Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Sinner's Confession

Today I am reminded that sin is sin, and that I too am a great sinner. There is nothing I can do on my own to cleanse myself and become acceptable to be in the presence of the Most High. I cannot boast for the only reason I am a child of God is because He chose me. Otherwise, I would not have it in me to seek Him. My nature is to seek darkness, physical pleasure, comfort and the things of this world. If left to my own devices I would always gravitate toward the mud. Filth would be my comfort. The divine spark…the divine essence in me…were it not ignited by He who endowed it to me, would be covered in pestilence. And the worst part is that I would not even realize that I am not cleaned. I would not have enough consciousness to see I am rolling around in waste. I would not see that I am grotesque.
This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"--and I am the worst of them. 1 Timothy 1: 15

It is all because of His decision to wake me up that I am aware. It is all because He chose to reveal Himself to me that I am out of the pit. It is because He came down from Heaven to become flesh, implant Himself among the filth to reach out to me that I am free!

…For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.… Romans 5: 7-9

That’s the good news! It is nothing we do…we cannot save ourselves. No matter how much the enemy deceives us into believing that we are good. No matter how much lies have been manipulated and turned into accepted realities. No matter how much the Devil has made us believe sin is no more. Truth is Truth, and it is because God is Love that He sent Jesus to save us. Which means that we do need a Savior…which means we do need to be saved from something…and that something is the Holy Wrath of the Most High.

There’s no way around it. He is a Holy God. He is also a Merciful God. But His Mercy doesn’t make Him less Holy. His Mercy doesn’t diminish His Wrath. His Mercy brings Hope to those He chooses. His Mercy led Him to design the plan of salvation. His Mercy moved Him to become the Emanuel, God with us in the person of Jesus Christ so those who believe in Him would be spared. But His Mercy doesn’t deny that He is still the Great Judge. That is why we need an advocate to plead our case. That is why, thanks to His Great Mercy, He, Himself, has given us the greatest defense attorney in the Heavenly Realms.

It’s not what we do or do not do. It is what He does. Sin is still sin. The enemy is enjoying his hour. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6: 12 … But in the time of God, the war is already won.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

This is my confession…as a sinner redeemed by Grace, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe God is unchanging. Sin is sin. Truth is Truth. Love is God. Among the sinners I am chief and that’s why I need a Savior.

No One Is Righteous

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and misery mark their ways,

and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. Romans 3: 9-23

Friday, June 26, 2015

Do You Know the Word Faith?

“Hold my hand and Trust. So long as you are conscious of My Presence with you, all is well.”

As I woke up anxious and nervous about my doctor’s appointment a couple of days ago, this was the message that Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling had for me…or should I say, the message that Jesus had for me. These words stayed with me at work and during the seemingly endless waiting period at the doctor’s office. I think I sat in that uncomfortable chair alone in that plain and sterile office for at least 40 minutes before the doctor came in to talk to me. The longest 40 minutes of my life! But as I kept repeating the words from the devotional, and some Scripture in my head, claiming His promises and His victory in my mind, I also thought the time spent at that not-so-welcoming room would be well worth it if I were to receive good news. And good news I received.

Praise the Lord Almighty I did get great news that all is, indeed, well. And not only did the doctor gave me good news, but she even spoke to me about how I must leave it all in God’s hands. She asked me if I was religious and I said yes, then she asked me: “do you know the word faith?” My eyes began to tear up…I said a quiet yes…then she said, “well, leave it all to Him.”

There wasn’t much I could say after that. I swallowed hard and just nodded.

She talked to me about faith and about letting go. “You are just like me,” she mentioned. Then she shared how she is a worrier too. She told me to keep busy and to be happy, to pray and to remember how stress lowers the immune system. “People who are happy do better after surgery and recover faster.” She spent a significant amount of time with me and my nerves really, truly, finally began to calm down.

Suddenly that, not-so-attractive office had become a place of peace. I walked out of there with a renewed smile. The Lord had showed me how everything is, indeed, possible with Him. He showed me how He can use anyone…even a doctor (can you tell I’m not very fond of doctors?) to carry out His will and fulfill His plan…and to reach my heart. I glanced back at the now empty room where I had sat, being consumed by anxiety, thinking the time spent sitting there had been all worth it after all.

