Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Opportunities in Trials

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. 

Psalm 32: 6-7

I have prayed to you in my hour of need and you have rescued me from the mighty waters. I know they will certainly not reach me because You have placed me on higher ground. I now rest upon the Solid Rock. You have provided me with a hiding place to weather the storm, and to keep dry, protecting me from trouble, and You have surrounded me with music to soothe my soul…the music that ascends back to you in the prayers of Your faithful ones, whom You have chosen to lift me up and be your face to me at this moment.

As I recover from my surgery, I begin the process of waiting for results, which is not an easy one, but I have resolved to wait on You, Lord. It is not something I can do on my own, for you well know waiting is not my strong suit. Waiting involves patience and relinquishing control…neither of which I know how to do. But you go before me, and Your Spirit commands my heart and my mind in order to allow me to live by faith not by sight.

Every trial is an opportunity to practice the so very elusive Spirit lead lifestyle if we enter them with our eyes wide open and focused on Christ. It is an opportunity to grow His fruits and come out the other side more mature. But we need to be willing to do so. We need to be intentional about it. Therefore, I want to do my part and offer no resistance so the Holy One can guide me through the storm ahead, protect me, and eventually take me out the hiding place when the waters have subsided.

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19: 25

Monday, July 29, 2013

Lord of the Storm

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4: 39-41

It is the day before my surgery and I am at a point where peace finally resembles the promised river rather than the dripping faucet that it has been so far. (Isaiah 48: 18) I have called out to The Lord in my trouble for Him to save me from my distress and for His purpose to be fulfilled in me, and He has sent me His comforting presence in His Word and in His “angels.” He has surrounded me with brothers and sisters in Christ who are lifting me up in their prayers in such a potent way that I can truly feel it around me…and for that I am so inexpressibly thankful.

The message I am tuning into reminds me that He is Lord over all. He is the One to whom the wind and the waves obey! He is the One who commands the squall and tells it to be quiet! And be still! He is the One who reveals Himself in the midst of the raging sea and says: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14: 27b) He is the Lord of the storm!

Whether He calms the storm itself or He calms my spirit, replacing fear with peace as I weather it…in both scenarios, He is always with me. I will go on with this trial with Him by my side and hopeful that He has a ministry, a purpose for it all in the end. It is not going to be in vain.

Praise the Lord, the Lord of the Storm!

...the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14: 24-27

Friday, July 26, 2013

Eyes Wide Open!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16: 13

It was a picture perfect day to spend at the amusement park. The weather was gorgeous and the lines were short. After resolving a few “issues” at home, our moods were good and the kids and I were ready to have some serious fun. We walked through the gates and quickly went to Dylan’s first request. He wanted to start with the Pirate Ship which swings you back and forth at a pretty decent height, particularly for a middle-aged woman who suffers from vertigo! As we began to climb higher and higher, the “tickle” as Dylan calls it, intensified, so I heard myself telling him: “remember you can always close your eyes if you get scared.”

Dylan didn’t need my advice…his face was gleaming with delight! He was loving the ride. I realized then that I had said that to myself since soon I felt the need to shut my own eyes tightly as the ship’s motions increased. A few seconds later the ride was over. Dylan was glowing with excitement. Last time we had been at the park he had not been able to relax enough to enjoy this particular ride, so the fact that he had done it and loved it was a huge success for him. He felt brave. He had been able to extract the fun without letting the scary ruin the ride. The whole thing had suddenly become way sweeter!

We walked to the next one. It was a bit more challenging as it was higher. I agreed to go on it and as I sat there with my chest against the support and my hands firmly gripping the handle bar, I remembered the experience on the previous ride. I decided then that I was going to do what Dylan did and not follow my own advice. I decided I was not going to close my eyes. I sensed the ride beginning to move so I tightened my grip. The thing began to smoothly swing back and forth as it spun around with each swing. We climbed higher and higher and we spun faster and faster. I forced myself to keep my eyes wide open. It was so much more enjoyable! I could feel my face beaming with delight!

