The Day I Touched the Sky

A photo by Eli DeFaria. unsplash.com/photos/qKXnwCIaULI

The other day I spent some time on some much needed “knee mail.” I confessed my broken heart to the Lord. It was messy and let’s just say I could’ve invested some money in Kleenex stock. Yes, the tears came way too easy and I was overwhelmed. What could possibly cause such a deep emotional response from within?

I let my heart touch the sky and released my pain.

In the last four months I lost both my mom, 91, and dad, 94, to Alzheimer’s disease. We were personally involved in their care for almost three years. I don’t know if you’ve been down this road but it’s hard, specific and each parent required different care.

The details were love-driven but the sentiments were often lost in the details and mostly confusing to my parents. What we experienced as a family was challenging and difficult. But I sit here today to encourage you, if you are looking at a similar situation, there’s peace available to you by the measure of God’s grace that goes before you.

I have many stories I’m collecting in a book which will someday help someone, I just feel it. Role reversal in families is often hard, isolating and intense. However, I learned the most about peace of God who offers this peace by going through it. There are seasons in life only experienced by going through it.

“We do what we have to do.” says every mom.

With any big decisions, and we all face them, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a manual of knowledge with all the answers? You know it would. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know you could just “tube it” to get the answers you needed? The world as we know it is asking “Dr. Google” for everything. I am reminded we do have such a resource to help us figure things out what life sets before us.

We do what we have to do because the Holy Spirit helps us.

Jesus said (in His last few hours on earth) it was best and good for Him to leave so the Helper could come and be our advocate. It is good for man to release what he can’t do and find the Help to cover what man can’t do. That’s not to say you don’t have a part in God’s business, you do. You simply trust God has you covered and He is working out things according to His best plan for you and you do the next thing as He leads. God peace protects you from making wrong decisions. I am grateful today HE is my Shepherd and knows what I need, even before I have need of it.

Yes, He’s so good at being God and our good, good Father.  He anticipates needs before you have any needs. Think about this: God who has NO needs meets ALL of yours. And He knows every one of your needs and is at the ready to meet you and show you. So let us fix our eyes, look to the hills, look up and live a vertical life. Let’s reflect His countenance, and meet Him in the morning and again remind ourselves in the evening. Could it be said if we simply live with God, we won’t be fighting the will of God?

Life is a great teacher and I’m taking many notes. (By the way, I heard a preacher say once there’s a special gate in Heaven for us note takers!) With God’s help, He makes the ways of faith known to you and for you. It’s His grace goes before you and secures your mind. It’s His peace assures you when everything isn’t going okay. There’s comfort in sharing with friends and receiving godly counsel. Encouragement can come in many ways, and God loves to use you to help people too. Hard times teach you to lean upon Him and look to Him to help point the way for others in healing and keeping peace.

Keeping our head up is the challenge, as well as fighting discouragement plus trudging through life on our own strength. There are other times when God loves to grow us through situations which cause us to trust in Him in no uncertain terms, with the eyes of faith. When we believe He leads through adversity by His character, then we see the wonder of who God really is. Only God can give this kind of holy assurance to help us let go of the things we can’t control. And nothing can replace such kind of peaceful assurance!

How have you seen God’s peace in your life?

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Resting Joy

hammock

I often wonder about a lot of things and I find myself coming to the same conclusion each time. Now I’m not talking about the cure for cancer, or the national deficit, or the latest bargain price for broccoli.  This isn’t a post to tell you my vote for President.

The two words “I’m busy” make me wonder and create a contradiction in my soul. I also wonder how many busy signals God hears. I’m busy blogging, writing, editing a book or two, writing another book or two, recording some radio stuff, cleaning, eating sleeping, and exercising. I get it. Me too.

I run to God constantly but sometimes I am distracted with problem solving on my own. Then when this happens…it’s as if there’s a tap on my little shoulder.

“Please rest in Me.”

Here I am in a season of busy activity and it seems super unproductive to take a siesta or halt to a stop with all this activity around me. I’m used to doing for myself, producing, and meeting deadlines. I’m used to feeding and dressing myself, but one idea I’m not good at is resting. So why would I need to rest now?

I found myself saying, “I’m too busy to rest.”  And the conflict comes down in my soul.

Then….I came to my senses through the help of the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, I repented of my wrong thinking, refocused my mind and put my thoughts back on Him. And now I can see more clearly, I’ve learned that rest is more than a season. Rest is an attitude I am adopting into my life permanently.