I am tired of worrying…I am tired of being afraid. It’s time to dig deep and truly know the meaning of faith. It’s time I hold on tightly to His hand and just trust in His grace, which IS sufficient. His presence is all I truly, really, absolutely need…all other things are just the trim.

Praise be to God for He is Faithful even when we are not.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Faith of Our Friends

At Sunday school this past weekend we read Luke 20: 17-26, the Miracle of Jesus forgiving and healing the paralyzed man that had been brought to Him by his friends who carried him on his mat. I love that story. It makes me think of how the incident might have developed. I imagine the friends (I always think of them as four, each holding one corner of the mat…but who knows how many there were? It just says “some men”) going to their paralyzed friend saying: “well, today is the day. We are taking you to Jesus, so hang on!” And I imagine the paralyzed man looking at them with a puzzled expression, wondering, “what the heck?”

We don’t really know if this guy even wanted to go. Although he might have heard the common rumor around town, we don’t know for sure if he really knew about the healing power of Jesus. Scripture gives us no evidence of this man’s faith at the moment he got picked up by the guys who carried him to the Christ. The one thing we know is that there is no way he could have made it there if it hadn’t been in the arms of his friends. In fact, we know more about the faith of the friends than of his own. We know these friends had enough faith to stop whatever they might have been doing in their daily lives, to go get their buddy, carry him in the heat of the dessert, not be discouraged by the wall of people that kept them from being able to enter the house, climb to the roof, commit a touch of vandalism to finally be able to lower him to Jesus’ feet.

The whole thing was so impressive that we read how, when Jesus saw the faith of the friends, He forgave the sins of the paralyzed man and later healed him. WOW! Little did these guys know their actions would prove so transcendental that Jesus would use the whole event to teach a lesson to the Pharisees that lasts all the way to today! They probably didn’t even think it was a big deal. They heard about Jesus’ miracles, thought of their friend, went and grabbed him and presented him to the Healer. Simple! No super heroes here, no special people, nobody important/rich/special…just friends…

Friends carrying each other…friends bringing friends to Christ.

To think that our faith may contribute to help our friends come closer to Jesus...what a powerful thought...

I pray I can be that friend. I pray I can be the one lifting a corner of my fallen friend’s mat when he/she is in need to be carried. I pray I can be there to do what they simply cannot do in their time of struggle. I pray I can be willing to help carry their burdens when their strength fails and they cannot take another step. For I have been carried countless times, I pray when time comes for me to be NOT on the mat, that I am up to the task…I pray I don’t even waste time thinking about it, and just bend my knees to pick up my friend and lift her/him up to the fountain of all forgiveness, mercy, love, power and healing so they may thirst no more.

I praise the Good Lord for giving me faithful friends that have tirelessly lifted my heavy burdens up to the Christ when I was on the floor, paralyzed and helpless. I pray I can do as well, when it comes to be my turn.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

You Always Answer Me When I Call

The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. Psalm 18: 4 But I I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. 
Psalm 18: 3

Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; The snare is broken and we have escaped. 
Psalm 124: 7

There is a lot to be said about the misuse of today’s cyber-world; however, to me, the ability to keep in touch with my sisters in Christ, near and far, is one of the greatest blessings this era of instant communication has provided. Although I’m not going to write a dissertation on this topic here today…I’d like to say that social media and the Internet as a whole are all about how you use them. If we go about them guided by the Light of the Holy Spirit, we can certainly use them as tools to help us in our quest to surrounding ourselves with all things good. If we don’t pray for discernment when we use this tool, it can lead us into destruction and evil.

With that said, I’d like to tell you how today the Internet and its social media minions were agents of good in my life. I woke up this morning feeling the enemy entangling me. I felt his claws grabbed me from my place upon the Rock, to then dump me into his prison of doubt, fear and anxiety. On my knees I begged the Almighty to give me His presence, and He sent me His Word through His messengers…through those whom He has placed around me…by means of the Internet.

The minute I prayed for God’s presence to be with me and for Him to send me His angels, He led me to His Word. It wasn’t a straight road, though. I came downstairs and I went to Facebook first. I know…but God knew too, so... what message did I see pop in the newsfeed? 
“Pray More. Worry Less.” 

Yeah…right on my face.

