Friday, December 30, 2011

Love. It Hopes.

We've all read 1 Corinthians 13 probably a gazillion times. Probably could quote it if you needed to. But just in case....
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Sometimes the repetition of it causes it to seem mundane. It being love. Sure, sure, love is the "christian" thing to do. Yeah, I obey the law, I'm a good person, I give back, I'm honest, and above all I walk in love. Yep, check that off my good girl list.

Reading it today though. It seemed to mean much, much more. More then just doing what is right. I've often read that chapter and put the Father's name in the place of the word "love." You know, God is patient, God is kind, God never fails...

Isn't it wonderful that He never calls us to a standard that He, Himself does not meet? I love that about Him. He is love and all those things.

But today I remember that, yes God is love, but this chapter is written to me, the believer. I am called to love. Now that I have such a clear definition of what love is, that it is, in fact, more then just doing the "christian thing," I am, let's just say, humbled. Good Ole Paul, never one to mince words.

If I do not have love, I am nothing.

Nothing? If I do not have love I am nothing? For how long do I have to have love? At what point do I get to be not in love? How much bad can happen before I can get out of having to love. Love does not sound fun to me. Right? You've read the chapter. At what point do I get to say, "Nope sorry, that's enough of hurting me. I do not have to love you any more. I do not have to be patient. I do not have to be kind.I do not have to forgive you or even tolerate you any longer."??

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

All things?! But that's not fair! 

Love, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.

Forever? Forgive everything? All the time? Every time? Over and over?


I think that to have to ask those questions is kind of beside the point. I mean if you have to ask why or for how long then it's not really love in the first place. To say that I just can't forgive or that I just can't take it any longer, that I can not endure this one more day, is to really not be love in the first place. We're not called to try to love. We're called to be love. To have it. To have it as He does and He is Love with a capitol letter.

Love hopes all things.

Love. It hopes. Love hopes. It hopes? Isn't it interesting how between words like "it bears, believes, endures" are the words love hopes all things? Love bears all things. It picks up all those broken dreams, disappointments, and discouragements and carries on, bearing it all with dignity, forgiveness, patience and kindness. Love believes. It never doubts or fails to trust. It always endures. Do you know why? Do you know how it is capable of doing such hard things? You've figured it out. Love always hopes. It's that hope of change that makes capable endurance.

God. Is. Love.

And so am I. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Grace Bubble

I'm there again. In that bubble of grace. Towards the end of my pregnancy with Bret I experienced an unusually large amount of grace and peace despite my difficult circumstances. Our living situation was less then ideal, I had a 4 year old and a very active, big one year old that still needed help up and down the stairs and slept in a crib. As big as I was with Bret (He was born weighing in at over 10 lbs two weeks early), I couldn't take care of Alex and needed someone to live with us to help me. Also I had plenty of opportunities to worry about the delivery of Bret considering the complications Alex had when he was born. I suffered a great disappointment while Alex was in the NICU even though he was OK it was so difficult not to have him in my arms for those 2 weeks. It was kind of a miserable time, or it could have been if I hadn't have walked in such a grace and peace that could have only come from my loving Father.

One morning I was thanking Him for keeping me in this little bubble when He whispered such sweet, unforgettable words to my heart.

You're not in a bubble, you're in ME.

And so I was.

I'm there again. In what feels like a bubble of grace but what really is just the ability to knowingly experience being IN Him.

I'm in a tough spot now in my life but feel at complete peace and joy. I know He's with me. I'm with Him.

I hope you've all had a wonderful Christmas. It's tough after Christmas sometimes. If things didn't go quite according to plan, disappointment can hang so heavy in the air. Sometimes the beauty of Christmas is such a sweet distraction from this life full of pain and death that after it's over and the lights come down and the tree is put away all that's left is despair. Life goes on and Christmas can feel like a dream. I think of the poor and how for a short time people really do reach out to them. That's over after Christmas. No more turkey or gifts.

I thought it so thought provoking today while putting the tree away, listening to my daughter. She said, "Putting the tree up is so much more fun then taking it down." Cynically, I thought how life is so like that. We hang our hopes up along with the ornaments on the tree and while taking it down it can feel like life is crashing down along with it. We all know the reason for the season but what's left when the season is over? Let's move on from baby Jesus and remember Him as a man. The life He lived and gave. However things turned out for you this year, good or bad, we can rest knowing what is to come is glorious. All this will one day pass away and the feeling will be of one more powerful then a bubble full of grace. It will be life. Real life.

Let Your Kingdom come, Lord. Come Jesus, come. 

19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 

Colossians 1:19-20 NASB

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mosqito Juice

It's like scratching a mosquito bite. You know you shouldn't do it. But it feels better for a little while. It just itches SO BAD. Ugh.

You know that thing that happens, it's different for everyone. Something happens, someone hurts you, or embarrasses you or really ticks you off. And you just keep talking about it. You call all your girls and talk for an hour with each one about how horrible it is. Scratch, scratch scratch. It's so wrong but it feels so good. Why can't things just go the way you want? Why can't she just change?! Why can't I have my way? And it just keeps getting bigger.

Listen to what I have to say and agree and feel sympathy and tell me how wonderful I am. Scratch, scratch.

All of this righteous indignation. It feels so good for the moment, but all the while you're bleeding. Festering. I don't want to go into too much detail but lets just say there is bacteria involved.

That small mosquito bite turns into a huge disgusting sore. Ugh I hate the word sore, ick.  Don't get me wrong. That mosquito was totally wrong for biting you. It's no fun. Scratch, scratch.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about? Or am I the only one with huge mellow-drama and a bad attitude? I probably am (oh wait am I now being dramatic about my drama??)

Why do we fight it? Why do we push Him away in times like this?

One word. Sacrifice.

Because you already know there is going to be a measure of sacrifice, of surrender. You're going to have to give something up. That temporary gratification of knowing your right and having everyone agree with you and having your ego and pride all puffed up, it can feel so good for just a second. It feels good until you hang up. And then you're alone. With just Him. And the Holy Spirit. And They are working on your heart so hard core. And you know, no matter how justified you are, you can't hold onto it.

Just let go....

You know you should. Let go of that hurt, of that injustice, of that pain, of that excuse, of that justification...of that unforgiveness. I cringe at the word.


Let go of that power and pride and self-ness. Is it really what you want?

You're mine.

You're better then that. You are called to a higher standard. There's a beautiful story, a wonderful ending and that stuff is not worth it. Not even for a day. Not even for an hour. Not even for one phone call just to feel right.

Because your not. Not really. Not if you love Him. It's not about being right or wrong. It's all about love. Sounds cheesy I know. If you're in Him and in His love how can you walk out anything that's not love? How can you possibly feel right about anything when you are really nothing?

Isn't it beautiful that He doesn't let us stay there? In Nothing land?

Come to Me all you who are weary. Come to Me all you brokenhearted and heavy laden. I'm here in that darkness. I'm hear with you. Let Me carry that for you. Let Me be everything to you. Drink from this Cup and you will never thirst again.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Gift of Forgiveness

One afternoon, shortly after my second was born, I was resting in my room while my husband was working on some video editing for our church. He was working on the praise and worship service from the previous Sunday led by Chris Stewart. As I lay there resting, the music came to me. It drifted down the hall and into my room. the sweetest feeling overwhelmed me, covered me. It was like someone was literally handing me a gift and in my mind I saw myself opening that gift.