I don’t know if you have thought about rest in this way, perhaps you have been too busy. I believe God planned rest from the beginning of time and created a whole day intentionally for rest. I know you’ve read this over and over in Genesis, but I realized it was the very component I needed. To help you be more productive, more focused, and more intentional with your time, you might need rest to be more than just a season.

So I ask you, what would it take for you to stop the whirling world you live in and give yourself a long soaking rest in God? I get it…I thought I was too busy also take a long time to rest. Then once I experienced true rest, it’s now a part of my life I can’t live without. Try it, even if you think you are too busy.

God is trying to reach you in your busyness. And this just in…He wants to be MORE than a crisis manager to you. He specializes in perfecting the very details which seemed to go unchecked when you are busy. I let him manage my task list, my clock, and my seasons from now on. It’s important to Him, and I can rest on Him knowing He knows more about my needs than I know myself.

“Who you spend time with is what you value the most.”  – John Gray

I get it. I know. I see. Rest isn’t just a suggestion from our Creator. Rest is a place to center your will back where it belongs, in His rest. He gets it, He sees you, and He knows you need it.

Take my word for it, it’s worth it.  I dare you to try God in this too.  It’s better FOR you than you know.

Six Words To Get You Through

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

It was 20 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve watched him struggle to a decent level of health with many medical complications as a result of his diagnosis. There have been some good days for sure, but as a wife and help-mate, there have been more days that I wish we could do over. Instead of harboring regret and resentment, I’ve learned that every marriage has “those” days when it’s cloudy and the skies are not singing a sunny attitude.

Change in attitude came by faith in his simple prayer one day, “God, help us to be optimistic about all things.” I realized what I had leaned on to get me through the hard years was more than the disappointments that life had to offer.

Six words that have gotten me through struggles like cancer and hard days since are:

“You’ll get through this, have faith.”

Life is full of many scenarios and simply said we didn’t “sign up” for trouble. Like it or not everyone has good and bad “stuff” to contend with. Problems aren’t specifically set up for the result in disappointment but rather problems present opportunities to see God get you through…by faith.

There’s a choice in how you respond to life and when holding to a positive attitude, it can get you through the toughest of days. Let’s break this encouragement down word by word. In those six words, I found these treasures:

1. “You’ll – You will: Remember, yes you, reading this right now…aren’t singled out. The world is not against you. No one is out to get you. You can’t control every circumstance that comes your way, but remember you CAN choose how you respond to it.

2. “Get” – You get: Don’t buy into the lie that a bad situation has come because God is upset with you or you’ve done something wrong. God is for the good and right in this world. Whatever the situation is God can reach down and help you. He is always on your side, in a good mood and you get to ask Him to intervene!

3. “Through” – Get you through: there is an end to suffering believe it or not. “This” too shall pass. Healing comes for the hurts and wounds. Tomorrow is a new day, there’s newness every morning. Even when it seems endless, storms don’t last forever. Pray continually and don’t stop once the clouds clear!

4. “This” – You and “this”: There are many events that come into our life that the Enemy uses to marginalize, isolate, and segregate us from hope and God’s love. Satan knows when we have loneliness, rejection, and oppression, we become weak and closed off. Our numbers tank spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. When we want to run from our conflicts or storms that’s when we should be reaching out for comfort and support through together strength with friends, spouse, church, and family. There’s strength in numbers. No man is an island and as humans, we weren’t built to go through life alone. Even in paradise – the Garden of Eden – God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”

5. “Have faith” – You MUST have faith: Jesus said you will have trouble in the world but John 16:33 ecnourages our faith by taking part of His heart, to overcome whatever has come to plague yours. When having faith it strengthens you to the end! Help is surrounding you, to navigate you through. There is a difference in talking about what faith is and believing God is your help and strength by faith. God is who He says He is!

Through it all, we count it all joy.  But how can you be joyful?  The truth is numbers don’t lie, but they often don’t tell the truth. Consider the joy that Jesus had as His reward on the way to the cross. What I know about crucifixions, the process is the most cruel way to die, but yet Jesus went joyfully. The process of life is often full of handling cruelties and torments of this world. But remember, you too will get through, because there’s joy to be gained by going through it with Jesus.

Hope that helps you this week as you are going through some tough situations. I would like to pray for you so please let me know what your situation is and I will!