I kept scrolling down and after some great pictures of my Facebook friends showcasing their Father’s Day tributes and vacation journals, here’s what I saw:

“All Worry Ends when Faith in God Begins.”

Then, I saw a beautiful paraphrasing of Psalm 46: 10 (probably my #1 all-time-favorite verse in all Scripture) “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I Am God. I rule the nations. I rule the Earth.”

I scrolled some more and there it was: “Let all that I am praise the Lord. May I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” Psalm 103: 2-3 NLT
Finally, I saw this: “Dear God, in your strong hands I place my life today. Choosing to depend on You to Light and Guide the way.”

Of course I shared all these in my wall, but most of all, I let the healing power of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence in me, minister to me with these words I’d just read. Then, I sent out messages to some of my prayer warriors, for I know I am not strong enough to pull myself out of the pit of fear. He has to do it Himself; and one other thing I know is that often times He uses His beloved to help one another. 

In an instant, my phone became a direct line to the Word…a direct line to God. He was speaking to me directly.  My friends were the fingers of God, typing Scripture and prayers the Holy Spirit had placed in their hearts to speak to me at the precise moment that I needed them.

I began to feel the weight of worry lift and I started to breathe again.

I’ve prayed for His presence and He spoke to me in His Word and through His angels…

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. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Accepting His Healing

This is between You and me, Lord…

You planted a thought in my mind back in January, while standing in the cold hallway of a hospital wing in my husband’s arms… “it’s time to accept the healing…it’s time to trust Me and believe Me now.”

I can’t be afraid of putting you to shame by revealing what’s in my head…what’s in my heart…what’s in my soul…I ought to trust that You can do everything You say You can do…heal me… and that I am who You say that I am…Your beloved.

It’s time I profess that You are Faithful and Truth. It’s time I accept the healing before the test results are in and I share it for Your glory.

You are making ALL things new…and that includes me…(Revelation 21: 5)

May the peace that surpasses all understanding come flowing like rushing water to wash away my fear. May Your love pour out and fill my cup. May Your presence be evident and quiet my soul.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,

or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; 

 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, 

or let the fish in the sea inform you. 

 Which of all these does not know 

that the hand of the Lord has done this? 

 In his hand is the life of every creature 

and the breath of all mankind. 

 Does not the ear test words 

as the tongue tastes food? 

 Is not wisdom found among the aged? 

Does not long life bring understanding? Job 12: 7-12

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Test Anxiety

As a teacher I know that there is such a thing as “test anxiety.” Several students experience it on a regular basis. It is the type of performance anxiety when students exhibit physical and emotional symptoms at the moment they are faced with a test. Even if they are prepared and should have no reason to worry about the exam, the anxiety/fear paralyzes them.

This anxiety is triggered, among other things, by recalling recent, poor testing history at the time of the examination. Their previous experiences are still too real, too recent for them to overcome, making them unable to disassociate or detangle the past from the present. They cannot relax. They don’t trust their abilities; and since they have to rely only on themselves at the hour of the test, their lack of self-trust causes them to crumble. They know they are on their own and they fear they can’t do it by themselves…so they fail.

I am the victim of a sort of test anxiety as well. The tests that cause me anxiety, however, are not the type I can cram for. I become anxious, fearful, nervous and at times even paralyzed whenever I face any kind of health test. And as it happens, I’m in the midst of a couple of those. Thinking about academic test anxiety, however, has given me a new perspective. It is my recent test history what brings cold chills up and down my spine. It is my inability to separate the past from the present what messes with my mind. But most of all, it is the idea that I am alone what scares me the most.

I cannot relax because I continue to think, deep inside my soul, that I have no one but aloof doctors and distant technicians to rely upon. I feel surrounded by people who are indifferent to my feelings and dependent on procedures that may or may not be flawed. I crumble because I don’t trust…I fail because I believe I need to do this on my own and I know I’m incapable.

The truth, however, will make me free. The day I accept God’s promises as true will be the day I can be free from the fear of my own mortality. So I turn to His Word and find this passage:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

The first part of this promise is very familiar and dear to me. I hang on to the words like a raft in the storm. The second part, though, is a gem the Holy Spirit only led me to discover in the last few days. “Fear the Lord and shun evil…this will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” WOW…

I know I have allowed the enemy to take advantage of my weakness and I have continuously left the door open for him to crawl into my heart. I have given him permission to manipulate my emotions and deceive me with his schemes. I have not shunned evil and that has broken my spirit and diminished my faith.

