Browsed by
Month: July 2015

DOG DAYS of Summer

DOG DAYS of Summer

bailey-1397744-1599x1066

What comes to mind when you hear the term––Dog Days of Summer?

IMG_0010Many times is this phrase is used to describe the hot, dry summer months. Maybe your thoughts drift to your childhood when the sounds of locusts lulled you to sleep. Possibly you recall a scorching wind blowing in your face or walking barefoot in the heat of the day. The minute your feet touched the blistering pavement you started the sidewalk dance. This unique jig continued until your feet landed in the shade or in the grass.

rocky-point-sunset-2-1395159-1599x1066

 

Actually, the original definition of dog days carries a whole different meaning. According to Kake.com, the Romans associated the hot weather with Sirius because it is the brightest star in the constellation, Canis Major, meaning Large Dog. Interesting to note, this star, Canis Major, rises and sets with the sun. As for the timing of Dog Days, it varies from region to region. In Texas, Dog Days of Summer usually begin in mid-July and run through early September.

God uses real life situations to teach us spiritual life lessons. For example, the weather affects not only our physical bodies but also our emotions and spiritual conditions. The Sun is vital to our human existence. As the Sun emits visible light, heat, and ultraviolet rays, the human body experiences the Sun’s impact. It is easy to see how visible light affects us. Ultraviolet light is unseen by the human eye and not felt by the human body, but its effects on a body’s health are far reaching. In fact, some of its most essential health benefits go unnoticed. One of the greatest advantages of ultraviolet light is the production of Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential to calcium metabolism, the formation of bone growth, and fighting skin diseases. In the northern regions of the world, the Sun only shines a few hours a day throughout the winter. During this time of darkness, people are prone to depression. One reason for this disorder is a deficiency of Vitamin D.

Isn’t this like the Christian life? There are times when God allows us to view glimpses of His mighty hand of healing, peace, judgment, protection, etc. At other times, we experience the heat of situations and circumstances in life that need purification. Yet behind the scenes, the Lord is continuously accomplishing His purposes. God is daily injecting doses of spiritual vitamins, which our souls need to overcome sinful diseases that work to invade our thoughts, hearts, and lives. Many times we are unaware of these expressions of God’s love that are so vital to sustaining our spiritual health.

Are you experiencing some dog days in your personal life… marriage, children, illness, work, finances, commitments, relationships, responsibilities, or decisions? Is the heat of a situation zapping your spiritual energy? God calls us to do the sidewalk dance and run to Him, so we can abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Prayer keeps us under the shelter of His wings.

PRAYER CHALLENGE

…Overall the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. –Isaiah 4:6

Ask God to be your continual shade from the heat. Praise Him for the unseen things He is doing in and through your life. Ask Him to open your eyes to recognize His hand of protection, love, purpose, grace, and mercy. At the same time, pray for others experiencing their own heated circumstances. Just a thought—you might be the only one praying over their situations. Lifting others up is a privilege given to believers by God Himself. What an privilege and an honor.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter

TRUEST VOICE – Guest Blogger, Sharen Watson

TRUEST VOICE – Guest Blogger, Sharen Watson

Today, I’m excited to introduce my dear friend and guest blogger – Sharen Watson. Her gift for writing goes beyond words. In fact, she amazes me! Her passion for inspiring authors to find their voice is powerful, yet tender. Just wait, you will see what I mean. “Thank you, Sharen, for teaching me to write from the heart. I love you dearly!” So, without further ado, I introduce to you my dear sister-friend Sharen…

10838232_10207032640478992_4134523504030222198_o

First of all, I’d like to offer humble thanks to Carla for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. What a privilege to share my blog, and a newly birthed ministry, Truest Voice: Helping One Another Share the Sacred.

Before I share about Truest Voice, here is a little about me.

My name is Sharen Watson. I was a writer until I lost my voice. No matter where I looked, which rock I turned over, or which door I looked behind, words had simply vanished. I searched all the hidden places inside of me, and begged God for the ability to sing with words on paper again, but lyrics were lost to me.

So I stopped trying…

I surrendered every desire to ever write again. I laid all of it at the feet of Jesus, turned and walked away.

And then, in the quiet, His whisper came soft. The gentlest touch of His creativity barely brushed my soul… and colors of words moved through me with powerful waves of emotion.

