Monday, December 22, 2014

All in All.

They sit under the tree - perfectly wrapped, waiting patiently to have impatient fingers open them, to experience the joy of the beholder, and to be used. These gifts that were thoughtfully chosen, wrapped in love, and perfectly placed... all for the joy of giving.

For this joy of giving.

I have realized there comes a moment in your life when you have to reach for the gift, unwrap it, and behold what was given to you. Sometimes what lies behind the wrapping paper may frighten us, but it is still a gift. Given out of love, waiting for the joy to wipe across you face. Hopefully. Then other times in our life the gift needs to be unwrapped by the giver...

Four months before Adam asked me to be his forever, we separated. It wasn't a fast break, it was a slow one. I pushed him away, fearful of what my emotions were doing to me. A recluse, I stopped answering phone calls, ignored him, I couldn't look at him anymore. These feelings of trust, hope, and most of all love - they scared the daylights out of me! The days that followed were some of my darkest ones, I didn't cry, didn't think, just filled myself with hate... convincing myself I was not worthy of love, I was a mess, and love always failed. Depression sank in, anxiety ate at my soul, and hopelessness and fear destroyed the rest. Yet, God had other plans. In my darkest he wanted me to know him fully.


So one cold December day, I stormed into my aunt's home and up to my room searching frantically for my bible. Great, you might be thinking, she wanted to see what God had to tell her - to search for biblical answers. No friend, I searched for the bible to curse God all the more fully. I hated him, hated. I was so angry and spiteful. Then I found it... the bible.

I found it, screamed, and threw it as hard as I could into the closet. When I went to toss myself on the bed I noticed a small folded paper had fallen out as the book soared through the air. I knelt down and picked it up, careful not to tear the worn paper - I unfolded it. The worn pencil markings on it read:

"Child of weakness
Watch and pray
Find in me 
Thine all in all."

I crawled into the closet and began to weep. A flood of emotions, so walled in broke free and poured out - heavy, flowing, no dam could shut off these waterworks. My pride and hate were shattered. Realization poured in as the God of all the universe wrapped this messy, pig-pen child in his arms and whispered...

You are weak. Child... you are weak. Look at me. Look, I am here. I am your all in all. I must be your all in all before any man can be your anything. Look at me, find that I am here. 
Watch how I love, it is unfailing. (Psalm 13:5)
Watch how I lived, it was righteous. (1 Peter 1:19)
Watch how I died, it was redemptive. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Child... you are made in my image. You have access to all of that. To unfailing love, to a righteous life, to a redeemed spirit. 
I am love. If you live in love, you live in me.  (1 John 4:7-19)
Watch and pray.

Dear reader, please... please take note of this gift. This gift that I was afraid to unwrap because it was so wrapped in love. This gift that no fingers eagerly opened but instead like a new born child the gift was unwrapped before me, shown to me... by the one who adopted me as his own. This messy child, this human child. In my darkest most hateful moment - he said no more, listen I am here.

So I did and I realized I was scared to death of two truths:
1. God had to wreck me, take me, and make me new to make me fully his own.
-and-
2. To truly love (God or man), I had to lay down my wants and needs and in place of that seek to understand the one my soul longed for more. To watch and learn my love's ways... in order to be fully filled with better understanding.

I know. I know... but friend I also know this. I know that God made people for one purpose, to glorify himself. The people were too human and so they easily gave way to sin. The Creator of all could have been finished with us right then and there but he wasn't! No! Instead he loved us so much he put us... US... before his own, yes. He put his son's life before our deserving death sentence, one who knew no sin became sin so that we might be reconciled with the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Why? Because he loved us (John 3:16). So why wouldn't I want to put down my wants and needs and receive this gift that I crave to not only hold but give back.


Stepping into God's way means leaving our ways behind. Marriage is that way. Following God is that way. All weakness are shown so that you must watch and pray, find your all in the one who made it all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ye, of Little Experience

It seems contrary, writing a blog about marriage with only a drop over three years of experience behind you. Yet, I felt compelled to take this daunting task. One that might acquire much criticism or eyes rolled, but hopefully more laughter, joy, and realization that marriage is a blessing... from the beginning.

A few days ago, as my forefinger and eyes scrolled through endless Facebook posts, I came across another one about marriage. The lady has been married for 36 years or so and wanted everyone to know how they accomplished such a goal. I chuckled to myself as I pictured writing a blog about making it to three years, and being profoundly proud of that moment! So I thought, why not write about it... why not?

So let me tell you about my sweet husband and me.

We met when he was in 8th grade and I was in 9th. We became instant friends with years of hating each other, loving each other... that kind of friendship. He helped me through math, I helped him through life - dating other girls, too. He talked to me when my relationships failed, then one day my senior year after a terrible break-up, we decided to talk a little more seriously. So, one beautiful afternoon on the golf course, I walked straight up to him, kissed him on the cheek and said, "Adam, I really like you."

That's where it all began. 

We broke up a few months later; I went off to college. Then one cold January night he messaged me on MySpace just wanting to chat. We began to talk again after months of silence, and now we are here - happily married. (As I sit here in bed writing this, he is lying next to me -sick as a dog and snoring louder than the echo of a train in a mile long tunnel - and I wouldn't trade it for the world).



So why write?
What do I have to comment on, or credentials to display?
We do not have children.
We do not have years of experience.
We do not have all the good and the bad.

We do have love.
We do have failures.
We do have victories.
But most of all... we have God.

We recently moved to a town in the country, away from the city, away from family, away from friends.

Starting over we have had our meltdowns, but have had our buildups, too.
We have seen frustration, brokenness, and tears.
Yet, we have experienced joy, bonding, and faith.

I do believe that 36 years of marriage is a great feat. Fifty years, forty years... twenty years; you learn something at each of them but you cannot bound straight to fifty -- no you have to pass through three.

So in this blog, I will comment on the past, the present, and the future.
I will write about the struggles, the moving past it, and the growing older.
I will address the "children" subjects, the "financial" subjects, the "job" subjects.
Yet, all of it will be covered with the "God" imprint, and all of it will pour from my soul.

So ready or not, here we go.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Searching for Stones

The words marched out of my mouth like a song that has been played too many times. I had memorized the text in front of me, I only glanced to ensure accuracy. The students eyes stared at me as I pleaded with them to follow along. We've worked hard the past few weeks, multiple forms of activities, hands on, drilling, group and individual assignments... what else could we have done to guide them to this moment ensuring success?

Not much, unless more time was an option. 

So there they were, small groups of 5-11. I read the test aloud, encouraged them to attempted strategies that are taught daily in order to increase their chance of success. Yet only a few attempted. The rest... the rest just guessed! Forget the hard work, it's long gone... they don't want to be here. Maybe they have seen failure too often; I see it pouring out of their eyes, they believe it doesn't matter if they show evidence, no strategy will help them. 