It is only when faith is strong that trust overflows, swallowing anxiety and fear in the raging currents of the river of Christ’s peace. The multi-dimensional trust in the Lord and the total abandon of our own ways that Scripture calls us to do can only become a reality when the knowledge and love for Our Great God empowers us to pronounce aloud: “stand behind me Satan, leave me alone for I am a child of God!” That’s when the fear of the Lord will cover us and His health and nourishment will renew us and make us whole.

I guess there is some cramming I need to do to prepare for my tests after all. I need to cram on God’s Word and review His promises. I need to drill the command, “do not be afraid” over and over again until it becomes second nature in my brain. I need to practice putting on God’s armor to stand up to the enemy protected by His shield and armed by His sword. I need to recall the many times He has delivered me and I need to memorize His Faithfulness, and how He will continue to deliver me again and again.

I pray that test anxiety becomes a thing of my past and that the all-dimensional trust on the Lord emerges to heal me and nourish me and all those who may experience the growing pains of maturity in Christ as we take the faith-refining tests that we encounter along our path.

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Psalm 71: 20

Monday, June 15, 2015

How Many Falls 'Till I Fall No More?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28

This verse is a guiding light on my path along this life. It is my chant, my mantra, if you will, to borrow from our Hindu and Buddhist friends…I repeat it to myself over and over and over again in my head when situations don’t seem to be going my way. It brings me comfort and it helps me feel better about whatever may be happening. It reminds me that He is in Control and that He decides the destiny. It assures me that I am not a slave to my current circumstances, and that no matter how bad things may seem, something good will come out of it at some point.

The verse just came to mind as I was thinking about how much of a failure I feel like whenever I give into fear…

I have been afraid for too long. It has become a way of life. I worry and worry and worry some more…perpetuating the cycle of discouragement that so often tortures me with thoughts of despair. The despair comes quickly when I remember fear is a sign of lack of trust…of disbelief…then I sink in deeper as guilt pounds me down even more…

Just when I feel I am finally overcoming my fear and anxiety about, in this case, upcoming tests…I fall again, and the spells of cold sweats, stomach churnings and chills down my spine begin anew.

In my particular case, fear also brings bad temper, harsh behavior, impatience and lack of self-control. All such wonderful qualities…(insert sarcasm)…sigh…

When I am nervous, worried, anxious and afraid about _______________ (today is a test, next week will be…who knows?) I explode at the slightest provocation. Most of the time it has to do with my sons not listening/obeying/cleaning their junk/watching TV too loud/asking for lunch…etc. etc. And as such, they pay the price of my irritability by having to hear me roar/yell/scream…etc. etc. etc.

I hate being like that! I can’t stand me!

I try to control myself. I do well for a while…then I fall again into the screaming match. Then I feel guilty. Then I get more worried. Then I remember the upcoming test. Then I worry even more. Then I think about how much I truly love these boys. Then I am scared. Then I feel like I’m miles away from God. Then I really get scared!

I am exhausted!

The other day, however, something I read long ago in a little fiction book called The Shack by Wm. Paul Young came to mind. I was never crazy about that book, but this one part has stuck with me over the years. This was a moment when the figure that represented God the Father was talking to the main character, Mack. God said:

“Remember, Mackenzie, I don’t wonder what you will do, example, I am trying to teach you how not to hide inside lies – hypothetically, of course…and let’s say that I know it will take you forty-seven situations and events before you will actually hear me – that is, before you will hear clearly enough to agree with me and change. So when you don’t hear me the first time, I’m not frustrated or disappointed, I’m thrilled. Only forty-six more times to go! And that first time will be a building block to construct a bridge of healing that one day – that today – you will walk across.” (p. 189)


It does seem like an interesting glimpse to our lives from God’s perspective. And, although I’m not sure about that book, I do know God is teaching me how to trust Him unconditionally and that’s what all these tests (literal and spiritual) are all about. I do know He is taking me farther and farther with each passing trial. I do see clearer and clearer how His presence is, indeed, within me. I do hear His voice louder and louder above all the noise, even my own screaming. So, perhaps, it might be true that I am less and less falls away from the goal of overcoming my fear and fully relaying on Him for everything.