It’s time to tell your story… His words were not audible to my ears, yet I heard them clear. Truest Voice was born, and it’s here I started from the beginning.

I’d like to share a bit of my journey by revealing some of my sacred with you here. The following excerpt is from Truest Voice: Helping One Another Share the Sacred (www.sharenwatson.com), 3-30-2015.

11239687_10207152822803475_1700678094574120207_n“Mommy, how come Grandpa hurts me every night?” I searched for her response, waiting for … something. I watched her wet a washcloth to wipe the cold cream off of her face. She paused for the briefest moment and then…

Nothing.

Did she hear me?

So I added to my confession. “He touches me here.” I pointed to my chest. “And here.” I gazed from my small hand into my mother’s eyes. Tears welled. I felt them there, full and ready to flood. My posture moved slightly forward ready for her embrace sure to come.

How I needed that embrace. I needed her to hold me and tell me everything would be okay. I won’t let him touch you ever again… These were the words I heard in my young, innocent heart. Words sure to come from the voice of my mother.

She’ll protect me now. I’m safe.

Only she didn’t.

Fury shone in her blue eyes. And the tears in my own vanished as I faced an unfamiliar rage. I backed away, and turned to wipe any remnant of moisture away. Quickly, before she could see.

“Look at me!” I turned to face my mother. I did not expect to see one I didn’t recognize. An introduction to one I trusted, yet no longer. No more. “You’re imagining things!” Her voice stern and full of reprimand. “Never, ever say anything like that again! Do you hear me?”

 And I never mentioned it again. Until I did… years later.

As a child, I tried speaking in my truest voice in the beginning throes of grievous assault. I spoke, but my voice but was ignored, disbelieved, or chastised by other voices around me. Voices I should have been able to trust. Voices of those who could have should have believed, protected, and nurtured. Voices that instead, flippantly cast my words aside without regard. Voices that said, “Don’t speak of this again. And never, ever tell.”

As a young teen, I nearly spilled my sacred to a few adults who seemed trustworthy, but stopped short of speaking a truth that deeply embarrassed me. Guilt and shame were all a-swirl in my mind as if I had possibly done something to encourage my grandfather’s actions. With humiliation embedded deep, I knew (wrongly), I didn’t matter.

11221818_10207100505575577_8707566771020939647_n

What if they cast me aside? What if they don’t believe me either? What if my grandpa makes good on his threats?

But my voice mattered, and matters still. And so do the voices of a multitude of kindred survivors. Healing begins with the telling, the sharing of secrets long locked away.

This is why I’m inviting kindred survivors to Truest Voice…

Truest Voice is a healing place where you can tell your stories, your “sacred.” Yet, please always keep in mind there are kindred survivors who may find descriptive detail offensive, perhaps triggering them to silence. Truest Voice exists to help (not hinder) one another share the sacred. So please be prayerful, kind, and gentle with the words you use here.

Truest Voice is place where you can simply say, “yes.” Our community will understand. This is often the very first tentative step toward healing. If this is you, my kindred friend, you are all kinds of brave, and each one here is so very proud of you for trusting your first step with us.

Truest Voice is also a place you can simply dwell and read along as my story unfolds. I pray the telling of my sacred offers hope, even if you’re not yet ready to tell yours.

11705248_10207156560696920_1224684250428348505_n


 

Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2

Thank you, Sharen, for allowing God to use your story for His glory. Amen.

Please share comments and prayer requests with us. Sharen would love to answer your questions and respond to your comments. Check out her blog – True Voice.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

HEART OF PRAISE

HEART OF PRAISE

 Psalm 150-6Driving in the car, listening to praise music, and suddenly you realize your arm is extending to the ceiling. Your heart overflows with love to the Almighty King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus. Tears of joy remind you of His grace and mercy. In your world of worship, you glance over at the car next to you. The driver looks bewildered and a bit confused. Faced with a choice–to act like you are stretching or continue praising God–you continue in worship. Warmth consumes your heart.

How does God receive a heart of praise? 

How do we get to the point of praising Jesus before we know the outcome of our prayers? How can we praise Jesus in the middle of suffering? How do we keep a heart of praise when things don’t turn out as planned? And, in what way does our worship to God affect others?

