Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Ministry of His Word

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 7

I am clinging to this verse today for dear life. More than today, this is my life-verse! It sits in a place of prominence in my heart and in my mind, and it comes to me on a daily basis right when I need it…like this morning.

I don’t know about you, but waiting for a dreaded medical appointment really clouds my days. My thoughts take me into roads I should not travel, and I end up in great need for an extra dose of trust. My devotional today offered me just that by reminding me of this verse, and for that I am determined not to let the timeliness of His delivery go unnoticed. I praise Him for my anxiety, though great today, did not cloud my vision, as it would have in the past, and I was able to clearly see His message of peace and love this morning. I call that progress in my book!

Therefore, I resolve, by the power of the One Who Cares for me, to throw ALL my anxiety on Him at this moment. Not only my anxiety itself, but better yet, I will cast upon Him all the sources of my anxiety. I will put them all at the foot of the Cross.  My health concerns, financial/job fears, my sons, my husband, my extended family, my ability to be the person He desires me to be, my feelings of inadequacy, my sense of loss, and all the challenges this life has to offer…they all go to Him today, one by one. I am nailing them to the tree. I hear the clinking sound of the hammer hitting each nail on the head. I hear the sound of the cracking wood underneath. I hear the sound of the redemption and forgiveness that sets me free.

After all, it is for freedom that He has set me free (Galatians 5:1). And this is the freedom, that we would never be slaves to false idols, ideas, our past, our personality, our tendencies, our circumstances, our health, our bodies, our feelings, our emotions, or anything that can snare our will and determination to rest on Him and keep our eyes on the One Who is in control, the One who cares for us.

The freedom that comes from Christ is the one that allows me to toss the sources of my anxiety away from my soul into His all-consuming fire. And for that, all I have to do is say thank you in humility and love, for I am certainly, completely undeserving of His mercy.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 
1 Peter 5: 6

Thank you, Lord, for ministering to me through the power of your Word.

Linking with: Graced Simplicity

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Honest Tears

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126: 6

Well, if I am not the worst person in the world to talk about planting, gardening, farming or the like, I don’t know who it would be…I am SO NOT a gardener or anything like that. The only time I actually planted anything was 2 years ago in my old house. I planted tomatoes that rotted at the bottom and some lilies that got eaten by ants. That is the extent of my gardening experience. However, my lack of skill does not impede me to understand the metaphor. I DO get it! I see the symbolism perfectly. I comprehend the struggle involved in putting the seeds in the ground, to then nurse them, water them, and weed them for days without end, without seeing anything…until one day, finally! A little sprout breaks through the ground. Pure joy!

That’s why I love planting analogies in Scripture. They capture the essence of life. One of those passages from His Word that I treasure is Psalm 126: 5-6. I heard Beth Moore talking about it years ago and it stuck with me. Then, like a week ago it resurfaced in my devotional to once again move my soul.

The prayer in my little book says: “Help me to see that the promise is not made to those who simply have tears but to those who are willing to sow seed in the midst of their tears.”

Reading those lines truly shook me. I have been doing a lot of crying lately, but have I been “sowing seeds” while I weep? The thought convicted me. 

The seed in Scripture usually refers to the Word, as we see Jesus explain it in Mark 4 and Matthew 13. “The farmer sows the Word,” Jesus says to His disciples in Mark 4: 14. In Psalm 126 we are the farmers. We are the ones who “go out weeping, carrying sees to sow.” We carry the seed, The Word, in us, hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). So what are we to do with it as we go out weeping? Are we to keep it stored in our little seed packets until we feel better about ourselves and about life and our circumstances? Not according to Psalm 126. We are to carry the seed “to sow” it. Then, we will be able to return in joy, carrying the harvest of our hard work. Beth Moore went a step further and said that our tears will water the newly planted seed. It is our tears, therefore, what nourishes the soil that will receive that seed and to it grow. 

In the sorrowful and stressed-out-frazzled-state that I currently find myself in, I have to wonder if my tears have watered much else than my pillow. I admit that, sometimes, I have forgotten to do the planting. The promise is so wonderful and rewarding, however, that it becomes the perfect motivation to not let my tears flow in vain. I want to remember that their purpose is to nourish the soil where the seed will be planted further along. The calling is for our tears to have the purpose of preparing the soul of those who will receive the Word as we try to plant it in the midst of our weeping. 

Perhaps now I/we could dare to say that we are all gardeners after all. Our seed may not yield luscious produce or gorgeous flowers. But it will surely not be rotted or eaten away either, for the seed we seek to plant will bring about a crop of eternal value, through the power of Christ and by the honesty of our tears.

