Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The skies don't seem to be as dark as usual
The stars seem brighter then they've been before
Deep within I feel my soul a stirring
As though my hope has been restored
The shepherds say they've heard the voice of angels
Confirming rumors spread across the land
That a child protected well from Herod's anger
Is our Father's Son, and the son of man
Love is raining down on the world tonight
There's a presence here I can tell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
He's the Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts He will dwell
God is in us, God is for us, God is with us, Emmanuel
I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on earth is not so out of reach
If we can find grace, mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save, He is all of these
You're the Savior we have been praying for
In our humble hearts You will dwell
You are in us, You are for us, You are with us, Emmanuel
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The more I find you.....the more I love you
I have posted this video before....or maybe we did it for the FLO blog.
At any rate, I want to use it again today.
We sang this song in church this morning and I realize that it is true....when I seek HIM, I FIND HIM....the more I seek Him, the more of Him I find.
The times in my life when I feel "lost" or "empty" or without direction all have one thing in common....I am not seeking HIM. I never want to admit that at the time. I usually try to pin my angst on someone or something, but in all honesty, no one is to blame but me. When I take my eyes off Christ, I start to sink. If I focus my gaze on my troubles, I sink further. If I cast blame for my situation, I sink still further.
Seeking HIM brings everything back into focus. Seeking HIM takes my gaze off of others (and myself) and everything begins to fall into its proper place. Sometimes God reaches out to me and pulls me out of the pit. Most times He waits patiently until I reach for Him....but when I seek Him, He is ALWAYS faithful to be found.
So, when I am in a slump, I have to ask myself, "who am I seeking?"
Let me always seek you. Put a hunger and thirst in my heart for more and more of You. Help me to realize when I have taken my eyes off of you before I start to sink. Help me to see through the distractions of life and see YOU. Help me to always remember the promise of Heaven and the urgency of the Harvest. Fill me up Lord with so much of your Holy Spirit that everyone around me feels Your presence!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
A couple of weeks ago, I felt so...numb. I hate that feeling. Give me joy, give me pain...but don't give me "nothing". So I started asking God, "Is this really where you want me? I mean, are we really doing anything for the kingdom? Am I just fooling myself in thinking that I am contributing to the Great Commission? I mean really, is all this making a difference?"
Things get hard sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I am just beating my head against a wall. Bible Study lessons and Sunday school lessons and late night conversations seem to fall on deaf ears. Not always, but sometimes.
And for every woman that meets Jesus, there are more who need to see His face for the first time. For every woman who finds forgiveness in His eyes, there are more who live with the burden of shame and regret. For every woman who finds wholeness in her Savior's strong embrace, there are more who are living shattered lives.
I know that Jesus said that all of heaven rejoices over ONE.
But there are so many. It is overwhelming.
So, I started praying, "Remind me why we're doing this God. I am so tired. I can't find the passion I had before. I need you to remind my heart why we started this in the first place."
I prayed and prayed.
Sunday morning God answered....as only God can do.
2 women who we have been praying for accepted Christ. Please understand, I have been praying for one of these women every single day for....gosh...2 years? Have not seen her in all that time. She visited FLO Bible study one time and got stuck in my heart. She came back a few weeks ago....and the rest is history.
the other gal is a friend of a friend who, after visiting church, told my friend, "I'm not a Christian". That was a few months ago. Seemed that everything on earth kept her from church after that. But she was there Sunday and made her love of Jesus public.
That's what it's all about. And yes there are many more. And there will always be more.
Ya know, I thought He'd remind me why He called me by showing me all the pain and sorrow and darkness in the lives of hurting women who need Him. I thought He's show me the need.
Instead He showed me the reward.....the goal we are working for....that All may know him.
SO, as it turns out, I am meeting with the FLO ministry team today to plan 2010. What perfect timing. HE turned all of our hearts to the single goal of taking women by the hand and leading them to Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.
There is absolutely nothing in this life better than leading someone to Christ.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Spending private time with Christ. Allowing HIM to fill me so that I have something to give (you can't give what you don't have) to the people He has placed in my life. Trusting that what He says in Scripture is true...like when He tells me not to be anxious about anything, but in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to Him. (Philippians 4:6)
So, does this apply to times when my kids are making me crazy because they fuss and fight over stuff that they don't even care about? Does this apply when everyone gets on my nerves? Does it apply when I am just grumpy? Does it apply when my sweet husband just can not seem to understand that I am always right and he need not question me? (ha ha) The verse doesn't say "Don't worry about the big stuff" or "Bring the big stuff to God"...it says EVERYTHING.
So, tonight I did. I ordered my two precious bundles of joy to get their bottoms over to the couch "Before I count to three", threatened to sell them to the circus if they so much as came within a foot of touching eachother, promised to duct tape the mouth of the next one that spoke a word, and, with both of them staring at me with that "yep, she's finally lost it" look in their eyes....I prayed. For their benefit, I prayed out loud. I wanted to show my kids how to do it. Wanted to show them how to ask forgiveness....so that God would prompt them to see where they were falling short...so that they would see how "un christ like" they were acting. So, first, I prayed for me. That's a good place to start. I "confessed" areas where I fall short. I "asked forgiveness" for not trying to be more like Jesus. I asked for guidance and strength, patience, understanding, grace, and mercy. I asked for God to fill me with peace so that our home could be peaceful... and my heart softened. In that moment of "showing my kids"....God showed me the truth about me. And I really prayed....out loud....open and honest before God....for my sweet babies to hear....I prayed for me, truly confessed my shortcomings, my selfishness, my fear of failure. I asked that God show me what to do to be a good mom. I thanked Him for allowing me to be Brian's mom. I thanked Him for allowing me to be Izzy's mom. I thanked him for putting our family together just the way He did. I asked Him to help us all to be examples of His love, His mercy, His grace, His patience, His understanding first to eachother, then to the outside world. I prayed and prayed and prayed.
