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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Attitude Adjustment


Someone recently shared this verse with me.  I want to remember it and commit it to my heart and my life.  So often in life we are faced with things that make us want to give up, to lay down in defeat and quit.  But here, we are told to commit WHATEVER you do.  Did you hear me?  WHATEVER. 

When we go to work at a job we hate, we need to go AS IF we are working for the Lord, not the boss we can't stand.

When we agree halfheartedly to serve on Sunday morning, (admit it, you have all done it), do it AS IF you are doing it for the Lord, not the youth pastor who was in desperate need to fill a slot.

When you have a pile of homework (teens) and you feel like there is just no reason to know geometry or physics, do it anyway AS IF for the Lord.

When you go to the gym to workout, and your body hurts so bad you can barely move, push through the pain and soreness, AS IF for the Lord.

There are so many instances in our lives and I've only mentioned a few, where we go into it half-heartedly.  We commit a YES to something that we really wanted to say NO to.  Why?  Why did we say yes?  Was it to please man?  To make someone else happy only to turn and grumble under our breath about how we really would rather not do this or that task?  No matter what we do in life, we have a choice.  We have a choice to joyfully say YES and serve as if serving the Lord, or we can say YES and grumble our way through the task.  I would wager a bet that if we change our attitude about why we are doing something, and for whom we are doing it, we will get more joy out of the experience.

So many things in life are hard.  If we approach them with a negative attitude, we will have a negative result.  If we approach with a positive, serving the Lord, attitude, we will reap way more than we give.  Our youth pastor frequently tells the youth "You are never more like Jesus than when you serve".  Jesus came to this earth to serve.  He lived as a common man and suffered as we did.  I'm sure there were times when he was tired, his feet hurt, his body was sore from the days of traveling to preach to people who sometimes rejected him.  Did he grumble?  Did he complain to his heavenly father "God, why me?  These people don't appreciate what I'm doing."  If he could humble himself and walk the path he did with joy, why can't we?  Is what we are going through worse than what Jesus endured? No.

So today, as you enter your day with the tasks ahead, commit to doing each task as if FOR THE LORD, not for man.  We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.  Have an attitude adjustment today.  Change your attitude, change your day!! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Accountability



Accountability- I think that word scares people.  If I tell someone my plan, I then have someone to answer to.  I have to follow through now or I will be a failure.  When I trained for my first marathon, I told several people.  I printed a 4 month running schedule, hung it up, and marked each day off.  I was accountable to the calendar but most importantly I was accountable to those I told about the race.

I need accountability in my life.  I need someone I can confess to when I eat something I shouldn't.  I need someone to confess to when I do something that is sinful.  I need someone who has been on this journey who can guide and direct me towards my goals and dreams.  

An accountability partner should be someone who is trustworthy.  Prov. 20:19  "“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Someone who is always talking about other people’s personal struggles will probably betray you too. So choose wisely.  Pray about it.  Seek God and ask Him to lead you to the person you can trust with your deepest secrets and struggles.

An accountability partner should be attentive.  Someone who will make time to sit and talk with you and listen to you.  James 1:19 says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

An accountability partner should be encouraging.  Someone who will lift you up, not condemn you.  Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thess. 5:11).

Accountability is good for our spiritual journey as well as taking care of our physical bodies.  God led me recently to a group of people who are strong and fit and healthy.  I hesitated because I didn't feel I would belong.  I felt lacking in so many areas.  But they embraced me.  They encourage me.  They are trustworthy.  I know they won't talk about my weaknesses when I am not around, but will exhalt my accomplishments when I meet them.  I'm pushed beyond my limits because they know there is greatness there.  They didn't just become strong and fit...they worked at it.  They banded around each other just as they are with me.  These are the types of people you want in your corner.

Accountability is good for our spiritual journey.  We all have areas that we struggle with.  A specific sin that we can't seem to break free from - pornography, overeating, cursing, gambling, etc.  There is something that pops into your mind as you read this that God is convicting you about. Something that is holding you back from experiencing all God has for you in your spiritual journey.  Find someone who meets the criteria of an accountability partner and let them hold you accountable.  





This is hard.  I know.  Opening up and trusting someone with your heart.  With your struggles.  But, God didn't put us on this journey to walk it alone.  There are people out there who have struggled as you are struggling who can encourage you and help you along your path.  

I may not be able to do 100 pushups today - but with encouragement from my peers, I know someday I will.  I may not be able to eat a healthy diet, but being told I can do it and being asked how its going keeps me from the candy!  I may not want to quit that particular sin, but knowing someone will ask me how my week went and what struggles I had will help me stand strong in the face of temptation.