It was scary and exciting and challenging and a bit nerve-racking, but it was wonderful! It was a fulfilling experience and I had been able to not miss a second of it. I took the good with the not so good, and realized the amazing far outweighed the fearsome, but if I had let the scary overpower me I had been inclined to shut my eyes and miss the wonder that comes with the bad…hmm…

For the rest of the day, I was intentional about keeping my eyes open in every ride. At the end of the day, I was praising God for the marvelous day at the park. It had truly been picture perfect in every way.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119: 18

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One Small Victory A Day

Some days, no matter what we do, we can’t help but feeling the sting of defeat. Life is not even close to being Pinterest perfect. We have a long check list and only a couple of check marks to show for it…so we feel like a failure. We can’t get our finances under control, and the bills are piling up…so we feel like a failure. We are alone and loneliness is overwhelming…so we feel like a failure. We can’t seem to ever being able to get that “yes” at the end of a long line of “no’s”…so we feel like a failure. It doesn’t matter the cause of our deflated sense of self, our soul is trampled upon and we can’t cheer up. Asphyxiated by our insecurities we struggle to move on.

Here are a couple of passages that should remind us we are overcomers!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Romans 8: 35-37

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5: 4-5

The voices of defeat often drown the voice of Truth. It is our job to equip ourselves with the right tools and strategies so when we find ourselves submerged in the deep waters of perceived failure, we do our part to change our frame of mind and clear the way for our Savior and Rescuer to come and pull us out and sit us on the Rock. How to do this? As a complement to intentionally looking up Scripture that speaks to us about being victorious, we can also institute the practice of setting ourselves up for one small victory a day.

How does this work? It is up to you. It depends on your day. It has to do with your own situation and abilities. Personally, this is what I do:

*I try to think of something that I can do every day so I can look back at that small victory later in the day and feel a sense of accomplishment. It is just like what the experts recommend when it comes to cleaning and organizing your house. They say to make sure you have one room/space/drawer/closet/desk, etc. that is clean and organized to your liking so when you feel overwhelmed, you can go to that space and breathe! That is a victory!

*Besides my long list of things I have to do this summer, I make a short list (2-3 things) I want to accomplish on a given day.

*Out of that short list I pick out the most challenging/time-consuming/rewarding/important/urgent of the few and say to myself: “If I’m going to done one thing today, with God’s help, it is going to be this!”

*I do it, and then I check it off the list…it feels great! …One small victory a day…This is particularly rewarding in those days we don’t feel like doing anything. On those days when dark clouds cover our spirits, actually accomplishing one small thing feels like a huge victory.

*We tell the enemy that he is not going to win. We are victorious because Christ is in us and He crushes the head of the enemy every time…just speaking these words would constitute our one small victory for the day.

Life is not easy…it is definitively not Pinterest Perfect, but we have victory in Christ.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15: 57

This is a great song about overcoming, by Mandisa:  Overcomer

Linking with:  The Character CornerSimply Helping Him

Monday, July 22, 2013


Scripture has the power of showing us God’s Goodness come alive. The amazing thing also is that The Holy Spirit renews Scripture. He is capable of making well-known/often-read passages become fresh right in front of our eyes. Recently, Romans 8: 32 became new to me as I read it just before a moment of great trial for me:

 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” 

Reading these words was like witnessing a miracle. My soul leaped as if I had received a “Mega-trust-in-Him- boost” in one shot. Witnessing this kind of miracle, however, is sometimes hindered by our insistence on focusing on our circumstances rather than keeping our eyes on Him. The good news is that once we allow the Good Shepherd to re-direct our glance back to Him, the joy that is Christ in us becomes real.

As I am bracing for what might be the beginning of pretty scary stuff, I have been struggling with my focus. Today, however, the Lord, in His love and goodness, has showed me the meaning of His promise to renew His Mercies every day. (Lamentations 3: 22-23) He does that by making His Word come alive and renewed every day as well as by providing us with what we need to continue on our path to Him.

These last couple of weeks, besides devouring Scripture, I have requested my sisters and brothers in Christ to pray for me and my family. In response, I have been showered with their prayers in a way that have quieted my soul, steadied my heart and calmed my fears. I can literally feel the prayers as a warm embrace of heavenly comfort. He has provided me with an army of His Saints who is covering me with their prayers. I feel like they got my back, and I am protected. He has brought to me the right people whom He knows can help me get through this with the right mindset and with my eyes open so I don’t miss His goodness.

In my hour of need, in OUR hour of need, He provides us with what we require…not necessarily what we WANT, but certainly what we need. He reminds us that He is Good all the time. He reminds us that He does not keep His Goodness to Himself, but that He spreads it among those who belong to Him. He reminds us that we are His beloved and that we need not be afraid.