Linking with Whole Hearted Home and Simply Helping Him

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Voice Across the Miles

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55: 8

Four years is a long time to not have heard from someone you love. It is time enough, however, to begin to wonder if you will ever hear from them again or ever have them near. It is long enough to see hope begin to wither. By human standards, that is. By the standards of The One Who Rules Time, things work a little different. Sometimes, it is so different that it is almost impossible to comprehend. But it doesn’t matter in the end, for we have the certainty that, even when we don’t understand them, His ways are best.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…Isaiah 55:9

The phone rings and a voice you thought forgotten travels across the distance and the disappointments, making you believe again. Though still miles away, the hope of a bridge that will close the wide gap carved by pain emerges as a faint promise in the horizon. And you dare to dream one more time.

It is not a dream, however, if it comes from the hands of the Most High. It is just part of the unfolding of His plan, written for each of His children individually, since before we were in our mother’s wombs. He has always known. Nothing surprises Him. The depth of our despair doesn’t repel Him. The extreme of our need and loneliness doesn’t scare Him. There is no place He cannot find us. We are never so lost that the sound of His voice calling our names cannot reach us. He is the Good Shepherd and He watches over us even when we don’t see Him or have forgotten about Him. His plan of redemption is flawless, even when it sometimes includes gaping wounds that we don’t know how to mend. He is in charge of them. He heals them with His touch. He heals them with His love and He makes us whole again.

Four years is a long time to wait to hear from someone. But it may just be long enough for Love to allow the healing to begin.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Linking with: Titus-2sday and Counting Our Blessings

Monday, October 28, 2013

Once again I'm hanging at the mercy of test results...well...not really...I know I am NOT, for, like the old hymn says,

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

Despite of the knowledge of His presence, however, anxiety has a hold on me.  So, in my frazzled state, this morning, as I was getting ready for my first day back to work after my surgery, my mind was playing tricks on me. I was very nervous. I kept thinking I was going to forget something or that I was not going to be able to teach my courses well. On top of that, from the back of my mind, the thoughts of upcoming test results were adding to my discombobulated state. Dylan's bus was going to be here any minute, so I decided to go wait in the car by the end of the driveway. As soon as I put the car on park to sit and wait, I turned the radio on and the sound of another song filled the air.

I can't tell you what the lyrics really said because I wasn't paying attention but to the chorus, which repeated over and over several times: "His Grace is Enough, His Grace is Enough."

It repeated enough times in a row that it actually caught my attention in a way that it made me listen and realize what the Lord was trying to tell me at that moment. In my frazzled state, He whispered, through this song, that He sees me, and that He knows what I need...and once again He reminded me a lesson He has been trying to teach me for a long while:  He's got this and He will take care of me and my loved ones no matter what.

I looked out the window and I saw Dylan's bus turning the corner into our neighborhood. We quickly got out of the car and I said my goodbyes to my young son as he hurried his little legs to the bus. I praised God for the privilege to be here for him today, and as I walked back to my car, I thanked Him for His patience and for, once again, reminding me that His Grace is, indeed, all I need.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Linking with:  Monday Musings

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nothing But a Vapor...

Nothing makes us consider our mortality as facing an illness. Big or small, health concerns have a way to make us stop and ponder....Even a paper cut decreases our productivity as we waste time walking around in circles with our finger in our mouth not knowing what to do once that thin sheet of paper has somehow, inadvertently slit through our skin...

Today, I'm recovering at home after surgery and of course, the gears in my brain have begun to churn away thoughts of worry and scenarios filled with unpleasant "what ifs." After all, our lives are nothing but a vapor... 

a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes...(James 4: 14) So it is only natural that thoughts of our own mortality may overcome us at times..."here today and gone tomorrow" as the author of Ecclesiastes reminds us. 

Our Lord, however, does not want us to spend our days in useless worry. He has told us many times to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will come with its own worries, but He'll take care of them all. The important thing is to seek Him...and He'll make all things work together for the good of His purpose.

There is a choice, therefore. As we confront the trials of life and have a chance to stare at our mortality face to face, we can choose to waste our precious time in senseless panic about what tomorrow may bring; or we can choose to fix our eyes on Him as He guides us through the storm. It is all about choosing to bask in His love.

He wants us to live a life of abundance...a life immersed in the abundant love that He pours down on us in unlimited supply day by day. Let's not waste it then on baseless speculation and unfaithful fears. Instead, let's remember the words that Paul wrote for the Ephesians as we pray that we may begin to grasp the inexpressible depth of Our Father's love...