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.

Living a life of stillness in this busy world

openbooks

Friends, let’s be honest on this day, today.  My  heart is heavy with stuff.  Yeah, I try to put it all together out there for others to see, flawless and whole.  But that’s not me.  I’ve been honest with myself and have taken a long look at what my life what it is about.  In this busy life we call ours, it’s really becoming a management of one urgent crisis or another.

My shoulders are heavy and tired and weak.

“Lord, I lift my burdens to You alone and I lay them down at your feet.  Will you give me some simplicity today?”  I prayed those words the other day.  I simply put it all out there for God to hear.  Liberation came in just in the confessing and I realized that I was trying to do things on my own.

Immediately, I was convicted of some false insecurities that continue to rise up (in my soul and spirit) and drag, weigh, and bear down upon my mind.  My problems, my cares, my duties, my hopes, my dreams were anchored in my own efforts.  “Wait…I thought to myself…I have freedom in those areas.”  Or at least I thought I did.

In the confessing, I realized I was trying to create a comfortable life for myself and my feelings.  On top of that, I also realized that I was covering my life with right “to-do’s” or tasks and such but I was forgetting about the one important thing needed.  Can we just be honest today?  Aren’t there those days we all face, where it takes this kind of realization to see where you need to grow in your simplicity of managing life?

What I heard back from God, (yes, I know it was His voice) was “Will you just walk with Me?”.  

There were a lot of tears involved in the process.  Then I remembered a season in my life that I used to cry often everyday and all day.  My life was full of regret of a list of things that I never accomplished.  My next thought became one of rejoicing because of a major shift and many changes that have occured in the recent years of  my life.  I don’t live a life of regret-filled days anymore.

I rejoiced in the fact that those days of regret are over and now I can choose to adopt the pace of God, my Father, in the life of my today.  If I could let you into my brain for a moment, there’s a stillness that needs to happen inside of your thoughts that causes you to choose your best life in considerations of what you have around you, the blessings in life instead of the regrets of life.  (I am realizing this lifestyle goes deeper than your task list or the things you think about any morning like…”I’m behind on so many things!” kind of thinking.)

Now I’m getting stuck in the multiple list of thoughts that come rising up in a woman’s mind especially when she feels behind, unfulfilled and a list of unmet needs are left open in her life.  Okay, now back to the choosing.

There has to be season that as you are emptying your life of what it isn’t, and there is a choice to rejoice in what it is.  In the choosing to accept the rejoicing, the living, the owning your life, the doing of life, you must celebrate with what you have, and begin believing that anything is possible with God in the middle of it all.

There I said it, not simply said, because life isn’t like that.  At all.  It’s complicated, full of tensions, stresses, and problems.  But when we confess that we can’t do life without God, then that’s when the miracles start happening.  In that way of thinking, you have to admit there is more than what God has intended FOR you and designed you for and you MUST surrender the controls over to HIM.  He knows what is best and right and good FOR you.  He knows how big your tiny shoulders are.  He knows your capacity for loads and He hasn’t forgotten your to-do list.  He put the passions inside of you to accomplish what He has designed you for.

He hasn’t forgotten where He has put those things.  Have you forgotten where your strength comes from?  I did.  I honestly thought…”okay God, I can do this (believing that I had to do what He has called me to do on my own.)  That’s not right honestly, because I need God to accomplish what HE has put inside of me to do and what HE wants to purpose in my life.

Simply said, I need Jesus every hour of the day to live.  Honestly, this IS the life I am in (and I don’t know how it is with you).  I need Him to carry me, to help me choose what I need to be doing, to carry out what He wants me to do, and most days I am overwhelmed simply by His goodness in my life.  I am complicated, full of tensions, and stresses just like you.  Challenges come and go, but I can’t live or exist as His much loved child without Him.

These are the things that are on my mind today.  What’s on yours?

 

In each and every season

greatisthyfaithfulness

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  –Corrie ten Boom

Ever found your soul just down right parched?

Three years ago I was in spiritually dry place that I couldn’t quite speak about. It was a particularly difficult time in such a personal way.  God dealt with some issues that left me looking upon Him and the faithfulness that only He is.

I sensed God’s comfort in the stillness and knew that He was good even though it was hard to see forward into all that season held.  God comforted in one of the lowest places of faith and where His encouragement helped beyond words.  I remember everyday my heart was breaking…open.