The gift that I received was that I could give up the unforgiveness in my heart. It was like a garment of forgiveness that I could put on. I felt a complete release of emotion. No anger. No...anything. I wasn't overwhelmed with love but I felt forgiveness for this person. It's been that way ever since. I really believe that it was a gift from Father God. How else can I explain it? One day I despised this person who had hurt and wounded me, who had perpetrated a great injustice towards me. The next minute I felt complete and total forgiveness. It was a miracle, a download from heaven. It's like He became this little handyman and crawled inside my heart, started ripping out bad parts and replacing them with new ones. Like that *snap* it was done. No effort on my part. I underwent heart surgery.

There have been many other things and people that I've needed to forgive since then and unfortunately it hasn't been as easy. The point is, the beauty is, Father knows best. He knows exactly what we need, when we need it. He knows if it's too big to do on our own. It would have been too big for me, letting go of that bitterness. But He met me, right where I was. It mattered to God that I wasn't walking in forgiveness. It hindered my walk with Him. And that mattered. It's beautiful, this love He has for us.

I started writing this blog months ago. I just didn't feel like it was the right time to talk about it. Forgiveness is such a tricky thing to talk about it. People have experienced truly despicable hurts and pain. Holding on to those hurts, reliving that same situation and burning again with anger seems like the only way to make the pain ease. How do I explain that it's better to forgive. But the truth is He can heal the wound all together.  Not that we ignore it or pretend like it didn't happen. It just doesn't matter any more. That's a hard thing to tell people when they are going through it. If someone would have come up to me and told me that I just needed to walk in forgiveness to this person and the pain would just disappear I would have had a hard time not slapping them in the face. But remember He's all about doing what feels like the opposite thing you should do. It's the inside, upside down Kingdom where you loose to gain. Where being with Him is all that matters. In His presence all those empty spaces are filled.

I've also had a hard time blogging because of this season. Everything I start to type just sounds cheesy or overdone. So as lame as it sounds, a gift you might want to consider giving to someone, or even yourself is the gift of forgiveness, one of the greatest things you can do right now in this, the season of giving. I wouldn't even think to type such a thing if I hadn't myself already experienced the precious gift. And if it feels too big, or too hard, all you have to do is want, to want it. It's ok not to want to forgive someone. Just want Him and He'll give you exactly what you need. There is always enough grace and strength for you, and more love then you can ever imagine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

God of Elijah

Yesterday we read about the God of Elijah in our Jesse Tree Advent book. The Scripture reading comes out of 1 Kings 18:17-39. It may seem long but please read it with me today. It's one of my absolute favorite stories in the Bible and is well worth your time. AND/or you can listen to one of my most favorite songs of all time. I posted the link below the Scripture.

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. 19 Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
 20 So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people said, “That is a good idea.”  25 So Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one ox for yourselves and prepare it first for you are many, and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. 27 It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” 28 So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. 29 When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 32 So with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he made a trench around the altar, large enough to hold two measures of seed. 33 Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34 And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water
36 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.”

I really love this story for a couple of reasons, actually a lot of reasons but I'll only give you a few. First it's totally epic right? I would love to see it play out on a big screen. I love that Elijah is just a man. He's just this guy that the Lord spoke to and who chose to listen. He had regular human issues. He had plenty of self doubt but when it came down to business he was so hard core. I think that Elijah must of had a thing about fire, after all wasn't it he that rode away in a chariot of flame off to heaven?

I love that this story shows the awesomeness of God. God. Is. Dramatic. If you have a problem with people who are dramatic you may want to familiarize yourself with a bit of the Old Testament because we serve an over-the-top God.

It seems that God loves to use just regular people who are seemingly all alone. Elijah, Moses, Noah, Jesus, all these men were utterly alone, everyone had turned against them, mocked them even. But they all had these huge, epic experiences. Elijah called fire down from heaven. Moses stood knee deep in the water and parted the see with nothing but his faith and his staff. Noah built that ark all the while being mocked and laughed at. In all those stories God showed up and He showed off. Part the sea?? Flood the entire earth?? Send fire from heaven? I could go on and on. King Hezekiah stood at the wall of his city and looked around at the hundreds of thousands of enemy soldiers that God had destroyed in one night without the help of one single human.


The most epic and incredible story ever. God, Himself born on this earth, grew to be just a man. Then He gave Himself for me, while I denied Him and His love. This is real life. This happened. It's not just a story.

Do you believe it? Because if you do, you have to believe that one day something similar to this story of Elijah will happen again. He, the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel is going to show up again, in a powerful and consuming way and on that day, every knee will bow and everyone will say "The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God!" OH I CAN'T HARDLY WAIT!

Monday, December 12, 2011

For The Joy Set Before Us

Perspective. It changes everything. 

The word is really weighted isn't it? It means so many different things to me. When my daughter refuses to eat her dinner, I give her perspective. I tell her about all the starving children in the world.

When I start to have a bad attitude or complain about something I gain perspective when I remember I have hot water any time I want it and what a luxury that is.

When I feel proud about something in a less then healthy way I can spend five seconds in worship and gain some perspective. For truly I am nothing.

When I feel at the end of myself as a mom, that I just can not change even one more diaper, I can remember that eventually one day my children will be potty trained. For some moms with children who have disabilities they can not say that.


When life seems hopeless....

In my desperation and my lack of perspective He covers me with His love. When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize how beautiful His love is. It all fades and time stands still and I remember my race. I remember the path marked out for me.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Time. Eternity. Perspective

I look down my telescope, through the tunnel of life and out to the other side.

I fix my eyes on Jesus. I see the prize.

12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you (Philippians 3:13-15 NASB)

Maybe it's partly the weather, I always get a bit crabby this time of year. The dull gray of daily life. I do not like the cold. I do not like the snow. I do not like the need for heat or electric blankets. I do not particularly enjoy the holiday season all that much. I especially do not like having rowdy children full of energy bouncing off the walls of my house with nowhere to go. I do not like green eggs and ham.

But I recently had the great pleasure of experiencing a divine attitude adjustment. Just as it says in verse 15 above, something in me was revealed. It was ugly. But praise Him for His grace. It is His mercy that exposed my wretchedness and forgave me. I can see clearly, at least for now, the joy that is set before me. Even though all around me is death and cold, and though I can not see it, still my heart believes that there is life. It is just below the surface. It is welling up and I know, will soon burst onto the scene. Take heart, oh my soul. Be glad and rejoice! Do you see it? Do you see the prize? What perspective! Joy to the world! He is coming!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Flesh Dog is Dead

Recently I was asked to recall all the areas of God's faithfulness to me. Like you, I'm sure, many things came to mind. I felt it necessary to blog about one thing in particular, this is mostly for my benefit but I hope it helps someone else recall His faithfulness too.

About 7 years ago (really 7 years?!!) I attended Domata School of Missions in Tulsa at Mark Brazee's World Outreach Church. During one lesson the speaker was talking a bit about his wife and her testimony. He said as a young adult she believed what she was told, that she had a "spirit dog" and a "flesh dog" and that whichever dog she fed the most, ie: reading the Bible/watching TV, going to church/going to a wordly party, would win when it came time for them to battle. Consequently, she lived a life always trying to "feed" her spirit dog but invetibly when she would fail she would feel worthless, condemned and unloved. No matter how hard she tried she would always end up doing the wrong things until finally she quit trying.