My heart breaks, I become frustrated (with all my strength I try not to show it). The words desperately tumble out of my mouth again and again, "Please, use your strategies. Go back and justify your answer. Prove it! You have it in you to succeed, it just matters how much you're willing to try." 

Then she looks at me, "Are you serious Mrs. Palacios?" 
I nod my head. 
She nods hers, imitating the last glimpse of hope in my eyes.
So she tried... she really tried. 
The sweet girl who cried the last time she worked hard and still failed. The girl whom we (co-teacher and I) told... your time will come, don't give up. She didn't. That one girl, worked hard and soaked the ambitious words into her heart and ventured into the face of her giant pulling her strategies out one-by-one. My gosh, she put in effort... and success was hers to hold.

How many times in our life are we one of those discouraged children, who have been drilled over and over again, strategy after strategy, skill upon skill, and when the time comes to put it to the test we automatically raise the white flag?

Finished without a fight. 

What if David had eyed the Giant and timidly scurried away, just at one glance? There would be no fearless hero who won with a pocket full of a mere 5 stones ready to face adversity. 

A heart filled with confidence in the teacher, the LORD Almighty, and a handful of stones... he knew his strategies had defeated the most daring bears and lions, but would he trust his teacher and heart enough to face the most dreaded task? You see, David had practiced in all circumstances except against a human giant. However, when his world collided with opposition he didn't disappear. NO! He grabbed a significant tool, glared his giant in the eyes, and pitched the stone at the enemy who approached as if to engulf the young boy. 

I want to be like David, but so many times in life I am like my students. I want to be like the young girl who trusted me, pulling out the strategies she learned in her co-teach room. It was possible. She knew it, David knew it... do you acknowledge the possibility as well?  The possibility to defeat your giants? Do you have your stones? David only needed one... but he still held 4 more in his pocket. 

What are your stones?
The stones our God has taught you to use. 
Have you not acknowledged them yet, or have you used them over and over again?

I encourage you friend... because I need encouragement. I have found 3 stones that are significant when I face giants in my life. Stones that strengthen my wobble in the rage of a giant. Stones that put God first, empty me, and fill me with the spirit of strength... not timidity. Stones that scream, "THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ME! ONLY THE ONE WHO HAS DEFEATED THIS WORLD!" Stones that tug at my heart strings and I use them, because they will bring trust, hope, and a triumphant roar!

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come here," he said, " and I'll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!"
David said to the Giant, "You come against me with sword... but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty...",
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching in to his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
1 Samuel 17: 40-45, 48-49

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Haven't Always Liked Christmas...

It's true. Christmas, for a long time, has been one of my most dreaded holidays. I never really cared for it, I celebrated for the free gifts, the traveling... but if I had a choice I would have avoided it, all together.

Christmas reminded me that my life was not perfect. That my family was broken. That my life was shattered. It reminded me that I held a lot of grudges, hid a lot of pain, and mastered the facade of happiness.

That pain was too much to bear. To cope I would laugh and mock those who were so intoxicated with Christmas spirit that they trimmed the trees with ornaments and bows... in November! "Please," my heart would scream, "Just wait, and let Thanksgiving have its time."

Yet, this past year (I know I talk about it a lot) God changed me. He wrecked me, broke me, dipped me in water and wrung me until everything I was hiding basked out in the open. All the pain and lies that tormented my weary soul were sitting there, revealed. He gently sifted it out, masterfully leaving only the gold... the truth.

God took the gold pieces and gently put me back together again. Shiny and new. Alive. Full of love. Glowing with a radiant light.

Then Romania happened, a mission trip that was just another step in my healing process. While at a camp with some of the most beautiful souls we call orphans, I bravely told my testimony.  Soon after I was pulled into a room by a friend, a sweet Romanian, who wanted to pray for me. She wanted to pray that once again in my life, Christmas would be important, would be amazing, would be fulfilling. Well here I am my sweet friend, and your prayers are going far beyond the walls of that tiny hotel room. Your prayers have been pasted on my heart and my God has heard them, truly heard them. Here I am like an eager little child on Christmas morning, anticipating the celebration this year. Fully committed to focus whole-heartedly on the birth of Jesus because he has redeemed me.

Now, today... on Day 1, I sit here prepared for December 25th. The day Jesus was born. I want it all to be about him, I want to be overwhelmed with celebrating his quiet and humble birth. I want to experience all of it, to be filled with abounding joy and a light heart.

Although I am not a new christian, I am new to this idea of full freedom. Therefore, to me this Christmas is about remembering him walking humbly into my heart while celebrating his manger scene, hay filled, animals and shepherd rejoicing birth.

Much love,
Brady
Jesse Tree Advent Calendar



Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mirror, Mirror...

"May we be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." -Romans 1:12

In the past few weeks, emptiness has been a tragic theme. In quiet moments, overwhelming moments, and ordinary moments... I crawled, empty and drained. The oxygen masks given to me I passed on to someone else, as if I did not need air to survive. I continued to find myself reading scripture, understanding, but relating it to someone else's life or present state and offering it to them to satisfy their need. I would hear a song and press share, a picture, a thought, a quote... all fuel for someone else.

The emptiness grew like a monster in my heart, tearing apart any left over flesh... awakened and starving it would devour me entirely if I did not cry out for help. Another friend calls, another battle to fight... again I place my pain and struggles on the back burner allowing the beast to take another fleshy bite.

Yet, repetition kept me moving. I found myself flipping through the silver lined pages, doing my morning devotional, my quiet time, or whatever else became a habit as my frustration continued to grow while emptiness attempted to devour any light left in my soul. I attempted to reached out to a friend and nothing to help me move past this, thus allowing my thoughts to attack me once again.

No one cares, Brady. 
Your problems do no matter.
You are only made to help others, quit trying to be so selfish.

Then today... today happened.

I drove into San Antonio to search for boots and realized that no store was open at 9:50 am... so I joined one of my girls at her church. I sat there through the song, through the service, anxiety building up within me, then communion came. I began to tear up.

I needed this.

This simple act of acknowledging Jesus, I needed it.
My soul began to move from given up to a defensive stance in this battle. I began to see that whatever darkness had been hiding his word and light in me was stemming from lies. The battle raged on.

While driving home immediately after, I began to just talk to God. I just let it out. I told him how hurt I have been, a relator at heart finding ways to relate to people, but suffering from no one seeking to relate to me. I begged for him to light a fire in my soul. I made known my frustration of him only sharing words with me that were intended for others... but when I needed him he did not show up. In the midst of my thundering (not quiet waiting) he injected,

"Quit being a mirror." 

What is that even supposed to mean? A mirror. "A mirror" breaks your silence God... really?! What do you want me to do, jump for joy? Rejoice and sing out about this ridiculous metaphor! I sat there dumbfounded behind the wheel. Repeating the words that were definitely not mine, over and over again.

Then I pleaded,
"Okay, so... what do I do with that?"

