Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Aint No Country Song

My man's working late, dog is barking, babies screaming, big kids whining, washing machine broken.

No this is not lyrics to the newest hit country song. This is my life. It's enough to make me go crazy on any given day. But maybe the crazy thing about it is.... I kind of like it. I actually kind of love it. Obviously I don't mean the screaming or whining, but I do really love being a mom. I love being able to stay home with my children. Haha and I certainly don't mind a temporarily down washing machine! As I was listening to all these sounds going on at the exact same time I was tempted to lock myself in the bathroom, hold my hands over my ears, rock back and forth, and hum anything that would drown out the sound. This is probably not an unfamiliar impulse for many of my mom friends out there. Or at least I hope not!

The beautiful thing about it today though is, I chose in that instant to be happy. To love it. I chose to love it. Many days I do not make that choice. Many days I pinch myself and hope to wake up from this poop-filled nightmare. Today was different. I felt a whisper across my heart saying "Breathe Me in today. I am here." The joy of the Lord really can be your strength. Not just in the easy times but on the days when all you want to do is hide under the covers or escape into the unrealistic TV or computer portal. I dug real deep inside myself and pulled with all my might on that joy chord. I found laughter and grace there. I found peace and contentment. Do I want to be changing diapers forever? Certainly not. Would it be the worst thing? Absolutely not.

My cup is so full knowing I'm right where He's placed me. Oh how much I have to be thankful for! Oh what joy my life brings to me! Bless the Lord, oh my soul, with all that is within me! Bless Him!

 Colossians 1:11-12 MSG
As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. 

I just wanted to encourage you to stop and breathe. No matter what you're going through pray for that glory-strength that God gives.
Breathe Him in and renew your strength with the joy of the Lord. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

White Tile

In my house I have this beautiful white tiled kitchen floor and entry way. It really is nice tile. And.... I hate it. I don't mean to sound ungrateful but I really do hate it. I'd almost rather have a dirt floor...almost. It probably wouldn't be that bad if I didn't have three messy children. Counting myself that makes four messy eaters. Green peas show up really well on a white tile floor along with everything else including red jello. I'm not much for cleaning either. I don't like filth but I'm very comfortable with a messy house.

Anyway back to the tile. I'm talking to all those Mary's out there who, hopefully like me, rarely mop but when you do you mop hard core. If I'm going to do it, I do it right. (Momma would be so proud!) I'm not talking about just swiffering here and there either. I mean hands and knees scrubbing not moving on until you get every last squished, dried, cemented down piece of food off.

Once my floor is cleaned I always have this great feeling of accomplishment. Because of all the work that it takes to get a sparkling white tile floor, I try to go as long as possible maintaining it. On average that lasts until whatever meal comes next. There's usually always an outburst of frustration towards myself or my kids when one of us inevitably spills or drops something on it. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Well if you read my previous post and like me, you let go of a lot of junk you probably feel fresh and clean. You've jumped into hyper space with a clean slate. Maybe you are like me in the fact that you feel a great need or pressure to maintain that shiny new soul. In some ways this is very commendable. It's beautiful walking with the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart. Often I cry out "raise up a standard for Your people, Lord. Lead us to a place of wholeness and righteousness. Make us holy as You are holy." Mmmm so good.

This morning though, I felt like I had just dropped a pot of black coffee on my nice clean floor or a jar of spaghetti sauce (no I don't make my sauce from scratch) or a bowl of cereal and milk (hate that!). With great disappointment there appeared a great black stain of sin on my heart.

How does that happen? You want so much to do right. To be right. To live right. "Oh Lord, I just want You more! Draw me closer.....oh wait can we meet later? My favorite show is on...." Anyone with me?

I absolutely do not want to belittle the sin that is always there trying to penetrate our hearts. My point is, spilled milk happens. This life is a journey. We have a goal. There is a prize. All we can do is lean into the Father. Trust Him. And then there's faith. My faith lifts the weight of pain and mistakes. It lifts deep dark clouds of worthlessness and selfish pride. My faith is my belief in truth that God above loves me and you, and gave us freedom, gave us life to walk in love through Jesus. When I cry out for forgiveness He moves on my heart and cleanses me of all unrighteousness. I don't have to be bound in shame. He is setting me free.

The path of the righteous is one that grows brighter and brighter like the steady light of the sun until noon day.  He sweeps us away and wipes us clean. A majic eraser works wonders on my white floor and the blood of Christs washes away all of our sin. Jesus wins. HE did all the work at the cross. We don't have to do anything to make ourselves clean except run to Him.

