Thursday, October 25, 2012



It's when a baby wants its bottle
It's when my kids want their iPods.
It's when I want to fall asleep.
It's when my belly wants food.
It's when I want to lose weight.
It's when I want all the good things to begin and when I want all the stress to end.
It is the craving of so many categories of life.
Now seems like an unreachable fairy tale status.
Every part of life demands it, and we are keenly aware of how we are unable to deliver.
Yes, the now is in high demand.
And usually, we respond by ignoring the now.

We plan for days ahead and
we pine over days past,
forgetting that each of those are shaped in the very moments we are choosing to ignore.

Now is where the power lies...where the capacity for power increases exponentially, as we look face on at each moment.

We dream.
We wish.
We hope about the way things could be.
But the difference between a wish and reality is action:
Action in the now.

So, instead of excuses of why the future can't be what you hope,
and instead of excruciating remembrances of a past you wish you could erase,
start by taking a look at the now.

I, too, am guilty of ignoring the now.
Why? Because I am too busy stroking the later and beating up the past.

I have been asked so many times how to walk close with the Lord, how to get in His Word.
Most of time, a complicated answer and/or immediate major life overhaul is anticipated.
But the answer is simply this:

Today, choose a moment to do something differently than you did the day before, the moment before.

Things don't change just because of a plan or a goal; they change when you do something in the now to move toward that goal.

If you want your destination to be a certain place, then the choices you make day to day have to be those that will put you on the path to your desire.

Instead of focusing so much on what you hope to be,
or what you have been,
stop and decide what you will do NOW.

NOW is laying the foundation of your future.
NOW will also become your past.

The actions that come to define our past and set the trajectory of our future all happen in the NOW.

NOW is the time of action.

What one thing will you

"...Indeed, the 'right time' is now. Today is the day of salvation."
2 Corinthians 6:2

"So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless...we are shown to be right with God by what we do, no by faith alone."
James 2:17, 24

"For I am about to do something new. See I have already begun! Do you not see it?..."
Isaiah 43:19

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Well, What Do You Expect?

It's like a wall.
A clear plexiglas wall, that everyone is trying to pretend isn't there.
The Church, the Body of Christ as a whole, has grown comfortable with this unseen reality.

Even worse than the fact that it is accepted, is the fact that it is what is expected.

And when expectation is sucked out of the atmosphere, true worship suffocates.

Our words set to melody are canisters for life, but they depart from our lips empty, void of the ability to resuscitate and revive because they rise from malnourished, power starved lives bogged down in the pride of mediocrity...and viciously unwilling to let go.

The stench of death permeates the room.
The sweet aroma of living sacrifice is painfully absent.
And we label it "worship".

So...we grip the pews,
gripe about the form and formula,
gasp when the unexpected makes an appearance, and
gawk at those hungry enough to embrace it.

No style or form of music or service can diminish or enhance our One True God.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever.(Hebrew 13:8)
God is not more worthy of praise in one setting than He is in another.

So why, then, is worship with abandon an endangered species?
We are more dazzled by the how and the what....and we have forgotten the Who that leads us to the why.

From traditional, to contemporary, to modern, to may look different...but the pattern of low expectation amongst the individual Believer persists.

Platforms, performance, pleasantries, and practicalities become paramount.
They sneak in and taint the path.
These thieves allow us to see the way to worshiping "in Spirit and in Truth"(John 4), but scream out caution to our flesh that embracing anticipation is a path to reputation suicide.
We are warned by their presence that crying out in authentic expectation could possibly lead to an avalanche on this mountain of religious comfort we've created.

And so...we secure what we see as our plexiglas wall of protection, when in fact, we have just constructed a spiritual prison.

Predictable, proper, popular, and protected-this prison starts to look like home.
We take up the residence of limits.
We are consoled by the false comfort in familiarities.

Anticipation is a fading memory, if not a term completely undefined.

We expect nothing more than the prison we've constructed.

We are callous.

And the scariest part?
We are pleased.

After all, isn't that what authentic Christ Worship is all about: our pleasure?

What do you expect?

"The Lord says:
These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men."
Isaiah 29:13

"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
John 4:24

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship."
Romans 12:1

"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
'Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts...'"
Hebrews 3:7,8

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rocky Places

Today, I walked barefoot on a slimy, rocky river bed.
It was a completely unexpected adventure, but a necessary one all the same.
So, I rolled up my pants, ditched my shoes and waded into the cold water alone, as my family stood watching, safe and dry on the shore.

A razor cut, fresh from the morning's shave, stung like a thousand needles.
And then, the rocks.
It didn't look so bad, but the sharp little suckers were hidden from sight under the sludge of sandy river bottom...but not hidden from the tender soles of my feet.
I felt every one.

I don't like the rocky places.

Being barefoot, sole exposed, on the smooth sandy places, now that's where it's at.(excuse the grammar)

But when the path gets rocky and painful to the exposed soul...ahhh becomes ouch, and every step reminds: this is not a smooth place.

And so steps are taken with intent and care, but still bearing the weight and the pain...always, the pain.

The necessity of the rocky places.
None of us long to embrace that necessity, but it calls us to all the same.

As I stepped gingerly across the rocks, an image I recently took came to my mind.

It was a geode.
At face value-ugly, forgettable, even worthy of disdain beneath the feet...but when time is taken to look at the rock, turn the rock, treasure can be found within.
Crystals-shimmering beauty-reflecting light with brilliant color, yet, all hidden to the sole too focused on the pain of it's rocky outter surface.

These hard places that bruise our souls are rocks of purpose placed beneath our feet.

If we will take time to see them as just that-treasure that enhances the path-we may come to discover the beauty of the rocky places.

So, when you find that its time to wade deep into the cold, unexpected waters of life, even if it is all alone...roll up those pants legs, ditch your shoes, and know...
...know that there is beauty and purpose ahead for your soul.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
James 1:2-4 ESV

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."
Isaiah 62:3 ESV

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Change Your Question

"Don't look for shortcuts to God.
 The market is flooded with surefire, easy- going formulas for a successful life 
that can be practiced in your spare time.
Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.
The way to life- to God!- is vigorous and requires total attention."
Matthew 7:13-14 (The Message)

Formulas. Phrases. Steps. Methods.
It is so easy to get lost here, stuck here, confused here, condemned here.
There is so much out there-even good things and God labeled things- vying for our attention...all with the promise of making us who we think(or they think) we should be as Christ Followers.