It hit me...
A mirror reflects.  A mirror doesn't absorb. A mirror is constantly used by others.

The darkness fled. I sat there fully exposed, understanding what God had given me!
I had been too ready to share, to reflect the Son's light to someone else, to give up my living water for the sake of another... I wasn't attending to my health. I needed to soak in the light of the Lord, not only reflect it. My goal to live radiantly for him somehow became confused with reflecting.

The definition for reflecting states:
to move in one direction, hit a surface, and quickly move in a different, usually opposite, direction.

However, radiating expresses the importance of radiation which is going out in a direct line from a central point.

The major difference is the central point... the heart. I was missing that part of allowing myself to reflect on his words; letting his words soak into my heart, lighting a fire that I can't control. Yes, they might have been meant for someone else but the words were probably a gift to me, as well. Now I find myself here. Typing away, sharing again, but thankful that this time... yes, this time I acknowledged the gift from the giver.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Falling in Love with Jesus - Engagement [Fall Series #5]

I could feel the heat melting the bottoms of my shoes. The past 6 miles completely dragged and my boyfriend had raced way ahead of me from the beginning. The crowd was too tight, my co-worker was running horrifically slow (on purpose mind you). Her random phone conversations during the race, her complaints that she was ill, and the annoyance that I was not going to beat my goal caused me to leave her behind the last quarter mile and just make a break for it to the finish line. I sprinted with all I had, then I saw it - my goal - and I rejoiced. Yet, it was NOT the finish line crowd or the camera man that caught me off guard as I wiped the sweat off my face, it was the boy who had raced ahead of me so early on bending down on one knee with a ring in his hand... this boy was asking me to marry him! My heart flew out of my mouth, the tears jumped hastily to the ground, and my lungs forgot how to work. After a funky wanna-be "YES!" Adam Palacios and I were officially ENGAGED!

Engaged. The moment I said yes! The girly dream, the mind racing with preparation thoughts, the pictures and phone calls... I was engaged!

I said YES because I could not imagine life without Adam. He was my best friend, he knew all my secrets, he knew more about me than anyone else on earth. We had the intimate conversation that revealed past regrets, pains, hurts, future dreams, hopes, and goals. He did not turn me away after I confessed so much to him, and I did not turn him away after he confessed so much to me. We knew we could do this... we knew that engagement was the next step.

Jesus wants you to step to this level with him, too. Understanding the aspects of intimacy- confessing sins, pains, regrets, and much more to him- opens you up to this beautiful opportunity of committing to a serious relationship with Jesus. Exclusive. Intimate. Engaged. Falling in love with Jesus will change you. He will put that "ring" on you and label you his own. Once you say "Yes" to his proposal, a proposal to live for him, Jesus is filled with excitement. You don't understand how much you are loved by him!

Jesus left his heavenly throne,
he walked this earth,
he vanquished temptation,
he suffered a painful death,
then conquered the grave...
all because He Loves You!

His proposal was there on the cross when he laid down his life for you...
His proposal was there in the empty grave...
His proposal was there when he asked Peter "Do you love me... then feed my sheep!"

Do not wait until the third time He asks to take his proposal... follow him!

"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you."
He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
He said to him, "Yes Lord; you know that I love you."
He said to him, "Tend my shoe."
he said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?"
and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." ... "Follow me.""
(John 21:15-19)

You see, this is Jesus reinstating Peter. Peter had just denied his relationship with Jesus, not once, not twice - NO! Peter denied their relationship three times in the matter of hours.  Yet, Jesus loved him so much, just as much as he loves you, that he gave him another chance.

Do you love him? 

Are you willing to follow him?
He does not care if you denied him 5 times... he died on the cross for you, and if you've made it this far my friend... your heart is still soft enough to accept his extravagant proposal.

Let me tell you friend... following Jesus is worth everything this world has to offer, and more.




Sunday, October 26, 2014

Falling in Love with Jesus - Intimacy [Fall Series #4]

Her hair danced like flames in the glow of the sun. Time had aged her once youthful face. Eagerness from the pending adventure sparkled in her eyes. Yet, her words spoke of bitter regret and stopped me dead in my tracks.

"When my husband died in December," she sighed, "I promised myself to live while I'm alive, so I wrote a list pieced together with adventures that I know I don't want to miss out on. Lucky me, my sister is here to share one with me today."

My heart broke and my gut wrenched in the revealing truth she shared with the group. Despite her burdening testimony, I enjoyed feeling brave jumping off cliffs and soaring over canyons, valleys, and through trees. I was able to share these moments with my courageous husband waiting for me at the landing or backing me up at the jump. Adam and I had the opportunity to share in our triumph, cheer each other on, and rejoice with each other in shaky fist-bumps and hi-fives. 

Later on, after our adventure came to an end, we walked away feeling accomplished from our zip-lining adventure. Unfortunately, the lady's words replayed once again in my mind. I began to compare her tragedy to so many peoples lives and their relationship with Jesus. So many folks wait to take Jesus's offer for an adventure, only when it is too late. When you wait, you miss out on sharing so much more with him. Like my sweet husband, we get to share these adventures for the rest of our lives and he is able to experience them with me bonding our hearts closer together; unfortunately for the lady and the words she said, it seems as though she never really experienced adventure, or in her words "lived" boldly, with her other half. 

I refuse to wait until it is too late to live boldly. I want to be intimate with Jesus from today and forever more. My desire is for Jesus to experience my fear defeating moments, the landings, and the jumps... because not one of these will be worth it with out him. He makes me brave. He makes me soar on wings of eagles, walk and not faint. I do not want to wait until the clock ticks announcing that time is up for my decision to walk intimately with Jesus to be made.

Friend, Jesus has big dreams for you! When you open up and allow yourself to become vulnerable he sends you off on an adventure of a lifetime -- a God-sized adventure! Please, don't miss out! Do not wait until it is too late, to ask him to dive deep with you.

When you have an intimate relationship with Jesus, one where you daily spend time with him, and are actively putting effort into the relationship you grow closer to the LORD. He says, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you... If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15: 4, 7, 9) 

Remain in Jesus's love.
Abide in his love.
Dwell, Prevail, Persist, Reside, and Endure in his love!!! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Falling in Love with Jesus - Exclusivity [Fall Series #3]

I remember the struggle I had the moment I realized that I needed to be exclusive with Jesus. He had been silently whispering to my heart, deny yourself. Deny yourself. Deny yourself. 

The moment I stopped giving him the cold shoulder and I had an "eye-to-eye" conversation that spiraled into a gut-wrenching crying fest, I began to realize that he doesn't just want me on Sundays, or during worship time.  No! He wants me all the time.

To understand how exclusive he wanted our relationship to be he began to show me glimpses of how he had always been with me throughout my life, whether or not I acknowledged him.