Who can hold you accountable today?  What do you need to be accountable for?  Its not easy, but it will be worth it.  Remember, our lives were never meant to be lived in solitude.
 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How does God define beauty?


Clothe yourselves with beauty that comes from within.  What does that mean?  

The world tells us over and over that beauty is thin.  

Beauty is designer clothes.  

Beauty is having a thigh gap.

Beauty is long flowing hair and pearly white teeth.

The worlds perception of beauty is outward appearance.  Things that can fade or be destroyed.
God's beauty is what is inside.  What does your heart look like?

Do you serve others willingly?  Are you loving, thoughtful and kind?  Do you think of others more than yourself?

The Bible says:  



Believing we are beautiful is not easy for many of us.   God is beautiful, and if we were created in His image, how can we not be beautiful?   God doesn't make mistakes, so how can we justify what we think about ourselves when it doesn't line up with what God says about us?

That's a tough question, isn't it?  I admit, I've fallen into the trap of what the world views as beautiful, and since I don't possess most of the images portrayed, I have let myself feel unloved and not good enough.  But, its a lie!!!  Inside my heart is pure, my love for the Lord is real and my desire to serve and bless others fuels me daily.  You  have met people who shine a light through their eyes that is unmatched to anything you've ever seen before.  They smile in spite of their circumstances.  They give when they have nothing left to give.  They serve just to see the joy in others faces.  Beauty - true beauty.  Heart beauty.  

Do I strive to try to look better? Feel better?  Do I take care of my outward appearance? Yes.  Because my body is a gift from God.  The only body he has given me and I must respect it and take care of it.  Do I strive to do all these things to find favor in the eyes of the world?  Perhaps we all do to some degree.  We need to realize that the size of our thighs doesn't determine our worth.  The size of our hearts does.

So this week, as you look in the mirror, ask yourself "Does what I believe about myself line up with what God says about me?"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Listening

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something and you feel like God doesn't hear  you?  Weeks, months, even years go by and you begin to get frustrated.  Perhaps you even quit praying because you feel like God isn't listening anymore.

Its happened to me.  One specific prayer I've prayed for over 10 years now.  That's a long time!  I've tried to answer that prayer on my own, doing things my own way, and its failed.  So, I crawl back to my heavenly Father, ask for forgiveness for trying to exert my will against His, and ask that He not make me wait extra long because of my impatience.

There have been times when I think "This is it - He's finally heard me!", only to be let down and realize once again, I was rushing and trying to see an answer where there wasn't one.

Have you done this in your prayer life?  Talked and talked and talked to God....but never listened to Him?

I sat down this morning, thought about this listening concept, flipped open my bible as the thought of "For I know the plans I have for you..." came to mind and I look down and my bible had flopped open at THIS VERY VERSE!  Wow!! A god moment.  I didn't look it up specifically, it fell in my lap.  God whispering to me...me listening

I like this version because of how the verse ends "to give you and EXPECTED end"...Yes, there will be an end to our suffering.  There will be an end to our trials.  Whatever it is we are praying for, there will be an end.  We may not get the answer we want, but we will get the answer God intends.  His will, not mine.  His way, not mine.  

This verse comforts me.  It tells me God is thinking about ME.  He has a plan, for ME.  And there will be an end designed just for ME.  How awesome is that?  HE sees ME.  HE hears ME.  HE loves ME.  I sit here, listening to His still small voice.  He is whispering to me "I've got this, all you need to do is trust me". 

Try it sometime.  Instead of doing all the talking, Listen. Be quiet.  Wait.  A lot happens in that moment.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Surrender


Surrendering is hard. 

It hurts sometimes because we have to give up what we want in order to change.  As the picture above says "the intersection between acceptance and change"

I accept that I need to change my physical body, so I surrender to the training of someone else in order to affect change.

I accept that I need to change my spiritual body, so I surrender to the leading of the Father in order to affect change. 

I accept that I need to change my emotional body, so Isurrender the feelings of doubt, insecurity, and failure in order to affect change.

Every day we have to surrender, whether we realize it or not.  We see what needs to change in our lives and we are handed the tools to affect that change.  The difference between someone who is stuck and someone who is moving forward is whether they will "surrender" their will to the one who is affecting that change.

Is it easy?  NO!  Its hard, it hurts, it can painful and nauseating.  When God calls us to lay aside the things that are holding us in bondage - fear, emotional anxiety, past hurts, unforgiveness, pride, idolatry - it can be hard to let those things go.  We've held onto them and built our lives around them.  They have fueled us for so long we are scared to let them go.  But, if we surrender to His leading, letting those things go will break us out of bondage and into a life of freedom we have never imagined.


Gal 5:1  "It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject to a yoke of slavery".

