Idea Starters

October 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

Have you ever wondered where ideas originate? I love cooking up ideas, so it’s a natural fit for me to celebrate International Ideas Month in March.

I recently joined Pinterest—a social networking site for members to share virtual bulletin boards. You can pin images and ideas on your board to share a variety of interests. How brilliant! And it all started with an idea to save, share, and swap more ideas.

Have you ever asked God to give you an idea? As a writer, I designate time for brainstorming. During some of these think tanks, my thoughts surge so fast and furious, I call them brain tsunamis. Other times an idea hits when we least expect it—and we have to be ready to jot it down. I’ve had ideas strike at red lights, bank drive-thru, waiting rooms, and during church. I’ve learned to capture the gist of the idea in my idea notebook because just as quickly as ideas appear in my mind, they can disappear. I hate it when that happens!

The best evidence of ideas is when I’m speaking to a group and I see faces light up. I can be fairly certain they’ve just experienced an “aha moment.” See why I celebrate ideas?

We can miss two important steps with ideas though. First, we have to make sure it’s a God idea if we want to be operating in His purpose and for His glory. How can you be certain it’s a God idea, not merely a good idea? I ask Him to show me a green light in the form of peace if my brainstorm is from Him and give me a red light in the form of doubt if it doesn’t fit with His direction for my life.

The final step to ideas that often gets overlooked is fulfillment. Some people have fun conceiving ideas, but have a harder time working the idea through—taking action steps to bring to completion what started as a brilliant concept. Ideas are only wishes until we act on them and see them accomplished. Can you think of those uncompleted projects that seem to hang out forever on your To Do List?

Ask God to lead the way. May He:
• Inspire the idea.
• Endorse it so you know it’s from Him.
• Give you the resources to complete the idea.
• Give you the discipline to stick to it when you’re tempted to quit.

Then praise God when you experience the reward of checking off the idea from your list and you can say, “It is finished!”

Never forget, God will complete us as one of His good ideas, too. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6 (NKJV).

Seven Thoughts About Crazy Expectations

April 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

This past summer I felt challenged to be intentional in how I form expectations and how to plan ahead to address unmet expectations.

There are times that no matter what we do, others will let us down. We have great expectations because we want them to live lives in the light of God’s favor and blessing. But they choose a different way, flirting on the edge of darkness.

Over the course of the summer I learned a great deal about how to deal with my own unrealistic or unmet expectations—especially when it requires tough love.

  • Sometimes others will do  things that are not acceptable—that’s not judging, it’s just discerning. Because I want the best for them, my expectations will be unmet when they choose what is not acceptable.
  • God wants me to still love  them, but I don’t have to love their attitudes or actions, and I don’t even have to like the person right then! Often, I don’t like the person they are becoming. But I can still be hopeful that they will realign more with God’s principles (because I want His best for their lives).
  • My prayers for these times should be more about how I can best show God’s love to them rather than praying they respond in a way I find acceptable. I should evaluate, what does God want from this? How can I share the truth in love? How can I release my feelings so they aren’t invested in this? How can I be okay if this is never resolved to my satisfaction? The answer is, to realize “it’s not about me.” It’s about reflecting God’s Light even when others don’t care to stand in that Light.
  • This also requires  discernment to know how involved to be with someone who isn’t going to be a positive part of my life. Maybe they are toxic to me. Or maybe they choose to go down the wrong path. The words “mark and avoid” come to mind from scripture. I know that sounds severe, but sometimes loving the way God loves requires tough love. He doesn’t expect me to hold their hands when they are slapping mine!
  • There are times that no matter what we do to make something right, the other person isn’t going to do right, and we have no control over that. All we have control over is our response. The way we deal with our feelings. Our choices. I can choose to not keep doing favors for these toxic ones if they’re going to treat me poorly.
  • Love doesn’t mean we roll over and play dead. It means we will release them, much like the prodigal son, to find their way back to what God wants in their lives. It also means being willing to receive them back when they come with repentant hearts.
  • While waiting for someone to make the right choices, I can’t allow myself to get worked up about their faults and flaws. I’ve learned not to focus their self-absorption, distorted perspectives, or poor communications skills because obsessing on their shortcomings can render me ineffective for God’s use. And often the very thing I get frustrated about in someone else is something I need to make sure I’m not fighting in my own life. It is healthy to use their dysfunction as my mirror—to reveal with might be going on with me that needs adjusted. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was getting at when He said I needed to extract that big ol’ plank in my eye before I assist someone else with the speck in their eye. I’m learning!

Now it’s your turn. How will you deal with expectations in a different way?

Get Your Lemonade Here!

December 24, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

County and state fairs abound throughout the country this time of year, and the fair food is my favorite attraction! Lemon shake-ups are always my beverage of choice. They shake together freshly squeezed lemons, simple syrup made from hot water and sugar, and ice. As a child, I enjoyed running a lemonade stand, and I still make lemonade at home.

At this moment, our home is stocked with another kind of lemonade. I’m taking the lemons of life and turning them into lemonade. Have you ever wished for something sweet and received something sour instead? I’ve had to learn to work with what I get when it comes to life zingers, and I’m guessing you have too. These bad-news situations could easily sideline a Christian and zap them of any spiritual strength. Instead of allowing these circumstances to overcome me, I choose to overcome my circumstances.