I sure pray that is the case!

I pray I not only repeat Scripture in my mind, but that I internalize it, assimilate it, believe it, trust it and make it as indispensable to my life as air itself. I also pray that in the meantime, I learn how to extend myself some grace, forgive my shortcomings and learn to see myself as what I am…a child of God who is still on this journey through life…a work in progress.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nothing is Impossible

It’s been kind of rainy and stormy around here lately. A bit scary, actually…but in the middle of these dark, gloomy, thunderous and wet days, a great story unfolded at our house…or at least I think so.

As it happens, an amazing Robin built her nest right on our front door wreath just like 3 weeks ago. Ever since, she has been diligently taking care of the three gorgeous tiny blue eggs she laid. Of course, we have been enraptured by the occurrence from the minute we discovered the nest, especially our younger son Dylan. He has been quite excited about the whole thing, and when the first egg hatched, he was beside himself. He couldn’t believe life actually came out of those eggs. I think he secretly thought they were plastic…or candy??? Of course we’ve been breaking our backs lifting him because he is not tall enough to see inside the nest…I’m too old for this…

At any rate, the thing is we have all been enjoying the miracle of the bird nest and marveling at God’s designs for nature…wondering what made Him decide to color those eggs such pretty shade of blue???

The second egg hatched a few days later and we kept watch for that third egg. Then it hit!

It was Friday afternoon. I had decided to let the closest pizza place do the cooking for dinner that evening. It is literally around the corner, so I ordered it for pick up. At the appointed time, I went to get it and of course it wasn’t ready so I had to wait. As I waited, I could see the dark clouds approaching at a healthy speed. I knew the pizza was going to get wet…as well as my hair…sigh… Through the glass window of the small pizza place I could see the wind. It was beating the trees with such ferocity I began to worry about the shingles peeling off the roof above my head.

Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity I was able to start my way back home…and even though the nest did cross my mind for a fleeting moment, I kind of brushed the thought aside as I tried to concentrate on the road in front of me while grumbling about my now very wet hair. The minute I walked in the house, Dan and the boys announced that the wind had, indeed, blown away the wreath. It felt like a needle had poked my heart. Dan pointed out the mama Robin standing on the railing outside the front door…my heart broke…the baby chicks were gone and she had no clue where they could be…and neither did we.

We looked out all the front windows and we could not see the wreath anywhere. Dylan wanted to go outside to find it and we didn’t let him. We told him we had to wait for the storm to pass. He was very restless…he wanted to do something, and felt helpless. We told him we needed to wait and decided to eat our pizza. Dylan didn’t eat much, and as soon as he was done he left the kitchen. Soon after, he came back running and saying, “I saw it! The wreath! I saw it! Come see it, let me show you where it is!” We kind of hushed him and told him to calm down. We would go outside later and try to find it, but he persisted until he made Dan grab an umbrella to go out.

The rain had subsided to a gentle drizzle by then, but Dylan and I stayed in the house, watching out the window. Dylan kept his hopes up saying stuff like they may be still OK while I kept saying to him that it was not likely…however, he insisted, “but they might!” and I insisted even more, “no, Dylan, those birds have no chance to survive…it is impossible!” I made that stern pronouncement because I didn’t want him to get hurt…to me the birds were long dead and now all we had left was a wreath with the beautiful addition of a real nest as decoration. But Dylan replied very firmly, “Nothing is impossible!”

I have to tell you, his words felt a bit like a slap on the face…

It was like I’d just woke up, so I began to say, “you are right, Dylan, nothing is impossible for God”…but as I was formulating the words in my mouth, Dan was at the door frantically asking for gloves. I looked at him and he said, “they’re alive! Get me some gloves!”


I remembered the box of gloves I had in one of the kitchen cabinets and as best as I could I handed him two. He struggled putting them on, still hanging on to the umbrella, as Dylan and I stood glued to the window. We watched Dan grab the wreath, pick something up from the ground…then walk to the bushes and scoop something out of them…I couldn’t believe it…

After he hung the wreath back on the door, Dan came in and told us how he saw the one baby on the ground first and it looked dead…but as he looked closer, it seemed like it moved…he wasn’t sure, but he put it on the nest anyway just in case. The other one was breathing…or so it seemed…as he related the story we waited by the window to see if mama bird would come back…and she did!