But NONE of that matters unless your motive is to know HIM more.

We have to change our question.
It's not about WHERE these formulas, ideas, and methods take us.
It's not about WHEN these things will make us "arrive" at some religious destination labeled "Godly".
It's not about HOW these things will hopefully make us appear to others.

It is about WHO these things are meant to lead us to.

When we are fixated on the where, when, and how, we lose sight of the Who...and, sadly, that is when it all becomes about shining our own glory, not God's.

I long to see more Christ Followers simply wanting HIM.

When that becomes our desire above all else, then the formulas, ideas, phrases, steps and methods can become tools to aid us in getting to that place of intimacy that we crave.

It is so easy to get caught up in the next best thing, rather than just finding more of our Lord.

You see, His presence effects change.
Life rearranging,
Paradigm shattering,
That is what happens when you truly encounter the presence of God.

Maybe that is why it is so much easier to sing about Him, talk about Him, learn about Him, rather than actually go to Him.
We are afraid of what that may actually look like and do to our nice, neat religious lives.

So what about you?
Are you caught up in the formulas, rules, theologies, and methods so much so that you have stopped relating with the Lord on a personal level?

No, it isn't easy.
And yes, the world and your enemy are going to do everything possible to make it inconvenient and uncomfortable.
But it is worth it.
Because He alone is worthy.

Don't settle for the world's distant, watered down, regulation consumed, grace-less version of God.

Don't let your desire for comfort rob you of His completeness.

Don't let simply "looking the part" be the frail and shifting foundation you rely on to set you apart.

Be "vigorous" about experiencing the TRUE fullness of God in your day to day walk and relationship with Him.

He can't just be another option in your life.
Make Him your life.

Yes, there is a place for the where, when, how of it all.
But, start asking the right question first today: WHO?
It's all about my Jesus.

My prayer over YOU today:

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NLT)
Just DO it. :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Author of My Story

I love the way God adds and updates the blog of our lives.
There is always more to be written when He is the author.
Case in point....

I recently told u the story of my "Foul Encounter"(see August 1,2012 post) at a Greenville Drive baseball game.
And while that ball wreaked havoc on me that night, its impact didn't stop there.
You see, because my family found my victory that night so funny, and I so monumental(lol), the baseball found a home on the display in the middle of our dining room table.
And there it stayed, quickly fading into my background...just part of the jumbled scenery that often overtakes this extremely multipurpose room, not to mention my life.
Until one day I was dusting(a rarity I admit), and something caught my eye.
There was something on the ball.
Confused, I grabbed up the ball for closer inspection.
It was an autograph!
And a familiar one at that: my Daddy's!

What in the world? I thought. He hadn't been there with us that night it all went did...???

But then it came to me.

About five or so days prior, my mom and dad had come to visit.
Ah ha!

So I picked up the phone and called Daddy, who had a good belly laugh at how long it had taken me to even see that His name was written on this ever important, prominently displayed baseball!

And so it is with my Heavenly Daddy's autograph.
I so frequently and easily forget that His autograph is all over my life!
I take credit for feats that were HIS strength, HIS power and HIS sovereignty at work in my life.

I even have the audacity to claim He was absent in my times of chaos- like I did my earthly dad.

You see, that crazy night at Fluor Field, my earthly daddy may not have been physically present, but he WAS there:
HE was the one who taught me how to catch a ball,
keep my eye on the ball,
be strong,
be confident,
all of which brought about that "victory" and the prize I claimed as my own.
My daddy had every right to autograph that baseball...because the fact that it was in my possession all pointed back to him.

Yes, my Heavenly Daddy is always there.
In every feat, in every endeavor, in every step I take...He is there...His fingerprints evident all over my life...whether I choose to recognize it or not.

Too often I allow that truth to fade into the background of my life.

In my selfishness and pride, I display the evidences of God's grace for my own glory instead of His.

I must CHOOSE to see.
I must CHOOSE to recognize the ink of my Creator's pen all over every piece and part of my life.

Because even in missteps, even in the mistakes, it's His redemption that has brought me through.

And in the victories, I cannot forget that it is my identity in Christ that secures those mountain top moments, NOT my skill or my strength.

It's His rescuing grace that has kept this life novel going and growing.
It isn't me.

He is the author of my story.
Daddy, autograph this is Yours.

"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."
Hebrews 12:2

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Confessions of an Olympics Addict

I admit it: I am an Olympics addict.

I turn it on in the morning, stay up late at night, soak in and cry over the personal stories of the athletes, yell at the tv, and cheer loudly as though they can if the event I am watching didn't already happen 8 hours prior!

In a nut shell, I love everything Olympics related.

Maybe it's my fascination with the strength, talent and overall accomplishments of the athletes, or maybe it's the heavy dose of patriotism that the Olympics brings.

Whatever it is, it sparks something in me to make me want to do more and to be more...more than wherever I am.
It makes me want to remove the limits, those secure boundaries I place around myself...usually to simply avoid failure.

But then the inevitable question arises: How?
How do you attain those goals that obliterate your comfort zones?

After an amazing track and field event gold medal win, a commentator asked an Olympian that very question:
"How did you do this when no one thought you could?"

The key word of his response jumped out at me like a word highlighted on a page:

Diligence is(according to :
constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken. Persistent exertion of body or mind.

Some synonyms include:
activity, alertness, application, attention, care, constancy, intensity, vigor.

Am I naive to think that's all it took? No.
Do I believe that each and every day he loved doing all that had to be done? No.
Was it easy? No.
Was it critical to his finish? Yes!

He may have had natural ability that made his sport the perfect match for him, but without Diligence, it's just untapped potential.

How much I can learn from this Olympian in my walk with the Lord.

It's about more than studying sport technique, learning methods, theories and strategies on paper.
Head knowledge would have no more made that runner an athlete than reading anatomy books would make me a doctor!

Knowledge is simply the beginning.
Desire is simply the beginning.

Dreams of turning potential into reality cannot be accomplished without DILIGENCE.

Matthew 7:14, The Message says:
"The way to life-to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention."

