Joy at the Cross

pain face

I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers lately mostly because I am watching the health and mental capacity of my mom decline.  The once vibrant mom I knew is slowly fading with dementia day by day.  It’s like a slow death.  So I asked the Lord to bring me joy FOR her.

Joy is difficult to realize when you lose someone you love dearly.

However, there are some situations when it’s easily accepted.  For instance, at the end of person’s life with the natural progression of old age.  We often ask for early release unto death with the suffering by pain and with the terminally ill.  Over the years with technology and advances in modern medicine, we’ve even grown accustomed to watching pain close up too.

How can joy ease the pain of death?  I think about how Mary, the mother of Jesus handled it.  The Bible relates her standing at the cross where Jesus died.  She had support system that included, John the beloved, and two other Marys.  Onlookers to this event had a front row seat to watch the immense pain-filled suffering of Jesus, and watch her response as his mother.  I would have been wailing if it were me.

I’m grateful she handled it gracefuly.

The Bible doesn’t talk about her emotions a lot, but I assume she cried.  This tragic event would be in addition to all the other times a mother weeps for her children from her kitchen, on her knees, or while sharing with other mothers.  Mary was a normal human and full mothering emotions after all.  Did she use self-control?  Did she weep for days when Jesus died?  Was there any consolation for Mary even knowing Jesus was going back to the Father?

There had to be some comfort for her, afterall, Jesus predicted his death many times.

I’m also reminded as a mother that watching your child die, at any age, is never easy.  I know, however, Mary was highly favored and entrusted with the care of Jesus unto death.  I would agree joy is part of God’s design which can be activated in very tough and joy-less situations like death, grief and loss of a loved one.

So where is the joy in death?  Mary witnessed death with intensity.  No one expects to be crucified, a brutal and cruel death nor leave this world in such a way.  So where’s the joy in watching death slowly snuff out life?  Jesus explained how joy works in his last meeting with the disciples and I think he explained it specifically for mothers to grasp ahold of.  Here’s his final word on death:

“The Disciples’ Grief Will Turn to Joy”

John 16: 15-33  Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”  At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

Jesus saw they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

Wait a minute, did Jesus just say joy is completed in death?  As hard as death is to watch, it’s even harder to accept the reality we will never see our loved one again this side of heaven.  But encouragement comes with joy, because we know one day we will join them again in Heaven.  Jesus encourages us further for days filled with trouble…

“I have told you these things, so in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I believe Jesus was saying there is joy found in death, and this joy completes our peace.  Joy, through death, comes in knowing where our final destination is.  There’s an eternal Home waiting for our arrival and for many of us, a lot of loved ones are waiting for us to arrive!

There’s joy in knowing there is an end to pain, suffering, and a place where automatic joy begins.  So when watching someone die a slow painful death, for me joy paves the way for my faith and gives me assurance that I too can have joy here right now.  Joy has become my sacrifice of praise and helps my heart to understand there is joy complete when peace comes.

Let this kind of joy be yours as you suffer through a death or difficult situation.  The opportunity to choose joy is only given this side of  heaven.  Heaven is already abounding and full of JOY.

Jesus gives us joy but He IS JOY too!

The compassionate heart of Jesus amplifies joy in our lives.  God knows how valuable and helpful it can be, as joy becomes our reward for going through all situations.  You can have the attitude of joy in your heart with great rejoicing on your lips even in death.

 

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When Your Tears Turn to Joy

joy gratitude

I was raised by parents who didn’t show much emotion.  It was many years later when I realized it was the older generation who grew the non-criers.  They saw it as a sign of weakness.  As a result I learned to be closed off about my feelings.   It hit me early one morning, as I was driving to work.  I was thinking about my brother-in-law’s suicide and it was if the tears I left unshed in those tension filled, grieving days were collected in a heavenly vessel.  I was overcome with so many tears from so many years at the thought of re-applying mascara was impossible.  In a span of about 45 minutes, regret hit and filled my mind with unexpressed love.  And my emotions spilled over into my lap.