Do not let condemnation keep you from turning to Him. We aren't worthy, we never were, but He always is and His love never quits.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Let Go- It's Hyper Speed Time

Hyper speed. That's what my mom said. "You're holding on to too much stuff. You need to hit the delete button and make the jump into hyperspeed." (Anyone else cracking up thinking of their mom making a Star Wars reference?)

I remember the part of the movie she's talking about. You know where Han Solo is trying to make the jump into hyper speed but the Millennium Falcon is having technical difficulties. Luke calls the ship a bucket of bolts. Finally the ship dumps all it's garbage and is then capable of making the jump into hyper speed.

There's really so many places we could go in this analogy. Like the fact that the computer has to chart the course before you make the jump into hyperspace so you don't crash into anything. His timing is always best and the Spirit's leading is so crucial! But we'll save that thought for another day.

Seems to me what my mom is getting at is that I've got a lot of junk hanging around that I need to get rid of. It's holding me back keeping me from getting where I need to be. Some of this "stuff" I didn't even realize I was carrying. My mom was able to pick up on it by the Spirit in our conversation. Some things are like those little sucker creatures that attach themselves to us and sap out energy. It's amazing what can sneak in when you open that door of unforgiveness or jealousy!

Laying this stuff down and letting go, surrendering and crying out for help is what we need to do consistently in our race to the feet of Jesus. This is not a new concept. But why do we feel so bad about needing to do it? Why do we feel like horrible "Christians" if we need maintenance? There's no shame in needing Him. It's the way we were created. There's no need for guilt, for we could not have saved ourselves anyway.

Isaiah 41 NASB

10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

I've read this scripture often and have always put the emphasis on making God my God. Crying out to Him to please be my God. I want Him to be first. Often making it my heart's cry, praying fervently for Him to clear out anything that would be exalted above Him. But Sunday this scripture was read and this time I really felt like God was saying, "I am...(let that sink in a moment.) I am your God. Do not fear. Do not feel guilt, I am your God. You did it, you received Me and have made Me your God. I'm going to help you."
There's no need to beat ourselves up and cry out for forgiveness over and over about the same thing. He is my God and He will help me. He will hold me up with His righteous right hand. He's helping me in this journey of righteous living. He hasn't called me to a standard that I'm not capable of meeting and when I fall, I fall into His arms of mercy and His righteous hand lifts me back up.

If you are feeling stuck, like you just can't get in gear and make that jump into hyper speed keep reading and ask the Father to help you. I've listed some things that came to mind as I was praying, mostly for my benefit, but I hope it will help if you don't know where to start. As you pray really picture yourself letting go of these things. Be specific. Imagine them floating away deep into space.


I let it go. 

Forgive me for holding on to fear. For falling into it so easily and letting it take control rather then falling into Your arms.

Pride. I let it go. Forgive me for having pride concerning anything You told me in the first place. For feeling deprived of recognition when it's all for Your glory anyway. Everything I have You've given. Everything I am You've created. Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Jealousy. I let it go. Forgive me for coveting what others have and not being thankful and content with what You've given. Oh, how you've blessed me.

Control. I let it go. Forgive me for trying to pick up responsibilities that are not mine to carry. For trying to fix other people's problems. For feeling the weight and burden of other people's sin and mistakes. Thank you that I can always lay those burdens at Your feet.

Judgement. I let it go. Forgive me for judging others. For putting myself in a place higher then I am, that I think I can judge others. Forgive me, Father, for looking down on and criticizing Your children and gossiping about them with other people.

Worry and Anxiety. I let them go. Forgive me for not trusting You. For doubting You and Your intentions. I lay the weight of worrying for my family at Your feet. I will trust in Your strength and Your ability to protect, provide, and keep us. Forgive my lack of humbleness in thinking I can some how do it all without You. 

You are my God.

I've always had a hard time accepting forgiveness. I know it's because, or at least partly because, I know my own potential for evil. I'm acutely aware of the fact that even as I lay these burdens down I'll most likely at some point pick them up again. I know how easily I can fall into sin again and again. But I believe that what He is saying is that He knows it too. And the beauty is He forgives me anyway. He loves me anyway. And don't you think He's big enough to also forgive me in the future? Don't you know He already has?

