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


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. 
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 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