He was there holding me as I cried in the make-shift clubhouse when my best friend in the whole world, Brittany, had moved away unexpectantly. There he was in the form of a lady I babysat for taking me shopping for prom. There he was as a mentor guiding me towards freedom from the past.

As Jesus began to reveal himself, my pride in who he is began to grow. I wanted to be with him more and more. So I decide, taking up my cross [willingly denying myself and "dying" to my former life] was the least I could do for all he has done for me.

I knew I could lose some close friends, lose my reputation, and depending on where he sends me, my life.

Although the consequences were known, I began to walk with him anyway. I began praying for eyes to see the wounds this world so timidly wore behind the nearly perfected facade. That is when he sent me to Romania, a place I never thought I would be, I did not even know where it was on the map. Fear began to creep slowly in, yet it only drew me further and further into his presence. While I was there he straightened out who I was to him.

I was set apart. Ephesians 1:4
I was chosen. 1 Peter 2:9
I was redeemed. Galatians 5:1
I was made new. Galatians 2:20, Colossians 3:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am here to tell you Jesus wants the same for you! He wants you to become exclusive with him, so he can show you exactly who you are to him. So write down who you are to him; review the love letter from your Prince.

Know that you are precious to Jesus. 
Remember that he adores you.


Find time today to sit in Jesus's presence and define your relationship with him. You have passed through the uncertainty into the option of living exclusively for him. Just be warned... once you decide to live purely for his glory, there is no turning back. 
However, trust me... it's worth it!

* * * * *

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back.

Though none go with me, I still will follow.
Though none go with me, I still will follow.
Though none go with me, I still will follow.
No turning back. No turning back.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Falling in Love with Jesus - Uncertainty [Fall Series #2]

I remember sitting on her couch as she raved on about her new boyfriend. You see, my sweet girl friend had been waiting very patiently for God to show her the man he had in store for her life. I was obviously thrilled for her, but as she began to spill more details describing how this love story began to unfold, I began to see the uncertainty creeping in to the conversation. Was he the right one? Did he pursue her as much as she pursued him? Would it work out in the end?

Uncertainty challenges us to move from just attraction to examining our hearts and our desires.

What does this person have to offer?

A few days after I was a goner for this man named Jesus, I began to question myself and who he was with what he had to offer. Would falling in love with him be worth it? Giving up the life I once led, partying, crazy happy hours, gossiping, complaining, lying, anger, hatred, and much more. Would he really be worth the change, the exclusivity? I knew it would be difficult but I had to understand for myself, just exactly who is Jesus?

So I made my list:

His mouth is full of sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely.
(Song of Songs 5:16)
Life without him will cause you to never be satisfied or fulfilled.
(John 4:13)
He completes your joy.
(John 15:11)
He is going away, then coming back for you. He is going to his father to prepare a place for you [A complete love story, right!]
(John 14:28)
He laid down his life for those who loved him.
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
Life without him will cause you to never be satisfied or fulfilled.
(John 4:13)

For me, this was enough to stifle any lingering uncertainty.  All my desires could be, and would be, met by Jesus. So I stepped out of the uncertainty and slowly climbed up on my Prince's white horse ready to be swept away from the chains of doubt. My past had no foothold against the truths.  My friends, this is where I began to tumble... madly, deeply, and incandescently in love with Jesus.

Some thoughts for you:
Are you unsure if you want to trade your past for your future life with Jesus?
What quality traits about him stamp out any of your fears?
Look up some of the verses I listed above, how does Jesus show his all consuming grace and love to you in those passages?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

FALLing in Love With Jesus - Attraction [Fall Series #1]

Attraction. Uncertainty. Exclusivity. Intimacy. Engagement.

Yes, you guessed it... the researched "5 Steps of Dating". Who would have thought? Not me, of course! I threw dating out the window the moment I met... The One! Ha.

Oh, the first steps in dating. The attraction. You see him strut into your presence, he brushes his hand through his hair, his sparkling brown eyes dance over in your direction, the blush rises in your cheeks and you know... you just know, you're a goner. He has you... Hook. Line. and Sinker.

This "idea" of attraction manifests so deeply in our souls. This attraction gives birth to a hope, a longing that the feeling is mutual, that the other person might want to explore the opportunity of a relationship with you.

This is exactly how I felt the moment I realized that I had an exchange with Jesus. The moment he walked into my life and I finally noticed. Sure, I had seen him around a few times, but the moment I fell head over heals for him was during an all revealing prayer time on March 27, 2014. I realized that he didn't care that I was in my gym shorts, with bean burrito spilt on my white tank top and a soda in the other hand... he wanted a relationship with me. (Complete analogy - no white tank was harmed in the writing of this blog). That is exactly what he wants with you. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he first loved us" (1 John 4:10).   He doesn't care about whatever filth you wear, that you're make-up isn't just right, that you're wearing sneakers with sweats and a XXL sweater. Jesus made eye contact with you, he captured your gaze, now the game is on. He has chosen you, out of all the people on the face of the earth to take the next step into an everlasting love (Deut. 7:6). So what's next?

Are you with me?
Have you been introduced to him by a friend? Or did you bump into him on a busy street?
Are you beginning to feel uncertain about what to do next? Great! That's step 2 of dating.

So friend, as we walk through these stages of dating - or stepping into the hopes of an eternal relationship - I want you to know that I am not saying we "date" God... no, I am saying that before you reach that final "I do" moment of faith, there are a few areas you need to walk through. I have been there, and you may still be in the midst of the uncertainty, stepping into exclusivity, completely knowledgable of intimacy, or ready to say "YES!" to the dress. Wherever you are in your walk with falling in love with Jesus, I want to encourage you... he wants you to love him.

Girl, rest assured, the feeling is definitely mutual.  Actually, no it's not... The Lord Definitely Loves You More! (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vindicated

It was a long run day...
Okay, so for some that may be 20+ miles but for me it is the maximum extent of 6 leg cramping, brain teasing, sweat spilling miles. What I love most about long run days, not that I have many, but I tend to go off into my own world and just talk to myself. Yes, full blown conversations... it tends to look like an interrogation. I begin with one question after another.

"How was work this week?"
"When did you show Christ?"
"Are you living radiantly?" 

Then one of my questions jabs my sensitive heart...

"What catastrophic event in your life did God turn around and use for good?"

Wait, what? Did I really just ask myself that... did this smiling, sweaty, three miles in girl just get deep with only three miles left?


The cars rushed by, the grass and trees stayed a steady hopeful blur, and my mind replayed this question over and over again. 
Finally I removed the ear buds wanting a solid, quiet few minutes before I lost momentum to ponder the details involved for this question in which I willingly dove in deep.

"What catastrophic even in your life did God turn around and use for good?"

Few people know my testimony, a group of friends in Romania, my two mentors whom I adore, and my husband. They know how hard I tried to run from my catastrophic event, to place the pieces of my heart back together independently, imagining that the tsunami that attempted to destroy my soul did little harm, considering I was blinded by the darkness that I hid in, so willingly. 