“What a miracle!” we proclaimed. “I told you nothing is impossible!” Dylan said knowingly…

In the evening, I did pray for at least one bird to survive for Dylan’s sake…I thought this would be such a great moment for him. His perseverance had moved us to action and he had seen, first hand, what it meant to be the eyes, hands and feet of God…but the birds may not survive…Dan was not sure about the one that was breathing and the other one he thought for sure was dead… “it looked like dead chicken…” He said…

Saturday morning came and first thing Dan said to me was, “the two birds are alive!”

Praise the Lord! Of course Dylan was ecstatic and we had to lift him a few times during the day so he could see them and make sure they were still OK. The third egg has not been found yet, but the two baby chicks seem to be developing well so far…I still can’t believe it, and Dylan still keeps proudly saying: “I told you nothing was impossible!”

Raging winds, torrential rain, thunder and darkness that is only pierced by lightening are very scary, no doubt…and I rather have constant sunshine and blue skies spreading wide from where I stand to as far as my eyes can see…but this kind of miracle usually only happens in the midst of the storm.

For nothing will be impossible with God. ~ Luke 1:37

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jesus Calling

During the past few weeks I've been thinking I needed a new devotional.  So yesterday, as I was running errands nearby Grand Book and Bible, my favorite local Christian Bookstore, I decided the time to get it was now.  I knew what I wanted.  I've bought a few copies as gifts before.  This time I would get one for my own use.  I grabbed a beautiful, pink leather copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and brought it home.

This morning, I opened it to the June 11th page, and this is what it said:

Trust Me and don't be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song.  Do not let fear dissipate your energy.  Instead, invest your energy in trusting Me and singing My Song.  The battle for control of your mind is fierce, and years of worry have made you vulnerable to the enemy.  Therefore, you need to be vigilant in guarding your thoughts.  Do not despise this weakness in yourself since I am using it to draw you closer to Me.  Your constant need for Me creates an intimacy that is well worth all the effort.  You are not alone in this struggle for your mind.  My Spirit living within you is ever ready to help in this striving.  Ask Him to control your mind; He will bless you with Life and Peace.  Isaiah 12: 2; Romans 8: 6

When I first read it I had to pause and just be still...once again, God had led me to something that spoke directly to me in terms that I could clearly understand.  I read it again a couple of times and I knew I had to share it.  I knew the exercise of typing the words, alone, would be an exercise in trust as it would help me engrave them in my soul.

I can't live by what I feel, but by the Word that He Casting Crown's song "East to West" says.  I can't live by what I feel or hear or see...I must live by faith (2 Corinthians 5: 7).  I must be quiet and listen to His revelation.  And at the same time, I need to change my perspective.  Instead of being trapped in a vicious cycle in which my anxiety creates more anxiety...I need to look at it from a different point of view to see that my anxiety could be the vehicle that moves me closer to Christ. That way, I would be able to break the cycle as I see my fear and neediness as the thing that God can use to precisely free me from fear itself.  As my need for Him increases and I hang on to Him tighter, I begin to listen to Him more clearly and He begins to break my chains.

Thank You, Lord, for pointing me to the source of Your wisdom and for always keeping me wrapped around Your loving arms...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Three Minutes

"Bathe me with your peace..." that was my prayer this morning as I pulled out of the garage feeling the jitters in my stomach and the cold sweats on the palms of my hands...I turned up the radio, hoping to hear a song that would make me feel better, but all I got was static, so I switched the dial and found a familiar voice, Dr. Stanley was on. His soothing tone began immediately to have a settling effect in my tense muscles and then, for the 3 minute ride to work I soaked in the calming waters of 
his words. 

Those words were directed straight at me...

I can't remember what his exact sentences were, but I do remember the gist:  with every trial I face, God is shaping me into the image of Christ. If I accept my storms and fires as the venue God uses to mold me and shape me into the person He designed me to be...the peace that surpasses all understanding will finally flow like the river that it is intended to be. It is not about my comfort, it is about my character...He is working all things together for my own good because He loves me...He loves me with a love that extends far beyond the limits of what I can understand and in a way outside the confines of my mind. 