As Grace rescued Believers, we can rest assured He placed within each one of us the potential to be a Glory-to-God-Giver of gold medal proportions.

He did it through the person of the Holy Spirit...alive inside of us!

But it is surrendering to Him and the total attention it takes as an Olympian of His Kingdom that results in the radical transformation bringing world record finishes that impact lives forever.

Constant, earnest effort.
Consistent, active, alert, intense, vigorous.

Does this describe the way you and I go after the goal of living out loud with excellence for Jesus Christ?

Don't settle for latent potential.
Allow the Holy Spirit to UNLEASH the fullness of His power in you!

Let His spark ignite the fire within you to be more...not in YOUR power, but through HIS!

I think not.
I am living FROM victory assured.
Gold medal all the way, baby!

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
Mark 12:30 ESV

"God's way is not a matter of mere talk; it's an empowered life."
1 Corinthians 4:20 MSG

"He must increase, I must decrease."
John 3:30 ESV

Monday, August 6, 2012

Color Me Grace

I am not sure why I didn't believe...or maybe I simply chose to forget.
Either way, my hands are now purple, orange, and red.
Apparently when the directions say wear gloves, and they provide them in the pack of tie dye, you should actually put them on your hands.
Who knew?!?

So now I look as through I slaughtered something with my bare hands while mixing raspberries and Tang.

Every time I look down, move my hands, reach for something....all I see are the stains.
"What will people think when they see theses nasty hands?"
"Is it weird to wear gloves in 90 degree weather?"
Momentary panic can lead to absurdity!

My hubby tried to encourage me saying it will wear off, and he is right it, probably will...but until then-
I am stained.

And some things are just like that...they leave a residue that is not easily removed.

It all starts as fun and games, but then, you see the stain it has left on your life, and it's not so innocent anymore.
We scrub, we soak in vain.

Enter grace.

In those moments that all we see are the screaming purples, oranges, and reds of our poor choices, His grace is available to quiet our panic when we see the reality of sin tattooed on our lives.

But this...THIS is why Jesus died.
To bring calm in these moments that we must look our humanity in the face.
To cover my sin stain with His cleansing blood.
To take this skin marred by the world and the results of my own choices, and replace it with His righteousness.

All cover-up tactics, all of the worry about what others will think- it can never help me maintain the appearance of holiness.
It only holds me captive.

I am blinded by my mess.

Consumed by that which I cannot clean, rather than by the only One who can bring the freedom of true cleansing.

But that is why Grace...
Why grace is amazing.
Why grace is all sufficient.
Why grace is greater than all my sin.
Why grace is the gift that never ends.
Why grace is for me....
because without it,
I am stained.

And when I find myself, staring once again at the filthy residue of my own sin choices, I will run to this grace- His love beyond compare- and know Jesus, in all His cleansing power, is ready to stand in my place...if only I will lift my hands in surrender.

Because after all...
"What can wash away my sin?
NOTHING but the blood of Jesus!"

So, forget purples, oranges, reds...
Color me GRACE.

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."
John 1:16 ESV

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."
1 John 1:7 ESV

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."
Romans 6:14 ESV

"But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
James 4:6 ESV

"Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life..."
Psalm 51:7 MSG

What's That Smell???

Much like Gus on "Psych"(one of my fave shows by the way), I have been blessed and/or cursed with a "Super Sniffer".
Smells just cannot sneak past this nose of mine.
Hence the reason I love Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, fabric softener, and the like.

And, apparently, I have a smell of my own.
Weird. I know.
But let me explain.

My big sister has always done one thing first when she greets me with a hug: breathe in deep and say, "Ahh. You smell good."
And I always ask what I smell like and she says, "Julie."

I am hoping that's a good thing.

Hilariously enough, her oldest daughter never fails to do the exact same thing!
And, as for my kids, my son Jonathan at least once a day, sometimes more, comes up to me, puts his nose to my arm- about his head level- breathes in deep, looks up at me with a smile and says,
"Ahhh. Mama you smell so good! Especially after workout."

And I am like...what?!?
I mean, I do not even understand how that is possible!
My Vanilla Bean Noelle from Bath and Body can only do so much!

But nevertheless, this is the way it goes each and every day.
And Jonathan sighs contentedly and says,
"You just smell"

Sure, my kids and family get close enough to sniff me every now and then...awkward pause...
...Uh, yeah...

But here's the thing:
What aroma is my life- my attitude, choices, actions, interactions-giving off to all those I encounter?

2 Corinthians 2:15(MSG)says,
"...Through us he brings the knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation- redolent with life..."

Would those in my realm of influence say that when my life intersects with theirs, they breathe in an "exquisite fragrance" that can only be Christ?

I am afraid that all too often we spend more time trying to cover up the stench of death that is lingering over our lives rather than allowing the Lord to burn away that rotten flesh and replace it with all the sweetness of His righteousness.

But isn't it easier to remove the source of repugnant odor rather than wear yourself to the bone trying to keep it under wraps?

I mean, seriously, have you ever tried to do that?!?

The cover-up tactic may work for a time, but eventually the truth of who you are and what lies within is going to...for lack of a better word...reek.

All the more reason we need the purifying love and power of Jesus.

His Grace has a perfect way of cleaning us up, scrubbing us clean...filling our lives with all that He died for us to have.

Oh and how sweet it truly is.

So what do you have to do?
Give Him access.
Allow Him to take out your trash.
Make your emptiness available for Him to fill with the neverending gift of His Spirit.
Let the aroma of His praise rise from your life!

And then, as the world around you breathes in deep, they will say,
"Ahh! You smell!"

And you can know, without a doubt, THAT is a good thing.

"Generous in love- God give grace! Huge in mercy- wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down...Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life."
Psalm 51:1-2, 7(MSG)

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live".
Romans 8:13 ESV

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1, 2 ESV

"...and burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord. It is a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord."
Exodus 29:18 ESV

"Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."
Hebrews 13:15 ESV

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO that goes right with this:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Foul Encounter

All I wanted was to get a foul ball for my kids!"
That's what was going through my mind, as I found myself in one of the most awkward moments one could encounter as a pastor's wife, mom of three at a Greenville Drive Baseball game.