Romans 5 NASB
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

October Baby

Below is a link to the trailer of the movie October Baby. I had the wonderful opportunity to see the movie in a pre-screening. It has an extremely powerful message of forgiveness and awareness. It's highly entertaining as a movie but has the ability to transform lives with it's powerful healing message. A young woman discovers that her medical issues and psychological issues are connected. She finds out that she is an abortion survivor.  As you watch her journey to discover the truth and wrestle with forgiveness you can't help but be made aware of issues you never knew existed.
I honestly can't say enough good things about the movie. Watch the trailer, spread the word, and see the movie. You won't be sorry.

As if that weren't enough, the producers of OCTOBER BABY have assigned 10% of the profits of the movie to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which will distribute funds to frontline organizations helping women facing crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies, and those caring for orphans.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Psalm 31

A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise.

That's what the header says above Psalm 31. I love that. Haha so like David. A song of complaining and of praise. I imagine God likes it too, after all it is in the Bible. It really resonates within me though because I often feel like half the time I'm complaining and half the time praising. Why does that bother us so much and make us feel guilty? This doesn't seem to upset or shock God in anyway. In my experience He seems to prefer it when I'm crying out in an honest way then when I'm ignoring Him.

He get's it. He just really does get what we're going through. I've been reading a lot about how Jesus is the ultimate High Priest. He lived and was tempted in every way. He suffered in those temptations and can relate to our suffering. So when we suffer and we call to Him, He has compassion. He sympathizes with our pain and is gracious and merciful. Thank You God!

Back to the psalm. In the Bible study that I'm working on we were asked to look up a couple of scriptures about God's throne on the basis of Hebrews 4:16 where it says Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 

I found the topic and study of the Throne extremely interesting and so decided to just do a keyword search and look up all the times the word throne is mentioned. I also like to see it in multiple versions. biblegateway.com is really awesome because it lets you pull up a word in all different kinds of versions all at once. You can imagine that I sifted through literally hundreds of verses containing the word throne. Sounds tedious, I suppose, but I really like that sort of thing. I could spend this whole blog post and many more talking about all the different things I picked up from such a shallow look of the Throne. However Psalm 31 really caught my attention. What's interesting about that is the word throne isn't even actually mentioned in that psalm! What happened is I came across a different verse that contained the word throne along with a phrase that read something like this "You protect them with Your presence." I just thought that was so beautifully put. However if you pull the whole chapter and read it in context, which is an absolute must, it didn't mean exactly what I was thinking. So I decided to try another word search and see if there was a scripture anywhere that related to the idea that with just His presence there is protection and safety like an invisible force field. In my mind I had this grand picture of Him. I could imagine myself running from an army of hungry beasts. He appears out of no where and saves me. My protection didn't come from a mighty lightning strike or a sword or weapon. He vanquished the hairy monsters with just His presence. A bit dramatic I know but since I believe that He really is that cool (Chuck Norris and Jack Bauer got nothin' on Him) I thought it would be even better if I could actually find it in scripture. (Alas, to my great disappointment there are no scriptural references to force fields. *sigh*)

With this second word search I came across Psalm 31. Verse 20 says:
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. 

Eh. Didn't really perk my interest all that much except that it was really the only one that talked about His presence in the context of which I was searching for. This of course led me to reading the chapter as a whole. After just reading the header I was hooked.

I also think it's interesting how so much of what I've been reading, thinking, and praying about can be wrapped up in one chapter. How does He do that?!

Just for the sake of not having a blog post that goes on for 200 pages I only want to share a few verses that especially brought me great joy.

5 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.

7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
8 And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.  

Even though I don't have any enemies like what David had I do have enemies in the way unbelief and discontentment are enemies of God and of hope. Are you ever plauged by doubt? Fear? Worry? "What if?" questions? Those are all enemies that have a tangible force. They come against you but instead of falling into that path and then complaining about it we can trust Him, knowing that He is compassionate and can sympathize. He has seen our affliction and He's no stranger to our troubled soul.

 19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men! 

How great is His goodness?! How glad we can be in His lovingkindness! I love the idea of Him "storing up" goodness. Can you imagine? It's like that place that stores all that goodness that we didn't have room enough to contain. All that extra doesn't go away. He's got it stored up and has been storing it up. It's like some great big savings account. Am I the only one excited about that?

23 O love the LORD, all you His godly ones!
The LORD preserves the faithful
And fully recompenses the proud doer.
24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD. 