I took a fitness class last night.  It was hard.  It was painful.  It burned.  I wanted to quit, say I couldn't do it.  But, I knew that if I wanted to break free of the chains that bound me, the chains of self-doubt, fear, insecurity, then I needed to stand firm.  I had others there encouraging me, telling me they needed more out of me than I was giving.  I wanted to say "Its all I've got"...but I knew there was more - and I knew there were no excuses.  I won't be set free from all that is holding me back until I break through the barriers in my own mind.  I want to be free from all I heard when I was a kid - being called fat and made fun of because of what I wore and where I went to church.  I want to break free from the bondage of feeling like I'm not good enough because the most important man in my life (dad) walked out on me when I needed him most.  I want to break free from the bondage of a failing in my marriage and making my kids grow up in a broken home.  God is there, pushing me, encouraging me and telling me He needs more out of me than I'm giving.  Last night was an eye opener for me.  I'm on a journey - I have so far to go and yet I took the first step.  The first step physically and also spiritually - of laying my will down and following the will of the one who is leading me.

Today I surrender.  Every single day I have to surrender.  It is a daily process and sometimes I will fail and pick up the baggage that I am no longer meant to carry...and when I do, I will feel the weight of those chains that bind me and I pray that God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, taps me on the shoulder and says "I need a little more out you today Stacie.  Come on, dig deep.  I want perfection from you and so I need you to keep working hard - and SURRENDER".

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Crave



Are cravings good?  or bad?

Why do we have them and what can we do about them?

I believe God made us to CRAVE....to crave Him.

Crave - Something you long for, desire eagerly, and beg for.

Generally when someone says they have a craving for something, our minds immediately go to food.  Sugary, fatty, salty, high calorie food.  Why are we so weak against those candy sprinkled, chocolate coated donuts and can turn our noses to what is good for our bodies? 

The same question can be asked of our desire to do what we know is wrong instead of doing what is right.  Following our will instead of God's will for our lives.  

1 John 2: 15-16  "Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him.  For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world".

Satan tries to tempt us in 3 ways:
     *  The cravings of the sinful man
     *  The lust of his eyes
     *  The boasting of what he has or does

Cravings of a sinful man are misplaced physical desires.  Does that hit home at all?  Sexual sin.  Putting things into our body that make it feel better.  Food, drugs.  
Lust of eyes - getting our material desires met outside the will of God.  Do you shop excessively to make yourself feel better?  Buy things you don't need?  Then live with regret afterward?  
Boasting - do you crave attention and praise from people?  Long for acceptance from someone other than the Lord?  Do you brag about your accomplishments so you can receive praise?

Wow, this is a humbling idea.  That we can CRAVE in all areas of our life besides our diet.   It's eye opening.  What we were created to crave was a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  What we should long for, eagerly want and beg for is GOD.  Only God.   Eve was tempted in the Garden and she gave into that craving...Jesus was tempted in the desert after 40 days and He didn't.  What was different?  He stood on the WORD OF GOD.  Eve was saturated with the object of her desire.  Jesus was saturated in God's word.   Eve craved what she focused on.  We consume what we think about.

So, what do you crave today?  What occupies your thoughts more than God's will for your life?  Do you saturate your mind with His word, or the object of your desire?   

Psalm 84:1-2  How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty?  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God"



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Uncomfortable


Today I participated in a fitness class that I thought I was ready for.  I've been in other classes that pushed me to my limit.  This one - this one pushed me PAST my limit.

I told the instructor "I need to be uncomfortable.  I will never change if I'm not".  So, he made me as uncomfortable as I've ever been.  I'm sore, tired, banged up and mentally trying to build myself back up before the next class!

As I sit here this evening it hit me, God wants us to be uncomfortable.  He wants to push us beyond what we ever thought we could do.  Take us to places we never thought we could go.  Will you listen to Him?  Will you let Christ make you uncomfortable?  Will you say YES to what He wants you to do?

Its all about Obedience

When God calls us to love our neighbors - it can be uncomfortable.

When God calls us to witness to a stranger - it can be uncomfortable.

When God calls us to go to a foreign land to minister - it can be uncomfortable.

When God calls us to give more of our paycheck than we would like - it can be uncomfortable.

When God calls us, it won't be easy.  But He never promised it would be easy - just that He would be with us through it all.

My instructor today told me it wasn't going to be easy.  It was going to be hard and he had high expectations.  He told me I would definitely be uncomfortable.  But, do I want to break through to a new level in my fitness? yes.  Do you want to break through to a new level in your relationship with God?  If so, get uncomfortable.  And know, just like the instructor was there for me, God will be right there for you - cheering you on.


Fender Bender


Most of us have had them.

Most of us have seen them.

People taking their eyes off the road and ramming into the person in front of them. 