My kids never got restless. They never sighed or groaned. I felt their little bodies relax as they leaned into my embrace...and when I said "amen", two little voices said "amen" after me...and they just sat ther on the couch with me....and there was an amazing peace in our home.
Why do I doubt God? If He says "bring everything to me", why do I think He only means the big stuff?
Honestly, my day to day normal aggrivations do more damage to my witness than the "big" things. Most "big things" are short term....there's always going to be more little things waiting to sabatoge me again tomorrow.
I have learned a valuable lesson. Praying with my kids does a million times more good than shouting and yelling and threatening to sell them to the circus ever did. I think that when I got past using "prayer" to prove a point (and manipulate my kids) and REALLY prayed for our family....well, I think that...actually, I don't know what it did exactly...but I do know it was nothing short of amazing. It softened all of our hearts toward eachother. We all relaxed. No one pointed fingers or justified their actions, they simply apologized for not being nice.
I cannot say that it has become my automatic response, but I am certain that it will as long as I continue to seek His face more and more. I do want for my knee-jerk reaction to family strife to be to pray.
Wait....I do know what praying with my kids did.....it brought us all into the presence of God. Now that's good stuff.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Once I realized that I am not going to see every stage of growth in a person, I learned to enjoy the stage I am able to contribute to.
I finally understand that there are people God puts in my life so that I can till the soil of their heart- scraping through the hard surface created by years of weathering to the soft soil underneath.
There are people God puts in my life whose soil is tilled up (sadly, sometimes busted all to pieces) and I am allowed to prepare the soil for planting by creating a fertile environment for God’s love to grow- introducing them to the God who loves loves loves them.
Sometimes God allows me to plant seeds, sweet little nuggets of His truth and goodness.
Sometimes God sends me people who need watering-a good soul splashing of the enormity of this God that we serve.
Sometimes I get to be sunshine- giving warmth and light.
Sometimes I get to be Round-Up and help a person recognize and get rid of the sin-weeds that are holding them hostage.
And sometimes I get to harvest…to reap the tender blessing of what others have sown, watered, and nurtured….and celebrate with all of heaven as someone accepts Christ as Savior.
It's easy to get caught up in numbers..."How many people have you lead to Christ?"....but the truth is...we won't know this side of heaven how many lives we have impacted for the Kingdom. So, when I feel like a failure because someone "under my watch" did not accept Christ as Savior, I remind myself that maybe my part in that person's story was not to harvest, but to fertilize, plant, or water.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
LAst week, we looked at Jesus in the Garden.
Today, Jesus before Pilot and the Roman Guards.
My mind, and our conversation, went to The Passion, about how that movie gave us a visual that is now seared in our minds' eyes.
I went to worship with these thoughts in my heart. Jesus paid an unimaginable price for MY salvation. I thought about sitting in the theater and sobbing "I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I am sorry" as Jesus was beaten by the Roman Guards. I was crushed, devastated at the sight of the most horrid beating I had ever seen.....my Savior, My Lord, The Lover of My Soul...beaten, battered....the image is forever burned in my mind and the emotion I felt that moment forever burned in my soul.
The service started with the choir singing "Hungry". Great. Fabulous. I was truly Hungry for God's presence.
The choir left the choir loft, and the band lead us in Let My Words be Few:
With my heart already turned to the cross, it was impossible not to worship.
When we sang Worthy is the Lamb,I was overcome with emotion....
Found this video for it and it is very similar to the images in my head when we sang this morning. (beware, the scenes from Passion are graphic)
I heard in some illustration that there is no such thing as cold. According to the illustration, cold is the absense of heat. We measure "cold" by measuring heat...or the lack of heat. Okay, whatever. In the same sense, there is no such thing as evil on its own....evil is the absense of good...or the absense of God. All right. Works for me-especially since hell is referred to as eternal seperation from God and that when Christ took on our sin on the cross he said "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me" after God turned from him...seperating Jesus from the Father.
Now, darkness is, according to this same illustration, the absence of light. (This came to mind when Calvin turned off the TV last night and the room went "dark".) According to the illustration (I guess I'd have saved time by Googling the illustration and putting it here) complete darkness is only the complete adsence of light.
Back to yesterday's post.....
There are women in my life, women who have been in my life, and I am sure there will be more women who I will meet between now and when I finally get to go see Jesus who strike me as "dark". Their light doesn't shine. Not all of these ladies are unhappy, depressed, or angry...they just don't shine.
One lady comes to mind in particular. She broke my heart because she was so blind to the life she lived....or to the life she COULD live. She could not look up from the path she was on to even see that there was another path. She went to church, but found no good in it. the things she valued about church were the superficial things we do...fellowship dinners, Valentine Banquets, Easter egg hunts and such. Her "darkness" was truly an absence of light. She wasn't "bad". She followed all the "rules" to be a "Good Christian Woman", but she had no light. Her conversation was sprinkeled with critisism. Her overall opinion on most things was negative. So many times I wanted to take her by the shoulders, look her dead in the eye and say "What is wrong with you? Have you completely missed everything going on here? Do you not know, after all this time we have been together, that God Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, The Alpha and Omega LOVES YOU LIKE CRAZY???? Do you not know that the same One who placed the stars in the sky carefully and tenderly created every detail of your face? That Jesus Christ is the lover of your soul? If you would just stop looking for things you DON'T like and focus, just for a short time, on CHRIST....your whole world would change!"
I have always (or since I first noticed it) thought that this "darkness" stood on its own, but if Darkness is really a measure of light, then there must be light there, even if it is very dim! The thought that there is light....or even that there is a possibility that maybe there could be light in these ladies fills me with SUCH hope!