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
Ephesians 3: 14-21

I pray that as I recover from surgery, my heart is strengthened in His love and that my life may become a testimony of His power and mercy...and that through paper cuts and cancer, we can all realize that we are rooted in His love and that the immeasurable power of His Hand rests in us, rendering us, therefore, victorious overcomers.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Well, I know that prayer is the most effective way of maintaining the line of communication with God active an open. It is the way we keep tapped into His source of infinite strength and power. It is the way of miracles…then…why is it that I so often neglect it?

As a frazzled woman, I neglect prayer because I get distracted by the busyness of life and the many worries that occupy my mind. 

Lately, however, the Lord, in His compassion and patience, has been leading me back to the way of prayer. Throughout the last several months and due to the many changes and challenges I have been through, Christ has helped me rediscover the power of prayer. It has happened mainly guided by the example of prayer warriors who surround me and cover me with their persistent prayers which never cease. One of those prayer champions is my dear friend Helen.

Helen is a very special lady, whose many gifts include a huge heart for prayer. She keeps a list of petitions and praises which she goes over twice a day. Needless to say, most people who know Helen, make an effort to get in her list every time they have a need. I have had the privilege of being in her list for a long time now, as well as the rest of my family. I think our names are in with permanent ink by now. And I praise God for that.

But through Helen’s dedication, the Lord has taught me, or reminded me, rather, the importance of a life of consistent prayer. Ever since I began to follow Helen’s example and started compiling my own modest list, I have seen the hand of God in action more than ever! In my own life as well as in the lives of those whose names I have in my prayer list, I have seen the power of the will of God in action.

It is not that we can manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do by praying. It is that through prayer we get to see what He can do as He unfolds His will in front of us. It is the way that we remain tuned into His “program” for our lives so we don’t miss a thing. It is the way that we stay aware and watch Him be on the move.

As a frazzled woman, I need to be extra intentional in my prayer life. That’s why I need to pay attention to women like my dear Helen, whose frazzled years have long stayed behind, and now is dedicated to a life of prayer that constitutes a vivid reminder of how Our Lord uses each one of His children for the furthering of His Kingdom and the unveiling of His plan.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5: 17

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Never Truly Alone

Sometimes we have to go to that place…the place to where nobody else will go with us…the place where we feel completely alone, just to realize that we are not…just to know, for sure, that He is with us. His great love is not snared by selfishness, so He never abandons us. 

In His great patience and compassion, He is never overwhelmed by the great depth of our need and desperation. In His great Mercy, He is never repelled by the grip of our fear. He is the ONLY ONE who can take the burden of all our worries and the heavy weight of our anxiety away from us as He carries them all to the cross.

Even when the lights are off and we feel alone…He is the One who is always there…He never abandons us…He goes with us through the steepest mountains and the darkest valleys…He is never gone. But sometimes we don’t get to realize this truth, until the whole world turns its back on us and we are submerged into the pit of loneliness. That’s what it takes, sometimes, to realize that He is there with us. Once the clutter, the noise, the distractions disappear, that’s when our eyes open up and we clearly see that He is near.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Clay in His Hands

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4: 7

I woke up today thinking about the biblical image that tells us that we are jars of clay. I love that image. Perhaps it is because I grew up surrounded by clay. My hometown sits on clay soil. The dirt is of such intense fiery red that it looks like flames. The clay industry is big in my hometown, as it is its pottery production. Five minutes from my childhood home is “potter’s town,” with potter’s wheels and homemade kilns in every other house. As a little girl, I remember running errands with Rosa. Many times she would have to make a stop at somebody’s house in “La Arena” (the town that is the nation’s pottery center).  These stops were often at potter's homes, so I would just stand there, mesmerized by the man at the potter’s wheel while Rosa tended to her business. 

Pushing the pedals rhythmically, making the table spin round and around while shaping the red blob with his expert hands, the potter would work quietly lost in his thoughts. It was such a treat to see the red blob become something…like magic…out of nothing…at will. Only he knew what that shapeless material would finally become as he carefully and effortlessly modeled it with his hands. 

The thought of God as the Heavenly Potter makes perfect sense to me. He grabs a hand full of worthless dirt, cleans it as He discards its impurities, kneads it to make it malleable, and puts it on the wheel, to turn it around as He lovingly gives it the shape only He has designed in His divine mind. Not two are exactly alike. They each have their own particular twists that make it unique. And at the end, to finish it, to make it strong (almost indestructible) He delicately puts it in the kiln…to be refined by fire so it can become the vessel that He intended. If it does not go into the fire, after it dries out, it becomes brittle and extremely fragile. Useless… it requires the fire to become strong and ready to be used for its intended purpose. 