I was a DJ on a Christian Radio Station, and people tuned in to hear a happy tone. Somehow I had to gather my happy voice and speak encouragement to listeners.  How could I put aside my regret-filled feelings one more time?  I tumbled out of my car and plodded into the studio.  It was like any other day on the inside of the building.  I greeted my co-worker with a normal “hello” and he immediately sensed something was wrong.  “Tears are a sign of weakness!” I scolded myself.  I braced myself for the kidding ahead about being a girl and crying about everything.

My friend and co-worker said something profound which I’ll won’t forget.  “Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.” Being a crier by nature, my tender heart sometimes gets the best of me.  Ever been there?  Do you apologize to others for showing emotions or for leaking your emotions down your face?  Sounds incredibly similar to a hormone imbalance doesn’t it?  I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized for crying in front of someone!

Crying is a human emotion which God has placed inside. It’s no different from anger, fear or even joy. We don’t apologize when we’re feeling happy. “Oh gee, I’m so sorry. I can’t seem to stop smiling. I’m SO embarrassed!”  You often see tears at the beginning of life with newborn babies, and at the end of life when saying good-bye to a loved one.  As a parent myself, I know there are buckets of tears shed in times of praying that are collected in a mother’s heart.  It was years later that I discovered the encouragement in this verse:

Psalm 126:5 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.”

Having joy and tears on my mind a lot lately, I’ve been trying to understand the principle of reaping joyful heart from the tears that I have been sowing.  I realized when I had cried I usually associated my tears with sad emotions, extreme waves of shock, disappointment, grief, loss, etc.  That’s a natural expression of heartache and hurt.

Although grieving and letting go has a place in the death process, it’s difficult to find joy in that kind of hurt but I know that a supernatural joy exists in death.  After the reading the context behind the verse, I do know that this song was written after God’s people were delivered out of captivity.  I too, have cried some tears from a bound up place in my life and I’ve longed for freedom.  It was in that moment, I realized the tears I was expressing had come from a supernatural place where the Holy Spirit transformed my tears into joy, in freedom from a place of my heart’s gratitude.

My heart welled up again with a joyful expression.

Sowing takes a process and requires seeds, a small start.  Once planted or given over to the process of casting out, putting into the ground and fertilizing the seed, it takes time for the seed to develop and expand into the germination phase.  The outer shell of the seed is softened by the grounds moisture and the water given to the fertile soil.  In the softening of the seed, it sprouts with new growth.  It takes a seed time to burst out with the seedling, an expression of its own design.

That’s what tears are.  An expression of the heart, and some expressions just need to germinate and grow before expressing them.  I think that’s how joy in freedom comes, in the expression of our hearts when we are truly free.  When our hearts are truly express joy, it’s a sign of growth, from a sensitive and free place.  I don’t think it shows weakness at all.

Sometimes it takes the strongest person to be honest with their expressions.  What I have learned about joy and songs lately is that each time joy is sung over a battle it brings strength to the troops.  Tears can also express happiness, praise, and laughter.  I understand there’s a place for all our emotions.  I think joy is often misunderstood and represents the sensitive side of God, who wants us to have joy alongside all phases of life.  After all, it’s second to His love and a gift of the Spirit’s work in our lives.  Joy and tears are expression of Heaven too.  We have to remember God has blessed us with each emotion and we can always express our emotions of gratitude with freedom.  It’s the language of our hearts.

What the World Needs Now

flag in barn

When bad incidents happen we ask the question “why?”.  We don’t understand the shocking events which have happened of late and we try to impose order. Humans want life to make sense.  After the initial shock, it leaves us wondering “What will happen next and will I be the next victim?”

Our nation is grieving. Webster’s dictionary defines grief as a “deep sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” For many families, and the public as a whole, the idea of security is once again threatened at every turn.  Many communities have lost leaders, fathers, grandfathers and those lives will never be heard from again.

And it’s left us confused, angry, and feeling threatened.

Grief is compounded when the death is violent, untimely, and sudden. When there is a willful or intentional taking of a human life by another individual, the sense of shock and disbelief is suffocating. Our world as we know it is shaken to its core, and our sense of safety and security vanish. Oftentimes, overwhelmed by grief, confusion, and in a vacuum of comfort, leaves us to fear.