Then the speaker read from Romans 8:
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 

And Galatians 2:
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 

I don't know what happened to me in that moment but it was like I was brought to life. I'm sure most of you have heard the "spirit dog, flesh dog" story. I know there is a measure of truth to it. But when you live your life like I did, weighing every action, hoping your good deeds are enough that when you come to a cross roads the "spirit dog" in you will win out, it's all about works and worthiness and condemnation. I was set free as I listened to the speaker tell about his wife.

She learned that there is no great battle within herself. The flesh is dead. The Spirit is a live. We were crucified with Him, dead, buried, and we rose with Him and are now seated with Him. We didn't deserve it. Nothing we could ever do could make us worthy of what He's given us. Through Christ we were made righteous and because of that we are worthy. I'm worthy of this Spiritfilled life. I don't have to live in condemnation every time I fail. I'm washed in forgiveness.

When I think of the transformation that happened in me that day. It reminds me that I have a faithful God. 1 Corinthians 15:3 says that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He laid out His plan in the Scriptures long before Jesus was ever born. It happened just like He said it would because He is faithful.

A few years ago (less then 7) I was at a women's retreat and in a small group one of the ladies spoke up. She shared that she had just learned that her salvation and relationship with the Lord had nothing to do with her worthiness. She had the same look on her face that I know I did when I discovered this truth. She said "He just loves me. I don't have to do anything. Out of that love I am moved to learn more about Him, to read His word and do those 'right' things."

There is no battle. If you've accepted Christ as your Lord and His Spirit is in you, you are a live in Him. That flesh dog is dead. The life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who in love, not our good works, gave Himself up for us.

Oh He is faithful.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I love re-purposing clothes. I hack apart clothes that are too small, too worn, or too ugly and make them into something else. I'm getting better and better at it. This year I used my daughter's too small long sleeved shirts from last winter and added parts to her too small shirts from the summer and now she has several new long sleeved shirts that fit perfect. Today I took a pair of too big jeans and made them into skinny jeans and used the scrap material to sew a patch into my daughters jeans. It's super fun. I love taking something old and making it new. As I was working on these projects I couldn't help but wonder if God gets the same delight out of re-purposing our worn and damaged souls.

A while back we had a guest speaker at church, Floyd McClung. He said that he had often heard from people that they felt like because of all their past mistakes God couldn't use them anymore. He kind of chuckled as he said that that isn't how it works. There isn't this print out for each person when their born with "The Plan" written on it. In fact, if there was one, then when someone made a wrong turn a new Plan would print out for them. That simple. I've often thought about that sermon. It meant a lot to me because I had felt that way. You know it didn't really click until today. I was ripping out seams and cutting out access fabric and I couldn't help but chuckle like Floyd. Does your heart look as worn and torn as my sons grass stained jeans? Don't fret, Father can still use you. He has made a way. It may involve some scrubbing, some trimming, maybe even some ripping of seams, but He's not finished with you. Maybe you feel like I once did, like there were just too many holes in your heart to ever be repaired. Let Him work on you. He'll turn your heart into a beautiful masterpiece. He already sees the finished result when He looks at you. There are still many, many amazing things God can do through you and by you. He doesn't ever throw us out or give up on a wretched piece of material. What good news! He's the Master Tailor. He looks at us and knows exactly what to do to make us new and beautiful again. He can re-purpose us just like the old pillowcase that is now a sleeping gown for my daughter. With the added lace for sleeves the worn fabric is perfect for a soft night gown. Let the Father trim you in love and peace. Think of all those you can comfort when He's finished with you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Some Perspective

So before I say anything I have to tell you about a beautiful miracle. My computer is saved! Haha ok so my youngest son dumped a full cup of water over my computer a few days ago. So much water that when I picked it up and turned it on it's side water poured out. Then I did the worst thing you could possibly do, so I read after the fact. I turned my computer on before it completely dried out. It came on and shut automatically off. I took it all apart and let it dry out a few days but had no hope of it ever working again. After everything I read about laptops and water damage I knew it would take a miracle for it to work again. Amazingly today when I put it all back together it came right on like nothing had ever happened. Yippee!!

Yep I'm thankful for a functioning computer. However I realize having a broken laptop is such an American problem. By that I mean, not only do I have a laptop, my husband has a desktop, we both have mini computers (aka smart phones) and our TV has some kind of thingamajig that allows you to access the internet. So despite being totally bummed about my soaking laptop I had a lot to be thankful for. But really I wasn't. Wasn't feeling one bit thankful. Want to know what else I was complaining about? I'll be real. I was really not happy about the fact that my house is still so far from having all the updates we want to make on it. I wasn't even feeling up to decorating for Christmas because there is still so much we'd like to do. I was really complaining. Poor me and my ugly wall papered house. So-And-So has a beautiful house and it's decorated so beautifully. My house is so ugly, my computer is broken, and I'm stuck changing diapers all day instead of being able to run around with friends, blah blah blah.... *sigh* Yep. I was really ungrateful. As if that wasn't bad enough, it gets worse. I had a really bad attitude about something else. My phone charger.

Apparently having a one year old slobber all over the end of your phone charger will make it incapable of charging your phone. After sharing my husbands charger the last few months I finally decided to look into buying another one. Since I'm the queen of Craigslist, of course I found one for only 2 bucks. I arrived at the correct meeting spot at the right time. The lady called me and said she was running late but that she just lived down the street and I could come get it. Of course I've heard all the horror stories about meeting people online. I was already meeting this lady in a rougher part of town so going to her house could have been cause for concern. After checking with the Spirit I felt a peace about going. Of course I grumbled and complained the whole way. I drove the short distance to her street and pulled into the "neighborhood." Wow. Reality check. The houses there were a forth the size of mine (and mine is not big by most standards). The neighborhood was completely trashed out and the cars were all barely holding together. I pulled up the house that looked exactly like every other and got out. I actually went through the thought process of deciding to leave my wallet and purse in the car because if I was going to be robbed I'd rather my car be broken into then have it taken from me. I walked up to the maybe 800 square foot house. Two men walked out. Both fellows were friendly enough. Again I felt remarkable unafraid and at peace. The lady came to the door and I got a glimpse inside. The place was completely trashed out but to be honest it didn't look much worse then on a day my house has been completely torn apart by 4 small children. She gave me the charger and I gave her the cash. She told me she liked my hair and to excuse the messy house. I told her thanks, and to have a nice day. I walked back to my car and drove a way. It felt weird. I felt...thankful. I felt humbled. Who do I think I am? There will always be people out there more fortunate them me. But what right do I have to complain about? I've been given so much. Not just material things that don't matter anyway, but I'm loved. I'm forgiven. I have joy and peace. My life is redeemed.

You know the cool thing about this whole experience? No judgement. For someone who constantly battles judging and criticizing others I had no judgement at all for anyone. I know I'm not better then anyone living in that neighborhood or that part of town. God loves them as much as He does me. Honestly it wasn't so long ago that I moved out of a similar neighborhood.