Yes, the Potter, the clay, the wheel, and the kiln…they are all part of God's sovereign will. And as His jars of clay we are to be the containers of His Grace, which He pours in us for the purpose of sharing it with the world. But as jars of clay we also know that we cannot boast, for what is there to boast about? We can only boast about Our Maker who modeled us and cared enough for us to give us the needed strength to be useful for His glory and sovereign plan.

What a privilege to be a jar of clay. I pray that we can honor Him as we seek to be used for His purpose day after day.

Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”? Isaiah 29: 16

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Never Gone"

There are times in life when it's dark…when it seems…feels like the lights have just gone off. We can’t see our own hand right in front of our eyes, let alone His face. We seek, but we just can’t find. We try to tune in, but we just can’t hear…

After a whole morning, stuck in traffic to then bounce around different hospital buildings for some tests, and the special treat of having numbing solution sprayed into my nose shortly followed by tubes going up and down my throat, I was eager to go home and relax for a while. On the drive back, a song I’ve heard before came on the radio. The song has a catchy tune, but I had never really listened to the lyrics. Once again, I wasn’t listening this time either, but the chorus repeats quite a bit, so after a few times of the lines coming in through the radio waves, I finally tuned into an experience that truly moved me…

My favorite lines are, of course, the title, which reflects the core of the message… “Never Gone” … and then, the following verses:

I’m still standing here
No I didn’t disappear
Now the lights are on
See I was never gone…

Colton Dixon’s simple words touched my very soul. Just when I was feeling like darkness was overcoming me once again, with loneliness and fear threatening to grab a strong hold of me, He turns the lights back on! He is really never gone. Regardless of how we feel or not feel; regardless of what we see or do not see…He has not disappeared. He never does! He is always standing here.

My prayer today is that I/we are able to hold on to this truth: that even though the lights may be off for a while, He is never, ever gone. He is always standing right here, beside us, and we are never alone in our trials. He goes with us, and in His time, and in accordance to His perfect will and plan, He will eventually turn the lights back on again.

Linking with: More of Him and Time Warp Wife

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"F" is for Fall Festivals!

With three Fall Festivals to choose from, we drove through two and fully enjoyed one.  The day was picture perfect and the festivals brought a touch of beauty and joy to those who are preparing for the possibility of a harsh winter to come knocking at our doors really soon.  For today, though, life was dressed in its autumn's best and it offered us, dreary walkers, a moment of rest from the hard road ahead.

It was a moment to rejoice in the gorgeous colors of the season.  It was a moment to enjoy the bounty of the plentiful harvest.  It was a time to delight in the bitter-sweetness of apple cider.  It was a time to smile at silly faces. It was a time to celebrate the people around us.  It was a time to admire the beauty of God's creation. 

Our Maker wants us to live the abundant life, right here, while we stroll about on His earth.  He provides moments of lightness in the midst of our hard times.  He gives us moments of laughter in the midst of our tears.  He creates moments to rest in the midst of our pain.  He walks with us on the rocky roads of life and He makes sure we are OK.  He knows what we need and He provides it in the exact right dose we require. 

I will trust You Lord...I will give you praise and thanks!

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 
Exodus 33: 14

Friday, October 11, 2013

Doing the Hard Thing Now...

This year has brought a lot of uncertainty, fear and anxiety to my life. Health problems, relational problems, financial problems…you name it…but out of those problems, moving has been one of the issues that has created the most change. After living in the same area for a few years short of 2 decades, leaving our community has taken a toll in my soul. 

Trying to sell our old house, the house we made into a home for 11 years, the only house our sons ever knew... has been an experience. We’ve sold a house before. It was a breeze! I basically sold it myself in less than a month! The experience this time, however, has been quite different. And even though I am aware that in the wider scope of things, this is not a big deal…within the context of my little life, it is adding on to the pile of things I’m dealing with.

A few days ago, however, something rather miraculous happened. No, the house hasn’t sold yet…sigh…but I got something better! I had a call from the Lord : ) It was an e-mail, rather, but anyway…I did feel like I heard from Him this week as we were asked to consider renting the house to a very special couple. Their situation at this moment is dire. And I really felt like God was communicating to me that He is taking care of His beloved and that He wanted me to be a part of it. They need a place where they can stay and find some rest for their weary souls…I have the perfect place available.