Grief is amplified when the death is a highly publicized incident. The media gives a doom and gloom perspective pressurizing the nation’s voice to protect ourselves or take matters into our own hands.  We are barraged with blame and shame leaving us to choose sides questioning who “matters” thus dividing lines with hate.  Nothing makes sense. The results are impacting our hope and ebbs away at our faith.  Turmoil and anxiety builds with each look over the shoulder or behind each closed door.

The brute force of many layered and competing emotions mount.  Feelings of anger, fear, confusion, exhaustion, sadness, and depression is intensified by grief.  As onlookers, we shut down and feel numb.  We throw up our hands and don’t know who to trust or what to do to repair these death-laden and devastatingly dangerous situations.  I understand death alright but what do we do with all of the death and progression of evil around us?

Like most wounds it scars our souls and we stop talking about it.  It becomes the white elephant in the room and we are afraid to stand up for our beliefs as to not offend or start another heated argument.  It paralyzes our voices and keeps us quiet.  But the pain of loss is still there and we stuff it down deep.  It festers, boils and wreaks havoc with our sound minds.  We openly pray for healing but there’s no joy in covering hurt of this kind.  The world’s empty words of comfort and feelings of false security become a new normal along with a strategically-placed policy.

Pointing the finger at the obvious won’t heal the pain this nation is in.

Healing takes time and it needs to fall on everyone.  In my opinion there is only one way to win over evil.  We want the pain to cease but as a nation, it’s easier to turn our heads and hope someone quickly sweeps it under the political rug to make it go away like a bad nightmare.  This tug on our souls has to stop or fear will always be after our hearts.

If you have been affected by the recent events please know I too am grieving with you. Words only travel so far and words alone don’t cause change.  No, you don’t forget the sound of your loved one’s voice, or a touch, and you certainly can’t forget the love you shared.  There’s no way to repair a broken heart from a human standpoint.

I wish there were shortcuts to healing.  But the facts remain, the fast-track to evil advances around us.  There is the power to heal our nation within the nation if we could all work together to be the answer for change we only complain about.  How often do we find ourselves asking “What are we do with all this violence?”

The answer is profound and comforting when we respond with an outpouring of love and count it all joy.  Jesus was a man of controversy, stood for justice and showed love to all.  You might say, “Sure, He could because He was perfect.”  You’ve tried being kind in the face of evil and it wasn’t reciprocated.  You’ve tried to love the unlovable and got taken advantage of.  You’re afraid to give this love thing a try at all.  Have we loved and have you only tried?

Jesus is our example to heal this nation.  He didn’t judge – only touched with His grace.  He didn’t beat politics with the rules – but spoke life over the wayward.  He didn’t run away in fear but knew His Father’s voice.  He met the needs of the unloved, the forgotten, and went out of His way to reach the least.  And He counted it ALL joy in who He loved.  Joy was His reward on the way to the cross.  He suffered and knew death.

“Instead of what doing what Jesus did, let’s all do what Jesus is doing!”  Mike Maeshiro

Let time teach you to love and have joy again if you are suffering a loss.  Let the love of God overcome the evil around you.  Let the love of God change you.  Be Christ’s love to others around you.  Show love over evil.  Start counting everything in your life with a reward of joy, and set it before you.  Afraid to show love because you’ve been hurt?  Who isn’t???

God’s love heals in ways we don’t know and kindness progresses healing further than we could ever know.  Jesus led His disciples by the love of God and knew how to do in a ways which advance God’s goodness.  Jesus in it to win it and He has already won!  We can feel secure in our homes and lives of if we would all work together to be the together-strength of love spoken in truth and in love to our communities, cities, and nation.  The progression of LOVE always invites God’s goodness.  His Joy is our joy reward for the suffering even unto and through to death.

Count It All Joy Through Gratitude

joy swing

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  John 15:11 (NIV)

My last post was about joy, counting it ALL joy, and the gap in between our dreams and reality.  At least finding joy a habit was my intention.  I realize this week gratitude is directly connected to the golden thread of relationships, happiness, and abundance in life. If you’re like me, you can read a post about joy and think it’s all pink and rosy every day.  I hear you saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll be more grateful.  It might work for her but she doesn’t live out in my life.  It won’t work for me.”