Accidents.  They happen.  We don't' mean for them to happen, but there comes a time in almost everyone's life that we take our eyes off the road for a split second and our lives can change.  Thankfully my first time was without injury and without damage.

Our walk with Jesus can be like a fender bender.  Or a blown out collision.  We take our eyes off of Him, get distracted, and we hit a wall.  We think we can do things our way and we take our eyes off of Jesus.  We think we don't need His guidance in our lives, we are fine doing things our own way.  It may seem fine and dandy for awhile, but eventually, we will be on a collision course of His will vs. our will.   He is the author and perfecter of our faith.  HE IS.  Not us. 

Hebrews 12:2  " Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Fix our eyes on Jesus.  What does that mean?  Does it mean we stare at a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall?  No.  It means we surrender to Him our lives, give him our hearts and Trust that He is who He says he is.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross.  The cross was brutal, but he suffered joyfully for YOU...for ME.  Let that sink in.  He ENDURED for us.  

Jesus wasn't just a nice guy who walked the earth.  He wasn't just a prophet or a miracle worker.  That was part of who he was...who he is is the SON OF GOD!  The only one who carried OUR sin and pardoned us.  He established a covenant between us and God, bridging the gap so we can have eternal life not based on our works but on His grace.  We need to see who Jesus really is.  We do that by fixing our eyes on Him.
 


 To fix our eyes on Him is to believe the reality of WHO He is. Its not about looking at Him with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of our heart.  It is to believe what He has accomplished on the cross on our behalf.  It is to see Him in your heart as your loving Father and redeemer.  It is to communicate with Him with complete assurance based on his finished work.

So, today, spend some time fixing your eyes on the one who assures you a path that will get you to your destination safely.  Eyes on Jesus, author and perfecter.  Don't look to the left or the right, but straight ahead at the one who gives the direction we need.

To fix your eyes on him is to believe the reality of who he is. It is to believe what he has accomplished on your behalf on the cross. It is to see him in your heart as your loving redeemer. It is to communicate with him with complete assurance based on his finished work. - See more at: http://searchingforgrace.com/look-the-book/fix-your-eyes-on-jesus/#sthash.nF9Z0J97.dpuf
We need to accept that Jesus is not just a good man, he is not just a godly prophet and he is not only a miracle worker. Jesus is the Son of God! The only one who carried our sins and pardoned us freely. He is the one who has established a brand new covenant between God and mankind, not based on our works but on his grace! Until we accept the new covenant of his grace, we can never see the full reality of Jesus. - See more at: http://searchingforgrace.com/look-the-book/fix-your-eyes-on-jesus/#sthash.nF9Z0J97.dpuf
 
We need to accept that Jesus is not just a good man, he is not just a godly prophet and he is not only a miracle worker. Jesus is the Son of God! The only one who carried our sins and pardoned us freely. He is the one who has established a brand new covenant between God and mankind, not based on our works but on his grace! Until we accept the new covenant of his grace, we can never see the full reality of Jesus. - See more at: http://searchingforgrace.com/look-the-book/fix-your-eyes-on-jesus/#sthash.nF9Z0J97.dpuf
We need to accept that Jesus is not just a good man, he is not just a godly prophet and he is not only a miracle worker. Jesus is the Son of God! The only one who carried our sins and pardoned us freely. He is the one who has established a brand new covenant between God and mankind, not based on our works but on his grace! Until we accept the new covenant of his grace, we can never see the full reality of Jesus. - See more at: http://searchingforgrace.com/look-the-book/fix-your-eyes-on-jesus/#sthash.nF9Z0J97.dpuf

Friday, January 17, 2014

Rescued and Restored


You've heard her story.  

You know her plight.

Outcast.  Scorned.  Dismissed by society.  Considered dirty and unclean.  She is alone and afraid, cowering in her room away from the glaring eyes of society.  She only comes out at night because the cover of darkness makes her feel safe.

Doctors had tried to heal her but for twelve years had failed.  Then a man comes to town.  She hears of his ability to perform miracles.  His kindness and gentleness.  She wants to see Him but shes not supposed to go around others in her condition.  Touching her makes them 'unclean'. 

Who cares!!! I'm tired of living this way.  I know if I could just touch his clothes, He will heal me.  That's all I need, just a touch.  So, she covers her head and tries to blend into the crowd.  He stops to speak, touch, hug, heal others.  She's almost there.  So close.  Then, on her knees she is able to touch the tassel of his garments and immediately she feels the power surge through her.  She feels herself grow stronger. She's healed.  And then He stops!  "Who touched me?".  Oh no, what will happen to her now?  Will she be in trouble?  Will He be angry with her?  "Who touched me?"  

