you leave your computer, I want you to make a list of your top ten prayer requests to intercede for the coming year. Write them down on a piece of paper and slip that piece of paper into your bible so you'll remember to pray each day over them. One of my requests year after year was to be contracted with a publishing house--to become a published author.  I crossed that one off in 2008! And year after year, I pray for world peace:)  I'm still waiting on that one. . .

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tethered through the storms, but to what?

Unpacking is not my favorite thing to do. When I moved into the house we are currently in, I am ashamed to admit there were still boxes I had lugged around since I left the house I grew up in. I never opened them, just moved them from dwelling place to dwelling place until finally my husband gave me an ultimatum. It was time to unpack the boxes.

At this point all memory of what was in them had left. To my surprise it was all my school memorabilia: homecoming mums, old notes, yearbooks, awards etc… but deep on the bottom was a little wooden box with a paper bag full of seeds.

I had completely forgotten about them. They came from my boyfriend’s grandmother in North Carolina. On her farm she had a beautiful house where the orchid trees were magnificent unlike anything I had ever seen here in Texas. I saved the seeds that were hanging off of them in hopes to have one of my own someday.

Nineteen years later, here I sit looking out the window at my prized orchid tree. Unfortunately it has just recently blown down onto the neighbor’s fence. This is the second time it has not withstood the winter storms and this will be the second time we will tether it and pull the tree back up to allow its root system to strengthen again.

Looking at that tree made me think about my own life. How strong is our own “root system”? Are we grounded in Christ? Are we rooted in his word? When the bad weather comes do we feel hopelessness and defeat? Do we run to our friends and family or our monetary temporary fixes? I think at times, we all do. But the ultimate fix always goes back to the one who created us. Isn’t it awesome to remember that our Jesus will still pick us up, “tether” us to him and show us how to strengthen our own feet so that each time a storm comes we will grow stronger and more faithful with each trial that blows in?
Today spend some time with Him. Read His word. Just sit and rest in his presence, and when the change in weather comes, he has you covered.

And one more thing…I married the high school boy whose grandmother I visited. It’s a good thing I saved all those boxes, huh? For those of you who know my l7-year-old, DO NOT tell her I went with him and his family on vacation during high school…

Have a great “storm-free” Thanksgiving..
Love you gals,
Dannelle Woody

Confessions of an Angry Christmas Shopper--by Linda Kozar

The malls are already starting to feel a bit crowded. I wandered aimlessly, wondering what to buy. Teens never like anything I like. The same goes for nieces and nephews. My husband is persnickety to buy for (and yes, I've already tried magazine subscriptions thank you). Early Christmas shoppers pass by smiling smugly as they juggle packages on the way to the car. Well, enjoy the glow of the moment why don't you? I've done the early shopping thing too and guess what? You always, always, always forget something!

It's true. In years past, I thought I could avoid crowded malls and throngs of weary shoppers, but try as I might, there was always one more thing I needed. One crucial gift I had to drag myself to the mall for. One reason I drove up and down parking aisles cruising like a Seregetti lioness on the prowl--all for a spot to rest my weary wheels. One reason I tried in vain to dance my way past strollers and people herds (groups of family members or friends who travel in packs). One reason I stood in long lines to buy, to use the restroom or buy a big greasy pretzel and a coke. TO buy that last gift. The one I forgot. Or the one I didn't anticipate having to buy.

But in spite of all my complaints, there's something else I can't deny. The intangible thing about Christmas shopping is there in the midst of all the aggravation and frustration. The excitment!  Yup. There's an electric buzz in the air. A rushing wind of like-mindedness. A shark feeding frenzy kind of feeling. AND sometimes I find myself pausing a moment to sniff the fragrance of Cinnabons in the air, listen to a childen's choir or laugh at a toddler sitting on Santa's lap wondering whether to laugh, cry, pull his beard off or test the efficacy of his diaper.

Okay, so Christmas is fun. Sort of. It's I like singing carols in church. I like the glowy, slightly gawdy look of my home after it's tinselized in seasonal splendor. I love velcro-ing reindeer antlers on my reluctant doggie. . .indulging in candies, dips, breads, eggnog, pies and pastries. . .sharing memories with family, friends and neighbors. . .

Here's a confession I have to make though--I love Jesus all year long, but I'm so glad Christmas is only once a year.

How about YOU? Leave a comment.:)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Answered Prayer--by Jill McKechnie

Last week, on a run to the local coffee shop, I had a very encouraging encounter. An anwered prayer, really. Hopefully, this story will also encourage you.