Yet, as I stand here now, in the light, with a heart put back together permanently instead of the childlike mess of my pathetic attempt, I see how God used the devastation for his glory. He uses pain for His glory because He wants to show that there is NO OTHER GOD that compares to who He is! He is superior to all, much like the devastation of the 10 plagues in Egypt, he did so to bring light to the Egyptians gods and their weaknesses. For He, my God, is the only true one. 

I love this verse in Philippians, where Paul who is locked up in chains proclaims, "Yes, I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my vindication (deliverance, redemption, salvation). I eagerly expect and hope that I age so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Philippians 1:19-20

What has happened to me in the past will turn out for my vindication. 
My life story will not be known in the category of defeat, yet in the victory of Christ. 

Once we acknowledge the pain and suffering for what it is, earthly, we can fully see how God's dream for us is to bring glory to him. It's his plan, not ours that we need to follow. If we depended on perfect marriages, perfect houses, perfect friends, perfect jobs, and perfect circumstances we are setting ourselves up for failure. Yet, if we depend on God's perfect plan, His dream for us, our happiness and our dreams (which will follow His dreams) will not be dependent on any circumstances. Whether you are in chains, jobless, friendless, churchless, or homeless... God has a plan and his plan DOES NOT DEPEND ON LIFE'S CIRCUMSTANCES. So step into His dream for you... let him take ownership of your past so that he can redeem your future.

*Some Thoughts For You*

Do you find yourself still hiding in the darkness, afraid to see the total wreck of life's catastrophe?
How can you let the Holy Spirit shine light on your past this week?
What can you do to let God take ownership of your past and deliver you from the past destruction?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Have Courage

There is this moment in your life where you come to the end of your self. Where you have an option to choose to care for someone above your own desires or to turn back and walk into selfishness; when you have the option to choose to live courageously or in discouragement, to live in hope or hopelessness, even be faithful or faithless. 
In this moment… this very next breath you are faced with the option to be brave by giving into the waves hoping for an anchor to steady you or to walk back on shore and give up; how you choose will change your life, forever.
I dropped everything the moment I read my friend’s text… “My mom has brain cancer. The most aggressive form. Glioblastoma multiforme. She’s only got a short time.” My heart broke. I know their relationship and their dependence on each other. I had a loss for words. 
Speechless. 
So what else do you do? 
You drop everything and drive to the next town, even if it is an hour away, and you listen. You listen, you listen more, and you pray. 
Sitting there on the couch just taking in what my friend was facing, what my friend’s family was going through with this diagnosis. How my friend feels guilty, yes guilty, because her mother may not see her engagement, will not see her wedding, and will not be a grandmother to her children. 
With whom will she discuss life’s decisions? 
With whom will she plan her wedding? With whom will she cry with and laugh with all the time? 
This was her mom… her mom. 

I could visualize the path she was walking down from the brokenness and pain reflecting in her eyes, a path full of decisions, full of questions, fear, and even painstakingly depression. My heart began to break and I hugged her, grabbed her hands and cried. My sweet friend, admitted that this will change her. I want to tell her again, that yes, sweet girl, this battle will change you. This will rock your world. You will be faced with many hard days ahead, days that seem so dark, so broken that you question even rising out of bed. But this is the challenge, to stand up and search, find the beauty in those days.
Find the blessings.
Find the treasures. 
Find the peace.  
It is there… but it is there once you come to the end of yourself. So, you must decide to step out into the water and give into the waves or to stay upon the shore, deceivingly safe in the mirage of being known. I beg you, step into the waves, give into them, let the emotions overcome you, let your heart break.

When you give into the waves…
When you give into the waves...
When you give into the waves of emotion, of confidently and courageously stepping into the unknown… something steady finds you. 

So this moment of decision will change you. I pray you choose to step into the waves and let God anchor you, in this you will find that peace that you long for, right now. It is the only true peace that lasts. It doesn’t fade with the morning sun… It stays, overflowing, everlasting. 
God promises grace. He promises peace. He promises that He will wipe the tears from your eyes and that there is a place, a kingdom, where there will be no more pain. God trades ashes for beauty, dear friend. God trades pain and mourning for joy. He anchors your soul and gives you hope in the midst of crashing waves.
And when the storm passes, you will be thankful for that anchor, you will find that you are now more courageous than before, that you are full of faith, hope, and a passion for life. 
Have courage, dear heart, for you are not alone.
-With all my love-

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Bench-Warmer

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." -J.R.R. Tolkein

Have you ever been a bench warmer? Just sitting on the side-lines, the cheerleader of the team. Everyone else is scoring big time, you on the other hand are "whooping" with a towel in your hand. You are the one who knows all the best cheers, the best time to chant them, and  you are deemed the ultimate hi-5 captain. Then it hits you on your way to the locker room after the game... I wasn't used. Maybe next time. 
You attend all of the practices.
You sweat just as much if not more than the other ones who have the natural talent.
You continue to hope, pray, and wish that the coach will just notice you and possibly allow you a few moments to shine.
Yet, next time comes and you are once again the glorified cheer captain with a jersey on...

(Google Images)


Friends, I have a question for you. Do you ever feel as though you are the bench warmer of life? The one who is stuck on the side-lines, whooping and hollering as everyone else goes off to do glorious assignments for our King?

You're not up on stage leading worship, preaching, flying overseas for mission work months on end. You are not leading a ministry, a life group, or even a prayer group. You are not Beth Moore or James Dobson, as one of my friends joked at church. 

Are you feeling a little left out?

I definitely feel that way.  It's like I want to spell it out with rocks on my front lawn "God, Here I Am. Use ME!"

I wonder what my neighbors might think? What is this crazy lady doing? They would possibly shout, "HEY LOOK! The new neighbor is re-arranging the rocks in her yard!! Must be a city girl thing."

Okay, but with all the seriousness I have in my body at the moment, I really feel left out. I see God doing huge works in everyone's life, starting ministries, adopting children, writing books. Yet, I want to be used so bad by God my heart aches and cries a lot. Obviously, I am very impatient, justifiably so since I feel as though time is being wasted and I want to be in this game, not just sitting here shouting out another cheer.

But God is waiting. He places us on the bench for a reason. On the bench you can study the coach, the team, the plan. You have opportunities to learn and know more about the game, because obviously the coach does not think you are quite yet ready.

God wants you to wait on the sidelines to know more and learn more before he will call you to be used by Him.

So, how do we wait? Well, grab hold tightly to this life-changing truth.

1. Rejoice in Hope
2. Patience in Tribulation
3. Constant in Prayer

(Romans 12:12)

While we are waiting we do the small acts, the acts that actually change the world. The acts of blessing others, sharing with those who are in need, practicing hospitality, clinging to what is good, honoring one another above yourselves, devoting our works to one another... serving the Lord



Pass out the towels, cheer on the team, study the plays... serve the coach. 