As He has promised, Goodness is one of the fruits that His Spirit grows in us. This goodness comes directly from Him, and as we become more and more aware of it in our daily walk with Him, this same divine goodness begins sprouting in us. That’s the secret of Our Heavenly Gardener. He plants the seed of goodness when He comes into us and then He makes it grow as He makes us aware of the source. It is the mystery of Christ in us what makes us capable of having goodness in our soul.

By His wounds, we are healed. By His goodness, we are good. By His mercy, we are redeemed. By His Grace, we are saved. By His Blood, we are cleansed. By His breath, we are sustained. By His love, we love.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

There Is a Yes Waiting After a Long Line of No’s

As I have often shared, patience is not a well-developed fruit in my soul. The Holy Spirit is hard at work on this one in me, still. And as I currently journey through stormy waters, I have a feeling the One to Whom the winds and the waves obey has a major thematic web with a series of interesting lesson plans on this subject for me right ahead.

For starters, my family and I are in the middle of a Real Estate adventure. After living in the same area for 15 years, we just moved to a new house in a new town. The experience has been rather melancholic, to say the least. We are pretty much settled in our new home, but haven’t been able to sell our old one yet. This comes as I am facing other major/scary stuff in my own personal life/health too, which magnifies whatever feelings and emotions I may be experiencing.

Needless to say, the fact that our old house hasn’t sold yet is playing on my impatience. I am rather anxious about it and would like to have it sold soon so I can write that very important check mark next to this item in my long list already. Many people have come to see it over the weeks, but nobody has made any offers. I keep telling myself that the Lord has a buyer already picked out for our house and that it is just a matter of time. In reality, I am very nervous about time passing and the house sitting empty. I want this God-chosen-buyer to show up now! I want it sold in my own time. I have way too many other things on my plate right this moment, so I need to make room! God understands this, doesn’t He? It needs to happen now…I’m not being unreasonable in my request? Am I?

Well, perhaps it may not be an unreasonable request; but in His plan, it is just not time yet. He knows, however, what I need, and He gives me exactly that. He has not brought in the buyer to our doorstep, but He has provided me with something better. He has brought to me the right Real Estate Agent to get me through these trying times. Tiffany’s cheerful disposition combined with wisdom beyond her years, a great head over her shoulders, and above all, a heart of gold which seeks the Lord makes her the perfect person to be handling the sale of my old house at this time.

The other day, after patiently accepting one of my many rants (I try to control them as much as possible, but sometimes I just need to vent…) she said something to me which has been instrumental as a guiding principle in this rather emotional process. She wrote me a reply that read something like: “In this business we get a lot of No’s before we get a Yes, so I’m excited every time I get a No because that means I am closer to the final Yes!”

WOW, that blew me away…

Reading that was like having an epiphany, one that applies to life itself. Not just in Real Estate, but in the business of life, we surely receive a lot of No’s before we get to that one Yes we’ve been waiting for, so why get so upset and desperate every time we hear one more No…we should rejoice instead, since that only means we are getting closer to the Yes! It is a wonderful perspective that has the potential to turn rejection into joy!

I want to see my old house inhabited by a family who loves it and who is ready to build happy memories in there, just like we did. I want to drive by our old street and see kids jumping on the trampoline in the backyard or running through sprinklers in the summer just like my sons did. I want the worries over added expenses to go away and relax in my new home. But for now, the Lord is telling me to wait. So next time we get another: “No…it’s just not the house for us…” as a feedback from a visitor, I will try to rejoice for after the long line of No’s awaits a final Yes which will make it all worth the wait.

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27: 14

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40: 31

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Woman Who Carried Him in Her Belly

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3: 14

“Can I see the picture of the woman who carried me in her belly?” My younger son Dylan surprised me with this question one day while we were in the car running some errands. After attempting to digest the implications of such a request I told him that as soon as we were home, I would look for the picture. “But what if you forget?” He replied with concern…he knows I am prone to forget now and then… “Well, you make sure you remind me, OK?” I said to him, to which he replied with a simple, “OK.”

As surely as Dylan had predicted, I got home and became entangled in a million little things which made me forget his request. As surely as I had known, he reminded me. So together we went to the filing basket where I have kept all the adoption paperwork for the last seven years. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous. Many things went through my head as I searched through the dusty papers and faded manila envelopes. My little boy was putting things together in his mind and the realization that he had not come out of my own belly was becoming more tangible to him. I wondered what he would say once he saw the picture of the woman who had“carried him in her belly.” I wondered what I would say in reply. I prayed for wisdom.