As I sat in the coffee shop with my cup of java and a blueberry scone, I was contemplating family life. In other words, "Would it be illegal for me to hit my kids over the head? Could I knock some sense into them? Would that help to turn around their attitudes?

Seriously, though, I had been praying a lot for wisdom to guide them and train them. They had been drilled with scriptures, grown up going to church, and taught the difference between right and wrong. They had both asked Jesus into their hearts and been baptized. Why were they morphing into meanies?

While thinking these not very motherly thoughts, a lovely older woman sat down next to me. We began to chat. It turns out that she had raised three boys of her own down in the big city (Houston proper). She and her husband had just moved north a few months ago, and she was still getting acclimated to finding her way around.

As we delved deeper into our conversation, we started talking about our families, and I expressed my frustration with my kids (both boys), and how I felt I had no idea what I was doing. I had been feeling really discouraged by their rebelliousness, lack of response to their father and me, etc. I'm sure many of you can relate. Well, the Lord answered my prayer through this lovely woman! Let's call her June.

June and her husband had an awful time with their oldest son in high school. He picked up two DUIs and had been in jail. At one of the darkest times she prayed to the Lord, and God answered her prayer. God told her that He was in control, and that He would speak directly to her son. A couple of days later, her son called to say, "I've got to get out of Houston, can you help me?" They contacted a military academy, their son was accepted, and lo and behold, he did turn his life around. When his two younger brothers graduated from high school, the older brother talked them into also attending this academy. The oldest son is now a successful adult, married, with children of his own. When their family was going through such turmoil and anguish as a result of the older son's behavior, June couln't imagine that one day things would be better, and that her son would become a responsible adult.

As June finished her story, I thanked her for encouraging me, leaned back in my chair and thought about what she had said. Worrying and fretting about my boys accomplished nothing but an upset stomach. I needed to remember the One who is really in charge and trust Him. Matthew has a lot to say about worry in chapter 6, but I'll just quote one bit ."Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" Matthew 6:27.

No, they can't. Though we may not have control over our circumstances (or our children!), God is a loving and gracious God. He will not forget us or forget them.

Thank you, Lord for answering my prayer and assuring me that You will always be there to guide my kids, whether I am there or not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thoughts on Marriage

Woohoo--the wedding pictures are coming in!
Wedding Picture From Kate: ((Kate and David Young)
I almost got married in France while studying there in 1986, but 3 weeks before, everyone was afraid of terrorism by Libya. So, I cancelled all our plans and went back to our hometown to a small chapel wedding. My wedding outfit however is from France. My grandma made this small cake for a church reception and then my parents hosted a larger party 2 weeks later after our honeymoon in Hawaii. I hated being the center of attention of even a chapel wedding… I even broke out in hives right before the ceremony all over my back for everyone to see~!

This week I thought it might be interesting to hear from different women about thoughts on marriage--
  • marriage do's and don'ts
  • what they've learned from the marriage relationship or experienced through divorce or loss
  • what works and what doesn't
  • helpful tips or humorous thoughts:)
So let's hear from you ladies! 

(Below: Michael and Linda 1989)

P.S. I'd LOVE to post your wedding pictures!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Peeling off the Layers - By Danielle Francoise

This past week I spent time in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Now, in Texas the weather is still sweat-inducing, but it’s nothing like that in Colorado right now! My husband and I drove on up to the mountain for the first day of hiking ready to go…camera in hand and jackets zipped up tight. It was certainly chilly (27 degrees at the bottom!) and only colder as we hiked up. We hiked about 4 hours that first day, and stumbled, exhausted into our cabin at the end of it all. I remember thinking about how cold it had been up there at the top, above the tree line. We guessed it had been about 15 degrees with a wind chill even lower than that, not to mention the 45 mph winds whipping at us! We were only protected from the tough elements because we dressed in plenty of warm layers.

This makes me think of the things we use to “protect ourselves” against this world. God recognizes that we will be burdened and try to do this on our own, so he says, “take my yolk upon you and … you will find rest for your souls. For my yolk is easy and my burden is light” (Matt 11:29-30). He goes on to encourage us in Hebrews, “Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”(Heb 12:1)

I want to draw a picture of what that might look like for me. Being surrounded by people of great faith and an awesome Creator, who loves and cherishes me, let me throw off the things that weigh me down. I start by pulling off the fa├žade of perfection I’ve so painstakingly put on the outside…so imperfect when compared to the real perfection of our Lord. Under that I’ve still got layers of weight pulling at me yet. Coming off next, like gloves, are my insecurities about my body and fears of rejection. Pride for anything I think I ever did on my own – it’s not real, and I can toss it off with His help. There’s also the jealousy I’ve carried of things that don’t provide anything real, fleeting pleasures and vain ambitions. Unforgiveness is next; it’s like a hard shell I’ve built up to protect against hurts and pain from people I’ve been vulnerable with.