I'm thankful God allowed me that experience. I'm thankful for some perspective. No matter how bad your circumstance, if you know Jesus, you have something to be thankful for. I love that we can bring our stuff to the Father. I love that I can cry out to Him as much as I want and that if I surrender it to Him, He'll take care of it. He does that by giving perspective, by blessing or discipline but best of all He does it all in love. I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kingdom and a Quarter

I read a book by Brother Andrew years ago. His books are awesome, highly recommend them. He wrote about an experience that really stood out to me. I've thought about it often. He said at one point while he was in Bible school he had run out of razors and basic toiletry necessities. He wasn't working and was living off supporters. He hadn't received any money in quite some time. He talked about his struggle with faith and believing that God would meet his needs. He finally got the idea that if he just started walking around maybe he would find some money on the ground. Perhaps that was how the Lord would meet his need. So he goes out and starts walking. He walked all day long, looking in the gutter of the most busy streets hoping to find some money. Eventually it dawned on him that perhaps this wasn't the best idea he ever had. He then shared what the Lord revealed to him about the Kingdom. He called it "the Kingdom Way." The Kingdom Way was not looking in the gutter, sifting through trash, for what he needed. So he repents and goes back to his dorm. All the way back he talks to the Father about his needs and just is honest with the Lord, completely vulnerable with Him and Brother Andrew says he experienced an intimacy that he had never before had. When he got back to his dorm an envelope was waiting for him with enough money to cover all his expenses.

I've often had to ask myself, "Is this the Kingdom Way?" In God's Kingdom He never has to compromise His standards to meet my need. Why should I? Have you ever found yourself doing something that just isn't the Kingdom Way to meet your need yourself?

A while back I was going into a local grocery store where you have to use a quarter to get a shopping cart. You get your quarter back when you are finished with the cart and have put it away. I realized that I did not have a quarter. I also realized that not only did I have no change, I only had a $20 bill and my debit card. I really didn't want to go in and cash my 20 just to get a quarter so I asked a lady who was returning her cart if I could have her cart. She looked at my like I had grown a second head. It was totally awkward. So I went in the store, cashed my $20, and got my cart. All the while I was shopping I was really gripping about this chick. Good grief it's just a quarter. I wasn't trying to steal your purse for crying out loud. Sheesh. I finished shopping, got my groceries loaded up, and as I went to return my cart a gentlemen approached me and asked if I'd like him to return my cart. I thought how nice that was. Finally a kind person. I told him thank you and expected him to hand me a quarter. He didn't. He just walked away with my cart and my quarter! Can you believe that?! I couldn't believe it. He stole my quarter! *sigh* Then it dawned on me. I heard my voice in my head griping at that lady, "It's just a quarter!" Ok Lord, I get it. This is not the Kingdom Way.

Ever since then if there is no one around I can give my cart to I just leave my quarter in the cart for the next person to have. I've actually chased down a couple of ladies to give them my cart before they have a chance to dig through their purse for a quarter. It's quite humbling but there have been a few times I've seen people who, like me, didn't have a quarter. It's so cool to just walk up with my cart and not expect anything in return. On the other hand, it's always a little hard when there is no one around to appreciate my sacrifice. I always want to just keep my quarter.

Anyway, it's a small thing I know. But for me, I know I further the Kingdom even in this tiny thing. What are you doing to further the Kingdom? I'd love to hear it. Big or small, it matters to God.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Robe of Righteousness

*You may want to watch this with out your children in the room. This is a poem by Jeffereson Bethke. He writes this about it:

A poem I originally wrote for open mic at Pacific University. The poem highlights our culture's blind obedience to sexual norms, when it only seems to reap destruction. Pleasure is more at our fingertips in America than ever before, and yet depression steadily rises every year. It only shows that sex as recreation, or just for fun, is unable to satisfy us the way we were meant to be satisfied. Sex is good, in it's proper context. This poem mainly focuses though on anyone who has been deeply affected, hurt, and damaged by sexual sin. Forgiveness and mercy are given freely by Jesus. He cleans, restores, and heals us beyond measure and asks nothing in return. He saw all our sin and filth before he went to the cross and it was still his joy to go get us.

I found this really, really thought provoking and had to share.

I love at the end of the video where he talks about receiving the robe of Jesus.

This morning I was actually thinking about that, about how in scripture the metaphor used a lot for giving and receiving forgiveness is new clothes, new robes, being "clothed in righteousness." I thought about it this morning as I was trying to dress my very active toddler. He loves being naked, which is really kind of cute, but with it getting colder he just can't go around in his diaper any more. So in a great battle almost to the death, I get him dressed. I ignore his screeching because I know what's best. In this house I don't care if you're not cold, if it's less then 60 degrees you have to wear socks.

Anyway, I was wondering how many times I've screeched at the Lord, kicking and screaming, refusing to be clothed in righteousness, refusing His love, and forgiveness. One of the reasons my son gets so upset is because he sees his siblings running and playing and he just wants to get down off the changing table and play too, "screw the pants mom," he seems to say. How many times have I thought it unfair that God seems to only be "picking on me?" Like it's a bad thing to be the object of His attention and affection. He's standing there with a beautiful new brilliant white dress. He isn't going to force me into it. Why do we refuse so often the things He has for us?
It's like what this guy says. "He heals us from those sins that totally infect us. He does what condoms can't, He emotionally protects us."  In this video he talks about the woman in John 8. She looks up in the eyes of Jesus and stares into the grace she finds there.
I think what he says at the end is worth repeating. "Think twice about what society feeds us. Come follow the King. His name is Jesus."

Isaiah 61:10 NASB
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Love

I'm compelled once again to write about this great love that I feel. His love for me. This love I have for Him. It wells up on the inside and is stronger then any other emotion. The love I have for Him is deeper then any pain.

I will say, even in this brokenness, even in this loneliness, I will say because of this love I have joy. I am peace. I live in opposite land. Where even when I'm afraid I trust Him. When I'm weak I'm at my strongest and most capable because of what He does in me. Even when I'm overcome my desire for Him is stronger and higher and worth more then anything else. My passion for Him comes from Him.

In this dry and barren land I will sing. I will dance before Him with a heart wholly devoted to Him. I will dance to the song He sings over me. His delight shines on me. The radiance of His smile warms my face. He is the light that leads me to a place of rest.

I'm overwhelmed with hope. A tide of purpose washes over me. I praise Him and I thank Him and rejoice in all that He's done in me. He has called me out of the darkness with one breath. Look how far I've come. For His glory and His delight I will never go back.

Can you take a moment and let Him pull you in? Can you sit, just for a moment and listen to His heartbeat. I want to shake you and scream at you and tell you He's worth it. Don't you know what He can do? Have you seen the sun rise? Do you not see how He holds this world together? Do you not see the love that He has for you just by the air that you breathe? Who are we to question Him, to doubt His love. Are we the clay that we say to the Potter, "You did not make me, You know nothing?" Are we equal to Him? He rides the clouds and causes the mountains to shake. He formed me out of dust and could wipe all man kind out with the flick of His wrist. Yet He looks at me. He sees me. He's called me by name. His face shines down on me and who am I to question why? I don't care why. I'm just so thankful. He's made me His daughter. He wants You. Don't you see? Do you think you are here by chance? Or even reading this by chance? Is this life all there is? How can that be? How can it all be chance and mean nothing?