Renting to this couple would not make any financial sense for us. The only reasons that would keep us from renting to them, however, would be purely selfish ones. I could not say no to them…Like the rest of the situations we’ve been facing…it was a hard one. But we decided that,

sometimes Our Lord asks us to do the hard thing now, so we can watch Him do the God thing later.

I truly believe He is telling me to hang in there and be obedient to His call. It is not what I wanted or wished for; but it is temporary and if I obey, He will take care of the rest. How could I ask Him to bless my efforts to sell the house, if I refuse to do what He wants me to do now for the benefit of His beloved? So I will do what I feel He is leading me to do now, and then I will wait for Him to tell me the rest of the story later. It is not what I expected, but it is what He has planned…and I rather go with that. 

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16: 9

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Intentional Living

We know that we want to be intentional about our walk with Christ.  But the question remains...How does one begin to live life intentionally? Well, I am no expert in the matter, but I can tell you what I try to do.  I begin with prayer.

Prayer is the beginning of the road to an intentional life for Christ. I pray that the Lord would turn me into the woman he intended me to become since the first time He thought of me. I have no idea what that person is like; but I want to be her. He has a unique plan for each of His sons and daughters; and I’m ready for mine to continue to unfold. I pray for awareness and I pray for discernment. I pray for everything without ceasing. That’s where I’d begin.

Trust is the step that goes intertwined with prayer. We pray because we trust the One we pray to. We pray because we know He is who He says He is and because we want to maintain the line of communication open with our Lord and Savior. We pray because we trust.

Knowledge is crucially indispensable. We trust because we know. We trust whom we know, and to know Him is to know truth. How do we know? We know because we seek Him in His Word. And His Word speaks of who He is. 

Prayer. Trust. Knowledge. The God of the Universe reveals Himself to us, His children, so we realize it is all for Him. And that’s the intentional life…the life that is lived for and through Him.

We pray because we trust and we trust because we know. And as we know, we can’t help but love. And as we love, we realize we must let go. Therefore, the intentional life becomes the surrendered life. We surrender it all to Him and let Him lead the way as we pray, trust and know for He is God.

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home and Wisdom Wednesdays

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Crunch Beneath my Feet

As I walk along the streets and the sidewalks around, I hear the crunching sound of dry leaves under my shoes. The familiar sound announces maturity. As the leaves reach their peak in the fall, they crumbled and get loose from the branch. And after a graceful, spinning dance in the air, they land on the ground to meet their end.

The crunching sound beneath my feet is nothing else but the sound of the passing of time. It tells us the story of the seasons and of how soon everything will be bare. It is the sound of the inevitability of change. It is the sound of the turning of a page.

It is also the sound of surrender.  Not a helpless one for as certain as the leaves will fall, spring will come.  It is the surrender to the truth of the cycle of life.  It is surrender to the Maker who makes all things a clock. This clock, however, is not on the world's terms.  It's the Divinely set clock that ticks to a different beat...a perfect one for the tune of our lives. Therefore, we surrender to it and say, "it is all in Your Hands."

Soon the sidewalks will be fully covered with nature’s shaggy rug.  Before that happens, though, it’s time to sing a new song…a song of hope and anticipation, a song of thanksgiving for all the blessings, a song of surrender, a song to sing His praises. 

For even though change is upon us, some things remain the same…and for that I praise and give thanks!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13: 8

Linking with:  More of Him and Titus 2sday

Monday, October 7, 2013

Martha "Lite"

Well, of course I have lots to say on the topic of being frazzled. I am a frazzled woman who gets nervous while trying to juggle the business and busyness of life.  My under-developed ability to relax has the potential to take me off the path as my worries make me turn my eyes away from Christ once in a while.  but I know that with the Lord’s help, my anxious tendencies will not defeat me. However, even when my emotional state does not define me; I cannot deny it. On the contrary, I will make it work for me! I will use my frazzled state to help me live a more intentional life.

People like me are endowed with certain characteristics that allow us to accomplish a lot : ). That’s why we are frazzled and anxious: because we have a lot in our plate and we like it all to be just like so. We are multi-taskers by nature. That’s why we tend to identify with Martha; you know…like in Mary and Martha, the famous sisters in Luke 10: 38-42?

I have found, in my own experience as a frazzled woman, however, that I am not 100% like Martha. For instance, if I have to put together a last minute dinner party, rather than attempting to cook (which is never a good alternative in my book), I know what restaurant to call for great takeout. By Martha’s standards, my house is not really “clean.” And I am not ready to home school anybody, especially not my own kids! (Hats off to all my friends who are able to do this.  I wish I could.  It is such a blessing!)  So, you see, I am some sort of a “Martha Lite.” 