He is transforming me...that is why I must be thankful in the midst of trial...because He is taking the time to refine me. If He didn't love me, He wouldn't care to mature me and take me further still in my walk with Him...if He didn't love me, He would leave me right where I'm at...if I weren't His child He would not take the time to point me to the right direction and discipline me when needed...if I were the neighbor's daughter, He would let me have it my way because it would be none of His business to show me otherwise.

But I am not the neighbor's child. I am the child of the King! And as such, He is modeling me into the image of the One who wears the many crowns.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God
Ephesians 3: 14-19

Three instant...God's answers are given before we can even formulate the questions...we just need to tune in to the right frequency to hear His voice and let His peace flow.

Monday, June 8, 2015


This picture was taken the last day of school 2 years ago...the last day my boys ever went to their beloved NCCA school...that was a tough ending of a wonderful era for our family.

Why are endings so sad and melancholic? I don’t know…they just are…I think it has to do with the fact that they remind us of the frailty of life. They remind us that everything is finite…and we don’t like to think on those terms. We get attached to things, places, animals…people…ideas…and when they end, they leave a great void that it’s hard/impossible to fill. Even if it is the end of something bad we sort of mourn…we mourn for the time wasted, for the suffering we went through, for the familiarity of it all…and we fear the beginning of a new way of doing things.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of all these today…perhaps it is the fact that the school year just ended a couple of days ago taking away more and more of my boys' childhood. Perhaps it is the fact that I’m sitting at my old church’s parking lot…alone…Perhaps it is that the breeze reminds me of home…of the home where I grew up...the home that always kept me safe…the home that is no more. Perhaps it is that this empty parking lot reminds me of all the things I’ve left behind…of all the things I’ve lost.

This quiet, beautiful, warm summer afternoon speaks of goodbyes and faded smiles…and of voices I can hardly recall…

But if I listen intently, it also whispers of hope…and it comes in a song that says:

“You’ve got to believe that the story is so far from over…so hold on to every promise God has made to us and watch the glorious unfolding” (The glorious unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman).

I’m ready for My King. I’m ready for the Groom to come down the road.

Only You can wipe away the tears from our eyes and restore our souls forever. Only You can bring the peace like a river, calm our fears and vanish our despair.

Like the bride waiting for the Groom…I wait…and when You finally come, there will be no end…no melancholic goodbyes…no sad memories that make me long for a past that is irreversibly gone.

Come Lord Jesus, come…

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Opportunities to Trust Him

A Robin's nest built right on my front door's wreath...God provides!

A few days ago I found myself having to spend the night at a strange city after my flight home was cancelled due to bad weather. Since the cancellation was outside of the airline’s control (or so they claimed) the hundreds of stranded passengers had to fend for themselves in hopes of finding food and shelter for the day/night until we could board the flights on which they had rescheduled us.

Of course I was not happy with the situation. I was frustrated with the lack of customer service. I was hungry and tired. I was angry at the airline for not taking good care of its passengers. I was extremely nervous about the fact that I was on standby for a flight next day. I was running out of money…and most of all, I felt alone and a bit panicky at the prospect of having to spend the night sitting on the cold and dirty tile floor of the airport.

Fast forward 21 hours later and I’m finally in my seat on board of the plane that finally brought me home. That’s the moment when I could really appreciate God’s faithfulness through the entire ordeal. Wherever the airline did not take care of me, God did. He provided a comfortable hotel room with a free shuttle to the airport for me to stay which I shared with this really nice Canadian lady who also needed a place to stay. It was a double blessing because…1. We split the bill at the end, and 2. She wasn’t an ax murderer! Also, He made the little money I had left stretch so I could eat during my stay…mainly by keeping hunger at bay. And best of all, after a series of further delays, switches and changes I was able to get on the flight I was on standby.

There were many tense moments during the hours before I finally landed on familiar soil…but now I can see the whole thing as another opportunity to trust in Him. He knows I have trust issues, so He uses many experiences to help me practice what it is like to put my faith in Him. I remember now, the moment I was sitting at the gate, waiting to hear if I would get on that plane, I decided I was going to trust Him…I did…just like that…I said, “I’m going to trust God.” And peace did come to my heart. I was still a bit fidgety, but I had a knowing sense that my name would get on that screen with a check next to it indicating I had a seat. And at the end it did!