God’s faithfulness is a quality that endures in every season.

I found comfort in speaking only a few words during prayer time but I had assurance and a sign from heaven that my cries were heard with His open and listening heart.  I was unaware of the preparation that God was working in my life.  Even though I was seeking Him in many ways, I had my moments where I wanted to give up and give into weakness.

But yet my trust in His faithfulness endured through a hopeless season.

When you seek, believe, trust and obey in each season, God’s faithfulness will lead you.  I’ve been thinking about David’s faith and I am so amazed at his endurance through all those up and down years of rule and reign as king.  From the outside, its looks like just a few hard years to develop such a strong, rich faith legacy that is captured on a few pages of Biblical history.  It took all of his life to seek, believe, trust and obey God’s ways and walk in the way of faithfulness and devotion to the Lord.

To live in God’s ways I’ve found no other way than to depend on His faithfulness throughout every season.  You know it’s easy to say that God is faithful when you aren’t staring into the face of cancer, house fires, and death.  It’s easy then, but when life brings uncertainties, trials and afflictions, you have to gather up the memories of faithfulness to bolster the hope and faith to get through.

I believe life is full of opportunities to develop deeper ways to know God.  What would happen if we asked God to reveal Himself in everyday and in every season?  Would it remove us from having problems all together?  Would each and every season be smooth sailing or as clear as glass in regards to decisions we make?

Our lives are full of moments and seasons that encourage endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness by seeking God’s face.  Living in the problems, trials, and struggles teach us about faithfulness.  If your season is dry right now, remember these things to help you find God in them and enable you to cling to an abiding faith in your journey:

You are not alone, God is with you and knows your needs before you do.

Believe God for who He is, a God of His word.

When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart of love FOR you.

Obedience to God by faith pleases God.

Dry seasons are hard, long and sometimes lonely, but I wonder if we would learn any other way.  In knowing that I am not alone, it lifts my hope to meet my faith.  Belief in God, coupled with trust, removes fear.  Experiencing His love by way of trials brings me closer to Him over any other method.  My faith is enriched each and every time I trust in God’s ways and as I walk in obedience.

God wastes nothing in your faith-building process, there’s strength to be received every season.  So consider this, in season and out of season:

Your need to control takes a back seat to His omnipotence.  Your need to understand is protected by His peace.  Trust in Him and fully surrender to His plan as He weaves His beautiful tapestry for your life.    You too can trust in the name of the Lord our God in every season.

The Promise That Parted a Chocolate Sea

chocolate buffet

I gasped when I saw it.  I didn’t remember that much chocolate could exist in one single buffet line.  I was mesmerized by the shiny and sweet-looking goodness.  The lines to scoop up plates and platters of the decatant desserts were endless and filled with eager chocolate connoissuers.  I wanted to be in those lines twice over.  I wanted it all.

Worse yet, I was willing to hide that I wanted it.  Who would know if I actually jumped in head first?  Consumption of every square inch of all that light and fluffy cake? No problem.  There was such a desire to take a dive right in front of that guy who looked like he need to wait at least five minutes to let his food settle.

Ever want something that bad?

Y’all don’t know what it’s like.  You don’t know the depth of food temptations that reaches the soul.  You couldn’t know or realize the intensity of it, unless you have been there and are fighting to stay free of it.

My grade school principal didn’t get it either.

The day that Mister announced my weight to the entire 20-student class of my private school was the most humiliating and demeaning set of numbers a chubby girl could endure.  I’m sure China heard his voice that day.  I SO wanted to jump ship and drown in a sea of pity.

Again, here was another demeaning amount of desserts set before me.

The nerve of people making chocolate into a flowing sea in a place where to get away from it I had to jump ship…literally.  I just stood there all numb like and such.  The powerlessness I felt in that moment was transcribed as a chocolate trance to find the end of the line and jump on board.  My heart was on hold and my desires were captivated.  I.wanted.every.lick.of.it.

I remember that fateful day when Mister boomed my weight to the world and my desire was then immediately anchored to my dark chocolate history.  OOOH the milky sooth coos from a chocolate milk carton of comfort was overflowing with each imagined dip of satiny goodness.  So I just….dove into my shame and swam in a sea of guilt and blame.

I almost choked back the tears of how wonderful it all tasted as a third grader.  That memory came back to me as I stood in line on that floating chocolate boat.  For a second I wanted more and more comfort and then something shifted inside that made me quickly drop the idea of just a skewered pineappley dipped chocolate treat.