So many burdens and stumbling blocks to sin that I can look back and see in a pile on the ground as I finally have the energy to run my race with my wonderful Savior. Can you imagine how freeing it can be to give it all to the Lord? To be made free in Him. That’s a beautiful picture.

I could stop there, it could be that easy. But there’s that word “perseverance,” and in the KJV, the word is “patient”. God asks us not to do this just today, no, it’s an everyday exchange. Wow, now this gets a little more intense. Paul tells us in Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” As an added assurance, God lets us know in Hebrews 4 that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence…” Amen, I think I will! Truly, this is a daily battle and decision for me, but ultimately he is growing and shaping us to be men and women after His own heart.

Precious Jesus, you promise us so many wonderful things and ask only one thing of us…to love you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I pray that today you be made real in my life by taking on these burdens I carry. I acknowledge that you died on the cross to take my pain and my burdens and be a sin offering. You are so beautiful, and I am so blessed to be made beautiful and whole in you alone. Amen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What is your need? God Shall Supply It! --by Kate Young

Reading through John 7 and 8 after listening to today’s message at church, I began to ponder the need for people had to see miracles to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. I began to think well, it was a different time then. They were looking for signs for the one they had been told about who would come. But, no, some were just told second-hand stories and they believed. Just as some of us get today. Some of us ask for our own miracles to believe still today. I have people in my life who did such a thing. Then I began to think back, hmmm, and I cannot remember the moment I first believed. I am sure there was that point in my life, but I must have been younger than my memory goes back for me. It’s like it was always there. We all have different needs in our life and comparing them to others is fruitless, just as comparing where we are in our spiritual walk is dangerous ground as well because then were are apt to start judging, which God says is not our place. I’m just glad that God supplies all our needs, whether it is a miracle we need or not.

Philippians 4:19: "But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

How I Met My Jesus--by Linda Kozar

I didn't believe in Christianity. Twenty-four years ago, (that's me to the left) I was of the opinion that religion was for the ignorant and the weak--not those who were educated and resourceful. So when my little brother came home one day and announced he was "saved" I didn't exactly celebrate. In fact, the rest of the family thought he might need to be deprogrammed from the Cult of Christianity he had obviously become entangled with.

Funny thing though. He was happy. In fact, I had to admit he was happier than I'd ever seen him before. He loved to sit and talk with all of us about his new best friend--Jesus. I listened politely and tried to talk things out logically in the hopes he would "see the light," not of God, but of reason. One Sunday, my sister and I decided to visit his church and check things out for ourselves--sort of a reconnaissance mission. We were nervous and a little scared, which annoyed me. Why should I be frightened of them? I was about to expose their deception. The church was probably after my brother's hard-earned money. Like that movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," they had stolen my real brother, the little brother I'd grown up with and replaced him with pew-jumpin' Howdy Doody. And my big sister sensibilities would never stand for that. Look out church!

Then something strange happened. Sitting there in church during the service. . .I felt something. So did my sister. Like a wind, but there was no wind. A peace warmer than any blanket. An electricity in the air. The presence of love. My sister and I sat in silence through the service. We could not speak--all we could do was feel.

That day, I knew when we left our pews that there was something more to my brother's conversion than smoke and mirrors. There was definitCheck Spellingely something more. My sister felt it too.

Months went by. Life began to unravel in half a dozen ways. An eye exam revealed that the pressure in my eyes was high for some reason. The eye doctor was concerned about the possibility of glacoma. That same week, a routine pap smear came back positive and the op/gyn doctor called me in to talk about further tests. Then I was laid off from my job. All in all, not a good week.

I'd come out of a painful separation, had filed for divorce and was trying to make a new life for myself. I'd studied different philosophies and settled on the "we're all one Jung" collective spirit idea. Of course, meditation, reincarnation, new age and many other schools of thought seemed to fit right in. I was trying to use these techniques and beliefs to change my circumstances, help me quit smoking etc. But in the midst of my new crisis, not one of them offered me the comfort or peace I needed. Distraught, I decided to visit my parents and talk to them about it. While I was there I mentioned it to my brother, who to my surprise, immediately began to pray for me!