"John answered, 'Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.'" -Luke 3:11

No MORE! 
No more always wishing we were in the game.
No more thinking we are useless on the sidelines.
No more wasting time!



It's time to study, to prepare yourself for God's use by serving him there on the bench!

How can you share with someone who has nothing? 
Do you have a huge home with spare rooms? 
Or, even a small one with space for a few more faces.
Do you have food that goes to waste every month?
Do you have clothes that do not fit yourself or your children anymore?
Do you have a few extra minutes, a few extra dimes?



Play a game with an orphan... or a neighbor.



Do not waste your time on the sidelines... don't just be a glorified cheerleader either. Get up out of that bench, do something that serves the Lord


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Trusting is the point.

It's an ending statement.
A closure to a chapter.
The art of writing...

You put a period on the thought. An ellipses turns into a declarative statement. I find the words and attempt to write it down but the courage, yes courage, to physically extract the emotions from my mind and paste them in the path of wandering eyes brings an incredible sense of hesitation. The hesitation drawing not only from vulnerability but the affirmation that the emotions stem from real life.

A tear falls down my face, my heart is pounding... I pray for a fresh breeze to blow this storm out of my mind, but it never comes. The darkness continues with glimpses of the blue sky above the dense gray mass that has moments of full consumption of the space around my heart.

A mask is so easy to wear when you do not have to face the disaster every day. Yet, I think of her. The woman who has to wake up every morning to an empty bed. Who drives with no passenger. Who has no other person wearing a coupling wedding band.

Widowed.

The storm comes rushing back bringing rain this time. It pours, flooding the rivers rushing down my cheeks.

I love this woman. I love her strength through the last two years of battling alongside the man whose life was taken by cancer. They fought together. They fought bravely, deeply, and madly. Yet through it all they trusted God. 


God.
The one I call my own.
The one I live for daily.

I've heard questions, how can a loving God allow this to happen. Abruptly blurted. No answers come to mind. Yet, for some reason... darkness, hurtful, heart wrenching times draw me nearer to him. Or does he draw nearer to me?

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted binding up their wounds."

He heals.
He binds up wounds.
A loving God not just drawing near... he's in the midst of the mess.
Surgery. Bandages. Healing.

Healing.
How does one heal?
Physical healing - therapy.
A broken heart? How does one recover from such an extravagant wound? Time does not mend brokenness... time is the curse. The living without. Memories do not fade, causing shattered hearts to become sharp daggers. Scraping and slicing new wounds, raw emotions pouring forth.

Yet, I see improvement. I see it in me on the days the blue shines through the grayness. I see it in her ability to get out of bed each morning, to go to places that remind her of him, and her faith that God is still good.

Healing has begun.
Wounds turn to scars.
The pain stays, but it reminds us.
It reminds us of the deep voice singing "The Old Rugged Cross" in the midst of repairing a fence.
It reminds us that he had faith to the end.
It reminds us that God dealt with the death of his own child for the sake of others... and that pain even caused the father of our savior to look away. Brokenhearted.




So what does this mean?
Pain is inevitable.
Fortunately, with God... with God healing comes. Hope returns. Life springs back.
We smile again. We see the beauty in this world. The gray clouds turn to a mist and eventually, the mist evaporates, leaving a sun-filled view.

Joy. Yes, joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5) God trades us the ashes for beauty, our mourning for joy, a spirit of despair for praise and then He sets deep roots, oak tree style roots, and claims us to be righteous for Him allowing us to bestow the beauty of his splendor. It all starts with the pain... the ashes. In that, in that we become right with God.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Trusting in the all consuming scrutiny of pain... that is the point.







Monday, June 30, 2014

Empty

So let me catch you up.
1. I am going on a mission trip in 21 days to Romania.
2. I was encouraged to do the Daniel Fast for 21 days.
3. I felt God calling me to journal about this experience, not for boasting but  on the contrary to show that I am weak, I need him, and I need accountability. 

Day 1.
Today is not even over yet and physically I feel exhausted.
Drained.
Empty.

My body is pounding and aching. My jaw his been clenched tight since about 11:30 this morning.

I spent the morning reading and praying, off and on. 

Then it got harder...

About 3:00 I texted a dear friend of mine as I laid in bed and told her I was dying. I was sure of it.

Her response spurred me...






















She was right. Why did I turn to her in the midst of my despair? 
Her truth spoke straight to my heart. 
To Him I went, on my knees, hands wide open. I cried like a baby, tears pouring down my face because I am so weak... especially when it comes to food. Food is my temptation, it is my comfort, my worldly desire.

Then I noticed that this act of emptying me out to bring me to him is causing him to sort through my weaknesses in order to fill them with his strength.
In his strength he will set me free.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

I come to the One who made me asking to be set free.
I come to him on my knees, in my pain, throbbing head and aching body. He is emptying me of me, increasingly releasing me to become the one he created me to be. 

I've never been in this state before. I've done diets, fad diets, and cleanses, but they last 1-2 meals then I cave. This is different. This is not about me, this is about God, something greater than my feeble little self.

"As you follow Me, I lead you along paths of newness: ways you never imagined. Don't worry about what is on the road up ahead. I want you to find security in knowing me, the One who died to set you free." - Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

I want to know him so well that I will turn to him in times of need. To fall on my knees and cry out to him, "Oh! Lord I need you!  I want to be secure in you, to be made new!" This is the reason I am where I am today... right now. 

It is great how he works when you call upon him! I was going to skip ahead to tomorrow's devotional  and read 1 John 1:5-10 and I somehow managed to read 1:5-10 but of the wrong book in the bible. Stay with me a second, this is how great my God is!! He showed me 2 Peter 1:5-10 and it was exactly what I needed to hear today... here it is. 

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities with increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed of their past sins." 

This is the way that we step closer to knowing God.
He has a plan for us right there... right there!

Better yet it builds. So it has a starting point - faith and ends with love. What I love most about this is that we start with faith, then we hope and pray for knowledge, we hope and pray  for self-control, we hope and pray for perseverance, we hope and pray for godliness, mutual affection... and then we end in love. 

Faith, Hope, and Love... and the greatest of these - the ending point! It's love!!

I'm finding myself stuck on step 4 on the road to know him better. As I gain self-control in the next few days (maybe weeks) through the Holy Spirit working in me, I will find that I will build on self-control with perseverance. Increasing. Enduring. Moving on the quality number 5 with increasing measure... because I long to know him more, to know my heart is right with the One who set me free.

Overwhelmed heart... that's for sure.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Craving God

I can feel it...
I've felt it all day.
The sense of failure about to happen,
facing past failures in the mirror, every time I look at myself.

It stings, that feeling of being out of control, lacking discipline to finish a daunting task.