Of course I am going to be the one fretting when the doorbell rings unexpectedly…shoving junk in the closet and under the beds. And I will be the last one to sit at the feet of my Amazing guest to enjoy His divine company; missing most of the stories and most of the peace. But I’m not too distracted to entirely miss His presence. I know He is here, and like Martha, it takes me a while to realize what the really, REALLY important thing truly is…but in the end, I do get it, because He loves me enough to be patient with me and wait for me and take me to the place and moment when I am paying full attention, so He can reveal it to me. (John 11: 17-27) Even if it takes a painful situation for me to realize it, He works it together for good so I don’t miss it!

Martha’s keen awareness of others and her analytic skills helped her discern the truth. She needed but a nudge from the Lord to set her back on track. Then, she became more intentional. That’s why when Jesus came to them after her brother Lazarus had died, it was Martha who got up and ran to Him while Mary stayed home. Martha’s personality helped her spring into action to go meet the Christ on the road! And meet Him she did! Of course, even though she was thrilled to see her Lord finally approach, she scolded Him for being late…my husband can relate to this part…but she was aware of His power. Never would she underestimate it anymore. 

Jesus used Martha’s sense of discernment to give the world a statement of revelation: “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”(John 11: 27) 

Martha even had enough sense to go back to the house and get Mary to come and meet the Lord. Gosh…that Mary…I just want to…ugh…

Martha wasn’t going to miss the important thing anymore. She learned. And that’s what we do best…we learn. God has given us the ability to learn from our MANY mistakes. We can process our experiences in a way that they don’t go to waste. The Lord knows that He can turn what happens to us into something productive for the furthering of His Kingdom…by making us intentional.

So anxious tendencies could be a blessing, after all : ) Well, let’s not push it, right? But God can certainly use us in a very distinct way. After all, His glory is revealed when weak and imperfect people move to do His will.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9

Linking with: The Better Mom and Monday Musings

Sunday, October 6, 2013

But God...

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.( Ephesians 2: 1-3)

...being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2: 4-10)

Allow His Word to speak to you today...for we are the walking dead, nothing but zombies dragging through the streets of this world, in decay, day by day...incapable of turning to Him.  "But God"...He moved.  He made the move toward us.  When the time was full, He moved (Galatians 4: 4-7).  He came to us.  He breathed the life of the Spirit into our dry bones so we would be the walking dead no more.  He sought us and met us at the corner of Mercy and Redemption.  He met us at the Cross.

"The blood of Jesus that was shed for you..." For the first time I heard these familiar words spoken directly to me at communion time and the impact was profound.  I never remembered someone whispering the words to me at the moment of Intinction..."for me..." He did this for me...He bled on the Cross for me. Back then, He knew me and He did it thinking of me...thinking of us.  He knew that one day He would come to me and rescue me from myself and my sin so I could carry Him in me.  He knew, back then, while hanging on the Cross, that one day, centuries in the future, I would be reminded of what He did for me.  

Amazing sweet the sound...

An Anxious Woman on a Quest

Well, by definition, the word “anxious” has a poor connotation. For example, the one you can find in the free online dictionary says: "worried and tense because of possible misfortune, danger, etc.; uneasy."  It is not a good thing for a person to be anxious. It is not a good thing for a Christian to be anxious. Christ Himself tells us not to be. Worry is the main element of anxiety and He tells us not to worry about anything (Matthew 6: 25-34). We are not to worry about our lives, what we are going to eat, drink, wear, nothing! He takes care of it all, look at the lilies and the birds; He says…we are worth more than them, so we will be OK…

But…I can’t help it…I still worry…I still get anxious.

I am an anxious woman by nature. Sometimes I wonder if anxiety and womanhood are genetically linked??? In my case, I know anxiety runs in my family history. “God made me this way,” is my cop-out phrase of choice. The question is, does He want me to remain this way? Or does He have a transformational plan in place for me and for His glory? I have to believe that He is arduously working on my make over program. I have to believe that I am in the middle of it, rather! He promised! He promised His peace, even when we couldn’t understand how or where it would come from, He said that His peace would be with us, and I choose to believe His Word.

I the midst of my anxious temperament, I hang on to Him and I trust that His Word is legit. I can’t beat myself up because of the way I feel, for I just can’t stop it. It is out of my power to change this aspect of my personality. But one thing that it is within my power is the choice to trust Him. He reaches out to me with His word and I must hold on to His Holy Arm with all I’ve got. He sustains me. His Grace is really sufficient. I seek Him, and He finds me, for He began seeking me first. That is the only reason I know to search for Him…that is the only reason I know to love Him…for He did it first.