So she went and fell at his feet.  Mark 5:33 "Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet, trembling with fear, and told him THE WHOLE STORY".  

Did you hear that?  She told Him the whole story!!  All of it.  How angry she was that she had dealt with this for so long.  How disappointed she was that she had been shunned and dismissed.  How disappointed she was that God had not heard her cries and prayers for the past 12 years.  How weak she was because the sickness was draining the life out of her.  She dumped on Him.  She told him everything.

Have you ever been afraid to tell God how you really feel?  Do you think it would shock him if He knew?  He already does.  He is just waiting for you to come to him and be brutally honest.  Trust me, He will not get mad at you.  He will not turn away from you.  He loves you.  He wants you to be honest with Him about what you feel.  He wants to hear your words, your heart, you fears, anger and disappointment. 

Do you sometimes feel God plays favorites?  I'm sure she did.  She had prayed for the same thing day in and day out for 12 years.  Others would pray and the answers would fall from the sky into their laps as if UPS was on speed dial.  Why did God answer their prayers and not hers?  Why did she have to suffer for so long?

He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering".   She was already healed.  That happened when she touched him.  So what did she need freed from?  Anger, disappointment, shame, the lies that had played non-stop in her head for the last 12 years.  She needed healing from the self-hatred she had worn on her shoulders like a heavy coat {The Storm Inside, Sheila Walsh}

She needed healing but Jesus wanted to make her whole.  He wants the same for us too.  He came to heal whats on the inside.  So, don't be afraid to be brutally honest with Jesus.  He can handle it.  He won't turn His back on you.  Instead, he will listen, hold you, wipe away your tears and say "go in peace and be FREED from your suffering"

2 Cor 12:9  "My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness"  

God wants to heal us of so much more than our physical ailments.  He wants to heal our souls.  But, unless we are honest with Him about what hurts, He can't touch the deep dark recesses of our soul and make them whole.  So, get honest with God.  He's your father and He loves you.  He wants to hear from you today

 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Revival of One? or Many?


For too long God's people have listened to the enemy.  He whispers to us when we are most vulnerable "you are never going to get better"  "You will never find the man or woman of your dreams"  "You will never get out of debt"  "Your life doesn't matter"

But God's word says differently.  Why do we listen to the creator of lies when we have a Heavenly Father ready and able to give us all He has promised in His word?

2 Peter 1:4 
 "And because of His glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.  These are promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption cause by human desires".

How awesome is that?  He has GIVEN us great and precious promises.  Not just a few of us.  Not just the good looking people, or the healthy people, or the wealthy people.  HE has given those promises to all of us. So why aren't we walking in them? Is it because we haven't taken time to read His word and learn what He has promised us?  We need to store up in our hearts the word of God so that when Satan attacks with lies, we have the Word of God as a shield to protect our hearts and minds.

Are you tired?  Matthew 11:28-29  "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"

Are you struggling financially?  Philippians 4:19  "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus".

Overwhelmed?  Proverbs 1:33 "But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm"

These are just a few key verses in a book filled with God's promises.  No matter what you are going through, God has an answer for you in His word.  How do you find it?  READ IT!  Spend time with Him.  Commune with Him.  

The picture at the top of the page has a quote from "The Storm Inside" by Sheila Walsh  I am one of those ragtag women.  God is raising me up and calling me to say Yes to His promises and no to the lies of Satan.  Do you want to join me?  Are you tired of listening to all the negative things in your head.  Get out Gods word and meditate on it. 

If you were sick you would take medicine.  Consider God's word the medicine for your soul - a soul that is worn, tired, broken, trampled on.  Let it seep into the crevices of your heart and soothe away all that is causing you pain and heartache.  There is a revival going on in my heart.  Wouldn't it be awesome if this year more and more Christians stood up and took back what Satan has stolen!  God is calling us to listen to His Yes!

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Be Still


Have you ever sat down to pray or read the Bible and you keep getting distracted?  You can't shut off your brain and instead of praying you think about the laundry, what someone said to you that day that upset you, your schedule for tomorrow, etc.

How do you quiet your mind so you can meditate on the word of the Lord?  How do you learn to listen to that still small voice if everything else is screaming inside your head?  How do you learn to "be still"?

Its not easy.  Being still.  We live in a world where we are bombarded with "noise makers".  TV, Radio, Internet, Smart Phones, I pods, Video games...the list of noise makers is endless.  Its become uncommon for someone to sit in a quiet room.  The first question is "Why don't' you have the TV on?"  "Why are you sitting in the room with nothing on?".  I'm sure God would love to have even a fraction of the time we spend on those things.  We say we don't have time to pray, or read His word....now we see why. The noise makers of this world has eaten up our minutes.