Oh friends, it’s time to stop kicking the tires on this life and embrace it for all it’s worth.  Let’s all go bravely forward and count it all joy.

I like to go beyond a nice idea or a concept.  It’s one idea to live with joy but it’s a whole new way to live with God’s joy.  I’m all about application and gathering the tools of creativity, words of gratitude, love, applied discipline, to understand and get a hold of the way the concept works in your everyday life. Until you practice and witness your own shifts and awakenings, none of this makes much impact.  Have confidence by faith!  Joy is attainable and is a good idea.  Do you follow me so far?

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:11 (ESV)

The Bible is a great start to instructing us how to live and how to count everything for joy, but it’s not the whole letter of the law.  You also have to apply joy to your life.

What does living in joy look like?  It’s daily looking and adopting God’s ways into your life. I encourage everyone to keep a gratitude journal. Be grateful when God teaches you how to live.  It’s a way to bring His character into our weaknesses.  For me, when I feel left out or last in line, I go to my gratitude journal and make a list of all the ways I am blessed.  Believe me when I say this, if you think you aren’t blessed to live in the land of the free and home of the brave, travel internationally to suffering and oppressed nations.  You will notice the difference immediately.  Gratitude journals can turn whining and complaining into thankfulness and appreciation.

So, what is a gratitude journal?

A gratitude journal is a blank notebook where you write lists for which you are grateful. Every night, before you go to bed, you take about three minutes to write down a list of five things (or any do-able number).

Some days, you might be feeling particularly abundant, and those five things just fly onto the page.

Some days, it might feel like you can’t think of even two things. Then you remember how you have a roof over your head or food to eat. Next, you remember your cat (again) and you have hot water to get clean and drink.  No matter what you’re feeling, find time to write down at least five things every single night.  And they don’t have to be new and different.

My experience is when I write out what I’m grateful for, those items add joy to my day.  I become more in tune throughout the next day. It’s like turning on an inner-switch, and sets your awareness to look for joys to journal each night. So you might be driving out of your neighborhood in the morning, and catch the flash of a cardinal in the sunlight, and instead of blowing it off, you stop and notice it for a moment. You take it in. And you make a mental note to include the bird in your gratitude journal. Then, when you’re having lunch with a co-worker, she grabs the check and pays it. And not only do you thank her, but you make a mental note again (I carry a small notebook and pen in my purse). Your day becomes a basket where you collect things. The joy habit soon comes to life!  In essence, you become a joy and gratitude magnet. And oddly enough, cool things start to find you. But you have to learn to be grateful now for all what you already have.

When you really try this, you will see how your joy increases.  You see, Jesus is joy and anytime you notice the things He put in your path to bring joy or a smile to your face, His intentions change your intentions.  Now not everything in this world is joyful.  Believe me when I say, you can choose how you see the things of this world and how to respond to the world around you.  When you feel the smile of Heaven, it makes a difference in your soul.

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!  John 15:11 (NLT)

(Notice I posted a joy verse in different ways to help you see how grateful I am for reward of seeking joy in all things.  Gratitude shapes your perspective!)

Do you need to be held?

rope

My friend reassured me there was no need to worry.  “You’re going to LOVE it!” she promised.  I bought into her zip-lining adventure as an exciting one until my fear of heights rose up into my throat.  In a moment I realized it was too late to back out and it felt my heart was going to beat right out of my chest.  Then I remembered, that day, I had left my big girl pants at home!  I became doubly afraid.  Anxiety had secretly gripped my heart.

Not sure if you have ever experienced zip-lining before but it’s an adventure all on its own level.  Don’t even think about it if you are even a teensy-weensy squeamish about heights.  At least you’ve been warned.

My friend kept saying how much fun it was again and again.  Fear of falling gripped my mind.  Seriously, how could a person survive a 5-second ride tethered by a skimpy harness, and hooked to a thin wire which stretched tight over so many trees?  I gulped hard, and put on a brave face for her.