I am an anxious and frazzled woman on a quest. I am on a journey. I am on the great adventure that is to seek His face and find His peace. All other things will be taken care of in His time and on the road to meeting Him. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

This is a true command for us… even if sometimes we just can’t help it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Grace falls on us and renews us like rain in springtime.  Even as we stand in this fallen world, His Grace redeems us and sustains us.  Blessed be the One Who chose us.  Undeservedly we accept the gift with humility.  It is what moves us and what gives us understanding of the mystery that is Him in us. And the understanding reveals that some things are not for us to fully discern on this shore.  Much must still remain a mystery for if not, the Divine would be diminished.  

Like rain, His Grace refreshes our weary souls, washing away the dirt, wiping off the stains, and preparing the soil for new life to sprout again.  The old becomes new.  Growth becomes possible.  Maturity becomes the future.

His Grace covers it all.  It seeks us.  It finds us.  Even when we try to run from it, it touches us.  

Grace like rain...

Linking with: Simply Beth

Back from the Dead

"Our God is in the business of bringing the dead back to life…" I heard someone say something like that a few years ago. I don’t remember who it was or where I heard it; but what I remember is the impact the words caused in me…

He truly is!

That is His "business"…to raise the dead, to breathe life back into the dry bones.

And the dead abound around us…(I know, the Walking Dead is about to start and you may think that’s what prompted this post, but is not : ) I am talking about those whom we have lost not to death of the body, but to death of relationships.

So many of us have experienced this kind of loss…probably the great majority of those who walk on this earth have lost a relationship to unpleasant circumstances, and we can attest that the mourning of a broken relationship is either just as painful or perhaps, sometimes even more than if we’d lost our loved one to physical death. The pain of a broken relationship cuts deep into our heart, and wounds our soul in a way that death of the body usually does not.

Hope of reconciliation lingers weakly, hidden in the corner of our mind, but we don’t let it come to the surface very often since the sting of disappointment cuts even deeper. We leave things in God’s hands as an act of resignation…when there is nothing else we can do. However, in the secret, we don’t really believe anything will ever change.

One day, though, when the flicker of hope is about to be extinguished a phone call ignites it right back, and you dare to believe again. But, is it too late for love? Is it past the point of no return? Are we too far gone for Mercy to find us? Are we out of the arms of forgiveness?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… 1 Corinthians 13: 6-8a

If there is Love, there is always Hope. Love reminds us that it is never too late. Nobody is ever too far gone that the arms of Mercy cannot reach him/her. No one is ever too late. Forgiveness always arrives on time in the heart of the repentant. No one is ever so lost that love cannot find him/her.

He who can raise the dead can resurrect a dead relationship if it is in His will and in His perfect plan to do so. For His glory, we praise Him as we hope His perfect purpose includes restoration.

As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71: 14

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Am I a Cool Mom?

I read a blog post recently that had an intriguing question as its title.  The question read something like, "are you a mean Mom too?" Needless to say that title got my attention.  As I read the post I realized it wasn't much about being a mean Mom, but rather as being perceived as being a mean Mom by our kids when they don't get their way.  It also talked about how we might fall into the temptation of thinking God is mean just because we don't get what we want from Him.

These ideas kept floating around in my head, but mostly, I kept pondering the "am I a mean Mom?" question.  In my case, I was wondering if I really was MEAN... I figured I'd go to the source, and asked my sons what they thought.  The question, however, didn't come out right.  Instead of asking, "do you think I am a mean Mom?"  I asked, "Am I a cool Mom?"  I think deep inside I didn't want to ask the other question for fear my sons would be brutally honest and tell me the truth!

As soon as I asked the question, I heard Dylan from another room yelling:  "You are pretty!"

I had to laugh aloud at that reply.  It was the safest thing he thought he could answer.  It was the answer he knew would not offend me.

Later in the day, I tried again.  This time I did ask the question directly to Dylan.  "Am I a mean Mom, Dylan?"  Of course I asked while he was utterly distracted playing his favorite videogame : ) His reply was very telling, tough...he said "No," right away, but then after a minute, he added, "well, only like once a week..."

Honesty...what a blessing, what a course...

Yep...I am a mean Mom...sigh...    