The lady mentioned above has long since moved on. I never took the chance and laid it all on the line for her. At the time I knew her, I was afraid of her response. Today, I am afraid of God's response if I don't do everything I can to get each woman He places in my path to the foot of the cross, to the manger, to the garden, before Pilot, to the well, to the side of the woman caught in adultry....whatever it takes to get her into the arms of HER Savior.
The other thing that stampeeded through my head last night was that there are some women in my life that are simply radient. I have a friend fighting breast cancer right now. She has one more round of Chemo before she has surgery. She just glows. Her smile is contageous. She SHINES! She has chosen to focus onher SAVIOR who has ALREADY saved her rather to focus on cancer. She is amazing and is SUCH an inspiration to me. She is radiant. She is beautiful. She is a living testimony of what it means to be a Daughter of the Most High God. Her light is not dependant on her circumstance. She is full of Christ and He just shine through.
Women who are plugged in naturally shine. They don't have to work at it.
The light of Christ shines all around us when He is in us. I want so much of Him in me that everyone around me has to wear sunglasses to keep from being blinded!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Do you know anyone who's light has stopped shining?
Maybe even know someone who doesn't seem to have a light?
Perhaps, your light is a bit dim?
I know that there are times when I feel like there is no light left in me. We all go through periods of time when our light dims...or even goes out.
Is that because there is no light left in us?
Friday, September 18, 2009
Ya know, there is something so special to me about my little one quoting scripture. Maybe it's just that she's my little one and I think she's super great. Maybe it is her 4 year old innocence. Maybe it is the twinkle in her eye. Maybe it is the way she removes any excuse I could ever have for NOT memorizing scripture! Whatever it is, it just makes my heart happy when she says "Hey Mom! A: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans free swenty free" or when she says "Hey Mom! B: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved Acts sixteen firty one"
We went out to eat the other night and she had to potty (actually she has to check out the bathroom every where we go) and she walked up to a lady in the restroom and said "Believe on the Lord Jesus Price and thou shall be saved- Acts sixteen firty one"...I explained to the lady that Izzy learns them for school...and realized that we needed to work on the word "Christ"! ha ha
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
During those silent days I listened to a LOT of music. It nearly killed me sometimes, but I couldn't help it. I would drive in the car with the radio blasting and cry til I had no tears left. See, I LOVE to sing in the car. In my car I sound like...well, whoever is in my Cd player or on the radio! In the car I can sing loud and strong and not worry about notes or even words. That's never been the case when I sang in church (alone or in the choir or in the congregation). I was always so self conscious...worried about what people would think.
So, driving in my car, crying my eyes out because I couldn't sing, (or talk, or whisper) "I know you're there" by casting crowns came on and I made a promise...to myself more than anything...that if I was ever able to sing again I would "raise a noise to make the heavens ring".
On my way home from work today I was singing my heart out (yeah, I'm the one everyone makes fun of at the red light) and I remembered those days when I wanted more than anything to lift my voice in Praise and I thanked God...really deep down with everything I have thanked Him for those dark, silent days. Because of those dark days, I have an appreciation for lifting my voice in praise to the God who saves me. And I can truly say that "if all I had was one last breath, I'd spend it just to sing your praise, just to say your name" and "if all I had was one last chance, I'd take it- I'd stake it all on You" .
My God is amazing. He loved me enough to allow me to travel a dark, lonely road so that I'd learn to trust Him more. He loved me enough to allow me to be scared to death so I'd learn to let Him calm my fears. He loved me enough to take away my voice so that He could give it back to me as a precious gift.
It hit me again driving home today, I REALLY do love God. I mean really, deep down absolutely positively without any doubt love God. Head over heels crazy in love with Him.
So, enjoy the song....and sing with me at the top of your lungs.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I have never known a man seek the heart of God like Calvin does. He is just a man, and he is far from perfect, but he absolutely without question desires God's will in every aspect of his life. He grieves when God does not give him clear answers. He waits and suffers until God makes His will clear. Following God is as natural to him as breathing. The burning, all consuming desire in his heart to know God, to Follow God's will, and to lead God's church is evident to all who know him. He loves the church. He cherishes the church just as he cherishes our children. He knows that God has entrusted them to him...which brings me back to Calvin seeking the heart of God. Calvin truly puts what God wants for His church above anything else...above his own ambitions...above any of our own desires....He knows he will answer to God for how he leads His church and he takes that very seriously.
Most of the time, Calvin is alive, on fire, excited, and determined to share God's love for our congregation in a fresh way.
But there are times when the enormity of being the spiritual leader for such a diverse group weighs heavy on his heart. It is in these times that God reaches down and whispers to my pastors heart. I can always tell when He does, because Calvin is at peace. These are times when The Creator of Heaven and Earth takes a moment to speak to the heart of His pastor, not to give him a word for His people...He comes with a word for His Pastor...
"I love you"
"I am with you"
"I chose you"
"I am in control"
"Just follow me"
I don't know exactly what God whispers to Calvin's heart. I don't know if Calvin could put it into words. It's not something we talk about, but I know when it happens. Self doubt is replaced by confidence, not in himself, but in the One who guides him. "What if" is replaced with a calm assurance that things will be just as God intends them to be. Calvin is reminded that his job is to do what God says. That's all. God will take care of the rest.
It blesses my soul to know that the One who called Calvin to the life we lead takes time to whisper to his heart. It comforts me to know that God takes time to encourage the heart of my sweet pastor.
We all need to be affirmed. I never cease to be amazed at the love of my God, but I am left breathless when I am reminded that the great big God we serve takes time to affirm the heart of His pastor.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Every morning, I wake up and say to myself, "self, today we are going to get it right. Going to be a "perfect" mom, wife, friend, employee, pastor's wife... everything...total package. Today we're going to get it right".