Worship is not about us, but God. Worship is not about receiving, but surrendering our hearts to the Creator of heaven and earth. Jesus gets the glory! Raising our voices in praise to the one who sacrificed His life on the cross and now He sits at the right hand of the Father–Jesus–He deserves the glory forever and ever. Amen.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Where is your heart for worship? Is it based on the outcome of a situation? Does it fluctuate according to your feelings? Do you find yourself saying, “I didn’t care for the praise music at church this morning.” Remember, when we worship God, it’s not about what we can get from God, but what we give back to God. Let’s get real. Ask God to reveal your heart and purpose for worship. The very last verse in the book of Psalms says it all. Write it on a piece of paper and place it in your car or on your mirror in your bathroom as a reminder…

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Ps. 150:6

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

RLM_Logo_Official copy 2

GUEST BLOG – Carly Jo McDougal

GUEST BLOG – Carly Jo McDougal

AN ORDINARY DAY

Written by Carly Jo McDougal

413014_10150991812505746_1220625954_o

I just got off of work, and now I am having the moral debate between taking a long nap or working out (… it’s an everyday struggle, let’s be honest). This is just a typical day in the life of Carly!

Lately, I have realized that once a routine settles in, it’s hard to not let each day fade into the next. We see it in movies over and over- just an average family reliving the same mundane routine… the ordinary just settles in and life becomes just plain average. But, on my way home from work today, something struck me deep! God allowed me to see a nugget of truth that I will forever hold fast to.

God has NOT called me to live an ordinary life!

He didn’t say “I have come so you can have life and just an ordinary one at that” NO!! He says, “I have come so that you may have life and LIFE TO THE FULL!” John 10:10.

Does this mean I need to alter my life, so everything I do is over the top extraordinary? No. It simply means that Christ can make the ordinary, extraordinary. He alone is life to the full. It does not matter the circumstance. He is constant. And, He produces life & fruit even in the most mundane tasks. He longs for me to experience a vibrant life full of wonder and passion for Him. He wants me to go & do mighty things even in the midst of the ordinary!

When I saturate in the Word, the Lord can turn mundane tasks into extraordinary avenues and adventures. When I am near to Jesus, I see life from His perspective. A broader picture with more detail and beauty and wonder. Look at the disciples. Simon and Andrew were just fishing, like any normal day on the job. Then, Jesus walks by and asks them to join Him on the adventure of a lifetime- being a disciple of Jesus. They were invited to walk with the Maker of the Heavens and hear about His favorite breakfast item, what His favorite kind of dog was, and what stirred His affection. I want that. I want to walk with Jesus and hear what stirs His affection. I have experienced so much joy, pain, adventures, & growth in my relationship with the Lord over the years that I can’t help but live in thankfulness, dwelling in the presence of my Maker.

A key to life to the full is gratitude. It’s an everyday choice.

I will choose gratitude, even in the hardest of situations. To start off: I am thankful for the big things such as America, my family, my Mama’s beef stroganoff, dear friends, laughter & holidays. But, I’m also thankful for the little, quirky things such as the trivia games on cereal boxes, the small victory of finishing a tube of chapstick (am I right, ladies?), a pilot pen that doesn’t smear… and so much more!

So, today and every day, I will fight the urge to let my day be ordinary. I will choose adventure, passion, & gratitude even in the ordinary tasks because a life with Jesus is anything but ordinary. 

“In the end, it doesn’t matter how well we have performed or what we have accomplished—a life without heart is not worth living.” ― John Eldredge


Check out more from Carly Jo McDougal’s blog – A Relentless Kind of Love

Please share your comments with me. What a blessing to hear from you!

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

HALLOW GOD

HALLOW GOD

Eyes opened. Lump formed. Tears poured. Reading through Numbers 20:1-13, God revealed His Truths in such a powerful way. I grabbed my laptop and started writing…

HALLOW GOD

Parched and thirsty,

God’s children complained.

Moses fell before the Lord,

Pleading in His name.


God spoke to Moses,

Directions He displayed.

Moses listened with intent,

But selfishness led the way.


 God commanded Moses,

“Speak and the rock will supply.”

But Moses disobeyed,

On himself he did rely.


  Lack of honor and respect,

Moses did portray.

Focusing on the people,

Led him fully astray.


 Moses lost the blessing,

The Promised Land he missed.

  Greatly filled with sorrow,

A choice he’d never forget.


 Heed the lessons learned,

Never lose sight of God’s Word.

Hallow Him in every way.

Listen, trust, and obey.