No one had ever prayed with me over a personal situation before. Sure I'd heard prayers or prayer templates before, but they were all-purpose kinds of prayers people repeated or recited half-heartedly. The prayer my brother prayed was for me and though I didn't believe it would truly do me any good, it somehow made me feel a little better. Before I left, my brother asked me a question. "If there is a heaven and a hell and you died today, where do you think you would go?"

While driving home I tried my best to answer it. Of course, my body would enrich the soil and my soul, mind or whatever you want to call it, would join the collective consciousness. Then, perhaps I would be reborn, incarnated into a different life form. Maybe even an insect. Wow. That was really something to look forward to. I had asked my brother where he thought he was going when he died. "I'll be with Jesus for all eternity, filled with His love--in heaven where there are no shadows, no tears and no more suffering." And he believed it with as strong a conviction as my own. But the truth shouted within me. Those old beliefs were crumbling under the weight of God's truth.

In the car that day, as I pulled into my driveway, I decided that as soon as I went through the door of my apartment, I was going to give Jesus a try. After all, I'd tried everything else! And what comfort had those beliefs brought me? What hope? My brother had told me about the sinner's prayer on more than one occasion and I tried hard to remember the words.

I couldn't wait to turn the key in the lock. As soon as the door shut behind me, I sank to my knees. Not knowing exactly what to say, I decided to talk to him instead. "Jesus, if you're out there and you're real, please hear me. I'm a sinner. . ." As soon as I said the word, I began to cry. "My brother told me that I should confess my sins and repent. So I'm a sinner and I've done a lot of things wrong in my life and I ask your forgiveness. Please, if you are real, please come into my heart right now. Amen"

When I said the final word, "Amen," I felt as though a heavy weight lifted from my body. I like to say it was the shackles of sin that fell off of me, but all I know is that I suddenly felt light as a feather and happy! So very happy! In fact, I was so happy, it took me two weeks to realize I hadn't touched a cigarette. My sister clued me in to it.

"Hey, I noticed you haven't been smoking lately." She'd always hated the smell of nicotine and tried to help me quit. I'd tried many times, but only managed to reduce the amount of cigarettes I smoked. Now I was free in more ways than one. Jesus gave me the free gift of eternal life and a bonus for signing on--he'd delivered me from a nicotine addiction. Just like that! No withdrawals. No cravings. No desire to ever smoke again.

I was set free! Born again! And the Lord healed my eyes. The pressure returned to normal at my next appointment. The next pap smear was perfect. And so was I.

Jesus saves, heals, protects and delivers!

It didn't take me long to dig into the bible my brother gave me to celebrate my new life in Christ. And I started telling everyone about MY new best friend, especially my family. My sister and her boyfriend (who later became her husband) were next to believe, then my mother and my father was last. I have a special story about his salvation testimony and it's in the Babes With A Beatitude book. If you're interested, I hope you'll read the february 14th page.

We began a whole new heritage in the Lord. Our family will never ever be the same. Our family tree is now rooted in Christ. Is yours? If you can relate to even part of what I shared from my testimony, then let me testify to you right now--it's all true! And if Jesus did all this for me, how much more will He do it for you! He loves you. He truly does. I wake up every morning knowing I am loved by God and I lay my head down on my pillow with the same truth. Do you? Well, what are you waiting for?


What I'm going to say next might sound a bit controversial, so bear with me. Smoking cigarettes isn't going to send anyone to hell. It may send them to their grave prematurely but not to hell. They will definitely SMELL like they've been there though. . .

Personally, I don't think Christians should smoke. It's a bad witness, not God-honoring and it destroys your body made in His image. So there.

Love didn't really trust today - By Danielle Francoise

I work in retail, and as a result there are always lots of stories to tell about the people I encounter. Tonight, a man came in with his two year-old son to return a defective item. This should have been an easy return, but unfortunately there were some problems, and it was wrapped up in no less than 30 minutes. I could tell that he was frustrated, and knowing that I was doing everything possible, I apologized a few times. Near the end of it all, he asked me if I was a Christian. I nodded and smiled, and replied that yes I am. He eventually went home satisfied with his new purchases and a free coke and I went on my way.

What struck me later is the real story here...When he asked me if I was a Christian, I first wondered if he was trying to finesse or sneak something past me. I immediately assumed he was going to try and use that against me somehow. Maybe I was right, maybe I wasn't. Regardless, I was convicted about it.

I wondered if I was really too quick to assume things, or if it hadn't gone his way if he'd tried something. But really I wondered what my response would've been, had he tried. Was it weakness that made me assume the worst, or is this world so fallen, that even the most perfect love can be used in the wrong way?

In it all, I realize that, no matter what...I am called to love. If that is how the Lord will grow and shape me today, then so be it. Today, God reminded me of the following...