Fearless, not me... I wish, for once, my heart and my stomach were on the same page, yet it never happens. I find myself in the midst of this again. God calling me to focus on the forgotten fruit of self-discipline, lining everything up, sending sign after sign that this is what I am supposed to do but I stare back at his command like a child asked to wash the dishes.

I DON'T THINK I CAN DO THIS ALONE!
Scratch that! I know I can't do this alone.

My heart still pounding about today's feat, no caffeine, I nearly died I'm sure of it. I craved Sonic every 15 minutes, I craved coffee, I craved, and craved, and craved.

My mind was about to explode, I had to flee.
Pack up the dogs.
Get in the car.
Unload the dogs.
A four mile hike will do the trick... or not.
One mile in and I feel like the world is collapsing. I might die up here and no one will know. I planned my death a thousand ways, faint and hit that rock, faint and fall off this cliff, slip and slide to my death. I knew it was over, I knew I could not handle this... Two miles in, what on earth was I thinking?

I'm two miles in that means I have to walk two miles back. I can't do this. I need a soda! I need coke. I need caffeine!
A lady asks me how far it is to the exit, I fight the urge to yell, but I stammer an exasperated..."Two, two miles."
She nods and goes on her way but I want to scream, wait! Carry me... but I sit instead.
The dog licks my leg, licking caffeine I'm sure. I bet it tastes great, this sweat, probably a pure soda fountain.
I stand and somehow manage another step, another step, my phone sends encouraging words

"3 miles 57 minutes, 28 seconds...." 

Yes, that's proof I was dying.

I manage 4 miles and nearly fall into the water fountain craving water... craving life.

We reach the truck, I climb in... the cool air chilling the sweat on my forehead and I breathe.
The day is almost over and I've been caffeine free. Tomorrow I will start this fast, I can do it.
But the fear swarms me and my heart pounds again.
Doubt flooding every inch of me,
I've done this before it lasts about 24 hours and then I cave.

Then he gently reminds me, I was lead here and he will not give me a task that I cannot complete without him. This is huge for me and I know that self-control is something that the holy spirit has been pushing to the foremost areas of my thoughts these past few months but I never knew how to tackle it...
 and. here. it. is. staring. me. in. the. face.

I've never done a fast before, I know it's supposed to be done in secret but I feel compelled to write about my journey. To write about the struggles, but mostly to write about my heart as it draws near to God.

I'm afraid I will fail. Fail miserably.
But I know that he has prepared me for this, he has given me tools which I will talk about among other struggles.

So tomorrow begins a 21 day journey. A journey of a deprived heart seeking God. Yet, as I sit here in my bed, I find that as the minutes tick into tomorrow and replaying the days struggles in my head (in preparation for the fast mind you!) I do not lust for a coke, though hours earlier I would have never thought I'd see this side of the light.

So here a journey begins... a journey to find a victorious heart.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

An Ordinary Harbor



It's been a while, sweet friend.
The words in my mind have been dry,
crumbling before my fingers could record their delicate life.

My soul feeling parched,
my mind a true desert,
and then I found the harbor.

Looking back, before the harbor, staring at the past few weeks as I longed to feel his presence. I was almost obsessed with feeling it. As I snorkeled on the shores of Cozumel I still felt like he was further than the moon. As I stared at his glorious creation I wanted to be closer, to touch it, to see if I could feel him in the arms of a starfish, in the rough skin of coral, in the grit of the sand running between my fingers. I wanted to taste his presence like the saltiness in my mouth or the wind across my face... but I didn't.




















Even there, secluded, surrounded by his beautiful creation I could not find him. I could see his glory but wanted his eyes on me, to be abounded with his light.

Frustration only filled me.
Why was he holding out on me...
Why! Why was I enjoying this but not filled?
Isn't this where people see him the most, in his glorious creation? In the majestic presence of the work of the creator's hands?

Then a few days later...
I found it in the oddest place,
a place where I felt was "too common",
but God was holding out for his greatest creation
 to bring me to my knees
you guessed it...
his sweet children.

Their hugs, their smiles, their laughter, the joy of their love for Jesus!
His glory abounded to me in the presence of the volunteers and
these adoring faces.



































Truth poured into my life this week.
Oh! My!
I couldn't help it. You know the filling of my soul, as Jesus spoke such reassuring words to my heart.
In the midst of the "ordinary" He exhibited that He was indeed extraordinary.

As I looked into each child's eyes and noticed their beauty,
the artistry of the King,
this creation,
YES!
this creation took my breath away.

The lessons for them were really lessons for me... reminding me that even if I feel alone, even when my heart is parched, that He is living water. That he is the truth, the life, a friend in times of need, a glorious king and a humble servant.

But most sincerely his promise...
"Surely, I am with you always, until the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

For he was there in the waves,
in the dancing colors of the purple jelly fish,
in the sand and the colors of the coral...

but he wanted me to know that I don't have to go to the reaches of the Earth to find him...
that He is always with me, in the ordinary, in the mundane, until the end of the age.

<3 much love, this was an emotional write for me... hope you enjoyed it!







Monday, May 12, 2014

My Shade Tree

It was an eventful day, very hot and humid.
The sun shining brightly, sweat beading up on my forehead, no breeze to send relief. I giggled at the sight of my students all crowded under a big shade tree at recess to take refuge from the sun.
Then it was oddly too aware:
The tree only serves one purpose as a refuge - shade from the sun or if you can climb fast it offers protection from a snarling dog.

A tree provides no safety from torrential rains, flash floods, twisters, earthquakes, or even simply bird poop.

Then it hits me, I've been using trees as my protection in life. I have one purpose only refuges scattered all throughout my soul.

My husband, my family, my friends, crafts, work, exercise...

All these little trees have become temporary refuges for loneliness, feelings of inadequacy; simply used to detour difficult situations.

Yet, they each have huge faults. They are inconsistent and man-made, leaving great, I MEAN ENORMOUS, heart-tugging, mind-blowing room for expected error.

Yet, my God calls me to sit before him and listen to what David has once said about Him:

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go. Psalm 71:3

He doesn't say just sometimes you can come to me... he says He is more than enough for torrential rains, flash floods, flipping boats, exhausting mountains, even bird poop. You can go to him for the bug bites and for the cliff-hanging I need you desperately moments.

God is our refuge and strength
an ever-present help in trouble
Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea
though its waters roar and foam 
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1-3

Blown away by the thought that he would bring me to my knees, troubled heart and all on this sweat pouring day, to see just how true He is to me.



The truth simply is this:
My God provides the shadows of his wing for refuge, a wing that can make me soar when I feel like I'm drowning, that can keep me shaded and dry, a wing that can lift me over a mountain when it's too hard to climb... His refuge is an all-around 100% perfect refuge.

Respond with what truth you find in this.
Do you seek him as your one and only refuge?
Do you see the faults in our man-made sanctuaries?
How do we change our natural born desire to find instant shelter, even if it's artificial?