I stepped up to the platform.  I listened to each word of our guide.  I took in his advice and with all the gumption I could muster, I clenched the cord.  I’m pretty sure my knuckles were white.  I said a quick prayer, “God, hold me tight.”

In the woods, atop the trees, where the monkeys go to hide from humans, is where fear is heard.  Echos of the wild and free ricocheted off of the tree tops.  (It resembled a blood-curdling scream.)  If you’ve been, you know what I’m talking about and I bet you screamed like a 5 year old girl too!

Next, something wonderful happened I didn’t expect.

I was held by the harness, secure and firm, with no threat to my personal security.  I was safe and sound at the next platform.  I did come away with one piece of advice:  “You will love this, it’s more fun than you can imagine.”  Now this makes for a nice girl adventure and all, but there’s more.

God spoke the moment I started to let go of my fear and anxiety with His reassurance, “Trust me to hold you!” 

There are some days you just need to be held.  On those days when you feel insecure, unsteady or just flat out fearful of how things are going to work out or what will happen next, there’s power in praying these simple words, “God, hold me tight.”

Trust in His hold and let go of your fears.  In our spiritual journey, there are many circumstances which bring tons of opportunities to trust God.  Recently faced with the unknown, I asked God to increase my faith but quickly realized I was asking for what I already had.  The situation before me was an opportunity for God to lead me into a new level of trust.

Trust always involves making room for an active faith.  To let the perfecting work of faith complete its action, you must push fears out of your mind.  God’s faithfulness and security holds you close and guards against sneak fear attacks which tend to creep into your mind.

God is on your side, and is giving you daily opportunities to put your faith into action.  He’s got you!  Just like a harness, safe and securely tethered by His heart for you.  His love never fails to hold you when life is uncertain.  When you speak or scream, “God, hold on to me!”, feel His strong arms wrap around you.  Close your eyes to silence your anxiety, release your fears, and the place your trust and dependence in His hands.  He is the only One who says, “I am with you until the very end of the age.”  He never lets go of you!

Fears are overcome by faith alone.  As you let go, you’re held by His mercy, strength, and you are kept safe and secure.  You can trust God to keep you where He leads you!  Are you feeling shaky or fearful, afraid to look down?  LOOK UP to the One who holds you tight!  You can trust His hold on you!

When You Need a Reminder

names of God

I quickly wrote a note in my little notebook for thoughts, the one I carry with me at all times just in case, as not to forget something important.  Earlier I had been talking to God about a turnaround in my life.  It occured to me God never turns around.

He doesn’t need to, but we do.  (Turnaround wasn’t what I wrote down however) 

The Bible is full of stories and reminders of who God is.  It lists many names of God as He is known by those who walk in relationship with Him.  Some names are hard to pronounce and many we don’t talk about.  I found a list of them in my Bible and it reminded me I don’t use them all near enough.

So I was praying for a turnaround in my perspective to see God in a new way.  Often don’t we view God from our own limited perspective?  I will go first and say I do.  I forget He’s got the panoramic view set on our lives.  I forget He holds all the details in our lives safe and secure in such a timely and orderly manner.

Recently, I boarded the Atlantis simulator at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  I remembered how God keeps my world on it’s axis. There’s a God who cares when my world goes off kilter and wants to set things back into a right perspective.

We have a God who cares and I don’t want to forget.

He holds panaramic view my world, and I stood back (well actually strapped back at high G-forces) and remembered His amazing creativity and endless pursuit in my own life.  But then it hit me once again, He hadn’t moved and I’ve been the one who been on the run.  So why is this such an “aha” moment?

I realized once again of God, that He doesn’t have “aha” moments.

It took a jolt like a g-force to remember God’s power, or rather to remind me of a powerful and effective way to live is to remember who God is over the things I tend to forget.  You see, often when growing in our faith we forget where we have come from or how much we have grown, and tend to just think of ourselves as one who needs a TON more positive changes.

God reminded me my walk with Him was just where He wanted me to be.  (Confession: I want to jump ahead to the mountain top moments full of “aha” moments and skip the valleys where the real reminders are learned).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve not arrived but still have overcome a lot of strongholds in my life.  Those hindrences used to hold me back and keep me at a distance from God’s best.  So what’s the big deal about “Aha” moments with God or what catches us by surprise?