I have found that giving God my first moments of the day, those early morning hours before anyone else is awake in the house, is when I can focus on Him and what He wants to say to me.  I get that fresh, piping hot mug of coffee, my blanket and my Bible, and I commune with my heavenly Father. 


 Some mornings I sit and wonder where to start.  That is when I am still.  I listen.  I don't speak. I want to hear His voice.  What do you want to say to me today Lord?  And sometimes, in those quiet moments as I sip on my coffee, I will hear Him. He will whisper to me to pray for someone.  He will guide me to a passage of scripture.  He will bring to mind something that happened and encourage me to share that story so it can relate to others in a way that brings glory to Him.

Being still is hard.  I don't' mean to make it sound easy.  There are mornings when I still can't focus.  My mind is cluttered and my heart races.  I want my time with Him to matter but I can't quiet the rush inside of me.  In those moments I will play worship music.  I will drown out the noise in my head with music.  To me, music is a way of not only worshiping Him, but letting Him speak to me.  I listen to the words.  There are messages in those songs.  And sometimes, when you don't know what to say, someone else has said it for you.  There is a song on the radio that I love.  I have posted it below.  When you don't know what to say, just say Jesus.  There is power in that name, the wonderful, beautiful name of Jesus.  And when you call Him, He will meet you where you are. 


So, be still....and trust that He will be there.  He's always there, waiting for you to put all the other stuff aside and spend time with Him.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

God-incidences



Did you see it?  That moment that almost passed you by.

Did you feel it?  That touch of God on your life that breezed thru your soul.

Did you taste it?  The sweet, tenderness of the one who loves you more than you can imagine.

God Incidences.  Moments in our days that come and surprise us, mesmerize us, captivate us.  Did you miss them? or did you see, feel and taste God's sweet touch on your life?

We all have them.  Moments that are so hard to explain away as coincidences that we realize God is actually present in our daily lives.  A text out of the blue from an old friend that you've lost touch with, telling you she was thinking about you and misses you.  A word from someone that changes your outlook on your day, your life.  A friend who lets you know that God put you on their heart and they are praying for you, even when they don't know what your needs are.  Or the unexpected blessing that shows up at just the right moment when you felt all hope was lost. 

Take those moments and thank Him for them.  Its God, reaching out and touching your life in a tangible way through His people.  Look for those moments.  Cherish them.  Hold onto them and know that you are not alone.  He sees you.  He hears you.  He loves you more than you could ever imagine.  You are not invisible.  You are not forgotten.

Gods fingerprints are all over us.  He's there, in your life, touching you and directing your path.  The ultimate chess player.  Some people in your life are Rooks.  Being placed and moved to different areas to protect and guide.  Others are like the Bishop, there to help cover up your weaknesses.  Pieces of a chess game are moved into positions where they can "capture" other pieces, "defend" their own or control important squares in the game.  Each piece has a purpose in the game.  God has placed certain people or instances in our life for a purpose.  His fingerprints are ALL OVER the pieces of our life, moving us, protecting us, guiding us, watching over us.  

We need to open our eyes today to those moments...when God sends a whisper, a smell, a touch.  Notice those God-incidences and revel in them.  Thank Him for touching your life.  And wait for the next moment to happen.  Trust me, it will....if you don't pay attention, you could miss it.



Friday, January 10, 2014

Stuck


Its happened a lot lately, to a lot of people.  They got stuck.  Roads are icy and snow covered.  You try to drive forward and you get stuck.  You try to go back the way you came, and you can't move. 
We start digging, trying to free ourselves, but our wheels just keep turning to no avail.  What we need is help.  A push.  A good hearty SHOVE!  and then we can be on our way, on our path again.

Last night my son and I were on our way home from visiting a friend who just had a new baby.  What a joy!  He's healthy, mom is healthy and glowing.  She's on her path.  She has direction and now that he's here, she can move forward.  She is no longer stuck.  She's been freed from the spinning wheels of a pregnancy that seems to never end (admit it, towards the end we all feel that way!) and is now freed to mother and nurture this baby she has carried for 9 months.  

As we pulled into our subdivision, I saw another woman.  Stuck.  At a crossroads where I needed to turn to head home.  I stopped and told my son "Lets help her".  I approached her and asked if she needed help.  She was so thankful.  Others had driven right past her, ignoring her spinning wheels, offering no assistance.  I had her get in her car and we pushed and pushed, and her wheels just kept spinning, offering no traction and going no where.  Frustrating.  She lived just yards away and couldn't reach her destination.  We were able to get her moved out of that rut and she got stuck again.  I moved my car out of the way and I told her "When you get going, keep going forward.  Don't' try to stop and go backwards.  Drive all the way around the block and come in on the road you need to be on and you will make it home.  I will wait for you".  We gave it one more big push and she was off...moving forward again.  Slowly, tentatively, she made her way around the block and was able to pull into her driveway.  I waited, as I promised, and she hugged me and thanked me for helping her.  I was my pleasure.  It's what we wish anyone would do for us.