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. (1 Cor 8)

We know that God is love, and his name can replace "Love" throughout that familiar passage, but did I let Him live through me in a way today that it could have been my name? Was I patient and kind, not envious or proud? I don't think love trusted today. As simple as it all sounds, it seems the closer I get to Him, the more He challenges me.

I pray that for today and the rest of our tomorrows, we can go out and simply love...and be loved by Him. Let the simplicity of that sink in until it becomes so deep, and so rich, and so wonderful that there's nothing else that matters. I pray that God just blows you away by how much he cares for you. Be blessed!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Written with Fire--by Danielle

I had a dream from awhile back I'd like to share...

I am one of the Hollywood A-list crowd. I am a person that people look to for style and fashion tips...they depend on us for our life stories and encouragement. This evening, I was all dressed up and felt beautiful, mingling with the "beautiful people" that are there in LA at a large, hip event. I find myself involved with this crazy group of people, worldly and part of the "in-croud". There's laughter and glamour and splendor... The night goes on and I realize I'm not feeling good about these people, this situation...any of it. Then, it's all over. I suppose it's morning because the sun's out again. I'm walking out and that wild group of people is calling out to me...I look over at all the craziness and really see what it is. Those "beautiful people" had lost their outer appearance of beauty and glamour...It was like the light was revealing their true selves - and it was ugly. My mind got really loud, it was traffic, music and lots of light. I remember thinking, "wow I don't know how I got tangled up with these people..."

All of a sudden...silence and darkness...

Then, a moment later, written with fire across the darkness, I read,

Then I woke up and sat up.

Wow. I had this dream about a year ago and still, it sticks with me. What amazing truth that God speaks through dreams! "But do they know me?"...that's the biggest question of all. I may not be on the Hollywood "A-List", but I definitely have people around me that don't know Christ!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Notes on John--Chapter One

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God."--John 1:1-2.

The focus of the Gospel of John is evangelism! In fact, John says it best in chapter 20 ". . .but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name."--John 20:31. Believe and have life! This should be our focus as believers as well--to share the good news with others that they may believe and have eternal life!

Jesus was, is and ever shall be! He created the world, brought life and light to us and was rejected by his own creation.

People always cry for a sign from God in order to believe, but the woman at the well had no such sign--just the words of Christ. In fact, all the Samaritans who heard and believed did so without a sign!

  • Jesus heals the lame man
  • Jesus feeds the 5,000 to illustrate He is the Bread of Life
  • Jesus is the Living Water
  • Jesus is the Light of the World
  • Jesus is the Good Shepherd
  • Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
  • Jesus is the King of Kings!
Simon means "unsteady, untrustworthy and not-dependable," but God changed Peter into a stable rock. Jesus changed water into wine and He changes us from creatures judged by the law into sons and daughters of grace.

God reveals Himself to us in time spend alone with Him. Have you spent time alone with Him today?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some Thoughts on John. . .

Our Babes Bible Study launched a new semester today in Houston with a study on the Book of John titled, "Forward to Eternity."

Each woman was encouraged to share a favorite scripture from John and its relevance to her life. Click the comment line below to browse their thoughts or leave a comment of your own:)

Here's mine:

"For He whom God sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. . .."--John 3:34.
I really like this scripture because God the Father wants us to live in the fullness of His Spirit. He does not dole out His love or grace in portions or leave us to figure things out for ourselves. He has given us all that we need to live a righteous, fully-committed life--His own Son!
Before I knew Jesus, I always felt alone--even in a crowd of people--I felt there was something missing. But I've never felt alone since--whether I'm around other people or not. I would not trade one moment of my life before Christ for my life now!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sour Cream/Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

My Mom-in-law, Marge Kozar gave me this recipe years ago. The whole family love, love, loves it because it's YUMMY. Great with, you guessed it "coffee" or an ice cold glass of milk. Perfect for Bible studies and church gatherings. We enjoy it sometimes at our Babes With A Beatitude Bible Study although some of us feel kind of guilty eating dessert in the morning (just kidding). It's delish--who cares?

Sour Cream/Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Spray a Bundt pan or glass baking dish with cooking spray. Next, prepare ingredients in 3 different bowls. Bowl Two and Bowl Three are dry ingredients. Blend them together before you begin on Bowl One as you will need to add the mixtures to it.