Verse 23 is so interesting to me. He preserves the faithful. I have the tendency to think that those who are faithful don't need any help in persevering because they have so much faith. What if walking out in faith isn't just for those strong ones? What if it's not about how much faith you have after all? What if it has more to do with just loving Him and trusting Him and knowing that you are weak and that you are kind of a terrible person at times but really believing that He never, ever looses hope or gives up on you? What if it has nothing to do with doing something so He'll help you and love you? What if it's loving Him and letting Him do the something in you?

In case you're like me and the last part of 23 confuses you check it in the Message it says this:
  But he pays back in full
      those arrogant enough to go it alone.

Can you say ominous? There's no shame in crying out to Him for help. In fact He'd much rather that then watching you try to arrogantly go it alone.

To wrap this up I have to copy verse 24 again.

24 Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the LORD. 

Monday, January 16, 2012


Busy, busy. I'm running here and there. All good things. But there's stress.

Where's the time to meet with Him, my All The Time God

There's this need that we, the created, have to fill a void that was specifically made inside all of us by our Creator. When we don't fill it with Him it causes a restlessness inside. It's really a very good thing that this happens. God is so smart! It's like this built-in mechanism that cries out for more of Him. We have this longing for identity, for meaning, for purpose, for love. It's so easy to try to fill that void or answer that longing with other "stuff." Even good things like friends, church, family, work, and play all are empty and nothing with out Him. And then there's stress. And worry. 

I got restless in my thinking. I tried to go along with my culture. I was swept up in and swirled about by my fast paced life and by what others are doing or what I think I'm supposed to be doing. 

How wonderful it is to breathe deep and drop my burdens at His feet. My spirit calls my heart and mind to be still. I close my eyes and stand. Let me hear that still small voice. The bands of stress that have been crushing my chest slowly come loose and in their place I feel His embrace. He whispers rest to my soul. What a beautiful God.

I love this song by Audrey Assad. Listen and find rest. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All The Time

After much convincing I decided to jump out on a limb and share something I feel the Lord spoke right to my heart and soul. Recently I experienced what some would call a "night vision" or something kind of like an incredibly realistic dream. Mostly I was just in a dark place but not in a scary or creepy way. It seemed more "womb" like. I felt and heard the Father's voice and was at peace.

The difference between a dream and a night vision is usually a night vision is pretty self explanatory. In other words, you don't usually need a night vision interpreted because it's pretty clear and specific. The Lord is usually speaking directly to you. Dreams often need some kind of interpretation for you to get any idea what it's really about or if the Lord is speaking and what He is saying. I wanted to give that explanation because in my experience I kind of just knew what God was saying with out Him necessarily saying it or me actually hearing it. This is not a new or weird concept for doesn't it say in 1 Corinthians 2 NASB:
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 

Wouldn't it be cool if all education was like that? Where the teacher just walks in the room and we all just kind of get it without too much effort? But I digress...we'll save that thought for a blog post another day.

I felt like what Father was telling me was something about Time. I've asked many questions on this topic. I think perspective is so important and when it all seems hopeless, hoping in the eternal is all that is left. There is such beauty in that because even if all really was lost, and let's face it, it rarely ever is, we have so much to hope for and be thankful for just knowing that our eternal lives are secure. I love that when we ask He answers. Sometimes it's not always what we want to hear or how we want to hear it but His faithfulness is such a comfort.

So in this space of peace and rest I felt Him speak to me about time.

Here's what I got. 
When I look at a clock I see my present time, but if He looked at my clock He would see all the time. Not just all the hours of the day but all the hours of every day from beginning to end. It's almost like there is no beginning or end, if I can be so bold.

If I were to ask Him when change is coming His answer would be...all the time.
He's working things out for my good and everything except His nature is subject to change. My situation is changing even now, and it has changed all the same.

When did Adam and Eve first sin? All the time.
The great fall happened long ago and is still happening now. He weeps for every fallen heart like He did the first, but He never looses hope because Love always hopes. And because He's All The Time He can always hope because He knows how it will work out in the future while in the present. (Hmm I love that thought about hope by the way! I mean if you read the end of the book you wouldn't be too freaked out if the character in the story was in great peril because you already knew it would work out? So of course you could be hopeful....*sigh* save that thought for another blog post.)