It hit me that getting stuck in the snow like she did, spinning her wheels, is indicative of what happens in our Christian walk.  We know where we want to go, but we just can't seem to move forward.  We spin our wheels, stuck in a rut.  We are afraid to move forward, can't go backward, and and sometimes we just need a good hard push.   Sometimes that push will move us forward a little bit, and then we get stuck again.  Is this the way? Am I making the right decision?  What if I get stuck again? 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says "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.

Trust.  The woman trusted my son and I would help her get unstuck.  My friend trusted that one day the baby would come and her life could move forward being a mother to him.  We need to trust the Lord, that He will guide us and direct us.  He will make our paths straight.  We don't' need to keep spinning our wheels, because He will gently push us forward.  But, to keep moving forward, we need to listen to the one who is pushing  Listen to the instruction that is given (BIBLE), trust it, and then act on it.  I couldn't have helped the woman get home if she didn't listen to me.  If she wanted to keep doing things her way, she would have remained stuck.  She had to trust me and listen, and when she did, she found her way home.

When you are stuck in a trial, not sure where to go or what to do, God has given you instruction.  Its in His word.  Many people don't' read it because they don't' want to do what God is telling them to do.  Sometimes its hard.  Its not easy to get unstuck.  But its necessary in order to continue on our journey. Are you stuck today?  Need a gentle push to get your wheels on solid ground again?  Go to the one who can give you the push you need.  Go to the one who can tell you what to do to move forward on your journey.  Read, listen and follow His instruction.  It may seem impossible, but with God pushing you and encouraging you, you will get UNSTUCK.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Words and Wounds




She laid there in her hospital bed.  Weak.  Frail.  Near the end of her days.

I was young.  19 at most.  She was my heart.  The one I cherished and loved.  I would spend summers with her and share her bed.  In the early mornings I would lay and listen to her talk about how much she loved me.  How pretty my smile was. 

I grew up and went to college and she would write me letters and tell me how proud she was.  I went to her bedside to see her, this woman I cherished.  I held her hand and we laughed some.  She told me she was proud of me and to do good in school.  Then, as I bend down to kiss her cheek she whispers in my ear "You would be so pretty if you would just lose weight".  Even now, writing this, those words pierce me.  An arrow to my heart.  My grandmother.  Trying to encourage me, I know, but wounding me instead with her words.  She will never know the depth of pain I felt at her words or how that one sentence has haunted me the rest of my days.

How do we recover from words that were meant to encourage but end up hurting and wounding us?  This culture places so much value on appearance, how do I rewrite the script in my head that says as long as I'm thin, I will be pretty, otherwise I am not?  Only one thing can help - replacing the lies we have believed for the truth of who God says we are.  TRUST.  

"We show God how much we love Him by intentionally dragging our feelings of insecurity in line with who God's word says we are and acting on that truth rather than the familiar lies we have believed", Sheila Walsh, The Storm Inside.

People will fail us, but not God!   He is worthy of our 100% trust.  He will stand true to his promises.  There will be times I won't FEEL like dragging my will into line with Gods.  I need to stand on what is true, not what my emotions are saying.  When feelings of insecurity of my value and worth start to threaten to overtake me, I need to remember what John 15:15-16 says:

"Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  You didn't choose me, I chose you."

"You didn't choose me, I chose you"
"You didn't choose me, I chose you"
"You didn't choose me, I chose you"

I am His.  Nothing anyone says to me or about me can change that.  I am His because He chose me.  I am loved and treasured. 

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  So we say with confidence "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?"  Heb 13:5,6

I miss my grandmother.  I love her dearly.  I know that if she was here today, she would be proud of who I am.  She would never say anything to intentionally hurt me. I know her words weren't meant for harm, but for good.  I crawl to the foot of the cross and lay those words at His feet.  I am no longer defined by that sentence and I will walk in the truth of what God has said "You didn't choose me, I CHOSE YOU". 

If you struggle with insecurity, shame, fear, hopelessness, please consider reading "The Storm Inside" by Sheila Walsh.  Its been amazing to see how much God loves me, how he longs for me to be set free from all that is holding me back.  I walk in freedom today and continue my journey of laying it all at His feet. 
 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

storm outside


Outside a storm is building.  Large white flakes of snow will fall fast and furious as the day progresses.  It will cover our dirty world in a coat of white, covering all the gray, dirt, and bareness with a blanket of beauty.  Many see this as a hindrance in their life, a mess that needs to be cleaned up.  I see it in a different way.