I am an out of control, temperamental, impatient, harsh, mean Mom.  Is there hope for me? Well, there is always hope!  He who lives in me brings me hope every day.  He whose breath sustains me, holds me by the right hand and guides me.  He leads me through troubled waters and He teaches me how to be more like Him day after day.  Of course I am going to fail at times.  Of course I am going to have set least once a week : )...but I must trust that He will pick me up and set me right back on track.  He teaches me that prayer is my best recourse when I lose it.  He teaches me that I can go for a walk when I need fresh air before I get back to a heated "conversation."  He teaches me to ask for forgiveness when I've let my anger get the best of me.  He teaches me to extend mercy and grace to others, as He has done to me.

I am His, and as one of His children, He will help me clothe myself with the fruits of the Spirit so I can reflect His holiness, goodness and love...even if I have been a mean Mom on a weekly basis.  Then, perhaps, maybe, He'll allow me to be a really cool Mom, or even better, I pray He makes me into a Godly Mom, instead.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3: 12

Linking with: Hearts for Home

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fixing our Eyes on the Unseen

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 18

The Lord has placed this verse in my heart lately. As I go through a season where most things look, to the naked eye, plainly problematic and challenging, the inspired words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians keep coming back to me. The last few weeks, for instance, I’ve been thinking about how our old house hasn’t sold yet. I took a drive around our old neighborhood a couple of days ago and realized there is yet another house up for sale in the tiny community. I really don't remember, in the 15+ years I spent in that lovely area, to have seen that many houses listed for sale. Even at the height of the housing market crisis we never saw so many for sale signs popping up in yards around us.  Granted, there aren't THAT many...but in relation to the size of the neighborhood...see, I'm babbling about it too much...I can't stop!

At any rate, back to my story, when I saw the for sale sign on this particular yard my heart sank. But the Lord in His infinite mercy quickly brought His Word back to my thoughts… and I remembered the message He has been trying to send me: “fix your eyes on what is not seen, for what is seen is deceiving…” It really does not matter how saturated our little housing market is at the moment. If it is in His plan for us to sell the house, it will happen! Regardless of how much nicer, bigger, cheaper, better staged the other houses around ours are, if it is in His plan, ours will sell at the appointed time. I just have to relax and let Him do His thing!

“I’m going to let God be God…” This is what I’ve been repeating to myself. He’s got this, and everything else. In the meantime, I am going to try to enjoy watching His hand at work in my life. I pray for Him to give me a heightened awareness of His presence and that in the process I learn how to lean on Him…completely…and how to focus on the unseen, for that’s what is eternal.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5: 7

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kitchen Table...

At least the placemats are stylish : )

Buying a new house this summer pretty much broke our bank. We really love our new home, but, we still don’t have it fully furnished…and it won't be for a while. Having to eat at a card table, sitting in camping chairs and walking through empty rooms has “motivated” me to spend a lot of time thinking about material things. My wish list for the house seems endless, and every month that we, I mean my husband-the budget wizard, finds a bit of extra money in the budget for house things, I become this one-track-mind- robot that can only concentrate on surfing the internet for deals on furniture. Machinating schemes to stretch the set amount of money that I have becomes an obsession. Prioritizing and re-prioritizing becomes an art.

If I could only be thus focused on “things” that really matter…boy, would I be accomplishing great things for His Kingdom… The time I spend thinking about the things I want to acquire could be so much better invested concentrating on things that have eternal repercussions rather than on selecting the right kitchen table for our new house. And all for what? So I can be stressed out about the boys nicking and nixing my brand new acquisition? It is not like having a nice kitchen table is going to make us eat healthier or even have more meals together…

We have eaten more meals truly together, gathered around our current card table and sitting on mix-matched camping chairs that we ever did at our “real” kitchen table at our old house… I even think the boys are growing rather attached to it since when I mentioned we might finally be getting a new set, Grant asked alarmed, “what are you going to do with this one?” The look in his eyes showed me he was worried I would pitch the current ensemble.

The intensity of my misplaced focus reached a new high the other night when I couldn’t go to sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about kitchen tables…then…I actually got up, turned the computer on and began “window” shopping again at 2am!

Needless to say I feel convicted now. The Lord has showed me that my attachment to this world and to its material things is great, indeed…and I am ashamed. He has reminded me that the only truly important thing for His children to do is to…

…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6: 33

My prayer at this moment is that I become a good steward of His blessings, and that my focus doesn’t get corrupted by wasteful desires that do nothing but entangle my soul and enslave it. He wants me to be free. And that freedom has been given to me not for me to squander it in foolish pursuits, but to invest it in seeking His heart. So, regardless of whether we get a nice kitchen table or not, I will praise Him for His patience, mercy and love. He will take care of us even if we need to eat many more meals around a folding table sitting in camping chairs.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;

never will I forsake you.”  
Hebrews 13: 5

Linking with: More of Him