The note I wrote was “What if I remembered who God is instead of what I’ve forgotten.” I often find myself remembering what I have forgotten, instead of all He has delivered me from.  When I am grateful for the freedom He has brought into my life I am reminded of God’s providence.  When I affirm God’s over arching good character, He has a way of affirming His good character in my lifeline.

Remembering the goodness of God is definitely a good thing.  He keeps my world spinning right.  I must forget the wrong things which tend to lead me astray.  I want to remember His good words to me over the lies I tend to believe about me.  I want to remember how He’s changed me and my life for the better, not what I have lost in the overcoming.

Someone once said, “You learn by doing.”  I think I’ll remember the doing of God in my life over my “undoing” to get to where I am.  When you focus on your wrongs, it tends to have a negative affect on your life.  When you focus on the positives, it builds up your self-esteem and character.  Not in a puffed up kind of way but in an honorable way.  The benefits of His becoming real and evident in life helps you walk taller, be kinder, live intentionally and love, the most positive way.

When you remember the good, it helps.  When I remember God, I’m reminded I must increase my perspective and I must decrease my small thinking.  When I remember who God is then I am reminded who I am.  When I know who I am, then I know how to live.  When I live with focus on the positives I can help others remember who God is and what He has done for all of us.

Let’s all remember God more, and forget the former things to make more space for Him to set our worlds back in line with Him, renew our perspective on what life is all about, define our purpose and add some g-force to our minds to see Him more clearly.  The most important thing to remember is:  because of Jesus, remember God is a matter of enjoyment. May our relationship with Him not be settled around issues of conflict, pain, sin and sacrifice but around freedom, celebration and delight.

Yes, God is our deliverer and saves us from trouble. But before all those wonderful things, He is our friend, our Father, our good, good Pappa. This connection is rooted in pleasure of intimacy through a one on one relationship. He is a wonder to behold, a power to be feared, a mystery to be explored but chiefly He is a person to be loved.  I want to remember how to love Him like He loves me.

Yes, let’s all remember God.  And don’t forget to strap in, it’s a wild ride!

When you feel stuck

muddy road

My head hit the pillow with an extra dose of weariness that day.  There was a part of my mind that just wanted to stop altogether.  “If I could just give myself a break,” I thought.  But yet in the very next breathe I uttered, “Are you sure about that God?”  My mind vacillated between doubt and confusion, weighing the past and present, and was super injected by fear.

This all happened on my search for a focused word for 2016.  God kept speaking the word “remain” over and over to me.  Instead of feeling peace about it and receiving it as an exciting leg of this joy filled journey, I took in the fear of remaining stuck where I currently grew past, which was fueled by insecurity and doubt.  I didn’t want to stay there, in the land of confusion!

Our talks (between me and the Holy Spirit) quickly turned to arguments, or rather, like whining and complaining.  Never a good idea to start your conversation with God by wearing the captain’s hat in the complaint department!  We worked on it for days.  God suggested, I rejected.

“Are you sure about that word for me God?  I’ve changed so much from who I was.”  I said.

God said, “Remain.”

Every time I thought about all the changes from my past, I was worried about the remaining, thinking I would get stuck there.  And then fear came in and I didn’t want to stay stuck in that either.  (Now saying this back to you, I realize this is all irrational thinking!)  The changes that have come due to the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit have brought such healing and freedom in my life.  I can’t imagine being stuck in my own personal prison again.

I didn’t want to remain in that place – bound, burdened, and full of doubt.  I couldn’t stay there…I wouldn’t stay there…I was determined to change God’s mind.  And then something beautiful happened.

As I was talking to my missionary friend Mitch, God sent some encouragement through him.  Next, I cried on the phone to my friend Lori, and she prayed with me and then I went for a run.  While running down the county road, I saw a ditch full of mud and immediately felt the “stuck” feeling creep back into my soul.  But God reminded me to keep my eyes on the end of the road, and I whizzed right past it.  God was, without a shadow of a doubt, in all those conversations, as He helped dry my tears, and gave comfort my mind.  Immediately, the confusion was gone and I had a peace in the receiving of God’s word.