We sat on the grassy hill, near the top and had observed rather aggressive attempts amongst unattended kids to get foul balls which frequented the area. My kids knew better than to even engage in that nonsense, yet they wanted a ball SO badly.

This reality is what drove me to stand to my feet as a foul ball headed our way, landing atop the netted kids area.
I was so focused on that ball, because...Mama WAS gettin' that thing for her babies!
No one else near me, no hands even close to my angle on the ball, it rolled off the net right into my outstretched left hand!
I was ecstatic!
The ball had gone from the bat into my hand.
It was MINE!

I turned around, bringing my hand down, anticipating giving the ball to one of my children, whom I knew would be close by...and happened.

In a literal blink of an eye,

Before I could even wrap my brain around what was going on, I found myself at the bottom of a dog pile of about 20 prepubescent boys, clawing at my hand, trying to pry open my grip, finger by finger!

These kids had never even been near this ball!
It had not bounced around from person to person, it had not been dropped, fumbled or even remotely in reach of ANY of these WAS most assuredly MINE....

Yet, these boys were determined to steal it right out of my hand, no matter how they had to do it!

I sat in shock underneath this testosterone overload, death gripping the ball, thinking surely they will see I have it and move on...but nooooooo.

Finally, on the verge of panic mode, I went beast!
Using all the arm strength I had, I yanked the ball to me and screamed,

It went rather silent.

I furiously STOOD up, bewildered, and astonishly asked,
"What is wrong with you kids?!

Well, if it wasn't awkward was now!

They began to disperse, realizing they had messed with the wrong woman.

Some of them mumbled about having almost had it, blah, blah, blah...
Which I quickly corrected, reminding them no hands, save my own, had been on that ball...
And...I may or may not have told one smart mouth punk of a kid to go tell his friends he got beat by a girl...(not my finest moment, I know.)

But here's the truth of it:
These boys had literally just jacked up a 35 year old woman for a baseball!

They were no respecter of persons, there was no hesitancy because of age or size.
They wanted to take what I had and if pulling me to the ground would do it, then so be it.

But losing that ball was NOT an option for me.
Sure, I could have let go, surrendered what was rightfully mine.
Yes, it would have been easier, and I wouldn't have had the scratch marks and huge black bruise on my left hand for all those days after.

But that was MY foul ball.
Mine to have, mine to share with my kiddos.

So I dug in, and hung on and after what seemed like forever, but was only a couple of minutes, there I was...posing with that ball as my husband took a pic through his incessant laughter at all that had just transpired!

You, too, have an enemy that is no respecter of persons.
He is watching and waiting for you to grasp the blessings and joy that God has for you...and he is ready to TAKE YOU DOWN.

Just as you maneuver to pull it close and maybe even intend to spread the love, he is right there, vying to catch you off guard, wrestle you to the ground and convince you to surrender what is rightfully yours:
joy, freedom, wisdom, intimacy, power, peace...

He will claw at areas of your life, determined to pry open your grip on truth finger by finger!

But losing is NOT an option!

Don't be paralyzed by shock and disbelief, caught pondering the "why" of the circumstance!
Focus on the Giver
Focus on the good and perfect gift.
Focus on taking full ownership of what is rightly yours to possess as a son and daughter of the King of Kings!

We must be prepared for battle.
Never caught off guard, and ready to exert all the GOD STRENGTH that the Holy Spirit so freely gives!

"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud NO to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He'll be there in no time."
James 4: 7 MSG

Your enemy seeks to steal and devour, to intimidate and bully you out of the fullness of your inheritance.

But the reality is, HE is already defeated!
Like a child trying to take the ball from a fully capable and healthy adult, the only way he can take what is yours, is IF YOU LET HIM!

Don't surrender.
Don't give in.
God's fullness and blessing are worth the resistance you will face, the surface wounds you may encounter.

And live FROM Victory!

"Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."
James 4:10 MSG

"Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up."
1 Peter 5:8 MSG

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
John 10:10 ESV

"Oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him-endless energy, boundless strength!"
Ephesians 1:19 MSG

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Appointments with the Divine

Divine appointments.
Sometimes they seem like a supernatural, rare and distant thing.

A moment set apart and appointed by God to connect His children in ways that they could never foresee or even fully understand apart from Him.

I have seen the Lord knit together moments and lives in ways that could never have been predicted, never calculated into the days and agendas we have scribbled out with our human shortsightedness.

It is amazing to me to look back and see how right there, in the smallest, seemingly uneventful things, the Lord was at work establishing there on the horizon an intersection of lives...that would bring an explosion of His Glory!

And yet, they often flood our days, unnoticed.

I have thought about the intricate orchestrations of the Lord in bringing about all the divine appointments He had for me on my Alaska mission trip, with the new and the familiar, as well as in days since.

Whether the opportunity to speak into a life, be the life spoken into, or simply observe the Lord connect lives, transformation always follows these appointments with the Divine!

Will you choose to be aware?...aware of what God is doing in the seen and unseen?

Will you make yourself available?...available to the work He has planned to do in and through you?

It's the difference between a life filled by a slow drip and a fire hydrant saturated life.

Don't become desensitized to all that He has for you to engage in.

Allow the Holy Spirit to pour out boldness and confidence to speak His truth into the lives around you, as well as to receive what He has for you from others He has placed in your path!

So get grab your phone, get Siri on the task, pull up your calendar, dig out your's time to set your reminder, choose your alert tones, write it down, block out time slot: you have an appointment with the Divine!

You can't afford to miss it...and neither can those in your God purposed path!

So what divine appointments are in store for YOU today?

"The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught."
Isaiah 50:4 ESV

"Since this is the kind if life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implication in every detail of our lives."
Galatians 5:25 MSG

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works..."
Hebrews 10:24 ESV

"So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this, just keep doing it."
1 Thessalonians 5:11

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."
Hebrews 3:13 NIV84

Monday, July 30, 2012


I must have looked pitiful.
Or desperate.
Or exhausted.
Or near passing out.
I'm really not sure.
But it was over 90 degrees in the blazing sun, and the I was on the sidewalk of East Butler leaning over the heaviest punching bag I had attempted to carry the distance of what my trainer calls a 4BL- about 1/3 of a mile.