Let me wake up every day with a song of praise on my lips. I've known bondage. I've known darkness and depravity. I've known despair and pain. I've known fear. I've known depression.

He made me free. How can I sit still? How can I keep quiet? How can you? Do you know you are the reason why He made a way? Do you know you are the reason He gave it all? You belong to Him. When He saw He would lose you He cried out! In His love and mercy He made a way. I will sing of this great love.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

His Mercy Says No

Last night I had an interesting thought before bed. I had a picture in my mind of sitting at a nice table and someone bringing me my food. It was a covered plate. They set the plate in front of me and pulled the lid of. When they did hundreds of roaches ran off the plate. I jumped back for a second and then after they had all gone I said "It's ok they're all gone now, looks good." And I ate. (blech) I asked the Lord what that was all about but it seemed like I already knew. The plate of food represented the world and all it has to offer out side of God. And I ate it.

I feel like what we should know is this. God tells us "No" sometimes for our own good, not because He's mean and He doesn't want us to have those things. He just knows they are covered in roaches.

Have you ever had a hard time with certain "rules" of the "christian" faith? Why can't I watch that movie? Why can't I get into the newest TV series? Why can't I read that book? What's wrong with having a few more cookies? Why shouldn't I go to a bar with some of my single "unchristian" friends? Why can't I call my friends up with news about someone else? What's wrong with sleeping in Sunday mornings?

It's in His loving kindness that He shouts out "NO!" just before you take that bite. Why do we think we are entitled sometimes to do what ever we want? Why are we defensive and tell ourselves that we deserve it? Everything the enemy has to offer, even if it's on a silver platter, is a counterfeit to what the Father has offered you.

Next time you get that nudge on the inside that what you are doing or going to do may not be right, don't get defensive. Think about that plate of roaches. I know I'm going to. He knows it's not really good for you. Listen. Thank Him for His mercy that says "No" to things that can hurt us.

1 Timothy 1 NASB
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

He's So Worthy

I love hearing my friends say, "Hey, you need to blog about that!" This particular time we were talking about how awesome it is we don't have the same religious thoughts we did when we were younger. We shared about how we used to think God kept a running tally of our mistakes. That if we had a bad day, a flat tire, a cold, or locked ourselves out of the house, it was because we had been bad and we deserved it. I never really thought God was sitting at the edge of His throne with a thunder bolt waiting to strike like some do. I did believe He couldn't love me if I did wrong.

This is going to sound strange to some, I'm sure, but bare with me. I think part of my problem boiled down to pride. My sin made me feel bad on the inside. It separated me from Him but instead of humbling myself and surrendering it to Him, which, in my mind would take way too much effort, I told myself I wasn't worthy to be in His presence. I wasn't good enough to lift my hands in praise. The other part was that I truly didn't believe He could love me.

I'll never forget during a praise and worship service Him speaking so clearly to my heart that no matter what, He was always worthy. He is. No matter how horribly sinful I've been it doesn't change the fact that He's the creator of the universe and sacrificed it all for me. He's worthy. He's always worthy of my praise. Even when I blame Him for the hurt or pain I feel. He's worthy. Even when I don't understand or agree with His ways. He's worthy. The truth is, it's not really about me. Shocker I know. My circumstances don't change Him. We could flip this all around and also say none of my efforts make me any more deserving of His love either. He doesn't change.

Looking back now I can't believe I ever felt this way but I know so many people still do. Whether you hang back outside of true relationship with Him because you are angry with Him or because you think you are unworthy, I'm talking to you when I say He. Is. Worthy. Always. Sometimes it can be so hard to just let go of all of our thoughts but when you put them in His perspective whatever it is that holds you back is nothing compared to what He thinks of you. Anger, shame, pride, or pain are no excuse to withhold from Him. It's not about you or me. Every breath we take is a gift. Every day we live is evidence in His hope for us. Hope that tomorrow we'll trust Him more, hope that we'll surrender more, hope that He'll be able to love us in ways we never would allow before.

Romans 11 MSG

33-36Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it out.

   Is there anyone around who can explain God?
   Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
   Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
      that God has to ask his advice?

   Everything comes from him;
   Everything happens through him;
   Everything ends up in him.
   Always glory! Always praise!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.  

So whatever it is, that thing that keeps you from His presence Sunday morning during praise and worship or from talking to Him throughout the week, it's worth is nothing compared to His. He's so worthy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sharing Secrets

Have you ever known about something before anyone else? Like perhaps your best friend finds out she's pregnant and she tells you before anyone. (Before ya'll start freaking out Jessica is not pregnant, just an example.) Did you have that rush of excitement? Did you experience the joy of being the favorite confidant? I was recently in on a flash mob our church did for our pastor. Me and 3 other women helped come up with the idea and were involved in planning it. It was so fun seeing it all come about but knowing I got to help behind the scenes was the best part!

I recently started worrying about something totally irrational and am even too embarrassed to say what it was. Before I told anyone (which is my natural inclination) I took it to my Father. His response? I felt like I was in elementary school whispering secrets to my best friend. Does God giggle like a little school girl? Some of you may bulk at the thought but it kinda felt like it! He LOVES it when we come to Him FIRST. I've always heard that but last night I definitely experienced it. He always likes it when we come to Him and when we talk to Him but when we bring our problems to Him to fix before calling all our friends, taking it to your pastor for prayer or whatever it is we tend to do, He loves it. And you know what? He fixed it. Instantly. I no longer worried about the problem. Have you ever had a small child come to you with a "bwoken" toy for you to fix? It's so fun to be able to just flip it to "on" and see their faces light up like you can do anything in the world. It's a joy to experience. I think that it's like that for Him. He loves to fix our problems and He loves it when we come to Him first. He whispers His reassurances in your ear and you never have to worry about Him telling your secrets. I know some things can't be fixed instantly for our own good, but sometimes our problems really aren't as big of a deal as they seem. With the snap of His fingers He fixes it. He loves it when we trust Him and He honors that trust.

Oh the joy of relationship! Life with God doesn't have to be one of rules and servitude. We serve Him and obey Him out of trust and love and we get to walk in relationship.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Like the Dawn

 We sang a song last night all about God's light shining forth, like the dawn. It reminded me of a Word that was given to me a little while back ago from Proverbs 4:18.

18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.

How I wish I could wake up and be made complete in my salvation, free of the struggles of this life and desires of my human nature. But the path of righteousness is a slow, consistent one that grows brighter and brighter, like the dawn.

I cried out to Him last night.

Lord I so desperately want to humble myself, fall flat on my face before you in total, complete surrender. But there remains parts of me that stubbornly refuse. All I can do is cry out to You for help and forgiveness. Show me Your mercy. But in Your mercy and Your goodness brake me if that's what it takes. For it's in the desert that I sing and in my loneliness that I call on You. In my brokenness You are great and in my barrenness You reveal my need for You alone.

Doesn't God's Kingdom seem so backwards at times? In Jesus' ministry He came in and just turned the world upside down on the Jews. Take Matthew 5 for example.

 3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. 

 4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

 7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.

I love the way this speaks. You are blessed when you're at the end of your rope, when you've lost what is most dear, when you're content with just who you are, when your care too much.