We must follow God’s instructions… COMPLETELY! Never add to nor take away from His directions. Listening and obeying His Word is vital to accomplishing God’s purposes. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. This prevents us from being swayed by the world’s point of view.

Our goal is not to impress others, but to live sold out for Jesus.

 

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Founder of Reflective Life Ministries

REDEEMED – HOLY & PURE

REDEEMED – HOLY & PURE

Faith

Do you live for Jesus? Do you live with a heavenly perspective or an earthly point of view? Think for a moment. Be honest. Where is your focus… the world or Jesus?

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. –1 Peter 1:18,19

Embedded in the midst of 1 Peter 1:18 is the word redeemed. Redeemed from what? Redeemed by whom? Redeemed why? What is God saying to us?

Redeemed carries a deeper meaning. In the original language (the Greek), redeemed means to be released from one’s self by payment of a ransom. Moreover, redeemed means to be delivered from every kind of evil… internal and external. The redeemed one is the receiver. The one, who pays the ransom, is the giver. An unmerited gift filled with grace, love, and mercy. An unconditional “love offering” with no strings attached.

Tears well up. Humbleness camps in my heart. Jesus paid it all. He exchanged Himself for our ransom–my ransom. He rescued all who trust in Him from the penalty of sin. Jesus bridged the gap between God and us. Not because we deserved it, but because of His love for us.

So, questions arise, “How do I live for Him? How do I live a life that reflects God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy? How do I live a holy life free of selfishness, pride, and sin?” Possibly, the following acronym will help spark a fresh reminder to you.

REDEEM…

RE-new

Living for Him is a choice. Daily renewing our hearts through God’s Word and prayer refocuses who we are in Christ–Redeemed. Make a decision to call upon Him every day. Renew your strength in Him. Refresh your mind by realizing Jesus redeemed you and paid the penalty for your sin.

DE-sire

Desiring, to live every moment for Jesus, changes our attitudes. Daily reminding ourselves of Jesus’ sacrifice and love on the cross keeps us focused on Him. God knows the desire of our hearts. He knows if we serve Him out of a selfish gain or to further the Kingdom of God. Desire to seek Jesus first at the beginning of your day. I love how my daddy prays, “Jesus––We love you and just want to love you more.” Thanks, Dad, for those simple, yet powerful words!

EM-power

The Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, empowers us to trust, respond, and follow God’s Word. We can’t create this internal power ourselves. This is the Holy Spirit’s job. Romans 15:17-19 states, “Therefore, I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done–by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.” By surrendering and allowing the Holy Spirit to empower us with the gifts of the Spirit (Galatians 3:22) we become empty of ourselves and filled with the Spirit.

LIFE CHALLENGE

Renew your desire to live a life empowered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus. Daily realize, “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” Living moment-by-moment knowing you are redeemed by the blood of Jesus changes your perspective on decisions, actions, and circumstances. We can’t produce holiness or purity ourselves. Only Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has the power to create a holy and pure heart. Praise God for His grace and mercy, which go beyond our understanding. Never forget–Our hope is in Jesus, our Redeemer forever.

Excerpt from SOLD OUT: LIVE FOR JESUS

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

Sold Out - v13 copy  COMING IN AUGUST 2015

 

I SAY YES #jamilynhull

I SAY YES #jamilynhull

Service

 

I didn’t even know her, yet something drew me to her. The moment I heard about her death tears poured. But why? I don’t know her family and friends. We didn’t attend the same church. So, why would her life affect mine in such a drastic way? Turning to the Lord, I asked Him this same question. In the quiet of my heart, I heard God say…

Because Jamilyn Hull lived her life sold out for Me. From the moment she woke up until she laid her head on her pillow at night, she served Me completely. As My daughter, she lived every day with My Kingdom purposes at the forefront of her heart and mind. Keep your eyes open. I have something to teach you through my daughter, Jamilyn Hull’s life.

This conversation with God lingered in my mind. I began asking God to show me what He wanted me to learn.

My daughter, Carly Jo, is serving as an intern this summer at The Woodlands Church. The same church where Jamilyn, 26 years old, served as the WC Trading Co Manager and Developer for International Outreach. Carly Jo said Jamilyn loved missions and serving God around the world. Thursday evening, June 25, Jamilyn was returning home from a week-long mission trip to Haiti. On the drive home from the airport, a tragic auto accident ended her life. Unanswered questions blasted social media. From around the world love poured out.