I had to power lift this bag to my shoulder, then go the distance.
Everything in me screaming, I would set mini goals in my mind, get to that point and then stop to breathe, and, of course, keep from falling out!

After a while at 4BalanceFitness, you forget about the passers by, those curious observers along the 4 lane highway. You simply do what's gotta be done, not focusing on what the gawkers may or may not be thinking!

But this day, as I was leaned over to rest before trying to reach my next mini goal, puffing hard, burning up, wiping sweat, I was a surprised and a little confused when a couple pulled up beside me and stopped.
The nice lady, with concern all over her face, leaned out her window and asked,
" you need some help?!?"

At first I thought, "With what?!"
But then I realized how this whole scenario must have looked to these kind people!
They saw me, struggling ferociously with this massive punching bag, near exhaustion, and they wanted to relieve my struggle in some way if they could.

When all this finally sunk in- which took a minute because I was in "the zone"- I replied,
"Oh! That is so kind, but I am actually doing this for my workout! It's on purpose! I am fine just taking a breather. Thank you though-that is so sweet of you."
And with that, they smiled and drove a little ways then did a u-turn and went back about their way.

I chuckled a little to myself, imagining how ridiculous I must have looked to prompt them to do a u-turn and ultimately stop, but, then, I knew I had to pick up that bag and press on!

As I did, and it got harder, I thought, "Man I am paying for this! Wonder what those people would say to that?"

And then as I went further, I thought, "Whew, I should have said, YES, you CAN help! Let me load this beastly bag into your car and you can drive it just out of eye shot of the door to my gym and then I will carry it the rest of the way!"

But in reality, I wouldn't have traded a second of that hot, heavy, tiring punching bag carry...yes, I was worn, but I felt strong and knew that I would be stronger for finishing and finishing well.

So finally- and I do mean fiiiiiiinnnaaaaallllyy-I made it back to the door, bag hoisted high, finishing strong with a run to the door, my trainer Meg cheering me the rest of the way!

We had a good laugh about my sidewalk encounter that day, but as I began to think about all that had transpired, I realized that my journey as a Believer can often feel the same way.

There are paths of struggle that we are often called to walk-those heavy laden scorchers we never look forward to when God writes it out on that big training chalk board of your life.

And when we look at the path, it seems long and laborious and, at times, even impossible, yet, you know you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
And yes, sometimes we have to stop and catch our breath and set our eyes on small goals just ahead.

But more dangerously, we are often tempted to quit along the way.
We wait and hope for someone else to walk the path for us, to work these muscles in our place...but it doesn't work that way.

We have spiritual muscles that need to be trained and no one can do the walking, lifting, huffin and puffin for you.

These moments of exhaustion and desperation are really moments of strength.
These are the moments that make you stronger.
These are the moments that take you deeper.
These are the moments that make you DIG.
These are the moments you find Him and KNOW Him like never before!

Yes, you may look a sight along the way-disheveled and weary worn-but God's strength is being made a reality in you.
Yes, you may have to pause and regain focus, but He is there to cheer you, support you to the finish.

Place your feet on the tough path with God confidence.
He isn't desiring to tear you down, He is longing to build you and strengthen you beyond your imagination.

He has released all the power you need to walk it out and finish strong.

It doesn't mean that it will be easy, but it WILL be worth it...every step drawing you to Himself and a spiritual body that is fit and firm through the power of His Holy Spirit alive in you!

And the well-meaning helpers?
The gawkers?
The haters?
Show them all that quitting is not an option...because what lies across the finish line is a prize beyond compare!

Go the distance.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14 ESV

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."
1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach."
Deuteronomy 30:11 NIV84

"Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it."
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 MSG

"We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul-not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy"
Colossians 1:11 MSG

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Alaska Adventures: Just the Beginning

Sometimes the end is the end...but sometimes...the end is just the beginning.

Endings are hard, emotional things...even endings that are really beginnings.
The leaving is never easy...whether for a day or for good...and our humanness cries out wanting to change the inevitable so the tears won't escape and the depths of our hearts won't overflow for all to see.

But life resides in these tears.
And so I embrace the raw life that I can't seem to control anymore.

And my heart aches. Really. Aches.

It aches for moments I want to relive, it aches for the change I want to be, it aches for eyes I want to look into, it aches for connections to remain, it aches to be reassured this really wasn't the end of what God has done.

On this final day, the big yellow striped tent was cleared out, loads and loads hauled away. Our hands dirty with the work, our feet wet with the doing, we closed that chapter of ministry, knowing the Truth had been shared through the meeting of people's needs...a true picture of the grace hands of my Jesus.

A local diner snuggled us all in for a final lunch together as crew. Hearts were shared, generosity reached out, and the bitter-sweetness of the sharing and understanding laid us open like a book to be read...deeper connections made through the Spirit alive in us.

Our last backyard Bible Club at the Airforce Base found us tired, energy depleted from the week's labors.
But as we looked into faces that had so recently been unknown, we were burdened with the truth that we would soon say goodbye to the little ones, now familiar...and so very loved.
How do you look into their hopeful faces and say truth, that even you don't want to hear?
How do you speak to them the finality that even you don't want to face?
So we did our best to ignore that truth for the hours we sang, and laughed and shared the glorious gospel that had brought us here in the first place.
Determined to leave His mark in this place, on these people, on these little lives of Joey, Lily, Emma, Ellie, Eden, LeeAnn, Tyler, Katelyn, Kylie, Abigale, and of course Kodie, "spelled K-O-D-I-E"! :)
And we white knuckled gripped as God asked us to place them in His hands, because our reach can't extend those thousands of miles and accomplish all He has prepared...but our prayers can...and so in trust and tears, we let go.
We let go of control and grab hold of the One who knows them best and loves them most.
But our hearts crack and twinge with this obedience and this faith that we know will somehow fuel us. Somehow.
So, joy mixes in the tear drops falling on tshirts and boots.
Because above all, He is faithful.
He grace has infinite reach.
His love is relentless.

And we know that this week, in it all and through it all, it is THAT truth we have planted...and is THAT truth we have to walk away believing...walk forward living.