Honestly, I don't want to be any of those things. Who wants to be at the end of their rope or to have lost what is most dear to them? But I think that that is key to this special blessing. I think for people who have been in that place of trying everything on their own and so tragically failing, they are blessed. When they are lying broken and bleeding the breaking light of dawn shines through and they find themselves in the splendor of His brilliance. Then you know you never could go back. Never. You find yourself in His embrace, proud owner of everything that can't be bought. It's the great mystery of His kingdom. He came in His mercy and died in my place. In His goodness and sovereign grace He sweeps me away and nothing else matters. Nothing. Not my children, or my husband, or my family, or my life. Hidden in Him I find the peace that overflows. Part of me shakes in fear at the thought of loosing those things but then He touches that place in my heart that beats only for Him I'm swept away again in His embrace. When hope and faith fail me He covers me in His love and nothing else matters.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hoping for Hope

Have you ever audibly heard His voice? I had never. I've felt it. Felt it burn, like a brand, words on my heart. Felt it like a wind, whispered across my mind. I've seen His words in color but never had I heard them. Not until today.

Everlasting your light will shine when all else fades
Never-ending your glory goes beyond all fame

That's the line of a beautiful song we sang this morning. But what I heard was the word hope instead of the word light. "Everlasting, Your Hope will shine when all else fades..." The praise and worship leader did not sing it. I didn't say it. I wasn't even thinking it. I heard it. So clearly. "hope will shine..." I was so stunned and kind of disoriented that I didn't realize it at first. I turned around to see who could be standing so close that I would hear them singing that clearly. But I was sitting alone.

Your hope will shine when all else fades...

Then I started thinking about that. And the more I thought about it the bigger the idea became in my mind. Doesn't it seem like the more hopeless a situation is the more God expects us to hope, trust, and have faith in Him? It's like it's kind of the point. Like He says, "Yeah I made you weak on purpose." That kind of got me thinking about that scripture from Romans 5. (which is interesting because my pastor referenced the same verse...hmm wonder if God is trying to say something??)

  1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

 Note the word tribulation. When I think of that word I think about pretty much everything bad that could happen, happening.

Your hope will shine when all else fades....

When all else fades? When life is darkness and pitched in despair. When life has no meaning and all is bleak and hopeless. His hope will shine. Like a light. Like a beacon in a storm tossed night mare. Like the breaking light of dawn, not in the morning, but at midnight when the night is darkest.

And surviving isn't enough. He's working out perseverance in us and that proves our character. All those impurities within us get burned out in the fire and when it feels like nothing is left we finally get around to figuring out hope. Waking up, eating, working, sleeping, living, it's not enough! I've known women who have survived horrible experiences in life but He says that's not enough. Oh if we could just believe He's got it all figured out, that He has a plan and is perfectly capable of working it out for us!  

When we come out on the other end of proven character there's nothing to be disappointed about because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. I love that! I used to not get it. But now I see that hope is like a check written for the cost of your life. You don't have to worry about that check bouncing because it's backed with all the currency He has. Love. It's almost like the word hope is an oxymoron. It seems to imply that whatever you're "hoping" for could possibly not happen. But when your hope is in Him, it's a sure thing. No doubt about it and you know this with every fiber of your being.

He's still teaching me what His hope is all about and what it means for me to have hope. But I think I'm finally starting to get it. What about you?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is Your House on the Rock?

My life used to be built on the passing sand. I made my decisions based on how I felt inside. My emotions and circumstances guided my actions from one moment to the next. I didn't know how to fight the fear that would come to my heart and mind. The enemy came and stole my joy and my peace. The fear was real, and its power could kill.

But now when my enemy is too strong for me, when I am afraid, I will trust in You. 

When I am overcome, I will call upon You. I will cling to You.

My Rock.

When my enemy surrounds me I will let go of my reasoning and fall upon the Rock.

I will love You, Lord
My Rock, my God, my Strength.
You are the precious Cornerstone.

My faith in You lifts the weight of pain from lonely days full of mistakes. Of hiding behind deep dark clouds of selfish pride. Your love goes deeper than the pain of this life. And when I  cannot see, my heart will believe. For Your love is greater. I feel it welling up inside and I am filled with joy inexpressible. All those years I was bound.

You have set me free.

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:25

I think before you can know for sure if your on the Rock the rain has to fall and the floods have to come.

*This blog was inspired by a couple of songs from Laura Hackett, When I Feel Afraid and I Feel His Love.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beautiful Mess

I'm not going to lie. I've been distracted. By what? Stupid stuff. Sleep, Facebook, housework, pretty much anything other then Him. It's totally bringing me down. Spiritually, emotionally, even physically. I know He's there. I know I'm not alone and I don't feel any tension necessarily, just feeling blah. I think a problem people tend to have is instant gratification. I'm such a spiritual junky and literally feel like I'm on a high (no Mom, I've never been "high" so I'm only guessing) after experiencing Him. But sometimes getting to a place of experiencing His presence takes some effort. Sometimes it calls for repentance, sacrifice, and surrender. Why would I go through all that trouble when I can get online and be flooded with instant gratification in this very abstract world? TV, movies, online games, even books feed this very spiritual side that I have but just like feeding my body a bunch of chemicals tricks my taste buds but starves my body, so it is with all this "stuff." It tricks my mind and senses but my spirit is starved for Him. I can be in the clouds with Him one day and feel far away the next. It's partly because I am still growing in those "grounding" qualities of Martha. I feel the void but some how can't get out of the daze. It's in these times that I have to suck it up and dive in. Push through until I find Him. I heard this song today by Danen Kane called Beautiful Mess. It describes this dilemma perfectly. Am I the only one who feels this way?

(I cut out the redundant parts for the sake of reading)
Everyday I wake to find You, everyday I fall apart
Just like a storm of good intention, like a stone that missed it’s mark
How can I know about Your beauty, all of the wonders You possess
And yet still rush to feed my senses, neglecting what is best
Everyday, everyday

I want to crawl across Your sky, I want to be romanticized

I want to feel Your breath whisper something softly in my ear

I want to step inside Your window, I want to dwell inside Your fire

Oh that Your voice would be my conscience, that Your wish was my desire
Echoes of angels on my shoulders, trying to find the peace of mind
I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to quit wasting time
You gave me life, to live beyond the bleed

I want to live as though I’ve died, I want my soul to come alive
I want to taste Your love sweetly as the tears flow from your eyes

I know You’re mine, and you know that I am a slave to Your love

You celebrate the wage I am

Such a beautiful mess, 

Why don’t You take me over

So thankful that He doesn't give up on me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Repost- Not Missing Out Afterall

I posted this blog a while back ago but I felt a very strong urge to read it and share it again. Hope it blesses someone today.

We have some really good friends who are missionaries in Costa Rica right now. They recently updated their blog and my heart is pulled in that direction. Let me give you a bit more of my back story.
I lived as a missionary for two years before I was married. I worked in places like Panama and the Philippines and I would be back in a red hot second if I could...or would I? I was praying about this very thing when I felt like God showed me a bit of my own heart. Ever had that happen? You think you know something about yourself and then BAM He shows you what you really look like.