Bowl One (Batter) Bowl Two (Dry ingred.) Bowl Three (Topping)

1/4 cup butter 2 cups flour 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup chpd pecans
2 eggs 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sour cream 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 bag chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

If you have an electric mixer, beat the first 2 ingredients in Bowl One on medium speed for 10 minutes (no more, no less--*very important or the cake won't rise properly), and add the sour cream and vanilla right at the end. Then, set the speed on slow and begin adding the dry ingredients from Bowl Two to Bowl One by large spoonfuls until the ingredients of both bowls are fully mixed. The batter will be sticky--which is the consistency you are going for.

Next, if using a Bundt pan, begin to spoon the batter from Bowl One and the dry ingredients from Bowl Three alternately into the pan. Set aside enough of the topping for the very last layer. (If using a glass baking dish, just spread the batter using a spoon or spatula to evenly fill the dish, then sprinkle the topping from Bowl Three on top (my preferred method of baking this cake).

Then, bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Little Man is Growing Up--by Jill McKechnie

School started this week. it's been a bittersweet time for me, with my oldest son beginning junior high. So many memories, long forgotten, have come to mind.

Today, I was listening to the Allman Brothers while I was cleaning. Those songs, though not the most spiritual, nevertheless bring back such memories for me. Memories of a time of emotional highs and lows; everything in life seemed incredibly wonderful, or absolutely tragic. I felt on the cusp of something new and exciting, just waiting for me. Where did those times go?

I remember my first kiss. I was at someone's birthday party, sitting with a boy in my class that I liked. He just reached over and kissed me. Afterwards, I looked around, amazed that no one else had noticed! Rockets had gone off, an orchestra was playing - how could everyone act so normal? I remember my dad picking me up at the end of the party, asking me about how things went, did I enjoy my self, how was it, etc. "What is he talking about?" I thought. "Can't he read my mind and see that I've just had my first real kiss? Good grief!"

Ah, love. Now my oldest son is starting seventh grade. He's on the cusp of something new. Of changes, and thrills, and agonies he only dreamt of before. My heart aches for him already, even though he hasn't yet experienced his first love. All I can do, and it is enough, is pray for him. Pray that he will continue on the straight and narrow; pray that he will find a deeper relationship with Jesus; pray that he will have strength to overcome obstacles that may come his way. Pray that at the right time (when he's about 30), the right one will come along.

A bittersweet time. I'm going to try to savor every moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Little Foxes--by Linda P. Kozar

Song of Solomon 2:15 (Amplified Bible) My heart was touched and I fervently sang to him my desire] Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards [of our love], for our vineyards are in blossom.

The little foxes do spoil the vine, don't they? Life's little worries are the worst. But Satan attacks most often as a little fox, not as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

Some say problems come in threes, and it is true that little problems seem to come in bundles, but not randomly. These problems come by design. The enemy knows that a barrage of little problems can easily add up to a big problem for YOU. It takes very little time and effort on his part to make a Christian feel overwhelmed. Often, the first thing to go in a situation like that is a believer's prayer life. With the shield of faith down, it is easy for all those fiery darts to wound.

The enemy will often use random people to irritate and upset you. Like the gum chomping girl at the doctor's office who takes forever to check you in because she's too busy texting. Or the busy salesperson who averts his/her eyes from you instead of acknowledging and saying he/she will be right with you. Or the neighbors who borrow your utensils or tools and never return them.

But Satan's favorite tools to use against you are those closest to you. Christians are the most effective tool of all. Your family. Your church. Your friends. A stranger can only hurt you to a limited extent. But someone who is close to you can deliver a mortal blow. Because they are close to you. Because you trust them.

The little foxes merely prepare the way for the final wound. Weakened and wounded, a Christian is an easy target for such an attack. If you cannot trust God for the small problems in life, how then can you expect to trust Him for the big ones?

As to the course of action--that's simple. Whatever your reaction to the annoyance or hurtful situation is, do the opposite!

*Forgive and move on. Go about your Father's business.
*Choose to love instead of hate. Remember that love covers a multitude of sins.
*Laugh! A merry heart doath good! It is medicine to the soul and health to the bones.
*Spend time in your Word. The Word of God (The Bible) is the ultimate weapon against the enemy. And you WILL overcome the enemy only through the Word of God.

Have you ever laid your head on the pillow at night only to hear the annoying buzz of a relentless mosquito? All the thrashing, swatting and grabbing the air in the dark profits you nothing. Even with the light on, a mosquito is sometimes hard to find, but definitely easier to locate than in the dark. Your light is God's Word.

Remember this--the Little Foxes cannot destroy the vine, but they can nip at the fruit. This week, leave a bad taste in the enemy's mouth. Do the opposite of what he expects. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And send those little foxes packing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Change, it is a comin'

How do you feel about change? Is it good, bad or otherwise? Regardless of how we feel about change as individuals, it is a part of life.