And so this night, I find my comfy place...I escape into worship, just me and the One I love in that crowded room...we meet and I am even further undone.
I am wanting Him to pick me up and hold me and He does.
I love my Heavenly Daddy for that.
He sees my heart, He whispers peace over my aching and I am ruined by this love and grace strength that I so, so, so do not deserve.
I am freed from the wondering and the what ifs and instead become entangled in all He is.

This is what has begun in these endings.
Lives have been connected.
Resolutions have been made.
Challenges have been issued.
Truth has been shared and seen.
Hope for steadfast momentum has been locked and loaded.

And so, as we lay heads on pillows in the far north one final time, this Alaska mission comes to an end.

But in His Name, and by His Spirit, I declare and claim that it IS the BEGINNING of so much more.


"But cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this day."
Joshua 23:8 AMP

"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!"
Psalm 90:17 ESV

"...if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:10, 11 ESV

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Alaska Adventures: Avoiding the Trap

It's a tricky thing because sometimes we feel productive when we really are unproductive and sometimes we feel unproductive when we really are productive.
Either situation: it's a trap from the enemy.

Our morning mission at times this week has seemed this way.
Under the big yellow striped tent, we have done a lot of work, but also, a lot of waiting.
And waiting can often feel like doing nothing...but waiting takes trust and waiting takes patience, and those things, my friend, do not come that easily.
So as we longed to be doing more than the waiting, we were often lured into the trap of asking "why?".

Why am I in this place instead of that?
Why am I with this person and not that one?
Why, why, why?

But what we need to be asking is simply: how?
How can You use me in this situation?
How can I make You obvious under this tent, with this person, in this...waiting?
How do You want to change me?How do you want to shape me?

And all of the sudden, in the dreary rain of selfishness, we begin to see the light of self sacrifice break through the clouds, bringing the warm light of truth that lights the path of our days.

We SEE needs.
We MEET needs.
We LOVE because we are loved, not to BE loved.

And we remember the little 6 year old girl carrying all that worry, fighting through tears,
"I know my mama won't die."

We hear the woman say, "Really? I can have this? It's free? This was just what I needed!"

We hear, in that waiting, the far fetched dream of a 13 year old to own a guitar, then see it realized through Holy Spirit inspired generosity and obedience.

Yes, we feel the stretching of our lives as they're placed in God's hands and we allow Him to make us and call us useful...useful for His purposes, useful in His timing.

Be that.
Not according to you, not for you.
For Him.
That's HOW He loves...through our available lives being used.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
Isaiah 6:8 ESV

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 ESV

You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,that the thing made should say of its maker,"He did not make me";
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,"He has no understanding"?
Isaiah 29:16 ESV

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears."
1 Samuel 3:10 ESV

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alaska Adventures: From Garbage to Grace

Sunshine and blue skies.
A phenomenal way to kick off our first full day of mission work!
The "Toy Makers", as our team is called, actually stayed on site at First Baptist North Pole to help with their ministry that provides donated items for free to members of the community.
When they pulled back the flaps of the yellow and white tent reminiscent of a circus, I knew this was indeed the job for me!
This yard sale going, organizing queen found herself amongst truckloads of what many would call junk...but I knew better!
We spent the morning sorting, moving, stacking pile after pile.
And to some it may have seemed like an infinite task, but to me it was access to infinite treasure.
Every moment, at every turn there is something that was thrown out, tossed aside as used up, finished, without purpose.
It has been labeled as junk...trash.
But with every dig, every shift of these endless piles, I discovered old that I wanted to make new.
Possibilities for these cast aside treasures flooded my mind all morning...and I wished that this tent wasn't thousands of miles from home!

Later that afternoon we went onto the Airforce base and led a back yard Bible club for children of military families. It was quite an experience just getting the pass from security to go on the base!
We were going in completely not knowing what to expect, but played it by ear as best we could.
I pulled out some kid songs that to some may be considered tired and overused, but we saw these kids come to life as we engaged them in praise through these simple melodies.
We acted out the story of Jonah, played Duck, Duck, Goose, Freeze Tag, and ate Goldfish...none of it new, none of it what anyone searching out curriculum for kids ministry would call mind blowing by any stretch of then imagination!
But it strike that....He worked.
He worked in it. He worked through it.
He worked in US. He worked through US.

Our Father, Creator has a way of doing that doesn't He? That's kind of His thing...taking the old and making it new.

Taking this old me and making me His all-kind-of-amazing NEW!

See, these things we found under that old smelly tent, might have indeed been old and smelly, but they weren't discovered and taken for what they had been, they were hauled into those cars and trucks with anticipation of what they would now be.
And those songs so overly familiar and those stories so frequently told and those games played for decades, they were heard wth fresh ears, embraced with expectant minds.

And what if we, His people, quit labeling it all old and used, and when presented with what we call junk, the used up and over used, instead chose to hunt for His treasure amidst it all?

Because isn't that what He did with us?

The world, my enemy called me done. Over. Finished before I started.
But God called me HIS.
And that changed it all.

What if we saw ourselves the way He sees us?
What if we saw others the way He sees them?

What if we took His eyes of Grace?
Rescuing eyes.

Because it isn't about what we were. It's about who we ARE in Him.
The purpose He calls out in us, raises up in us.
Going beyond what we see, diving head first into the depth of His life giving NEW.

Our gray, cloudy, rain filled, melancholy lives transformed into His sunshine, bright blue skies of Grace.
Indeed, a phenomenal way to begin our mission...and an even better way to live our lives.

"You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I announce to you new things,
hidden things that you have not known."
Isaiah 48:6 ESV

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."
2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

"Because of this decision we don't evaluate people but what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; the new life burgeons! Look at it!"
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 The Message

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alaska Advetures: Awakened

A whopping 3 hours of sleep:
That was how we greeted Sunday, our first full day in Alaska.
Sleepy and a little blurry-eyed we awoke to clouds and cold rain for the sight seeing adventures ahead. Undaunted, we started the day right at a local mega church called Change Point Alaska.
The church was very welcoming and we all really enjoyed the pastor's teaching.
I struck up a conversation with a nice lady who sat in front of us before service started. Born and raised in Alaska, she welcomes the opportunity to share information about her home and was interested to know about the sights we intended to see that day, as well as our mission in days to come.
As I told her about our anticipation in seeing more of the beauty around us today and in our travels even further north Monday, she mentioned that she has family that lives along one of the routes we would be traveling and how she travels it often.
But it was her next statement that caught my attention and would ring in the ears of my spirit throughout the day. She said,
"We travel that so much that I don't even see the mountains anymore, ya know?"