When did Christ die to save me? All the time.
I was saved then and I am being saved now. That's why faith was credited to Abraham. In his time Christ had yet to come. But in God's time Christ not only was coming but He came and was risen because God is not only The End, He's in the end right now, all the time. What?! Yeah I know *mind blowing* 

When will He come again? All the time.
He's coming and because God can clearly see the end and in fact is there in the end it's already happened, and is happening, and will happen....all the time.

If someone asked you, "Are you breathing?" You could answer, "Of course, all the time." That would mean that you've been breathing your whole life and are currently still breathing. But if you ask Him and He says "all the time," it means He was, He is, and is always, which is pretty widely known and understood. Where I think we loose it is when we say He is, was, and is always, all at the same time. It's hard for our little minds to grasp. But hang in there with me.

You are in the present. You have a past and a future and He is in all of it, all the time. He's an all the time God.

When did He forgive you? When will your circumstances get better? When will He move on your children's hearts? When will there be justice? When is there love and grace and peace and joy?

All the time.

The cool thing I got out of this is that He also sees us in the all the time sort of way.

When God saw David as a shepherd boy He didn't just see him young and ignorant with a heart full of love. The Father saw him as a man. As a king. He saw all David's mistakes and He saw this in real time. Actually you could say He sees. Even though it's the past for us it's still present for Him in all the time and if you really want to be confused it's actually still the past and future...at the same time...all the time.

How many times can you say "all the time," in a blog post?

When He looks at me He doesn't see me just as I am now. He sees all of me. He sees me as a little girl and as an old wrinkly woman and He sees my all, all at once, all the time.

I was created, I'm being created. I am saved and I'm being saved. I'm healed and I'm being healed. I have been made perfect and am being perfected...all the time. For now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known (1 Cor 13:12). Even though I'm not "full" yet. All that I am hasn't happened for me yet but He knows all of it and He knew it before any of it happened. He sees all my potential for good and for bad and He loved me and He called me and He calls me and He loves me...all the time.  

This is why He is literally good. All. The. Time. Not as in everyday He's so good to me, although He is. But in ALL time, ALL the time, He is good.

*Ok so at this point I've just reread all I've written and I'd like to admit that it could seem totally crazy. At the same time it can seem like something I kind of already knew about God. I hope some of it has made sense, at least as much as it did to me. If nothing else I hope you walk away from reading it knowing that before "time" began He thought of you. He knew you. All of you. And He chose right then to love you despite, well, everything. 

**Oh and how cool is it that I actually found a pic with a clock photo shopped on top of a dandelion?! Totally cool that's how.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just Look Up

"No." It's his new favorite word. My sweet, charming, lover boy, Bret Michael Holt now tells his mommy no with a little added shake of the head. *sigh* It was bound to happen right?

I walked into the kitchen. I found him sitting on the floor with his snack swaying back and forth to the music coming from my laptop. Super cute. I put my hands out to him to come. I wanted to smooch him and spin around with him in a dance all our own.

"No," he says.

He thinks I want him to just get out of the kitchen instead of pick him up. Of course that's gotta be why he told me no, the kid loves being held. Surely if he knew all I wanted was to hold him he'd come right over.

I walk a little closer and put my hands out to him again.

"No" more had shaking.

I walk even closer until I'm right in front of him. He looks up at me with those big blue eyes and smiles. I put my hands out to him again and he realizes that all I want is to hold him. He stands right up with his arms lifted high. I grab him and smother his face in kisses. We twirl around and he laughs.

I love that kid.

Oh Father. If your children only knew.

He stands at the door of our hearts. Arms extended for us to come to Him. We tell Him no because we think He wants us to do something. We think He wants us to get up, clean ourselves up, change, be better, do all the work to come to Him, for Him to chastise us for doing something wrong.

He comes closer. And closer still. If we only knew the truth about His intentions. They are not to get on to us like Bret thought. They are to simply pick us up and hold us close. To spin us around in a dance meant only for us.

It hit me so hard. That thought. As I scooped Bret up it was like He was saying, "I've been here all along. Arms wide, hands extended to you. My heart is open to you. I only want you. I want to love you and hold you and hear your laugh and see your smile."

That is all. He's not standing far from us, beckoning us to come to Him. All He's saying is, "Look up. I'm here. I'm here already." 

So if He seems far, perhaps He's closer then you think. If it seems like all He wants is to make you feel guilty or call you to obedience and you tell Him no with a stubborn shake of your head, just look up. See if He's not standing there waiting.

*I took this when I was in Panama. Those eyes still cut through to my heart.