Monday, May 5, 2014

With All My Heart & Soul

I crave for the love He has for His Son to pour into me so through Him I can pour into others. 

The purpose of a flower isn't just beauty, it's to be attractive, then to go to seed and disperse. The flower doesn't have a choice to live forever, it doesn't have a choice to never wilt or never disperse seeds. Yet, we do. We have the option to be spiritually attractive. We have the option to bloom for God, watered through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and then spread his love to others; to plant the seeds he has handed to us. 

We have a purpose on this Earth, and there is something only YOU can do that no one else can.

Our insecurities, our faults, our fears... if we are fully blooming for Him we remember that perfect love casts out fear.(1 John 4:18) If we are truly showing our colors for his glory we will remember that even the hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30) and we are worth a lot to Him. Yet, that statement is not solely meant for us to glorify Him for His love for us, it should make us warriors! For He is our King, we should be jumping into our combat boots running after lost souls that He LOVES! 

Searching, 
            planting,
                    allowing Jesus to water.



He makes me want to move, to fight, to love, to never give up. His perfect love, his meticulous love, his generous, thoughtful, sacrificial love... I can't contain it inside knowing how it has changed me, how it has saved me, it has to pour out!



God always makes a way. The cross proves that... but I want to make it easy for him to reach others here on Earth. I want to say, "Do all that you have in mind... Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul" (1 Samuel 14:7). 

Don't you?
Don't you want to jump in, ready for battle, fighting at his right hand?
Do you feel the excitement when you think about what He's already done for us and what He still wants to do?




Sunday, May 4, 2014

Crying Out

I shout louder than thunder when His voice drifts quietly in the wind.
He calls me to still waters but I jump around in the puddles, graceless.
Splashing, screaming, noisy, careless...

He whispers again, I miss it among my homemade chaos.
I'm missing Him, where is He?
Frustration arises and I blame Him for leaving me alone.
Not providing, being an inadequate parent... I am not ready to have him back off.
Where is He?!

A murmur rushes past, slipping by my distracted eyes.
I stop, this doesn't feel right, this voiceless life.
I find myself sitting down, thumbing through the silver lined pages.
Then it finds me...

"Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!"
Luke 9:35

It hits me! If a voice thundered out of a roaring cloud I would stop in my tracks, smack in the middle of a mud puddle jump I'd be stilled, in the midst of a roar I would fall silent.

Humbly,
my eyes find darkness,
my ears find silence,
and there in the quiet He is heard.

His sheep heard his cry but could not run.
Stuck in a puddle, in mud and mire, I cried back.
He came to me, stepped into the mess, bent down and picked me up.


Out of love he became filthy,
Out of love he picked me up,
Out of love he carried me,
Out of love he set my feet on solid ground.

He has taught me that when I can't hear him,
when I've wandered too far off,
He is still calling out my name,
He is still searching for me but I need to stop and listen for him, turn and cry back.

"I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and be in awe of the LORD
and put their trust in him."
Psalm 40:1-3






Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't Leave Me.

Being alone is a deep fear of mine.
It harbors inside from the depths of my soul.
I find myself avoiding it, at all costs.
The letter I read sent chills down my spine...

"And surely I'll be with you always, 
until the very end of age." 
-Matthew 28:20

I stood there, my mind screaming.
My heart was racing and I knew it was a futile fight.
Don't leave me! Please, where are you!

"He will not leave you nor forsake you."
-Deuteronomy 31:6

I felt like a child, in the midst of the night,
trying to find the door, knowing my parents are on the other side...
but I couldn't see them nor feel them.

"Do you not know that you are God's temple,
and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"
-1 Corinthians 3:16

But I stood in the midst of day,
in the heart of my classroom,
and he called me to be courageous for Him,
for His Glory, for His Will.

So I found comfort in knowing He was there,
I bent down and tied a crying angel's shoe.
The news is nothing to fear... He was there.

When a threat was made,
when I stood there not knowing if it was truly a hoax...
my mind racing...
What do I do? What can I do?
He has not left me, he lives in me.

"But you belong to God, my dear children.
You have already won a victory over those people,
because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than
the spirit who lives in the world."
-1 John 4:4

So I battled with prayer. We battled with prayer.
We rose early in the morning and covered our school in prayer.
We touched every building, every entrance, every door.

We prayed a hedge over the community,
over the other schools,
over our children.

We prayed for legions of angels,
for warriors, for our intelligence...
all in His glory, all in His will.

And he showed up.
As sure as the dawn.
He covered his children
in a protective hedge of safety.

"But the Lord is faithful, 
and he will strengthen you
and protect you from the evil one."
-2 Thessalonians 3:3

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Power of Words

Do no conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:2

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not earthly things... Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:1-2, 5

The words fell onto the table. Shaken I replayed them in my mind, "You don't even go to church." So much out of the dynamics of that sentence, the abrupt statement, it hurt. I looked at the eyes staring at the host of those comment, but so much of me wanted to join her in the thoughtless sense of mockery. The words themselves were not true, I was a faithful attendee, Sunday mornings 9:00 am. I was there, you could count me in... my hands held high, words coming forth, a note taking queen. So why did those words sting? Why did they hit so hard? Why did I feel like a broken record stuck on the same song, "You don't even go to church, to church, to church, to church..."

The rest of the evening was a bust. Unable to move past it, my mind suffering from the wound in my heart. A cycle of anger, bitterness, self-pity when everyone else seemed to have already forgotten and moved past the words that were swarming around me, stinging over and over again.

Weeks went by, the bitter wound resurfacing every time it played in my mind. Then it hit me like a wall, it wasn't that it was a lie, it wasn't the person whose confabulation shot an arrow into the depths of my soul, it was my own self that I realized was wrong all along.

I was the problem here. I did not shine Jesus' light. I did not glorify him in all I did. I partied along, gossiped with the girls, slandered co-workers. I was definitely not set apart from them. How my heart ached, throbbing and pain pouring out, wrenching my very thought, teeth clenched, hands tense. I was displeased in my thoughtlessness. In the awareness of the life I have been living the past year I became embarrassed and ashamed. The Jesus who is changing me revealed a very important part of my life... and said sweetly, gently, and with forgiveness looked for love within my heart and whispered "Do you love me? Feed my lambs... Do you love me? Feed my sheep... Do you love me? Follow me." (John 21:15-19).

 He reinstated me and I surely denied him more with my actions than Peter did with words. Yet, he looked into my heart and he knew it wanted all of him and he saw that that was good enough, a great place to start.

"So here I stand, with arms high and heart abandoned... in love with the one who gave it all. My soul Lord to you surrender all I am is yours..."

Life changes little by little, by when he finds a coward and calls her courageous, calls her to live for him... he better bet she is going to in all her clumsiness, dash towards him double-speed with a heart craving to be in his arms. Yet, he knows her awkwardness will cause her to stumble, to fall sometimes, but he's right there to say, "Eyes back up victorious one... eyes on me."