Hours later, we headed south of Anchorage on Seward Hwy to Portage, a very scenic highway that travels along the Turnagain Arm, mountains to your left, sea to your right.
My camera was smokin' from all the pics I was snapping!
We may have just stopped at every scenic pull off available!
And heads that had been nodding, heavy eyelids knocking on the door of slumber, were now wide awake seeking to take it all in!

A little later, we happened up on the Alaska Wildlife Reserve and decided to take the two mile loop to see moose, bears, bison, caribou, bald eagles and more! The picturesque scenery with these amazing animals resulted in some great photo ops!

Then came the most astounding adventure of the day: a 0.8 mile walk out to the Bryson Glacier.
To attempt to describe the absolute breathtaking beauty would be a travesty on my part.
It was almost too much for my eyes to behold!
I, yes I, was speechless!

as we wondered at the snow capped peaks and glacier looming before us, the lady's voice echoed within me volumes above our oohs and ahhs:

"...I don't even see the mountains anymore..."

I questioned constantly in my mind...
How can you NOT see this?
How can THIS become commonplace?
How do you lose the sense of awe and wonder?

And the Lord spoke softly in the peace of this creation, HIS creation, and said,
"It may not be mountain majesty, it may not be rushing glacier waters, but you,too, miss me all around you every day."

And I know deep inside He is right.

I allow what my God calls beautiful to fade into the common every day.

I miss the opportunities for Him to wake me from the blurry-eyed trance of the world and see the wonder of His creation, His created, all around me.
I become numb to the chances available to me to engage in this beauty, this part of life that revives and renews and rejuvenates...that propels me into His abundance of living.
But how?
How do I get to this place where I let myself to become immune to His majesty?
Blind to His greatness?
Deaf to His voice?
Apathetic towards His created ones?

I know Him. I mean I KNOW Him.
I find myself, like the lady, more concerned with where I am going than where God has me right NOW.

And I miss Him in THIS moment.

And because of that, someone else may miss Him through me.

What I have seen of my God, what I know of my God...that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

I can never get to the end of God.

There is always more breathtaking revelations He longs to display before me, to sprawl out in beauty for me to experience...
And I sit nodding, eyelids heavy with the weight of world...
And I don't even realize I'm not seeking out and soaking up His mountainous grandeur anymore.

Pull over, take your eyes off the highway, allow His Spirit to wake you from the world's slumber and deceiving lullabies...

Life, real life,
true beauty,
divine appointments
in God portioned abundance are positioned all around you.

And they will leave you speechless.

Then we can live out loud that old truth, words we mutter in song:
"I was blind...but now I see."

Awake our souls to the work of Your hands this week, this day, Lord!
Awake my soul...and sing!

"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you."
Job 42:5

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
John 10:10

"'So-who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?', says The Holy. Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this?...
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go.
God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired or pause to catch His breath.
And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to the dropouts...But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind."
Isaiah 40:25-31 The Message

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alaska Adventures: Navigating the Unexpected

It's not often that you find yourself stuck just off the interstate with a bus full of teenagers...unless you are Jarrett and me, that is!
Yes, once again we found ourselves stranded by bus issues a mere 45 minutes to an hour into our Alaska Mission trip.
But unlike before, this time we had a literal plane to catch.
Game changer!
Eventually getting there isn't the goal; it's getting there on TIME!
We had to make some fast decisions and execute those plans ASAP:
search closest chick fil a, order and pick up lunch; find vehicles to haul us and luggage, confirm numbers, get those vehicles en route to us; eat; unload stuff; reload stuff; load people...GET TO AIRPORT!
Parents, church members, and friends stepped up to accommodate our unexpected needs, and with such willing servant attitudes!
We could not have done it without them!
We made it to the airport in record time and were even able to eat supper before the first flight to Phoenix!

So today, I am thankful for the reminder to remain pliable and supple in the hands of the Potter.
It is so easy to have our days and moments, our attitudes and intentions, our goals and dreams cast in stone, waiting impatiently for the Lord to sign off on our creations with His blessing.

But God is not begging us to let Him in on what WE are
He wants us to get in on what HE is doing!

He is asking us to surrender and give Him the freedom to CREATE
our lives,
our moments,
lives and moments
that bear the mark of their Creator.

What an opportunity we have when life brings the unexpected.
Don't resist it, NAVIGATE it with Holy Spirit power.
A masterpiece awaits.

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 ESV

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25 ESV

Alaska Adventures: The Promise

"Promise me that you will come back."
These were the words of my 9 year old little girl as I kissed her goodbye before we left on our mission trip to Alaska.
Traveling is not something new for our family. Summer often brings weeks of ministry where we are together, but also those where we are apart.
But this was the first time she expressed such a understanding of the uncertainties that lurk amidst the ways of this world.
But she needed me to say it, needed to hear from my lips that I would indeed do everything in my power come back to her.
And so I looked into those big brown eyes and reminded her of my love for her and that it was my full intention to come back.
She soaked up that reassurance and smiled the biggest of smiles, her mind now skipping on to the other frolics of a 9 year old, content.

And isn't this the way we are with Father God?
We come to a season in life where we are so painfully aware of its uncertainties, it's pains and pangs, and we say aloud with our spirits and lives,
"Daddy, promise me you are coming back."
What we are really asking for: hope.
Hope and peace in knowing that where we are is NOT where we will stay.
Oh, that we would trust with the faith of a child
His promise of return in days to come,
His provision of power in our present,
His complete rescue from our past,
LIVE those truths out loud.

Soak up the Father's rock solid reassurance of His love for you, His plan for you, His purpose for you and walk forward in the joy and contentment that can only come from Him.

"Every word of God proves true.
He is shield to those who take refuge in Him."
Proverbs 30:5

"'For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.'"
Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Assuming the Normal...blah, blah, blah.