Recently, I had a chance to discover this for myself. My mom was visiting earlier this summer, and I realized that she was changing. Not anything catastrophic, just little things. She's a little more forgetful than she used to be, a little more confused. At times, I felt that I was being the parent to her. Mom and I have had our moments of strife and disagreement, but we've always been close. Now I felt our relationship changing a little bit. I wasn't comfortable with this change at all. "Why do I have to act like the parent?" I thought. "She's the parent, not me!"

Role reversals are not comfortable, but then change is often challenging. This summer, I've realized that my life may not look like my mom's. Since I've been a little girl, when I've thought about the future, I always envisioned my life being like my mothers'. I'd get married around twenty-five, have kids in my early thirties, Purchase my dream house around forty, and then my children and grandchildren would flock to our home every year (or every other year) at Christmas. Life would revolve around church, kids, and maybe a few hobbies, like painting.

As I've become older, that dream has started to fade a little, crumble around the edges. Yes, I was married around 25, kids early 30s, but other things haven't worked out exactly as I planned. I finally realized that my life isn't necessarily destined to be a carbon copy of my parents. God may have something completely different in store.

Just last week, I was struggling with changes. Then I remembered 1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." As I turned the pages of my bible, I realized that I HAD been "looking thru a glass darkly". I was so focused on the difficulties of the here and now, that I was completely missing the big picture. So what if my husband and I don't buy a dream house just like my parents? So what if I'm not the amazing artist my mother is. God has a plan for me. His plan is not the same as my mother's or brother's or my friends. So if I see them achieve something that I have dreamed for myself or my children, I don't need to fret, or be jealous. The Lord is a good God. A righteous God. And He cares for us.

What a revelation! It may have been obvious to all of you out there, but I was just realizing, God has a whole plan for our lives.

It's like a beautiful tapestry, where the strands of pain and suffering are woven into the whole. The individual threads may look scrawny and ugly by themselves, but when they are woven into the tapestry they add a depth and beauty that wasn't previously there.

When I look at my current struggles, or my pain,I'm seeing a cloudy image, a confused reflection. At the end of my life, or maybe in heaven, I will see clearly that God had a plan all along.

Join me in praising God for His goodness to us, and that one day we WILL see Him face to face and understand His plan for us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Wall of Dead Animals--by Linda Kozar

One weekend, on the way to Dannelle's parent's church in Victoria, Texas, four of us stopped for a bite at a BBQ place along the way. It looked like a perfectly normal place from the outside, but as soon as we stepped inside, I saw the Wall of Dead Animals!

Talk about an ice-breaker. Although the four of us, Karen Mayer Cunningham, Kate Young, Dannelle Woody and me (Linda Kozar) didn't need an ice breaker, especially with Karen and her jokes (hehe). Anyway, we were sort of whooper-jawed by the sight of so much extreme taxidermy in one room. And later, I got to thinking. . .

Why were we so taken back by the sight of all those dead stuffed animals when there are spiritually dead people who walk among us every day? This may come as a shock to you, but people who don't know the Lord are dead spiritually. We work with them, go to school--our kids are in sports together. They're in our neighborhood, even our church! YOU might even be one of them.

This week, I challenge you to look around at all the people around you who need to hear about Jesus and truly see them. Look beyond the pleasant facades and see the deep need, how they sorrow and struggle, the pain behind the smiles and the loneliness. . . People need Jesus desperately, but don't know Him or don't know anything about Him. Some have never set foot in a church.

Or, take a look at your own life. Have you lived a God-honoring life? Tried different ways to God, or even worshipped different Gods, but have been unfulfilled? You may have tried everything else life has to offer, drugs, alcohol, etc. or every weird and wacky religion out there except for Jesus. You stopped short when it came to Jesus. You tried everything else without blinking an eye. Why?

After you've looked around and seen the need--what next? You tell them. Tell them about Jesus. In a real way. Not a condescending or cliche' way. But real. Friend to friend. Love people like Jesus loves people. Love them enough to care what happens to them. Love them enough to risk rejection or persecution. Love them in spite of what they say. Love them enough to tell the absolute truth--that Jesus is Lord.

Acts 16:31 ". . .Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

Here's a simple sinner's prayer:

Dear Jesus, I need You. I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me of all my sins against You. I don't want to live for my flesh, I want to live for You. I want to be one of Your saints and for You to write my name in Your Lamb's Book of life. Come into my heart right now Lord Jesus and fill my life with more and more of You. I get off the throne of my life and ask You to sit on that throne instead, where You rightfully belong. Amen.