I hit the pillow hard that night with exhaustion from wrestling my will with God’s plan.

Fast forward to 3 a.m. the next day and I’m wide awake, and the Lord visits my bedside and asked, “Are you ready to learn how to remain in Me?”  I went in for my last ditch effort with God.  (Please don’t judge me, but learn from this story!)  I simply said, “If you give me an acronym for the word Remain, I’ll accept it.”  He said, “Go get your pen and pad of paper.” (He meant business!)

With blurry eyes through tears….I started writing immediately.  It came in an instant and the words were just what I needed to hear.  I didn’t stumble over them nor pretend like I was hard of hearing at this point.  God is patient in the ways He deals with us.  We could all learn a lesson from Him about his slowness of anger!  I wrote….

Remain

Remember

Eternity

Matters (so)

Abide

Intentionally

Now.

And there it was….full understanding of why this word was so important to know this year.  As I abide in Him, I will remain in my identity and purpose for my life.  As I abide, remain connected, and am intentionally faithful, and obedient in what He has asked, I will remain in intimate fellowship with the Great Shepherd.

I thought back to the time in the summer of last year where I practically memorized John 15, and couldn’t get past that section of teaching for two months.  I kept reading it over and over and over.  Finally God moved me on to learn more about love, and how to give it without condition. (Those lessons are for a whole another coffee date…or two!)

Ps 23:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.”  We often think about how God supplies our needs and have that promise in Philippians 4:19 for His supply that He has already provided in Christ Jesus.  That is a good promise to stand on.  The Lord won’t call you anything where His grace won’t sustain you.  I sense the writing of David in this Psalm however was in a time of searching for direction.  He had a vision of peace and contentment and I sense he was writing about what he saw regarding his relationship with God.

The Lord not only takes care of your needs before you know them, but He also makes provisions for your wants and desires.  When your desires line up with His desires, it’s for sure those are supplied.  If you are looking to grow in your relationship with God, please accept this journey however it looks.  We all need to grow in our faith, and it’s not a good idea to remain stuck in a place of stubbornness, pleasing self-will and fear coupled with doubt.

Take my word for it, gratitude paves the way to those green pastures of peace that we all want.  And as we enter His rest, we have everything we can ask for or imagine if we just remain in relationship with God and by living intentionally through trusting by faith.  As we are remain anchored by His love, we abide in His grace and mercy.

The journey for today and this year is to have joy in this and to walk in intimate fellowship with Jesus every minute of the day.  Why is this so important to know now?  This is only a foretaste because the best is yet to come!

The truth about us according to Sheldon

driver leaning

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32

Let’s just get to the truth of us.  We are different.  The truth about me is that my life is different than yours.  I didn’t always think that way, nor did I allow myself to.  There was one person who came to me early and said “it couldn’t be done.”  I said, “What?”  I only stated I wanted to lead people to the heart of God through word and deed.  She said, “Everyone wants to do that.”  Oh yeah?  “Why not me too?”, I asked silently.

For years, that took a turn for the worse in my mind.  I found myself thinking that if everyone is doing that, it meant it I couldn’t do it.  If writers where already doing that there was no room to try.  Was she frustrated with that goal in her life and was she tired of trying to prove it to the writing world?  If so, then I why should I even consider doing the same?

I believe that God puts things inside of us to make a difference in our worlds.  I write mostly because it’s my way of expression of what has happened in my life, the lessons I have learned along the way, and the path that I follow as I draw near to God’s heart.

I don’t know how you think about significance in the world.  There a part of us that always wants to call attention to ourselves, to say “look at me, look at what I have done, look at what my life means, look over here, look at who I am!”  Thus the birth of Instagram.  We look here or there, we look everywhere for our place to make a difference and to be a difference maker.  Have you ever considered your significance was set long ago?  Did you know that you too are significant FROM the middle of God’s heart?