Spend uninterrupted time alone with God.
No fussing at the kids and Calvin over things that don't really matter.
Spend time checking on friends, family, and Church members who aren't feeling well.
Be totally productive at work...and not transpose a single number in any of today's spreadsheets. Cook dinner (and clean the kitchen afterwards).
Spend quality time with family.
Make sure the house is spic and span before going to bed.
OH! No listening to (or worse yet, spreading) gossip.
Be a positive role model.
Give Biblical advice.
Be completely uplifting and encouraging in all my conversations (pick up on and point out the positive rather than the negative)
Don't get angry. ...."
Are you kidding me? Okay, sure, this might last for about an hour...because I am the only one awake in the house, but as soon as other people wake up and enter my world, well..."perfect" flies right out the window!
This week, one of the things I did was help my little Izzy learn her memory verse for preschool. SHe has to memorize one for every letter of the alphabet and this week was " A- All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23"
We said it at LEAST 100 times this week. Every time we said it, she reminded me that I'll never be perfect, and neither will anyone else...and that's okay.
We all fall short....that's why we all need a Savior!
Here's her memory verse:
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
New International Version (NIV)
You are created by God. The same God that made the stars, butterflies, flowers, trees, mountains, and oceans made you. He took His time. Our Scripture for today says that he KNIT you together. Ever tried knitting? It takes time, effort, and concentration. You have to know what you’re doing. Each stitch is important. God KNIT you together. He chose the color of your eyes, the texture of your hair, your complexion, the shape of your fingers and toes. He even made you to naturally have an “apple”, “pear”, “hourglass”, or “box” shaped figure. He decided before you were born whether you’d be 5’3” or 5’11. He created the core of your personality …maybe you are NATURALLY an extrovert….or very shy…maybe you are a leader….or a follower…or an amazing listener, a nurturer, an encourager, or a dreamer. He chose the timbre of your voice. Those things you are truly passionate about are most likely passions placed in your heart by the Creator of the Universe before you breathed your first breath. He made you, created you from scratch. You are unique in His creation. Unlike any other. Created in HIS image!
He made you just EXACTLY the way He wanted you to be.
Today ask God to reveal to you some things HE did to make you…you.
Things that He knit together to make you different, set apart, a unique individual.
Things only HE could have placed in your being.
Make the list as long as you possibly can.
Thank Him for making you just exactly the way He wanted you to be.
Memorize Psalm 139:13. Bury it deep in your heart and pull it out each and every time you are tempted to compare yourself to ANY other woman today.
Monday, August 31, 2009
I was sitting in church listening to my sweet hubby preach and he was stomping all over my toes again. He has a knack for doing that. I guess when you know everything about a person, it is easier to drive a sermon home for them. I think it's great that God uses Calvin to talk to me. Can't think of many things cooler than that actually....although a burning bush every now and again would be hard to beat.
Calvin says something about being willing to give God some of ourselves...maybe even most of ourselves, but until we give Him EVERYthing we are not as intune to His voice as we could be.
So I'm thinking to myself as I sit on the front pew, "That's a lot like dieting" and a new post was born.
A diet is a lot like the Christian walk.
With dieting, you have to give up ALL the bad food and follow the diet exactly. I have from time to time given up most everything. Given up all the "bad" foods except maybe one or two that I "deserve" as a reward for forsaking all others. I mean, giving up MOST of the foods that make me fat counts for something, right? Surely if I give up MOST every "forbidden" food then I can keep my nightly bowl of vanilla Ice Cream covered in Chocolate syrup and candy coated sprinkles while watching the news just before going to bed? I have even lost a little weight giving up all the bad foods other than my cherished bowl of chocolate covered dreaminess, but I have never gotten the FULL benefit of the diet when I follow it with even a few modifications (like ice cream). A diet just doesn’t work properly if you don’t follow it. The same is true with the Christian life. Just like with a diet, I can give up almost all of my vices, give God "most" of myself, and still get some of (maybe even most of) the benefits of being a Christian, but I don’t get the FULL benefit unless I am “all in”.
I can halfheartedly commit to a diet. I can eat the right foods as long as it is convenient and as long as my friends don’t ask me to go to lunch, but unless I am “all in” I am not going to reap the FULL benefit of the diet. I am not going to get the full benefit of a diet until I am fully committed and ALL my meals are adapted to my diet, rather than adapting my diet to my meals. Just like with a diet, I can halfheartedly commit to my Spiritual Growth as long as it is convenient... and I may grow some, but I won’t get the FULL benefit unless I am “all in”.
I can I can join the gym and carry my gym pass on my key ring for everyone to see. I can pack my gym bag and carry it around in the back seat of my car...and never go to the gym. I can buy new sneakers and sweat absorbing socks....and never break a sweat. I can eat only diet approved foods when I eat with friends, family, or in public... and then go home, close the door, and eat a bag of cookies dipped in ice cream. I can study all about nutrition and exercise so that I can rattle off everything you could possibly need to know to maintain a healthy body on cue. BUT, if I am not applying what I know, eventually the fact that I have all the right stuff and all the right answers is going to be overshadowed by the obvious fact that I am not losing any weight, gaining any muscle, or getting any healthier. Just having the gear and looking the part and being a member of the gym is not enough to help me reap the full benefit of a healthy lifestyle. Likewise, carrying a thick leather bound Bible around in the backseat of my car, being a member of a marvelous Church, and knowing all the facts about Christianity and a relationship with Jesus Christ are not enough to reap the full benefit of being a Christian if I do not read that Bible, attend that church, and apply that knowledge....and just like people eventually see the truth about whether or not I really am going to the gym and eating right....people will eventually see the truth about whether I KNOW Christ...or just know about Him.