I saw myself (in my mind) at 244 lbs, (my weight at the beginning of my weight loss journey) and I realized that I didn’t want to go back.  Even knowing that one treat would not add over 100 pounds back onto my body, I put the plate down.  I remembered where I used to be, I remembered how I got to where I am today, and I remembered all the work and tears it has taken me to get to where I am.  And I thought of how God wants more for me over my selfish desires.

I remembered why I started this journey in the first place, plus my promise to invite freedom into my life over lusting desires.

I remembered Mister.  That day, in the third grade, I traded my self-esteem for a lie that returned in a failed way of comfort for my hurting inner being.  What I didn’t know then (because I was a child), was that I believed a lie as truth.  It was in the third grade that I chose to let food have it’s way in me.

Once I stood there and saw the endless chocolate river I remembered my “why” and that I became a power-filled overcomer.  I thought of all the lust that has been cut out of my life.  I also remembered a promise that was made between myself and God.  I vowed that I would stay pure in the area of my desires for unnessary calorie choices.

I haven’t always kept my end of the bargain but He has.

The self-esteem that I lost as a third grader rose up strong, renewed and wouldn’t be sabotaged again.  You see, I could have eaten as much as I wanted to and gotten away with it but I am the one who has to live with me after I put the empty plate down.  I have to answer to God about that action, since He is my accountability partner.

Remembering this convenant action with my Rescuer helps me keep this promise true:

Hebrews 8:10 “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Isreal after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

When I saw the brown river, all I could think of was my convenant with God that was written on my mind and heart.  Afterall, I am His “people”.  I remembered that obeying God was giving Him permission to control my desires in every area and having self-control in my choices.  I also remembered that I didn’t have to hand over my permission to a chocolate power anymore. Suddenly or not so quickly, I lost my desire to give my tongue to a lie once again.

Even chocolate with all it’s alluring power that flows in a river can’t break a promise between you and God.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about breaking a food rule, life is too short to keep my own list of wrongs when it comes to food rules and food was put on this earth to enjoy.  I’m relying on my relationship with my Deliverer that gives me strength and shows me out of every temptation known to man, even the ones dipped in chocolate.  Nope, I ain’t got time for that!

When you feel insecure

Bible and journal

It’s a known fact that as humans we speak from our insecurities.  Some of you are open about those, most of you like to hide them.  We all have one or two or more of those insecure places.  We all have our stuff.

I have plenty of stuff myself.  It’s the human condition.  Let’s get real, real fast, ok?  We have that “junkie” stuff inside of us and this stuff is the human side of us we like to hide.

To name your stuff or call mine out, that step only helps when you allow God’s truth to change you inspite of your stuff.  And it should only be done and motivated by love.  It IS important to know the way we deal with insecurities can help others.

I was sharing the other night at small group how to share faith without using words.  I started out with “I love how Jesus teaches us…” I noticed the confused look on thier faces and then I related that truth to everyday life.  Jesus didn’t operate on the defense or attack people in thier insecurities.  Jesus was always on the offense side of battle because he knew who he was fighting.  He operated from his secure place of supernatural ability instead of his humanity.

It’s easy to think “Yeah, Jesus did that because he was perfect in everything he did.”  This is true as he was fully divine in his humanity. Jesus lived his live in full submission to the Holy Spirit even though he was human.  He operated from his identity, knowing in his heart, mind, and soul that he was the one and only living Son of God.  There are many stories about liers, cheaters, adulterers, deceivers, and thieves being drawn to Him for healing because of who He was.  In simple ways, lives were changed in so many to bring deliverance through a word, deed, feeding or even storms.  Most times, Jesus healed their hearts, before their physical ailments, insecurity or need in their life.

In other words, their faith (evidence of the unseen) saved them first and foremost over individual woundings.  Each time, Jesus healed or delivered because that is/was his ministry.  This is Jesus, operating from his identity.

Jesus stepped out of Heaven to deliver us from our humanity.