Maybe you have let go of a dream that seems unattainable.  There are ideas in your mind that seem huge and grandeur.  You just need some attention and you are looking everywhere to make your little niche in the world, hoping secretly someone, anyone, will notice you.  I don’t know about you but I know what all those feelings feel like.  There were years that I mourned the loss of my dreams, in fact, the desire to blog at all died a little.  Guess what?  My numbers tanked.

So what’s the point of this little letter to you? When it comes to dreams, goals, and the desires of your heart, there is only one Person that knows you better than you know yourself.  Goodness, I am so thankful that I didn’t listen to one person’s opinion.

I am so glad that I didn’t have the math seed planted inside of me also.  This idea seems a bit trite doesn’t it?  From where I sit, there are so many people proving themselves by the numbers.  From what I see, THAT is a highly competitive field where there is no place for a newbie like me.  Science, math, and the proving of all things theory related enters the realm of discovery that is bursting at the seams.  Honestly I’ll let Sheldon handle those issues.  (Big Bang Theory)

The truth about us is that God has placed seeds of Himself inside of us that are unique to just us.  Life travels across our lives and gives out big doses of discouragement and failure everywhere.  I have found out that it’s about your perspective about those failures that take a toll on your life.  My writing mentor, a published author of now four titles, says struggling with these desires to do what you think you are to do in this life is normal.

We don’t talk about that though.  What if you knew the truth about us deep thinkers who can’t comprehend math problems?  Does that make us less significant?  Where are the most popular, the most important, the highest read blogs, the biggest elephants, the giants?  Where are the creative thinkers in this world that flunked High School English?

There is a place in this world for warriors of the Word.  I’ve always wanted to prove that I was normal.  For years, I’ve lived an extreme lifestyle by living in obesity.  Living in extremes on the outside of my life is really an indicator of what is churning on the inside.  Yes, I’ve lived my share of rejection, cancer, medical crisis after medical crisis, oppression, slavery, intimidation, etc.  Many outside hindrances that have stabbed my desires to behave or react one way or another.

The truth about me that when I wanted to find who I was in this world, and step into my destiny, the biggest hindrance was me and what I believed about me.  I had forgotten who God was in my desires and delights.  Could that be true about you?

We have nothing to prove in this world except how to love to others.  

It’s all about God.  The truth about us is that we want the world to know more about us, than about God.  That’s why we live those happy-joy-joy-lives in the virtual world on Facebook and Pinterest.  That’s why when we dress for the day, we put on our contentment masks and act all happy significant and confident.  We want people to look at what WE are doing over what God is doing in us.  It’s is a dog-eat-dog world out there in three exact words, I would guess even Sheldon knows that.

“I have to prove myself to the world, because that is the only way I will gain importance and significance.” ~ lair, lair pants on fire! some old wise proverbial thinker.  When we are clamoring to say, “Look at what I have done!”  aren’t we are calling attention to ourselves, and not expressing God’s true heart for the world?.  Does God keep a list or a tally of the numbers, the gains, the faults, the flaws, and the failures?

When we are seeking the heart of God, His approval and significance is all we need.  Perhaps that person was right when she said, “Everyone wants to do that.”  Yeah, in fact, I believe there are more wanting to express themselves over the Perfect Love in this world.  There are certainly many preachers, teachers, and wannabes.  But when you are proving your significance about yourself, honestly I don’t want any part in that role.

The world is already full of empty hearts showing off.  The world is full of those spouting opinions for their right to be right or heard.  There are already plenty of voices that demand attention in ways that are gaining the world’s significance.  That place isn’t my place.  If I can’t write it from a heart of love FOR my Father, then there is no reason to be in a place that is just calling attention to me.  Freedom calls us to speak the truth about us, in view of God’s mercy.  So if I am feeling the right to be heard, or the right to express myself according to my way of thinking then, I need to go back to my quiet place and remember where my significant place comes from in this world.

This place isn’t my significance.  That was finished in three simple words, “It is finished!”  That’s my place in His heart.  To make God‘s name known, not my own.  So, I’ll be here writing from my place in this big ‘ole word world, with my only number one agenda, that God is truth.  He is always right, and He is at work in me to perfect me along every path in life.  And the truth is it was proven long ago.  My role here prove His love and significance to the world.