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I am so excited! I promise, I am going to shut up about this as soon as I post it here.
Okay, I love to write. Always have. I have kept a journal most of my life and have kept a prayer journal all of my adult life. I love the emotion that can be evoked through the written word. I love the way that words can transport a person to another time, another place..can even make them feel as thought they are living someone else's life. I LOVE e-mail and blogging. I love the fact that I can write what is on my heart today and someone may stumble upon it 6 months from now and say "that was exactly what I needed to hear today".
I am consumed with Christ. I want every one I know to share my passion for my Savior.
The reason I am sooo stinkin excited about getting one of my devotions (it is actually a post from this blog written months ago) published on Internet Cafe is because I can "speak" to women who would never "hear" what I have to "say" otherwise!
Also, it leaves me breathless that someone thought something I wrote was worth sharing!
So, I am super, super, unbearably annoyingly excited!
Here's the site address
Saturday, August 29, 2009
One thing that I have been trying to remind myself of every day is that God is constant, consistent, and exactly the same....no matter what mood I am in.
When I feel completely insignificant and unappreciated, I still serve El Shaddai:“God Almighty.”
When I feel like I am worthless, I am still a daughter of El Elyon: “The Most High God.”
When I am in need and cannot help myself, God is still Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.”
When I need to make a decision and my choices are confusing, God is still Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.”
When I am anxious and frustrated and irritated and basically hard to get along with, God is still Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.”
When I am afraid, God is still Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.”
When I am at my worst, God is still at His best.
When I am in the pits of despair, Christ is still the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).
When I am lost and tossed about, Christ is still the Cornerstone (Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20).
When I do not behave in a manner that reflects the love of God, Christ is still the Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).
When I am weary, worn out, out and tired, Christ still promises "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30
When my world seems to be falling apart and I am confused and scared to death, God still promises “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand."John 10:27-30
The bottom line is simple. God is. Christ is. Scripture is true. These are not dependant on my feelings or my mood or even my belief. It is when I can see past myself and beyond my current mood or circumstances that I can take hold of the promises that are mine to claim.
I am God's child.
I am a warrior in God's army.
I have nothing to fear because the one thing that is eternal is already mine and no one can take that from me. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:37-39
I have said several times recently that my favorite people in all the world are under attack daily right now. We have declared war on the enemy and he is not going down without a fight. We must must must remember that "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." and lean HEAVILY on HIM that loves us.
Most of all, in every single situation, no matter what Satan throws at me, no matter what I FEEL.....
God still is.
He is still good.
He is still all powerful.
He is still ruler of everything.
He is still victorious.
And I am His precious daughter whom He loves....LOVES!
I am wise to bask daily in the fact that I belong to the LORD Most High, Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega....
And He still is....even when I am not.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
We did Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames at Pearson, oh, I guess it has been 6 years ago now. We did it 2 years in a row and I was sent to hell both times. Go Figure! One year my sweet hubby played Satan. We still tease each other about him being bad for me....so bad in fact that he landed me in the pit.
But that's not what I wanted to write about. I hope I can put my thoughts into words.
When we did HG/HF at Pearson, we were told that the revival HG/HF started would not be in the people in the audience...that the ones who would be MOST effected by the drama would be the cast. We found that there is life before and after marriage, before and after High school, Before and after College, Before and after Kids, and there is life before and after Heaven's Gates/Hell's Flames.
Today I was reminded of that the experience and how much it impacted me.
My character was the secretary that goes to hell. In my role, after my friend and I die, we stand at the Pearly Gates and she goes up the steps into the arms of Jesus and on into Heaven while I am left at the bottom of the steps. In my desperation, I beg Jesus not to leave me alone. Because I did not accept Him as savior prior to my death, He leaves me...and the demons come and drag me into hell.
Flash forward 6 or so years to this morning. I was in church singing "Amazing Love" When we got to the part where we sang "You are my king...Jesus, You are my King". My mind traveled back to that first night of Heaven's Gates/Hells Flames.... specifically the moment when I fell to my knees and begged, "JESUS! Come back! PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME!!!!!! JESUS! PLEASE! I BELIEVE IN YOU NOW!"...just before my character was taken over by demons. My heart was pricked by the reality that there are people in my life everyday who will meet Jesus for the first time after their death and they too will scream "Jesus! Please! I believe in you now!"
I am SO thankful that Jesus IS my King. I am so thankful that my sin is forgiven, my past forgotten, that my name is in the book of life and that One day I will meet Him face to face and will be able to fall at His feet and worship Him.
Our sweet little church has embarked on a road that has put our leaders in Satan's cross hairs. My dearest friends, my husband, our kids....have all been brutally attacked spiritually over the past few weeks. I believe that God Himself brought the memory to my mind from HG/HF.... staring into heaven, begging Jesus to please give me one more chance, to please not leave me alone. That's what we are doing this for. We are in the battle. We are fighting for those that will come to know Christ. We are fighting so that fewer will stand at the gates of Heaven and beg for a second chance. The people I love most in this world are on the front line, and here lately, we have been getting hammered.
For the briefest moment this morning I felt like I was in the presence of His Glory. This was different than the times I have felt Him near me personally. For the briefest moment I felt His Glory...and it was overwhelming. It was as if He wanted me to know that He is with us and, more importantly, He's in control. He's got this. All we have to do is follow and not lose heart when we get wounded...In the battle.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Everyday life seems so boring compared to the constant drama that surrounded having cancer. Everyday life seems so insignificant compared to battling cancer.
My everyday struggles do not seem worthy of writing about....
My everyday struggles are what steal my joy.
The everyday, run-of-the-mill, day in and day out normal struggles like:
Dealing with difficult people at work
Getting the kids out of bed, dressed, fed, and to school on time
Marriage (and I have a husband that makes marriage easy compared to some people i know)
Juggling work, home, family, friends, church
Losing my temper
Sins like over-eating, pride, and greed
Being diagnosed with cancer knocked me off my feet with a powerful force, but these are the sorts of things that wear me down little by little...day by day.