I pictured myself back at that orphanage in the Philippines. I saw my self holding those babies that were crying out just to be held. Just to have a tiny bit of affection. I looked into those eyes, starving. Starving for nourishment, hungry for love. If I could do something for them I would but what I realized is, I wouldn't give up my life for them. I wouldn't give up my children for them. I wouldn't even give up my children's happiness or security for them. I used to think I would sell everything and leave everyone and go if He called me to. And perhaps I still would but it would be harder then I thought. I think that's ok. I didn't feel any sort of judgement from God only revelation. I've often felt discontent. Like there's more then just being a wife and mother and I'm stuck here up to my eyeballs in dirty diapers while the world needs saving. Yeah I write a nice little blog that I hope is encouraging and yeah more and more people read it every day and yeah my family is involved in church and our community and yes we do give money to missions but geez God NEEDS ME. I mean how can He possibly accomplish anything while I'm here and not...well anywhere but here? I've often felt a little bitter about this (can ya tell?). I've blamed my husband and GOD. I've also felt a little snobbish. Like yeah well I am a stay at home mom but I'm really called to more. But when I prayed for the billionth time about this to God He showed me that that's not really what I want after all. I really do love being a mom. I really do love staying home with my children. I even like homeschooling for crying out loud! Even if someone gave me a few thousand dollars today to go to that orphanage just to hold those babies I would really have think about it. Now when I see those children in my mind I see my own right beside them. I know there are families out there who live the missionary life and their children are apart of that. I think that's great and who knows? Maybe that could be my life one day but the point is. It's not really what I want. It's not really my desire. Not like before. I'd rather be here.

This is a very big deal for me. Huge. How many hours have I spent in despair, wrestling with feeling like I'm not fulfilling my "calling"? Sometimes I think we just get stuck with certain thoughts and feelings over something. I never even wanted children. I thought perhaps I would adopt a hundred of them but I never. EVER. wanted to give birth. Can you imagine?? No that just wasn't for me. If someone told me then that I'd have 3 children and a mini van by the time I turned 24 I would have laughed in their face. And then rebuked them in the name of Jesus! I had dreams. I had plans.

Maybe you are like me. Have you ever had a dream that didn't come true and you feel...well, bad about it? However that looks like for you. Bitterness, resentment, anger, disappointment, sadness, despair? Would you really bring that to the Father. I pray that He would shine His light on that and reveal the truth. I ask that He would show you your own heart like He did me. Would you ask Him to put a dream in your heart that's straight from Him. I want to fulfill one of God's desires. And for me that looks like me staying home raising my kids, spoiling my man, and running this house. It means being involved in my community and a lot of prayer. I have seen things a lot of people haven't. And some how I know it's because it has prepared me for something. I've seen starving children, families literally dieing of starvation and I know my children will be taught to be thankful for everything. I do have something to offer the Kingdom and I'm doing it. Right now, where God has called me. I'm not missing out on anything. I am on the "front lines" I am in the trenches. Any of you with young children know what I'm talking about.

He has put a love for the lost in my heart. It breaks for people who don't know Him or His love. That's not wasted in this life I have now. I will always have a heart for missions and I know one day I will go again. But I can rest and know that this is where I want to be. This is where He wants me to be. Praise God!

This is enough for me today:
“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16 NASB
Abide in Him today....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Beauty from Dust

Last night at Fusion (Believer's Church Youth) we were asked something like this, "How did your new life begin?"

I had to stop and think about it because like many, I was "saved" as a small child. I grew up in a church and believed in God and Jesus for as long as I could remember. But after singing the song lyrics, "You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust." I was overwhelmed. I feel like my life was worse then dust. It was muck. Any horse people out there no what I'm talking about. When did my new life begin? It began out of dust. Not as a small child but when I was a teenager. I knew of Him. I knew He "loved" me but what did that mean? I didn't see it in my life. My sister, a beautiful singer, once told me a story of the Lord sharing with her that He created her to worship Him. That in the womb, she sang to Him. Wow, beautiful. I wanted that. I wanted for God to know who I was. I didn't feel like He did. I wanted Him to know my name. One day, in a youth group not unlike the one I was at last night, I cried out to Him.

Do you know me?! Speak to me like You did my sister! Do you love me?! I want to love You. She sang to You! I want that!

Very clearly I felt Him burn words onto my heart.

She did sing to Me. But I. Sang. To you.

My new life began in that moment. And I cry again just thinking about it. I looked around the room last night at the group of students. I can't tell you how much I wish I could have grown up with these kids as my friends. They have their issues sure, but they are beautiful and wonderful and so precious to His heart. I was humbled. Listening to their stories. Their honesty. It's humbling. I see His face in theirs. Beautiful. He really can do amazing things. I'm so glad I get to know Him. I'm so glad I get to love Him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

So Thankful

The other night I was praying and thanking Him for all that He's been in my life. Somehow I always end up back at the beginning. When He gave His life for me. I can't help but think of it any time I start to really tell Him of my thankfulness. But this particular night when I was praying I was really moved. I saw Him in my mind so clear, almost like I was watching that movie, The Passion. I could probably post some pictures on this blog but I don't think we need any. I see it vividly in my mind.

And I cried.

Not out of sorrow or sadness or anything like that but just out of pure thankfulness. Because I know if the roles were reversed, despite my love for Him, I don't think I would have done the same thing.

I know I would not have done the same for Him.

I would have been like Peter and denied Him to save myself. Yet knowing all of that, He did it anyway. That's what I'm thankful for. He knows all my faults, all my stuff, all my potential for ugliness and still it doesn't change anything. I can't begin to describe how full my heart gets when I think about His love for us.

Can you imagine being there? Seeing Him beaten, bleeding. Wanting to scream at the men to "STOP!" Even knowing what we know now.

He was raised. That the story didn't end with Him hanging on the cross.

So thankful. I'm imagining what my life would be like with out a trace of Him in it. It's a scary thought. Can you imagine it? Where would you be with out Him?

He looks at me and calls me beautiful. Doesn't He see all that's in me? Doesn't He see the darkness that threatens to take over everyday? "Beautiful," He says to me, and I lay my head in His nail scarred hands.

So thankful.

I was telling my 5 year old daughter about the story of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda. I read to her the story out of John 5. Afterward I asked her what she thought. She said "Mommy, Jesus was pretty cool huh?" I told her that He was for sure very cool and I asked her why she thought so. She said, "Because He can heal people, and because He healed the people nobody cared about." And I'm sitting there in stunned silence and then she says. "I wish we could get in a rocket ship and fly to heaven." "That would be cool," I said "but heaven is not in space and we don't have to go there to meet with Jesus, remember?" "Yeah, He lives in our hearts but I still wish I could just give Him a big giant hug."

Me too, baby girl, me too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Poor in Spirit

Matthew 5:3  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I was listening to the radio the other day and the DJ came on and started talking about this book he had been reading. (I was listening to Air1 around 5:15 if anyone heard it and knows the name of the book please post it, I'm really interested in reading it.) He said that in this book this guy proposed this idea about the first Be Attitude in Matthew 5. DJ man said that he didn't claim to know for sure if this Author new what he was talking about but he liked this idea. We've all probably heard many sermons given on the Be Attitudes and I don't claim to know everything about them or anything about them for that matter. But this interesting thought Book Author gave is so different from anything I've ever heard and like DJ, I don't claim to know if it's true necessarily about the Be Attitudes but it strikes me in a way that is good.