The worship center filled to capacity. Not a dry eye in the place. Over 5000 streamed in from around the world to watch the memorial service. A celebration of life, not of death. A festival of praise, not sorrow. Unspoken questions still lingered… Why in the midst of serving You, Jesus, would her life be taken? You could have prevented the accident or sent your angels to protect her? And then it happened. On the back of Jamilyn’s memorial program, written the last night of her mission trip, the last night before she met her Savior face-to-face…

549411_10155722127665543_6003841873839116212_nEven now, tears well up. Please read her words one more time. Let them pour over you. Let them soak in. Let them inspire you. Let them challenge you… Whatever may come and whatever that looks like. 

From what I understand, one of her favorite statements was I say Yes! One of her friends wrote, “Thank you, Jamilyn, for always challenging me. I will forever miss you! I say YES to loving people unconditional, I say YES to caring about the broken, I say YES to living every day on purpose, I say YES to chasing after Christ’s heart no matter the circumstances, I say YES to being the light on a hill-top, I say YES.”

So, I say Yes to following Jesus completely and living my life sold out for Him. Thank you, God, for teaching me this powerful life lesson through Jamilyn’s life. Your ways far exceed our understanding. As Jamilyn said it, I say Yes to committing to Your cause and I am committed to Your will, whatever may come and whatever that looks like. Amen.

Please leave comments at the end of the blog.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal

THANKFUL HEART

THANKFUL HEART

Thankful

A Thankful Heart produces…  A Thankful Attitude which creates… Thankful Expressions and Pleasant Words!

What does it mean to have a thankful heart? Why not a thankful mouth? Or a thankful face?

What sets our MOUTHS into motion?

When someone is appreciative, her words uplift, encourage, and inspire others. Her words are evidence of a selfless and humble life. With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing (James 3:9-10). In other words, in the same breath, we can sing songs of praise to God and then scream at the driver in front of us. Confession time: I am guilty as charged.

What sets our FACES into motion?

As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man. —Proverbs 27:19

I used to live behind a mask. Every morning, I painted on a smile. But underneath was a woman in the midst of darkness. I was one of those Christians who fell into thinking believers in Jesus couldn’t be depressed and must exhibit joy at all times. Little did I know, my daily mask was slowly cracking. It worked well for a few years, but as time passed, my true feelings surfaced. A mask only works for a short time. It’s a temporary fix. God calls us out from behind the veil to be real, authentic, and holy like Jesus.

What sets our HEARTS into motion?

The Lord doesn’t look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. —1 Samuel 16:7

In other words, we often look at the outside of a person while God focuses on the inside. Character develops within the heart of man. The more we love Jesus, the more we reflect Him in our conversations and our actions. As we seek His face, we become His reflection! It all begins in the heart. A grateful attitude reflects a thankful heart, which affects what we say and how we act. A transformed life is the result.

LIFE CHALLENGE
Practicing God’s Truths and biblical principles is the best way to apply them to our lives. So the next time you sit at the dinner table, don’t focus on the delicious food, but on the love that went into making a meal and the one who provided the food. Appreciate the one who spent time preparing, shopping, and creating the family dinner. Ask God to give you a thankful heart, one that serves and encourage others, lends a hand, shares words of affirmation, and one who is grateful in all circumstances. Live life sold out for Jesus with a heart that says, “Life is not about me, but all about Him.” And remember, a grateful heart produces a thankful attitude, which in turn creates peaceful expressions and pleasant words.

From My Heart to Yours,

Carla McDougal


 

NewSold Out - v13 copyest book project releases in August…

SOLD OUT: LIVE FOR JESUS

Do you sometimes feel like you live to exist? Does one day seem to run into the next without much meaning? Do you want more out of life? 

God desires for us to live each day with meaning. From the moment we wake up, God waits for us to connect with Him. His voice calls, but do we listen?

In Sold Out: Live for Jesus, Carla McDougal encourages readers to find purpose in life by drawing nearer to Jesus in real and practical ways. As in My Prayer Chair, her heartfelt messages and analogies bring laughter, tears and understanding to God’s Word. Be inspired to live in victory and sold out to Jesus through your thoughts, words, and actions. Sold Out not only nourishes the soul but also ignites a purpose for living.

Check out Reflective Life Ministries for more details.

%d bloggers like this: