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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scars to Beautiful


Beauty....its an illusion that is created by the standards of the world...

Unattainable for many

Impossible to achieve

We are constantly told we aren't good enough just by the ads we read, the TV shows we watch, the music we listen to.

We are led to believe that if we don't look a certain way we aren't good enough.

Says who??  Really - who gets to decide that for us?  

I have struggled most of my life with weight issues.  Too fat, at one point because I became obsessed with weight loss I was too thin.  I lived my life around what I ate, how much I ate, how much I ran, what SIZE my clothes were, that I look back now and realize I wasn't LIVING.  I was fighting.  I was fighting to achieve what the WORLD says was good enough.

You are good enough if you have medals showing you can run a long distance. 

You are good enough if you get a lot of likes of your picture on social media.

You are good enough if you wear the smaller size clothes.

Why don't I believe I am good enough just as I am right now?  Because I have listened to the lies the Devil has whispered in my ear.

You and I need to remember what God says in His word in Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..."  God knew what I would struggle with, what I would look like, the paths set before me before I even came to be.  And HE LOVES ME!

God loves me DEEPLY
God values me HIGHLY
God provides for me FULLY
God planned me CAREFULLY

Why then do I say the most hurtful things to myself?  You arms are too fat, your legs are too big, you need to lose weight, you need to change...I have done that recently.  I go to the gym every day and workout with a friend who is showing significant changes, yet I don't' see them in myself.  I walk beside her and hear people tell her how great she looks and I secretly wonder "What about me?"  But, what I need to remember is, it doesn't matter what ANYONE else thinks about me - what God thinks about me is all that matters.  He says I am beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made in HIS image.

What I need and you need to do is start working on our Christ-esteem.  We say we need better Self-esteem, but I need to remember daily what Christ says about me.  Its OK to eat healthy and exercise in order to take care of the body He has given us, but we need to accept we are who He made us to be and embrace our uniqueness.  He loves me uniquely.  He loves you uniquely.  

Our scars make us beautiful.  Many of those scars are inside of us - words said to hurt us, actions that made us feel less than.  No matter what anyone has said about you or done to you, you are beautiful.  Don't be defined by your scars.  Rest in the arms of the one who made you - and remember YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL just the way you are!

Below is a piece of the lyrics from the song Scars to Beautiful by Alessia Cara...if you get a chance, pull it up and listen...

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

His love is Fierce


Ocean Waves - 

    Powerful;

    Forceful;

    Strong;

    Crashing;

    Roaring;
   
    Fierce;

How can something with so much power offer so much peace and tranquility to our souls?  Its amazing to me that God, in all His power and greatness, can be so loving and soothing to us when we need comfort.  

He created the vastness of the ocean - the depth and the width - and when I sit on the shore and look out, it reminds me of His love and His forgiveness.  He loves with an everlasting love - a love that is deep and wide and vast and never ending. 

I love the beach.  I'm drawn to the smell of the salty air and the breeze that washes over me like a cleansing shower.  I love the soothing sound of the waves as they crash against the shore.  I long for Gods love as it does the same - soothes and crashes into me - a force that is so strong it knocks me to my knees, yet loves me softly with a peace that passes all understanding.

Jeremiah 31:3  "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness"

35 times the psalmist tells us in the book of Psalms that "...His love endures forever".  I think he wanted us to know this fact - that Gods love is everlasting.  It is wide and deep and it crashes into us like a tidal wave.  It is fierce.

Jesus Culture has a song out called "Fierce".  The words of the chorus are:

Like a tidal wave
Crashing over me
Rushing in to meet me here
Your love is fierce
Like a hurricane
That I can't escape
Tearing through the atmosphere
Your love is fierce

This reminds us how powerful Gods love is for us.  No matter our circumstances or what we face today, know that His love is powerful, forceful, FIERCE.  When you feel you aren't loved, remember that the one who created the heavens and the oceans loves you FIERCELY.  Let His love crash into you today.  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Cats in a Christmas Tree


Cats in a Christmas tree.

Its cute but so frustrating.

You spend hours decorating the tree, making it look beautiful and perfect, then the cats get in it and pretty much destroy all your hard work. They love to climb up the middle of the tree, knocking things off as they go deeper and higher. There is no point trying to keep them out, they will find a way to do what they want to do.

I was sitting here this morning looking at my once pretty tree that has now been consumed by my cats, and it came to me that its a great symbolism of our lives.

We dress ourselves up, make ourselves look pretty on the outside, but then sin comes in and destroys us from the inside out.  Sin wreaks havoc on our facade of perfection, knocking off the pretty bows and sequins we use to make ourselves look pretty.  We walk into church on Sundays looking our best, but inside we are a total mess.  

I come home from work, I assess the mess and begin trying to put things back where they were. The cats cower in fear of me because they know they did something wrong.  Guilt comes in.   I rearrange the ornaments, fix the branches, reattach the lights, all in an effort to make the tree look presentable again.  But, they always come back for more! 

Isn't that just like what Jesus does for us?  We let sin in, it destroys our temple, then we see the destruction it has caused, feel guilt and then invite Jesus in to fix the mess.  He does.  He always will.  That's what His grace is all about.  We come to him broken, messy, destroyed by our sin, and he makes it new again.  He picks up the pieces of our brokenness and while its never as pretty as it once was because of the cracks, its still standing.   Jesus' mission on earth was to neutralize our guilt.
His death and resurrection provide an unlimited source of the forgiving relief that we all need.

Psalm 32:3, 5 King David wrote "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long...I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD" - and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Every day I leave my house in hopes that I come home and the cats have finally learned to leave the tree alone.  That they won't sin anymore.  Every evening I come home to find a mess.  Somedays its just a small mess, somedays its a big one!  But every day, I try to fix it and then I love on them.  I see them hiding and I reach out and pet them and tell them I love them and let them know they are still welcome in my home.

That's exactly what Jesus does.  No matter how bad we mess up, how broken we are, He comes in and picks up the pieces and rearranges our hearts, then He loves us.  He doesn't scold, he holds.  He wraps His arms around us and lets us know we are still welcome in His house.  

The Christmas Tree is a symbol of the life and rebirth and stamina.  We have all of that in Jesus.  He died so we could be new.  Born again into His family.  No matter how bad we mess up, He will always love us. 
Its the best gift of all.  Don't you think??


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Just Be Held


A few mornings ago I decided to turn on the music instead of watching the news.  The news is always full of bad stories and I just wanted to worship.  I have an Amazon Fire box and so I sorted thru and found a channel with Christian music.  I was singing, packing my lunch, making breakfast and just worshiping the Lord as I readied for my day, when this song came on.  I've heard it many times but the cool thing about this app is it prints the words on the screen.  It came to the above verse and I just stopped in my tracks and tears started falling down my face.

You see, I've been in some storms this past year.  My heart has been downcast and I've wondered where God has been in it all.  I have wondered if he loves me as I've been told He does.  Its easy to wonder when you feel completely surrounded by a storm and you can't feel his presence.  The words of this song reminded me I need to take my eyes off of the storm and place them on the cross.

The Cross.  The one thing that we as Christians probably take for granted more often than we want to admit.  We know what Jesus did for us.  We are thankful.  But this past Sunday our pastor reminded us of the horrific nature of the cross.  What Jesus went thru for US.  The flogging, the beating, the thorns piercing his head, the mocking, the spit in his face, the humility.  He walked a road to a hill, carrying a cross that was meant for me.  It was meant for you.  It was brutal by nature and we live our lives taking for granted what He did. 

It humbled me. 

It made me cry.

It broke my heart.  

It gave me hope.

It showed me how much He loves me.

It opened my eyes to the fact that I need to quit looking at my storms and look at the cross.

Does He really love me?

"But if your eyes are on the cross, you'll know I always have and I always will..."

We live in a troubling time, and so often we worry about so many things - bills, family dynamics, job, government, sickness and disease.  Just be held.  What is Jesus saying in this song?  


Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held

Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you'll find Me
And where you are, I'll hold your heart
I'll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won't let go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
(Stop holding on and just be held)
Just be held, just be held
Just be held, just be held

Not a tear is wasted, I'm painting beauty with the ashes.  What a beautiful reminder that nothing is lost in our suffering.  God is using EVERYTHING for His purpose in our life.  We may not understand what we are going thru.  We may question why He seems to make us take the long route to our destination.  The Israelite's had to take the long way around to the promised land.  Why?  Because they weren't ready for the fight that they may have encountered if they went the shorter distance.  Sometimes God protects us from things we don't even realize is ahead of us by keeping us where we are.  
So, just be held.  Let God hold you in the storm.  Let God shelter you and never forget He has not moved from you.  If you feel lost and alone, seek Him and you will find Him.  He says in his word if you seek me with all your heart you will find me.

Jeremiah 29:13  "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart".

So, today, just be held.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cherish the Moments...

I had a very vivid dream last night.  My grandparents on my moms side are both passed away.  In my dream they walked into my office while I was working.  At the moment I was surprised but not too stunned to see them.  They came to visit.  As I tried to get away to spend time with them it seemed the busier I got.  I was anxious to leave, but people kept coming in and wanting help and asking me questions - they were distracting me from being with the 2 people I most wanted to be with.

As I was finally able to leave, they walked ahead of me out the door, across the street, into a crowd.  I tried to keep up.  Its as if they knew where they were going and they trusted I would follow.  I turned a corned and end they were gone. I panicked.  I asked a lady if she had seen them.

      "They are old and I can't find them!  They were just here!" 

I ran around frantically trying to locate them, but I couldn't.  They were gone.  I was devastated.


I woke up thinking about this and God showed me that is very much what happens in our lives.  We get busy, we get distracted, and the people who are most precious to us move ahead and in a moment, everything changes.  They become sick and die.  They age before our eyes and we take them for granted, and then they are gone.  And we stand around and say "They were just here!".

I wish we could all just appreciate who we have in our lives RIGHT NOW....I am not guaranteed tomorrow and neither are you.  In a moment, everything could change.  

In my dream I went back to my office.  I was upset and crying.  More people had come and the office was packed full of people wanting help and no one was helping them.  I had multiple secretaries around me and no one was doing anything!!  I was anxious and started crying.  I missed my Grandparents and I was brokenhearted that I had lost them.  I turned and saw a dear friend from high school walk in the door and straight to me.  He wanted to know why I was crying.  I quickly wiped my tears and said "I can't talk now, I have to help all of these people.  Can you wait for a bit?"

He said he couldn't wait and so I lost that moment with him.  He had to leave.  He was gone.  

Again, God showed me that sometimes we are given JUST A MOMENT to connect with someone.  That connection is Him, reaching out to us thru others that He uses.  His hands and feet.  I lost that moment because I was too busy.  In a moment, everything changes. 


 I know my grandparents knew how much I loved them, because I showed them and told them often.  My friend probably doesn't know how much I love him because I have failed to tell him.  How many people in your life have you taken for granted, trusting that you have time to say how much you care?  We are all one moment away from a debilitating disease, from an accident that can take us from this earth.  Anything can happen in just a moment.  

So, why don't we make a point starting today to let those we care about and love know how much we love them?  Why don't we make that phone call, send that text, have that cup of coffee?  Is what is keeping you so busy, or the anger you hold keeping you from smiling at them and forgiving them, the disappointment you hold because of something they said or did - is it greater than letting it go and loving them today?  

We aren't promised tomorrow.  

Everything can change in a moment.

What are you going to do with your moments today?


 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall and Faith






Fall.

Its a beautiful time of year.

Leaves start changing color.  The winds blow in cool and crisp.  The days are shorter and the nights are longer.  The animals are preparing for a long winter ahead by storing up food for the winter months.

Fall is also the sign of an end. 

The end of summer and long hot days.  The end of all things living and green.  Its a sign that its time for some things to die and slip into hibernation in order to prepare for the new life that will begin again in the spring.

Our faith can be very much like fall.  We have sailed through a bright and sunny season in our lives when the winds of change roll in.  The breeze picks up and the winds of change start to howl and the leaves of our dying faith start to fall.  We've had a fun and easy time and we haven't built up our faith.  We haven't had to exercise it because life has been good.  What do we do when the storms of life roll in?  How do we get ready for the darkness that is about to descend, before the cold winds howl around us and the doubt and fear begins to blind our eyes?

We must store up for those days by reading and studying Gods word.  Like the squirrels that scurry around picking up all the acorns that have fallen from the trees, we must take the bits and pieces of God's word that we have heard and store them up in our hearts so that when the storms come, we have the nourishment we need to sustain us.

How do we keep from getting discouraged when we can't see whats in front of us?  Read Gods word.  Store it up in your heart and your mind so when you can't see whats next, you can rely on the one who knows it all.  


 God already knows whats ahead.  He wants us to trust Him with the next step, the next day, the next week, the next season.   If we try to get thru on our own power, we will become disoriented in the storm and end up walking down the wrong path.  We will become lost and unable to find our way out.  But, if we build up our faith by reading Gods word, and praying for His guidance, He will lead us to the other side.

After fall comes the cold long days of winter.  We snuggle in, we try to stay warm, we probably eat too much comfort food, and we expectantly for longer days and warmer breezes.  This is how we build our faith.  We snuggle in, we grab our Bibles, we load up on His comfort, and we expectantly wait for the sunnier days and the end of our present struggle.  But does it end there?  No, just as there are 4 seasons in nature, we also have seasons in our faith walk.  We must ride the wave of each season with the same expectation we do when fall comes and winter hits.  We store up Gods word in our hearts so that when the winds blow in, when the doubts and fear howl around us, we have nourishment to get us through. 

Fall, its my favorite time of year.  What will you store up for the long winter ahead?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Peace in the Pause


A few years ago I felt God stirring in my heart to "tell my story".  You see, I grew up in a small town in Northern Indiana, a child of divorce in a church that some would now consider a "cult".   I've had many experiences through life because of my upbringing and God has shown himself in many ways.  So, in my calling, I assumed I was to write a book.  

I've never written a book.  I've never really written much, except my journals.  So, with good intentions of my heart, I sat down and tried to write a book.  Didn't happen.  I didn't know where to start, what to do, what direction to take it.  I've struggled now for a few years thinking I'm supposed to write a book and nothing has happened.  Well, life has happened.  

I'm a single mom.  In these years I've raised 2 boys, taken care of a home, been the sole income earner in my home and had to deal with all the issues most women have a husband to help with. So, when would I have time to write a book?  I tried in my own POWER to do what I thought God wanted me to do...instead of waiting on God to tell me when and how to proceed forward.  So, in the time of PAUSE, I started writing blog posts.  

It occurred to me this morning that these posts very much tell my story.  I've shared some of my past, but what I've shared most is what God is teaching me through his word.  There have been pauses in my writing - either because I wasn't spending time with Him and listening, or because I was just busy doing life.  I'm at a season in my life now where the kids are gone to college and I'm starting to have more time to listen to God. 

I've done a lot of whining and crying - wondering why he has me hanging out in the pasture when I want to go running down the hillside. I've wanted to run ahead of God and do things on my own, and in the process he has closed doors, and some he has even slammed in my face.   When He told me to tell my story, I thought he meant my past.  But, now, He very well could have been meaning my present and in the pause is preparing me for my future.  I'm to tell what I'm doing while hanging out in the pasture, waiting for my shepherd to lead me to greener pastures.  You see, I have to get all I can glean from the pasture I'm in before I can enjoy the one that is ahead of me.  If I rush through this one, I may miss something really good.

Where do you feel God wants you to go?  Do you feel like you are stuck where you are?  I do.  But, when you feel that way and when I feel that way, we need to pause and ask God "What is it you are trying to teach me in this pasture?"  Many lessons will be learned at each one and we need to get as much nourishment and growth out of each one.

James 1:2 (MSG) "So don't try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let [a test or challenge] do its work so you become mature and well- developed, not deficient in any way."

So, today, I urge you to find Peace in the Pause.  Instead of being anxious about moving forward, ask God what He wants you to learn where you are, being READY and willing to take the next steps forward when He says you are ready.