Each of us has our own life-trials. By evaluating the ingredients of lemonade, perhaps we can learn to turn our life-lemons into a lemonade stand—serving up something refreshing to our neighbors.

  • Lemons-the setbacks and trials in our lives.
  • Hot Water-the words from people who attempt to make our lives miserable by increasing the sour taste of the lemons (often referred to as “Job’s friends”).
  • Ice-the emotions we experience when we get bad news.
  • Sugar-the positive outlook we add to the recipe, because we realize our Heavenly Father is in control, and He can create a positive outcome from any situation.

The creation of the lemonade is as important as the ingredients. Just when we think we can’t take any more pain, there are two more steps. First we must allow the sugar to melt into the hot water. If we don’t have enough sugar, we produce a bitter beverage. For the final step in the process, we must squeeze the lemons, to produce the juice. Often, we feel like the lemons (trials) are squeezing the life out of us. If we choose to be a lemonade maker we refuse to let the trials get the best of us. Instead, we squeeze out all the juice and let God create a real treat. The end result for this lemonade recipe isn’t just a refreshing beverage—it’s a refreshing life.

“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (James 3:11 KJV).

My cousin Vicki sent me a cheerful yellow floral arrangement, which featured real lemons in the vase. Her thoughtful card read, “You’ve been handed some lemons lately. I hope these are more welcome.” And you know—they were.

What will you choose to do with the lemons of your life? What a difference in our neighborhoods, if there were these sorts of lemonade stands on every corner!

Blackberry Patch

October 29, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

I love imagining myself in a scene from The Secret Garden. The very idea of escaping to a peaceful area of God’s creation through nature’s maze excites me to the core! One of the hidden benefits of our Kentucky home was discovering we owned the woods behind our fenced backyard. My husband Russ cleared the brush to create various paths. One thing he didn’t clear out was the wild blackberry brambles. Partly because those brambles are prickly, but partly because we anticipated the fruit of the vine. During the entire process we eagerly watched the blackberries mature and ripen. First we saw the blossoms, then the fruit appeared and finally the mature fruit was ready to be picked.

I noticed something in the maturation process. Blackberries don’t all mature at the same rate. Some berries ripen slower than others. Some of the fruit is smaller than others. Worst of all, some fruit never ripens, but dies on the vine before it ever matures into a plump juicy flavorful berry.

We evaluated all the variables and came to some conclusions. The berries in the sun ripened quicker and produced a better fruit. The berries choked by other weeds and plants dried up rather than becoming luscious mature fruit. And berries in the shade eventually ripened with smaller fruit, depending on the amount of rain.

When we consider Christian growth by using the lessons of the blackberry patch, we can understand our own ripening process better. We mature, based on just the right circumstances occurring at the appropriate time in the process. We need the Son to mature into the best fruit, as designed by the Creator. The water of the Word rains down just the right amount of moisture needed so we can become succulent to Jesus. Even in partial darkness (focus on self), with some Son the fruit will grow, but at a much slower rate, and often with an inferior finished product. Sadly, other Christians allow the cares of life to choke out their spiritual growth, much like the weeds overcame some of our wild berries by wrapping around the brambles and cutting the berries off from nourishment.

I desire to grow into the best fruit. Not for reasons of pride, but because I want my Creator to be well pleased. By allowing the Son to shine fully into my life, ignoring my shady self-desire and avoiding the choking cares of the world, I’m determined to ripen into fruit pleasing to the Taster. May He savor me and be glorified by my growth.

Singular Focus

By Kathy Carlton Willis –

Every year I try to come up with a singular focus for the year to keep me disciplined in the direction I believe God wants me to take for the year. The past few months as I’ve prayed over my focus for 2011, a phrase kept coming to me. I started hearing it everywhere. In sermons. In books. Even in commercials. And it’s not a typical goal-oriented phrase to motivate me to grow in Christ like most years. My 2011 phrase is:

REST ASSURED

There’s a lot to be said for this year’s focus. Last year I found myself trying to fix too many dilemmas in attempting to provide for my own needs. I ended up “worrying my prayers” rather than walking in complete faith. I wasn’t hot and bothered in my worry, but it was a silent pressure always weighing down on me.

This year’s rest is a different kind of rest. It’s not a blind rest or a doubt-filled tossing-and-turning type of rest. No, God wants me to rest assured that He’s handling my life. Rest assured that He is in control. Rest assured that if He leads me to do something He will equip me for the challenge. And rest assured that I don’t have to be involved in every good opportunity that comes my way. I knew all of those concepts already, but I’m not sure I was really living them.

So, this is my challenge, and I choose to accept it! Would you like to join me?

AUTHOR QUOTE: Rest assured, Jesus has it covered.

“How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right” (Psalm 94:11-13 MSG).

Today’s devotional is by Kathy Carlton Willis, Christ-servant, wife to Russ, editor, publicist, certified CLASSeminars speaker and faculty member. Kathy Carlton Willis Communications encompasses her many passions. Kathy’s tagline captures her essence—Light & Lively: His Reflection/Her Laughter. She shines, whether she’s shining the light on others through her communications firm or reflecting God’s light during her speaking opportunities. Schedule Kathy for a speaking event or contact her firm for promotional assistance.

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