So, even though these aren't the sorts of things that draw people's attention....nothing like having cancer or having a sick child or...well day to day life is just nothing exciting. BUT it is life and I'll do my best to be as open and honest about my daily struggles as I was about having cancer. After all, Scripture says it is the little foxes that ruin the vine (Song of Solomon). I guess the big ones are easy to spot. It's the little things that slip in and go unnoticed until they have caused significant damage.
In church Wednesday night, we were challenged to "lay it down" at the foot of the cross. Everyone's "it" is different. The things that ran through my mind as I prayed were:
- FLO (the Ladies ministry)
- My marriage
- My finances
- My Sunday School class
My heart was so heavy with the realization that I did not hesitate to rush to the cross when i had cancer, but I tarry with these things. Why is it so hard to give the little things and the GOOD things over to God? Why do I feel as though I can take care of these things without His intervention?
So, I'm layin down the little stuff and the good stuff before I go any farther down this road. I can travel farther if I'm travelin light.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
My fondest memories from childhood all seem to take place in the fall of the year. I loved going back to school and seeing all my friends (those were the days before cell phones, Facebook, and every kind of camp you can imagine, so unless you lived next door to someone, your didn’t see them all summer), going to football games, and school dances. I liked cool weather clothes…jackets, sweaters, jeans…lots of layers made me feel all snuggly and well, less exposed than I did in summer attire. (that’s still true!) I enjoyed new teachers, new classes, and making new friends.
For me, autumn seems to hold as much of a promise of a new beginning as New Year’s and Spring do for most people….maybe I just need more “fresh starts” than the average gal. This has been a difficult year. The threat of cancer has cast a shadow on every part of my life for almost a year now and to be honest, I am a little tired of it. I’ve been cancer free since April and am quite honestly tired of living with the fear that it could come back any day. I am ready to give the fear of the possibility that the cancer may come back over to my Creator and let Him carry that burden for a while. It is just too heavy for me to bear any longer. So, autumn 2009 holds a very sweet “beginning” for me…I am cancer free. I've come a long way in only a year. This year I am blessed beyond measure in a new and amazing way…I am a cancer survivor and despite 4 surgeries on my vocal cords...I still have a voice!
I have struggled over the past 11 months with the darkness of fear….fear like I have never known in my life. I have had to trust complete strangers with my voice and my very life. I have leaned harder on God than I ever thought possible. Many days, I did not even have the courage to lean on Him…He had to just pick me up and carry me. Through all of this I tried very hard to be very brave. Now that it’s over, I realize that I am absolutely drained. I am closer to my Lord than I have ever been. I understand more about Faith than I could have ever understood outside of this battle. I am more in love with Christ than I could have ever imagined possible…..but I am tired, and feeling a little empty, so I am casting my cares on Him....again-but I am not taking it back this time. I'm done. I am just too exhausted to carry it any more.
I am grateful beyond words that I can reach out to my sweet friends during this time when things are so frightening and uncertain for them. I am grateful beyond words for the tenderness, compassion, and empathy in my heart when I pray for them and with them. I am grateful that my family can minister to theirs, that my husband understands how their husbands feel, and that my son knows how my one friend's son feels...and I am eternally grateful that Brian and my friend's son are friends. I would never have chosen the past year for me or my family, but I am eternally grateful that our Father, in His infinite wisdom, carried us through that valley and I am humbled that He would use that journey to minister to others.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Friday night over Dinner at Mrs Billie's house, the Girls were telling us a bit about themselves and their families and eventually one of them said "We weren't planning on giving our testimonies at Pearson tomorrow....but.....
We all agreed to pray about changing the "line up" on Saturday and would discuss again before things got started Saturday morning.
Saturday morning arrived and we all agreed that they should give their testimonies.
They almost missed their flight home because we cut it so close!
I am so grateful that they felt God's pull on their hearts. Today I had woman after woman after woman come up to me and tell me what a great event "SPA Day" was. Know what they all went on and on about? How touched they were by the Girls testimonies. Seems everyone there related to and were encouraged by their honest sharing of themselves.
I never cease to be amazed at what God will orchestrate.
AND... I now have 2 new friends in Texas! These girls just fit right into my close circle of friends! We laughed and talked and just had the BEST time on Friday at lunch and Dinner and were able to relax and enjoy the entire day on Saturday.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
There is SO much to say about my maker. My relationship with Him is so very personal and dynamic...I am often overwhelmed when I meet someone who doesn't have a relationship with Him. I want to tell her ALL about Him.....
So, what do women NEED to know about God????????
Let me know what you think
Monday, July 6, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
God has given me a new gift. Not sure when I got it exactly, but I have recently been made aware of it. God has allowed me to live long enough to begin to see my life as seasons. He has also been gracious enough to open my eyes to His hand in my life during the seasons thus far. I certainly don't have all the answers to all of my whys, but He has been gracious enough to answer several of them recently.
We all have difficult people in our lives. I am blessed in that I have very few. (I am probably the difficult person in all my friends and family's lives!) There is one relationship in particular that has caused me a great deal of heartache...not frustration or anger or grief, but actual heartache. I have for years questioned God about this particular relationship because I simply could not understand WHY God would allow this when He knew how much pain it would cause me. I finally asked Him, "WHY did you put this person in my life?" The answer was as clear as any I have ever gotten. God spoke to my heart and answered "I didn't put this person in your life, I put you in theirs." I was breathless. God didn't stop there. He reminded me of things that had been said and done that revealed the influence my life was having on this person. Never have I been so grateful that God allowed me to suffer heartache. In allowing it, He allowed me a small part in the story of this difficult person's coming to fully know Christ.