I want to hear from you! When you lead someone to Christ, I want to do the Snoopy dance with you! So leave a comment please.

If any of you are interested in seeing the wall of dead animals for inspiration, the address is below (and those people cook up some killer BBQ too) Yummers.

Mikesea's BBQ
4225 Hwy. 59 and Blue Creek Road, El Campo, TX
Phone: (979)-543-8252 or 1-800-388-2552

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Loser Cruiser--by Linda Kozar

When Babes With A Beatitude releases in December, you'll get to read all about my Loser Cruiser! That's a VAN to the uninitiated. A standard Mommy mobile!

Mine is a 2000 Toytota Sienna with lots of mom miles on it. I drove the girls to soccer, basketball, baseball, swim and tennis practices, gymnastics, dance, art and music lessons, movies, the mall and everything in between.

I'm quite certain there are runaway French fries and Cheerios in the dark chasms between the seats. Milkshakes and orange sodas left permanent stains on the carpet. The leather seats are worn and cracked. The door handle on the left passenger side comes right off! There's a picture of me holding it in my hand! Take a gander at that!

Don't get me wrong--I've loved every minute in my loser cruiser, but feel that it's time to think about trading it in. My kids are grown up and I've grown out of the need to drive a van. I'm ready for something sporty, fun and RED! Maybe polka dot! Or Leopard! WOOHOO.

But not quite yet. I'm still teaching my 16 year old to drive. That's where owning a loser cruiser comes in handy!

The thing I love most about my cruiser though are my RAPTURE READY FISH on the back of the VAN. That's right. Like many other Christian families out there, I express my faith to the world by attaching a silver metal fish, one for each member of my family, (the Biggest One represents Jesus) to the rear bumper of my vehicle. HOWEVER, with me, there's always a twist!

I pointed my fish facing upward. WHY? Because they're ready for Jesus to come back and RAPTURE them! Do I hear an AMEN???

So let me know what you think. I hope that many of you will feel inspired enough to slap some RAPTURE READY fish to your vehicle.

WOO HOO! Jesus is coming back!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer--and the living's easy. . .by Linda Kozar

When I think of lazy summer days, I can't help remembering many summers past. The sun-washed picture above is from a family vacation a year ago--in Destin, Florida. Michael, the girls and I were on a virtually deserted beach at sunset--like we were the only people in the whole entire world. As the sun began to descend, it embellished everything with a golden glow--a true Midas touch. Even the shells looked glorious!

In the cast of that golden light, I thought about the Lord and how His light changes the way we look at everything. The very moment a person is born again, the world begins to look different and so do we. In fact, nothing will never look the same again. The lens of God's love has a very different focus. When we see people with the love of Christ, compassion wells up inside. When we look upon our Father's world, we see its infinite beauty and complexity.

So today, whether you stand alone upon a windswept beach, upon a majestic mountain with a breathtaking panorama below, or in a lawn chair by a kiddie pool, rejoice in the light of the Lord and in the day He has made for you.

"Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you" Isaiah 60:1 KJV

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Traveling Thoughts

Last week, my husband and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. There was much to see and do, and we wanted to do it all! We rushed around, trying to take in as many museums, monuments, and special exhibits that we could find. No matter how hard we tried, though, we weren't able to fit everything into the time slot allotted.

On the last day, we had a few hours before heading to the airport. After getting our breakfast coffee and scone, we took a seat in the shop by a big plate glass window. Gazing on the mass of humanity rushing by, we saw many people who seemed on their way to do busy and important things. A jogger, intense in his concentration, shutting out the world with his iphone, and looking only ahead as he focused on his destination. A young businesswoman, her hair perfectly styled, dressed professionally, and having a serious conversation with her male colleague as they were off to solve the world's problems.

And then, we noticed something else. A young family across the street. A mom, dad, and baby in a stroller. They seemed so happy, as they slowly meandered down the road. Looking as if they had nowhere in particular to go, but happy just the same, enjoying just being together on a week-end morning.

I realized we hadn't been much different than all those other bustling, busy Washingtonians. Even though we were on vacation, we were rushing around like the world would come to an end if we didn't see this exhibit, or that monument. When instead, we could have been enjoying the moment. The sun on our faces, the freedom to not have to be anywhere or do anything in particular.

Isn't that what God wants for us? He doesn't speak in the earthquake, but in the still, small voice. He wants us to stop rushing around, be still, and listen to Him.

"Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for it's mother's milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me."
Psalm 131:2