Inside our hearts and our minds we have storms building.  Stress, disappointment, discouragement, anger, frustration, abandonment.  The list could go on.  The storm builds and builds inside of us as it does outside, ready to explode in a flurry of activity.  Outside we see winds howling and blowing, but what is going on inside?  Is your heart racing from the fear of being found out?  That someone will see who you truly are? That you are fighting a storm inside that would rival what is going on outside?

We all face these storms.  You are not alone.  But, like the blanket of white snow that covers the dirt and gloom outside, so does God's grace blanket the dirt that is inside of us.  His blood poured out and covered the earth, wiping away all the mess that we made.  It washed us clean.   

We pray prayers, asking God to remove the things that are weighing us down.  Sometimes we feel He isn't listening, that He isn't hearing our pleas and cries.  He does.  He has a beautiful gift to give you that will wipe away all your hurt and anger and disappointment.  Its like a snow plow that comes in and removes the weight of the heavy snow that falls.  His Love and mercy will come in and plow through the mess that is in your heart, removing it and leaving a clean slate.  

As you look out your windows today, look at the falling snow in a different way.  See it for what it is - a beautiful, free flowing, covering for the ugliness of the world.  See it as a symbol of what God's blood poured out for you is - a blanket of righteousness laid out for you.  He died to wash us white as snow.  Revel in that beauty today.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The will of God



Have you ever wondered what the will of God is?  Ever thought "If I just knew what He wanted me to do, then I would have direction in my life". 

His word tells us what His will is for us.  It is to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in EVERYTHING give thanks".

Joyful?  How? In this economy, with this weather, with my struggles and issues.  How can I be joyful?  Many of us think that joy is something we get from our circumstances.  If life is good and going my way I will be joyful.  No.  Joy is a choice we make.  In spite of what bad may be going on around us, choose to be joyful.  Its God's will for us.

Prayerful?  Pray without ceasing.  Who has time for that?  I can't sit and pray constantly, I have work to do, kids to feed, laundry that needs finished, bills to pay, etc.  When you read pray without ceasing, you picture yourself in a state of prayer all day.   Pray without ceasing - when the work load gets heavy, say a prayer asking for strength.  Small, quick, effective - without ceasing.  When the kids are bored and driving you crazy - pray for God to meet you where you are and give you strength to get through the day - without ceasing.  When the bills are mounting and your bank account is dwindling, pray for God to meet your needs according to his riches - without ceasing.  We have many opportunities in any given day to pray - small but effective prayers as we go through our day - without ceasing.

Thankful?  Have you seen what I deal with daily?  Be thankful?  When we focus on what we do have rather than what we don't have, God's activity in our lives can be seen more readily.  Thankful - for every small blessing.  Thank Him for every small victory in your struggles.  Thankful when you make to the end of a long work day.  Thankful when the kids settle down for a nap and you have some moments of peace.  Thankful when you have food in your cupboards and your bills are paid, even if there is nothing left over in the bank.  Count it ALL joy, and Be Ye thankful.

What is Gods will for our lives?  Is it to go out and do awesome amazing things in His name?  Is it to amount masses of money in the bank or to drive the newest car or have the newest furniture?  Is it in material things?  No.  It is written in his word - we ask what is god's will for my life and He has already told us - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks.  This is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  Simple.  Poignant. To the point. 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year



As I sat and watched everyone wish Happy New year last night, it hit me that every year we wish the same things....to make it the best year, to do more, be more, love more, serve more...and then as the year winds down, we can't wait for the year to end so we can start all over again with the same resolutions.  Is it because we feel we failed the previous year and want a do over?  Or is it because we stayed committed and can't wait to continue the work God is doing through us? 

I know we all go through experiences each year and at that magical moment of Midnight - that moment between old and new - we have a glimmer of hope.  Hope that we can get it right this time.  Hope that what plagued us in the old won't follow us into the new.  What really strikes me at that moment is I have a choice to make.  I hold the key to what the blank page of my future says.



My decisions, my actions or in-actions, my tenacity or my wavering.  So much of what happens this new year can be in my control.  What can I do to love people more?  Serve people more?  Most importantly, what can I do to exalt God higher than I did last year?  Isn't' that why we are here? To love in His name, serve in His name, and lift Him higher?

This new year I want it to be more about Him and less about me.  I want to live each moment of each day as if its the last chance I get to let someone see Jesus in me.  I strive to continue to seek His will for my life and endeavor to pursue the calling He has on my life.  So this year I don't want to make a resolution, I want to embrace opportunities as they come to me and make the most of them. 

So, as your new year kicks off, what opportunity can you embrace today?  How can you magnify God today?