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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Martha, Martha, Martha

I've always been a bit like Mary, Ok I'm a lot like Mary. I just really am in love with Jesus and like David says in Psalm 27 I really do just want to sit and gaze at His beauty all the rest of my days. I hang on His every word and love being in His presence. I wish I could sit in my living room with praise and worship music all day long and do nothing else. I have 4 children running around, piles of laundry, and a sink full of dishes but none of that really matters to me. If I could close my eyes and be in heaven and say good bye to this life I would. That might sound terrible to some (mostly to the Marthas) but it's really how I feel. I would love it if He would just twirl me around in our secret place all day everyday.

But lately, well, I'm feeling a bit immature in my thinking. Let me try to explain. Everything I said I truly believe is good and is genuinely how I feel. However, the truth of the matter is, I am not in heaven and unfortunately I live much of my life outside that secret place. That's not to say I don't feel His presence with me always but the intimacy level is not as deep. If I live that part of my life like Mary I often feel a bit depressed. Not in an oppressive way but like half of a pair of newlyweds separated. I often feel like I wander all day with my head in the clouds.

What I'm realizing is I need to be a little more like Martha (just a little). It's time to grow up spiritually and that takes some effort. Thankfully it can be a real satisfying experience because I'm not working for myself or anyone else. I'm striving to know Him better and because I have such a strong foundational love for Him and I'm grounded in His love for me this a completely healthy change. I guess the reason for this post is because originally I was feeling somewhat obligated to make this change. I'm so anti-formula and controlling religious ideas but that's exactly what I had fallen into. And it was so dry! Trying to be Martha with out Mary is hard and exhausting and so, so dry. The guilt and shame of never being enough, never doing enough is too much for this Mary to take. But there is something inside me that is craving the spiritual giant that lives in Martha. She knows her Bible, she can call up scripture and take comfort in the words without having to spend half an hour searching on biblegateway. She's the one people call when they need a warrior. She's comforting in her ability to stay grounded, focused, and clear-headed. She is able to pour out herself into her family and community because she is not self-centered. She is others-minded. She is strong.

You can't become Martha overnight. I've often judged her but now I want to be more like her. Of course when He calls my name, I am there. Nothing is more important or more satisfying then being a lone with Him but until the day comes when my sole responsibility is to gaze lovingly into His eyes I need look at Martha's example. Yes, she had her issues, but don't we all? It's time to give up the milk, baby food, and high chair (no matter how convenient and satisfying it is). It's time to join the adult table and make a difference on this earth. I'm not going to lie. It sucks a little bit (lol is that too frank?). I hate growing. I hate changing. I like my mess. I like being fed and having my diaper changed so to speak. But I've reached the point where that is no longer acceptable. He's calling me to more. He's drawing me farther and I simply can not resist Him.