Recently, the Lord has reminded me of my roots.  Not just in my family’s line or hertiage, but what my identity looks like from a heavenly perspective.  Last year, was HUGE in reminding me who I am in Christ.  Daily, and most often, the Holy Spirit aligns my heart and mind with His.  My confession today is that I needed those reminders to overcome a lot of my silly insecurities.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

Daily those reminders have come in at just the needed time and with the exact reminder of who I was in Christ.  This one exchange and action has removed so many insecurities in my heart and mind.  I can’t even begin to list them all here but the reminding of who I am in Christ, we (the Holy Spirit and I) uncovered the “identity stuff” that I wasn’t.

We all need these kind of identity reminders on a daily basis.  “I know who I am, I know who I am, I know who I am, I am Yours, I am Yours.” is a song lyric that hits repeat daily in my head (speaking about God’s ownership).

Last year my word for the year was vision.  God has given a fuller vision of who I am in Him.  To battle the daily “junkie” stuff, I need constant reminders of who I am in Christ to operate from my place of security.

Once you know who you are IN Christ, your indentity is your secure place to operate from.  Now going into 2016, my word REMAIN makes so much more sense.  It’s good to have the right weapons loaded up for battle.  It makes the Enemy not such a big threat and that dumb looming anxiety that is mixed in the unknown is removed.  Plus the bonus is I know how the battle turns out!  There’s no shrinking back, or retreating because of some silly insecurity.  There’s no hiding from the power of God at work within our lives.  There’s no room for those overpowering fears inside to grow more “stuff”.  There’s only the Light that has come.  Light overcomes darkness every time and each insecurity  has no place to hide in a house that is all lit up!

 

When you need a new beginning

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My pastor says “Sometimes you have to give up the things you love for the things you love more.”  This truth has stuck hard in my life.  It actually set my heart to dreaming with God, after I first heard it on that one Sunday morning over three years ago.

On this New Year’s Day, God brought it back to my mind.  “Now, there’s been a change in plans.”  God said again this morning and I responded in my heart’s silence.

“As change is God’s love language, my trust in Him is the language of my heart.” – Janelle Keith.

Little did I know that three years of holding to God’s vision would grow me in such an immense and intense way.  I expect that this is a part of the wonder of God.  It was on this day, three years ago, that God planted His new beginning in my heart to bring my love of missions and my love of writing together.

Since that day, it’s been bouncing around in my mind.   I’ve been stuck in a few of those “how” corners but now finally see the light of the vision set before me.  It’s simple really, but complex.

The prophetic vision I had was that God was going to bring my two heart passions together which in this simple dream actually blew my socks off.  When I told my friend Julie the story of it all, she laughed and said, “See those socks over there?  Those are yours!!”  To comprehend what all this means is still beyond me.  That’s why I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to what I can’t do.

I’m still unpacking the dreams that God has laid on my life but it feels like I am years closer than I have ever been.  Today’s beginning is different in that I sense bigger opportunities that are very, very near.  Most of you know that I have traveled to Africa several times, and am now planning my fifth trip back.  There is a reason I keep remaining with this vision in my life.

The journey to discover your purpose is life-long and sometimes full of detours.  It’s worth pursuing though and worth dedicating yourself to it, if it’s from God.  There will be many things that don’t make sense along the way and that’s okay, you aren’t supposed to figure out all the turns or twists, that’s God’s job.

Your job is to follow AFTER Him in the journey.  You can trust that His will never lead you where His grace can’t sustain you.  When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.  When God says “no” a better “yes” is coming.  When I set out to pursue God with all intention, I had to reset my attention and affection on Him.  To do that I had to let go of what this journey would look like and knew that it’s not about what I’m leaving behind but about Who I am following.  I look to the Author and Perfecter of my faith for every step.

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the next thing.” Elizabeth Elliott.

I have continued to blog, write, and serve in missions and most importantly trust my obedience to God.  I also trust in the wisdom I receive from Him as His plans unfold.  There are days I don’t know what’s around the corner but I believe that He has already been there.  My faith is always challenged to live under God’s goodness.

“Faith brings answers, but enduring faith brings answers with character.”  – Bill Johnson.

The real truth is that I started to believe in the ability that God has lovingly placed on the inside of me.  I am not confident in my own ability but I am confident in my availability.  There are places that He has yet to take me not only physically but spiritually.  This might just hit you all hyper -spiritual and all but it’s the journey that I am on.  God’s ways are higher, deeper, and still a mystery.  Miracles are often on the other side of our comfort zone.  His Voice is heard in my life and because of that I respond by releasing the love I have FOR Him and letting my heart response eclipse everything else.