He has also been gracious in showing me what He saved me from. I'll never know this side of heaven all the traps and snares He guided me around, but He has over time shown me why He did not give me some of the greatest desires of my heart. Every time....every single time He said "no, you can't have that", it was because He had something better for me....every single time. Took me decades to realize this in some cases, but looking back, I can say that this is true 100% of the time.
He has given me more than I could have ever dreamed for myself. Life's not always easy, and is often hectic, and many time frustrating, and even disappointing....but He promises that He is with me, and He has proven Himself trustworthy.... throughout history, and to me personally.
I still have "whys" and there are still many many things I don't understand. BUT God is growing me. He is revealing more and more of Himself to me. It is easier and easier to just trust Him. It is becoming more natural to seek HIS will.
It was enough that he gave me the Bible to show me what He is like. It was enough that He has proven Himself throughout the ages. Still, He took time to sit with this daughter and say "Look and see how far we've come, you and I." He took time to show me where He has been faithful in MY life.......
I have had lots of time to think while Calvin and the kids have been away. I realized over the weekend that I am perfectly content with where God has me planted. I'm really going to focus on blooming here and stop trying to see what God has around the corner. He's brought me this far in His time and on His terms. I figure I'll be better off letting Him handle the next 36 or so years too.
2:30 in the morning now....is it even worth trying to go to sleep at this point??????
Monday, June 22, 2009
This song paints such a beautiful picture for me. My best moments are when I can get alone with my Savior and just rest in His embrace. There is such a peace that washes over me when I draw near to Him. Several times over the past few days I have stopped what I was doing just to be in the presence of the Lover of my soul. He's always there, right beside me. All I have to do is stop long enough to listen for His heartbeat. The greatest miracle in my life is that the creator of the universe calls me His own...His child...His beloved...His precious daughter.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
When he returned, the slaves brought his talents back to him. The slaves that had originally been given 5 and 2 talents doubled their talents and gave the master twice as much as he'd left with them. The master told them "Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master."
The slave that had been given only one talent had buried that talent and gave it back to the master. The master told him "Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."
I had actually made a note to write about "You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master," earlier this week. That scripture was one of the Bible verses that were sent to me via the internet. When I got it, my thought was "I need to focus on the little things God has given me and stop wondering about where He is taking me next."
See, I really want to do BIG things for God....but "big" by my standards may not be "big" by God's standards. I filed that thought in the back of my mind to write about when I had time.
This morning, our Sunday School discussion was on the Parable of the Talents. (Ever get the feeling that God is trying to tell you something??)
I. like many people, want 5 talents. I want the mother load. I want to do BIG things for God. BUT...I, like many people, have "one talent" ability. Sadly, I have not always been faithful to the one talent God has given me because I wanted the talent He gave someone else. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
This morning in Sunday school we chatted about the talents and what God wants from us and Dave said "Grow where you're planted". Yesterday I saw a t-shirt that said "Bloom where you're planted". Sometimes God has to tell me something several times before I realize that He's talking to me.
God has given me several talents to care for
He has given me the responsibility of caring for His pastor.
He has given me the responsibility of mothering Brian and Izzy.
He has given me the responsibility of teaching Sunday School.
He has given me the responsibility of leading the Ladies Bible Study.
He has given me the responsibility of building the FLO ministry.
He has given me the responsibility of leading the Women's Ministry team.
He has given me the responsibility of sharing my faith and my walk with him here.
He has given me the responsibility of sharing Christ with women through the FLO Blog.
Each of these things built on the responsibility, talent if you will, before it.It wasn't until recently that I began to want more than what He's trusted me with.
With the gentle reminders of the past week, I am submitting to His will and focusing on the things He has given me to do now. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.
From time to time, I stop and think about the chapters that are in the book of my life thus far. Yesterday I was sharing my story with a new woman in my life and was reminded of the opening lines of a chapter in my story.......
" Don't you know that if you have asked Jesus to be your savior and have asked Him to forgive you, HE has thrown your sin as far from you as the east is from the west......and that's a straight line"
Those words were spoken to me about 13 years ago by my then pastor. Those are the opening lines of the chapter that began my love relationship with Christ.
At the time those words were spoken, I did know Christ as Savior, but was FAR from accepting Him as Lord. I could not embrace God as Father because I would not allow myself to believe that He'd REALLY love me after the choices I'd made for 20 years.
I am amazed at how God's plan played out.
I had been away at college, was "unhappy" and so moved back in with my mom and step-dad. I went to work for my step dad and things seemed to be going well. I met a lady through my job that asked me to visit her church. She wanted to introduce me to her pastor. I did attend her church for a while and during that time got to know several of the members and among those people, her pastor, Tom. I joined their Bible Study group and was introduced to Max Lucado's writings. (I still use his writings in mnistering to women because his style is so simple and so full of Christ's love for us.) During that time, God used Tom to tell me the one thing I needed to hear more than anything at that time in my life....Found in Psalm 103:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us
Tom did not stay in my life long, but God used him to start a monumental movement in my life. His words stuck and I did finally embrace the fact that God does indeed love me and has indeed separated my sin from me....as far as the east is from the west. This understanding of forgiveness created an unquenchable thirst in me that quickly developed into a passionate relationship with my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
I have been crazy in love with Christ for years now and it is my greatest joy to share Him with the women He places in my life.
I am so thankful that God, in His mercy and grace loved me enough to make sure I heard His word...."I really have forgiven you".
Now, as the final words in the "Cancer" chapter have been written, I am so eternally grateful that God used a pastor of a little church to draw this Daughter to her Heavenly Father. Had it not been for THAT moment, I might have never developed the relationship with my Heavenly Father that I naturally depended on to keep me sane over the past year.