This idea is a bit contrary to what a few commentators have said about those who are "poor in spirit." I've listed them here first so you could refresh your memory on what's being taught in most "Christian" churches.

Matthew Henry says the poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them.

John Darby says the characters pronounced blessed may be briefly noted. They suppose evil in the world, and amongst God's people. The first is not seeking great things for self, but accepting a despised place in a scene contrary to God.

John Wesley says those who are unfeignedly penitent, they who are truly convinced of sin; who see and feel the state they are in by nature, being deeply sensible of their sinfulness, guiltiness, helplessness.

Ok. Now let me tell you what DJ guy said. This new idea is this. If we take the words "blessed are the poor in spirit" a little more literally then we could say, "blessed are the spiritually poor." DJ said (this is not word for word)  "If you're like me this is good news because I am not exactly a spiritual person. There are those out there who are just oceans of spirituality. It comes easy to them. They have a natural tendency to look heavenward all the time. For some reason I'm not like that. I often get stuck in the mud about spiritual things and tend to feel left out. I don't always 'get' things like other spiritual people do. I have a much dryer nature. This idea blesses me so because this means I have a place at His table too."

Wow. Do you know someone or have you judged someone who seems a bit spiritually dry? A bit spiritually bankrupt? Are you that person? I have a hard time understanding because I have a tendency to over-spiritualize everything and I don't think that's a problem until I start judging those who aren't like that. After all you don't see a Be Attitude that says "blessed are the overly spiritual because they are better then everyone else." I guess in a way it does kind of line up with what these commentators have said because the DJ was definitely humble in his thinking that spiritual people were somehow better off then him.

I am really humbled by this and if you have any thoughts on the matter I'd love to hear it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yellow Light

I've often thought about the significance a "yellow light" moment can have on a person. You've probably seen a movie that goes backward in time to discover the moment things started changing in someone's life that eventually led to some kind of huge disaster. They left something and had to go back and get it and in the time that took consequences were set into motion. I was talking to a friend and telling her how I believe God can use yellow lights to help get things back on track. You know those yellow traffic lights you speed up and try to get through before it turns red? What might change if we yielded? Obviously there could be things like fender benders and other accidents but what about the consequences arriving some where at a different time could make? Oh the possibilities. And then it makes you wonder how many times God's already done something cool because you yielded.

Anyway as I'm thinking out loud with my friend, letting my mind wander and ponder all the possible implications this could have, she was not amused because all this means she now can not run yellow lights any more. HA! Interestingly enough though she called me back a day or so later and said "Hey I think you should blog about the deeper implications that this yellow light thing might have." "Like what?" I said. "Like how we should probably yield to God in general but how sometimes He even gives us an obvious sign like a literal yellow light in our face." I said, "Oh yeah that could probably make a good post haha."

I guess my point is we are at a stage of human existence that we can no longer be careless about these signs. Even to the point of violating a seemingly insignificant traffic signal. We cannot afford to allow our very real enemy any kind of authority in our life. Ignoring God's "yellow lights" in our life could cause extreme consequences. I don't believe that God can't step in and fix the domino affect we cause by ignoring Him in the first place but sometimes that might come in the shape of say, a yellow light for example. It's time to unplug from all the technology available and "plug in" to Him. He's speaking to you. It's not just enough to hear Him. We have to yield. We have to surrender.

The coolest thing about this whole idea is that He couldn't warn us if He weren't watching us. He's watching out for you. Look up the word "watch" in the Bible and you'll find so many references to His watchful eyes. He sees you. I love this Psalm in the Message Bible.

Psalm 121

1-2 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?
   No, my strength comes from God,
      who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

 3-4 He won't let you stumble,
      your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
   Not on your life! Israel's
      Guardian will never doze or sleep.

 5-6 God's your Guardian,
      right at your side to protect you—
   Shielding you from sunstroke,
      sheltering you from moonstroke.

 7-8 God guards you from every evil,
      he guards your very life.
   He guards you when you leave and when you return,
      he guards you now, he guards you always. 

I have to warn you. Since my friend and I started talking about this we've seen many yellow lights and cool things are happening. If you have anything cool about a yellow light moment please share. After reading this I dare you to run a yellow light! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Great is Your Love?

How deep How high is your love for me, is your love for me
How far How wide is your love for me, is your love for me
How deep How high is your love for me, is your love for me
How far How wide is your love for me, is your love for me

We sang this song at church this morning. It's one of my favorites. I often ask the Lord to show me how big His love for me is.

"Take me deeper," I whisper.

But this morning something was different. As we sang this song I felt Him singing to me. "How deep, how high is your love for Me? How far, How wide is your love for Me?"

It's so easy to sing of my love for Him. Isn't that what praise and worship is all about anyway? But really what I felt like He was desperately asking me is, "How far will you go? Will you trust Me in the darkness of your circumstances? Will you love the unlovable in My Name? Will you go? Will you follow where I lead you? Will you seek My Face? Will you run to me? How deep? Take Me deeper still..."

How can I answer Him? What do I say? My heart cries, "YES!" But still something holds me back.

Your love is an ocean, I'm drowning in boundless depths of mercy
Your love is an ocean, surrounding with everlasting beauty

And I realize that I'm powerless to resist Him. His love is an ocean and I. Am. Drowning. He sweeps me away in His love and mercy, in His everlasting beauty. I cannot deny Him. He takes me deeper still and at the same time moves deeper in my heart as I surrender more of myself to Him.

More. I want more. He chuckles at me. He seems to say "Your ocean sits before me like a cup of water before you. You want an ocean of love? It's nothing compared to the amount of  love I have for you. Nothing."

How great is Your love?
How great is Your love?
How great is Your love?

*This song was written by Believer's Church Praise and Worship Leader, Tim Lucas and is not available in a format I can let you hear on this blog. You can check it out here. It's under the date 10/9/11.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gain New Strength

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up
with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. 

Isaiah 40:31

Have you ever had to wait on something? Someone? I'm definitely playing the waiting game with God right now. I don't know about you, but this verse sounds an awful lot like a promise to me. Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. Other translations say those who hope in the Lord. It sounds kind of twisted doesn't it? Run and not grow tired? (Oy I could have used that today on my run!) Doesn't waiting have the tendency to feel hopeless? Wait and wait and wait and still nothing. Don't you just want to give up? But He promised us that it wouldn't be in our own strength because in our weakness He is made strong.

But what does this look like Father? I know I'm weak. I know You're strong. I know You're with me but I still feel weak.

I was reading a blog today. I was reminded how really precious this time of life is with my young children. How they still need their mama. In this post she talks about snuggling with her children. How they need that snuggle time to find rest.

I thought of my Father. In Him I find rest.

Papa? Daddy? Will you let me lay my head on Your shoulder? I'm all done. I'm all poured out. I have nothing left. 

He's made a promise to me. Hope in Him and I will gain strength. It's a great mystery how this happens. All I know is sometimes, especially when we're all worn out, all we need is a good snuggle with Him. Burrow your face in the crook of His neck. Hear His heart beat? Feel His deep even breathing. Rest. How do we rest and run at the same time? It's Him. He carries us. We're in His arms. Trusting. Loving. Holding on. Flying high like eagles.