I’m not being simplistic here. The journey to fully trusting God is not a fairy tale. It is a rather long and arduous up-hill climb that can only be achieved by the Power of the Living God in us. But, what I am saying is that The Lord does reward us with the peace that transcends all understanding once we place our complete trust in His promise. I am saying that I need to keep His Word tucked into my heart so it can be the lamp that guides my feet…so it can come to me in my hour of need.

24 hours later, I was turning the key to start my little/faithful Honda Civic which I had left parked at the airport about 6 days ago (yes, I still have to insert a key in the ignition of my car…it is that old). One more hour and I was home…letting out a deep sigh of relief. Jesus promises us that Our Heavenly Father takes care of every one of His creatures…from the smallest to the closest to Him…so it’s about time I begin to take Him at His Word, and trust.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6: 25-27

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jesus is Stronger than the Hulk

I’ve been away on and off for the last three weeks and last night I finally was able to chill at home knowing I don’t really have to go anywhere for a while. It was great. I did my favorite chillin’ activity…I watched a movie. I watched Mom’s Night Out. I bought that movie about a month ago and had been saving it for the right moment when I could just watch it and savor it without interruptions.

It is a really cute movie and I enjoyed it a lot, but my favorite part, the part that spoke to me the most, was when the main character said something like: “I’m like the Bruce Banner of Moms…I don’t want to be the Hulk, but it just comes out without me being able to stop it or control it.”

That kind of says it all for me. I am a real-life Bruce Banner Mom who has the Hulk living inside of her and who has little to no control over when that green, huge, angry monster comes out to wreak havoc at her path.

I am so ashamed of myself for such lack of self-control when it comes to my temper…it’s insane! Like, this morning…just about 24 hours after returning home from a fantastic getaway in Puerto Rico where I did nothing but relax and enjoy endless conversation with my dear friend Judy…I let the Hulk come out as the kids where getting ready for school. I mean, really? What is going to take for me to chill!? When am I going to realize it is NOT that important…whatever it is…it is NOT! I know this. But still, I need help stopping the Hulk.

In order to begin to stop this mad creature from popping out I need to examine myself and think about what pushes the Hulk-button on…thinking…I’m thinking…I’m still thinking…AHA! The Hulk pays us frequent visits when I am carrying around the heavy burden of a special worry. When I’m nervous about something my temper becomes shorter, my fuses blow spontaneously, anger becomes my shield and I use the Hulk as my avenger…sigh…

I know this about myself. I have discovered through the years that the minute my head starts spinning the wheels of worry and anxiety, I become short with those closest to me. I am tired of it! I don’t want worry and anxiety to rule my life and damage the lives of those who walk with me. I don’t want the Hulk to be my go-to-guy when I’m scared…

The good news is that there is someone more powerful than the green Avenger.

When I pause long enough to allow myself to listen to the Holy Spirit, I find refuge in His whispering. When I take time to breathe in the breath of life, I hear Him gently guiding me to the sweet understanding that nothing is impossible for God (Matthew 19: 26). When I humble myself, I see the Holy Spirit showing me that Our Almighty Heavenly Father takes care of me and that I am able to cast all my cares upon Him, because He loves me (1 Peter 5: 7). When I let true Hope float, He reminds me that Jesus has done all the work, He has paid it all, and by His wounds I am healed (1 Peter 2: 24).

Therefore, as Jesus himself tells us, we need not worry about our lives…the Father knows what we need and He’ll take care of it all (Matthew 6: 25-34).

Jesus also reminds us that we can come to Him with anything that troubles us:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
 Matthew 11: 28-30

Therefore, the pettiness of our worries needs to be left behind. There is nothing so big that could not be managed by the Hands of God. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing that my infinite worrying can resolve. I need to let go and trust. I need to be humble and accept that I am NOT in control. I need to have hope in the peace that surpasses all understanding. I need to rest in the arms of the One who died for me.

I am not saying it is easy to stop the Hulk from appearing. But it is possible to take some time to prayerfully think about the truth of our own personal green monster and figure out what brings him about. It is possible to offer the triggers to Christ as we become crucified with Him and let Him live in us. With Him, it is possible to move to another level in our relationship where Jesus and Only Jesus become our Shield, our Refuge and our Mighty Avenger.

So, like the character in the movie said, life is messy and it will continue to be messy, but it is a beautiful mess and the Hulk doesn’t need to mess that up!