“Here it is!” I said to him when I found the ID-size picture of Dylan’s biological mother. He took the picture in his little hands and stared at it for a long while. The young woman had a sadden expression on her face. My son examined the unfamiliar features carefully and intently. He did not say a word.

After he was done studying the picture, he handed it back to me. I asked him then, “Would you like to meet her some day?” He looked at me a bit puzzle and nodded silently. “Well, when you are a little older, we would go to Guatemala and we will try to find her so you can meet her, OK? Would you like that?” A quiet “yes” came out of his mouth, and I gave him a big hug. He walked away, and soon he went back to his daily routine of playing and torturing his older brother.

I looked at the picture of the woman who had given me the chance to be a mother, and I immediately thought of how thankful I was to her for having chosen life. Her choice made my current happiness possible. That young woman’s decision to keep the baby about eight years ago meant a changed life for us, and for that I would be eternally grateful. It was a sacrifice. The decision to have Dylan to then give him up for adoption was, indeed a hard choice, one that is not made lightly. It was a choice made out of love…sacrificial love.

At that moment I felt bad because I didn't point that out to Dylan. I should have said to him that his biological mother loved him so much that she gave him up so we could raise him since she couldn't have provided for him, and she wanted the best for her little baby. I should have told him that her sacrifice reminded me of Christ sacrifice on the cross…of how He died so we could live…but I didn't. And for that, I felt convicted.

Perhaps, he wasn't ready to grasp such a profound thought. Perhaps that’s just my cop-out. But I do know that the Lord will give me another opportunity to point out this truth to Dylan some other day. And I know that I will be ready then.

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(When I Survey the Wondrous Cross)

I'm linking with:  Simply Helping HimJudith Wholehearted Home

Friday, July 12, 2013


Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Savior’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

These lyrics by Hillsong truly speak to me today. Christ alone, no one else can really be exalted, elevated to the highest rank, the Only One worthy of our worship and praise…the Only One who makes all things new…the Healer…the Cornerstone…the One who holds it all together for us, Christ.

I am the weak who has been made strong in His strength…in His love. And certainly, through the storm(s), He IS Lord. He is Lord over me. He is Lord over my circumstances. He is Lord over my happiness and over my sadness. He is Lord over what I have and over what I don’t have. He is Lord over my children. He is Lord over my husband. He is Lord over my family and friends. He is Lord over my job. He is Lord over my leisure time. He is Lord over my finances. He is Lord over my old house and over my new one. He is Lord over my thoughts. He is Lord over my heart. He is Lord of all.

I don’t know what the future holds and for that I am scared…no sense denying it…but I do know He is and will continue to be with me as He is with all His beloved. I am one of them, and He knows it is my hour of need. He will not abandon me. I pray for peace and relief…my anchor holds the solid rock. I just hope He gives me clarity to see His face, feel His presence and trust His love.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; Psalm 118:22

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lily Beauty

I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. I really enjoy lilies, though. As a matter of fact, I enjoy them so much that I have actually planted some around my old house’s patio myself! Now that we have moved out, I am really missing them. So the other day I stopped by and saw that the last of my dear lilies had finally opened up. I took one step back to admire them and just stood by in awe. They seemed to smile at me with their brightly crisp, white faces. It was quite a sight. The flowers were at their prime. Fully grown…fully matured…absolutely gorgeous! They looked just the way God, their Creator, intended them to look like…

As I wrap up my “frazzle-woman’s-look” at the Fruits of the Spirit I again take one step back to see a wider picture and I am reminded that the passage is framed by the context of two eternal truths. First, Paul clearly states that those who live by the world will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The snares of idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Galatians 5: 20-21) will keep their victims outside the gates of Heaven.

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, offers His breath of life as an alternative. As Paul tells us, those who live by the Spirit, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5: 24) And “there is no law,” there is nothing that will stand against the Holy Spirit in us.

As the Holy Gardner of our souls plants, grows and matures His fruits in us we become invincible. Victory is won because He who lives in us IS victorious; therefore, so are we. The trick is to allow Our Gardener to do His work so His fruits can mature as we grow closer to Him. He sets us free from the world and guides us into His presence until one day we could stand before Him, the way He intended.
Just as my beautiful lilies, we too are meant to be quite a sight the day we finally arrive at our mature state as Christians. The day our “Fruits” are fully grown and developed, the whole world will notice our spiritual beauty. And the Creator would certainly take one step back to admire His handy work.