God's love for His children never ceases to amaze me.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Because the real problem with my voice was misdiagnosed for so long, I am careful (too careful, I'm sure) to make sure that I tell him EVERYTHING that I think is not normal when i see him.
This gives him the chance to say "You are a complete hypochondriac. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you," and later I don't wonder "but what about..."
So, I am going to the Dr. this morning and my list looks something like this....
1. How do we know that I don't have cancer anywhere else?
2. Does the fact that I have had this type of cancer make me more likely to have cancer anywhere else?
3. What are the odds that this will come back?
4. Will we always be able to tell if I'm "okay" by the quality of my voice?
5. I think I may have inner ear issues. I keep losing my balance and I get light headed when I stand quickly.....or is that just because I have more fat cells on one side than the other? Oh, my left ear aches too. Right one still aches, but that one aches because of nerve damage from the neck dissection....so check out the left one.
6. My chest hurts.
7. What are these 2 bumps in the roof of my mouth?
8. Constant headache and watery right eye....sinus infection?
9. My throat feels constricted and makes me feel like I need to gag and there is a catch again when I swallow.
10. I am completely exhausted all of the time. I cannot get enough sleep.
11. (most unusual) I have very little appetite.
What do I expect him to say?
11, 10, 6. and 9 are due to anxiety
7 toros something or other...bony growth in the roof of the mouth...probably been there for years
8 sinus infection
5 inner ear problems or sinus infection
1 because this cancer does not "spread"
3 slim to none
So, I am going to go get dressed, and me and my list are going to see Dr. Schweinfurth. We'll see how I did on my self diagnosis!
Friday, June 12, 2009
I am at a point where I could honestly express to Doc S that my anxiety level is just about more than I can take. I have actual physical manifestations of anxiety….pain in my chest, pain in my neck, pain in my shoulders, loss of appetite, insomnia, my throat is constricted, I have a constant headache, and I am absolutely exhausted. I believe that all of these things are symptoms of anxiety and NOT “cancer of the head and neck”. HOWEVER, it is hard for me not to “what if” myself to death …which leads to more anxiety…which makes my chest hurt even more… which makes me wonder about the 5 year recurrence rate…and the survival rate after recurrence…..and the much less favorable outcome for patients with a recurrence …which makes my chest hurt more…you get the picture.
I am honestly embarrassed that I am even feeling this way. I KNOW for an absolute fact that as soon as I see Doc S and he tells me that everything is okay (other than I yap too much), I will be just fine, but I do this EVERY time I have to go see him.
So why the anxiety? I am not afraid. I absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Doc S sits down in from of me next Friday and says “there is a lesion on your cord again” or even “there is a mass in your throat”….I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that my response will simply be “so, what do we do now?” I am not worried. I would not say “I am so worried about my appointment on Friday”. So why the anxiety? I truly believe that God has this all under control, Doc S knows what he’s doing, and that all I have to do is go on about my business. So why do my emotions betray what I TRULY believe?
My plight is not unique, nor is it new….as a matter of fact, my prayer is very much like that of the father in Mark 9:
20So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."
24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Oh GOD! Help me believe beyond the what if’s. I need for my emotions to be in line with what I believe to be true about You and Your provision. I know that you are totally in control and I can already see amazing things that have come to be as a result of this cancer in my body. I truly believe that You have even greater things in store for us and I do totally trust you. Help me Lord to trust you more. Help me keep my eyes on YOU so that I am not so overwhelmed by all that is going on around me. I love you and want so much to serve you more. Whatever this next Doctor’s visit brings, help me to always remember that you are with me and that you will never leave me. You have a plan and a purpose for my life and are in complete control
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
He is preaching through the book of James. This week was Chapter 4 vs 1-3. Let me go ahead and share those verses.
1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Here's the thing...there is no way for me to reason or rationalize this away (not that I would evvvvvvverrrrrrr try to do that). Just for this week, I have tried to find one instance that I could use as an exception the the rule....can't find one.
Every single time I have been put out with someone...it applies.
Every time I have been offended....it applies.
Every time I have gotten aggravated.....you guessed it.
Every time I lost my temper.....yep.
Scripture is funny like that.
Now, sermons like this could make it hard to be a pastor's wife if your pastor does not listen to his own sermon. Thankfully, Calvin DOES take to heart what God leads him to preach to the congregation. The application of this one sermon has revolutionized our relationship with each other and with our children.
I challenge you to try and find a way to rationalize the truth in this scripture away.
The next time you lose your cool....is it because you didn't get what your way?
The next time you yell at your kids....is it because they didn't do what you want?
The next time you get angry with your spouse....is it because he or she didn't do what you want?
The truth behind this scripture is one that we visited in Ladies Bible Study....
It is not the responsibility of your spouse, your children, your boss, or your friends to make you happy and to "fill you up" emotionally, because that is a spiritual issue. Only God can do that. Only God can meet our spiritual needs. the other truth in this scripture is:
Have trouble trusting people? Do you trust God to put trustworthy people in your life?
The people in your life don't validate you? Do you find value in your status as a child of God?
Boss, friends, spouse, kids don't appreciate the job you do? Are you doing all things as if you are working for GOD and serving HIM in all you do?
Like so many things, it is all in your perspective.
Any of us can turn our focus inward and have a large pity party on any given day. When we turn our gaze upward and focus on serving God it is almost impossible to have a pity party.
Any of us can turn our gaze to the people in our life and become angry and frustrated because they have not met all of our needs, have let us down, have hurt us, taken advantage of us, the list could go on forever......OR we can turn our gaze UPWARD and focus all that fault finding energy on becoming the man or woman God dreamed of when he dreamed of us.
This is a life changing, relationship revolutionizing, earth shattering choice you and I can make right now.