There is a purpose in the waiting and His Presence is sustaining.  It’s all for that reason, that I move forward, onward and upward with hope.  My word for 2016 is Remain.  This year God is having me focus on what remains – His fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.”  (Galatians 5:22-23)

There is nothing that can come against the things of God, the Spirit of the Living God, nor the plans of the Lord.  No enemy can thwart His love for us.  No earthly disaster can detour His care and protection.  No fears can come against the refuge of Perfect Love.  The grave can’t contain it, His power is mighty and strong, and the remaining Hope of Christmas is dwelling among us.

As a believer, I have all that I need to do what He has asked of me, living inside of me.  And it’s not too late to step into the plans that God has for you!  This is the year to release the “remaining” and “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”  (Galatians 5:24-25).

What is your word for 2016?  Please comment!

As we wait

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We know that advent means prepare. It’s challenging to prepare for something when you don’t know what the future holds. We tend to run every thinkable scenario through our minds to equip ourselves with everything just in case. There’s constant wondering planning, stewing, hoping, and dreaming. And there’s waiting.

When I first found out that I was carrying my daughter, I started dreaming of our family’s future right away. I planned and planned for our tomorrows. To think Mary was going to carry Jesus, the Savior of the world, does that make her planning more significant? Her wait less intense than a normal pregnancy? I think about how Mary was preparing not just for a new baby but a new husband. Imagine her busyness!

So why do we need to prepare for Christmas? How do we wait well to really prepare? Why do we need this time to get ready? After all, we are familiar with all that Christmas means right?

In the recent years, I found in my own Christmas celebrations, that traditions were becoming too familiar and routine. I felt I was missing moments to behold the manger, the Savior’s birth and I was just going through the Christmas tradition on auto pilot. Its funny (not really) how habits become just things we do. Soon habits, without reason, become the “way we do things because we’ve always done it this way” ideas.

How does that leave room for hope and anticipation?

It didn’t for me so I decided to make some changes. I stopped being so busy at Christmas and started making room for more Jesus in my mind and heart. Something wonderful happened. After the holiday rush settled, I was able to keep Jesus close all year round. By letting go of a few unimportant things, there is more room in my mind and heart to treasure the important things.

Is it really possible to wait well with joy and hope filled anticipation? How does one prepare to mother the Savior of the world? We all wonder what our children will become, so how do we anticipate those unspoken dreams?

As a momma, all ideas you hold regarding dreams and babies, need words of life spoken over them. They also need words to the Father who knows how to give life to everything. He is Hope, so when praying hope into our lives, be it for our children, dreams, or otherwise, we pray in faith.

Praying in faith includes God’s perfect timing. It may surprise you that God stands outside of time. Do you know He chose you and planned for our salvation before the foundations of the world, before time began? Do you know that He holds the entire world, the universe as we know it, and all life in His hands?

When I think about those hands of His…I treasure being held by them.

Isaiah 29:16“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” Our names are carved into His hands, and with Jesus every name was carved upon His heart. Mary held his baby hand that would later hold hers. With those hands, we can treasure that kind of eternal hold.

And speaking of plans, this verse is often missed at Christmas but it speaks of who has made some hope-filled future forward plans for each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I treasure that image of Him planning for me.

I learned to wait well, knowing my life, my plans and my dreams are held by God’s hands. That makes Him my most personal kind of God who knows what my dreams are, how long I have waited, how long I have trusted in His plan, and how I have focused on Him to speak life over the things He has given.

I treasure and hold those moments close and leave the plans in His hands. To watch His plans unfold and know that He cared enough to give me what I needed and not a moment too late are breathtaking. I treasure those moments when I could do nothing but cry and yearn for Him to move in my life. I hold close those times of comfort during adversity, when He planned something different than I expected and prospered my faith through it. I dance and smile at the joy in His surprises. And my heart leaps for joy in those “aha” moments as I realize something new about Him.

When I think about how He thinks about me, I treasure that constant attention. I treasure those moments when I can feel His presence through the storms of life. I treasure the waiting times because He’s always been there for me, and to know God is to love Him. I love how He loves us in the wait.

I treasure how God prepares me in the wait. Faith prepares us all, but God’s great love burns and purifies our lives. A purified faith prepares us and gifts us with His holy anticipation. Take Heart and wait well, whatever life may bring, no matter the clouds, they will lift sooner or later, but we can take heart and wait! And treasure God in the wait!