Linking with Whole Hearted Home

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Won't He Calm My Storm?

As we journey through choppy waters it becomes very difficult to calmly rest in the arms of Christ. Sudden tossing and turning increase our awareness of the roughness of the situation, decreasing our ability to find the serenity of His promised presence. We sense the storm coming. We can see it in the gathering of the dark clouds ahead. We pray that it may not come to pass. We raise our arms to the One who the winds and the waves obey to stop it before it hits us. We beg for Him to re-route us so we may avoid it…but the answer is, no.

Often the Lord delivers us from the storms of life. Sometimes, however, we are supposed to enter it head on. It is His plan. It’s just as simple as that. The realization of this truth, however, doesn’t make the reality of it any less hard. We trust, but we still fear. We cling to His promises, but we still feel the tinge of anxiety poking us throughout the day. We wait in Him, but we still walk around with sweaty palms. 

It would be so much easier if He’d just deliver us from all the rough times…after all, He can! But the rough times come just the same. They come to us because there is something in each of them for us to learn. And the lesson usually involves improving our total reliance on Him and Him alone. The lesson often also includes a reminder that this is not our home. Those of us who live for eternity must realize that we are not in paradise yet. This world is not our own. We merely are just passing through. Why then get so attached? If everything were perfect on this side of Heaven, would we ever long to go home?

As I approach my very own storm, I am sticking to Him. I know I will fail at staying calm. I know that I will succumb to anxiety from time to time. I know that fear will weaken me. But I also know that His promises ARE true and that He is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. I know that even if He doesn’t calm the storm, He will be in the middle of it to calm my soul.

Like Natalie Grant’s song says…”He’ll find me in the Hurricane.”

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Humble Heart is a Self-Controlled Heart

As I received news that I was neither expecting nor wishing for today I thought about self-control again. Even though I have yet not fully digested my new reality, I am once again reminded that when God calls, He enables. He has called me to go through an experience less than desirable, but He has been preparing me for this for a long while now. He has and continues to equip me to deal with what’s to come and one of the tools he has equipped me with is the ability to see His light in the midst of darkness…Praise the Lord!

That ability to see His blessed Light in my dark valley is allowing me a measure of peace that translates into humility which in turn manifests itself as self-control. Feeling the assurance of His presence in me…the mystery that is Christ in me…is really humbling. I am what I am because He is the Great I AM who dwells in me. With Him I can do all that is required of me...apart from Him, I can do nothing. Acknowledging that truth fills the soul with a humility that washes away self and glorifies Him. Once the soul finds humility, there is no room for pride and the heightened sense of self-worth dissolves, leaving the spirit free to rein self in, in the Name of He who reigns over all.

Tonight, I will continue to pray for His guidance and to thank Him for His favor upon me. I will count the blessings and meditate on the humbling experience I am about to embark on. He will show me the way and He will give me what I need to exercise a measure of self-control that will steady my heart, relief my fear and quiet my soul.

Psalm 31:14

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."

I'm linking with:  Whole Hearted Home

Monday, July 1, 2013

See Him, Feel Him and Trust His Love

Last night I saw the movie Seven Days in Utopia, and even though I’d seen it before, it wasn’t until last night that I really “saw” it.  That is because God’s timing is paradoxically flawless.  I say paradoxically because, as the word implies, it is seemingly contradictory, but nonetheless true. For example, it is not until I walk through the thickest darkness that I am able to see…
The SFT message of the movie is hardest to grasp when you are coasting through life.  It becomes real, however, while stuck in the valley of shadows.  SFT becomes crucial, more important than the air we breathe, when we find ourselves deep in the pit of despair.  “Seeing His Face,” “Feeling His Presence” and “Trusting His Love” become the life-line of survival when drowning in the rising waters of fear.
No earthly comfort will ever satisfy us and put our souls more at ease than seeing His face, feeling His presence and trusting His love.  All other self-help techniques will dissipate leaving the spirit empty only to be filled back up with anxiety. 
I pray that the Lord will allow me and all who are travelling through life’s dark valleys, the blessing of SFT today.  Let’s seek His face so we can finally see Him.  Let’s sort out all the unfounded fears and cut through our anxieties so we can finally feel the mystery that is Christ in us and let’s be still and know/trust that He is the God who Loves us, and will never let go.
Like the main character in the movie, let’s play the best game of our lives today, regardless of whether we make the hole or not.  That’s not the important thing.  What matters is how we play…SFT.