It was a normal, routine night in our household. Quiet had began to blanket the rooms with the sleepiness of bedtime while Jarrett and I step into our respective roles, as if on autopilot. Everyone had been gearing down for the night by reading in bed, some willingly, some...not so much.
I went to Jonathan to give him his arms-out-from-under-the-cover hug and hand squeezes goodnight. But, I had a sense he wanted me to linger. As I stood up to tell him goodnight and that I love him, I saw for sure in his eyes thoughts that longed to climb out, words that needed to be said.
"What is it buddy?" I asked, expecting the typical conversation of waking up and wondering if it's ok for him to come get me.
I assumed too little.
He broke his silence, "Mama, I started reading that book Who Is John F. Kennedy?."
"That's good!", I said to my non-lover of reading, a little surprised by the brevity of the statement and wondering if there was more.
I rubbed his back a little more and then he rolled over and looked up at me seriously and urgently.
"Mama", he said through 11 year old efforts to disguise a voice beginning to quiver, "in that book it was saying how his mom was never really there for him because she would go on these fashion trips and visit Europe all the time and stuff."
"Oh that's sad." I interrupted, poised to pounce on this teachable moment that presented itself.
He quickly stopped me from rambling with that thought.
"Yeah I know, I know...and it just got me to thinkin'... It got me to thinkin how you are ALWAYS there for me...and...and...", through tears he continued, "I just wanna say thank you. I love you, Mama."


I fumbled through the flood of tears in my throat, "Jonathan, you just filled my heart full buddy. I love you....and I wouldn't miss a second."

To think, I could've missed that moment because I was too stuck in going through the motions, of walking zombie like through the monotony of my routine!
I expected the normal.
I anticipated so little.
I underestimated the gift because I was looking past it to the next thing.

You never know what joy is in store for you right where you are, especially if you never stop to see it.

Don't let the routine usurp the glorious in your life and don't let opportunities pass you by for you to break others out of that routine by being the bearer His glory in their life.

You and I were designed to be difference makers...and to readily expect and anticipate our Great God to make a difference IN us and THROUGH us.

Whose heart will you choose to fill?

Mamas and Daddys...let it start with us.
Be present.
Be His.
Be the difference maker in your child's life.
Moments like these will make you eternally glad that did.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
(Matthew 5:14, 16 ESV)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Chained Heart

"My heart is chained to the unchainable Jesus."
This statement by Louie Giglio at Passion 2012 has been planted deeply inside my spirit.
Who would think that a statement about being chained could be the
catalyst of freedom,
of life for these dry bones?
But my destiny, my purpose is not chained
to what I was,
what I've done,
my failures,
my losses,
my insufficiency...
My destiny, my purpose is chained to the
More than Enough God that I love!
I don't have to try live my life FOR victory...I have the privilege to live my life FROM victory because I am a daughter of the King!
I have chained myself to the unchainable Jesus!

"...Apart from me, you can do nothing."

So what HAVE you chained yourself to?
wrong beliefs,
acts against you,
actions by you,
the past,
the future,
...and the list could go on and on and on...

Let it go! Grab onto His Grace! Move the chain!
Learn to remain....remain in Jesus!

So what WILL you chain yourself to?

Bishop T.D. Jakes speaks to this truth-in his own unique way- in this clip from "Let Them Walk"...see for yourself...

Chain yourself to Freedom.
Chain yourself to Victory.
Chain yourself to Peace.
Chain yourself to Wisdom.
Chain yourself to Truth.
Chain yourself to Love.
Chain yourself to Power.
Chain yourself to Healing.
Chain yourself to Deliverance.
Chain yourself to the Lover of Your Soul.
Let the rest of it WALK!

Chain yourself to the unchainable Jesus!

Tweet/Post this: "My heart is chained to the unchainable Jesus."@louiegiglio #forHisglory

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Heart Ramblings

That's all I really care about.
I want more every time I taste and see Your goodness.
Every time I find You I just can't belive that You would trust me with another piece and portion of Who You are.
I believe You.
I believe that what You have in store, I cannot even begin to imagine.
I believe that You are poised and ready to be all I ever need You to be...
...if I will just surrender.
Really say, "Your will, Your way"
Really step out on faith that moves mountains.
Remaining comfortable,
stagnant living,
shallow giving,
gasping for air breathing,
my agendas seething...
I can live like this NO MORE.
I cannot watch my life whiz by uninterrupted.
I am dizzied by my own lack of action,
My own refusal to let You press pause.
I cannot do this poor excuse of doing anymore.
I cannot be this comfortable living,
parasite Believer.
This Pharisee, pining after rules instead of God's heart,
on a rule following,
attendance taking,
activity going
Justifying my own agendas because they are outside the boxes around me,
Yet, they are boxes of my own creation, just the same.
They are not His.
He did not create these rules I keep,
This track record I collect and store to display somewhere- a hall that does not exist.
He is a box-breaking God
who desires box-breaking worshippers...
Spilling the messiness of their oil of worship all His feet
And meshing it with  the sacrifice of
and Thankfulness
and Awe
and Nearness.
Even when the room comes to a halt...
Even when whispers deafen...
Even when the burn of stares singe the edges of my heart...
Even then...
Press in.
Press in further.
I won't stop until I'm at His feet.
Because that's where it all disappears.
It all fades away as I fall at the feet of the Object of my affection...
This Jesus.
This is it.
He is It.
He is All.
He is Everything.
YOU are.
That's what I believe.
This is what I know is Truth:
You are Truth.
And when the world tells me that I am confused,
a distraction to those seeking outward reverence above a life messily sacrificed on Your altar...
THAT is when I will just RUN to Your feet, look You in Your face,
look Truth in the eye,
Feel Truth wrap His arms around me and whisper my name...
Truth sings over me with a voice of rejoicing.
Yes, He delights in holding this messy sinner,
who runs crying,
but BOLDLY approaching the throne of Grace!
He finds joy in my feeble attempts to rightly worship unhindered by this rotten flesh.
Because there is no "right",
Because there is no list of rules
He only asks me to come.
He just wants me...
even more than I want Him.
I know.
It's crazy.
How can this God want me?
Why would He want this pile of issues and shortcomings?
Because I am His.
Because He knew me before I took a breath.
He formed these moments I am living and called each one into existence.
He's walked each one and laid each moment down,
Packed full with His presence and provision...
If I'll reach out...
If I will see.
If I will look past my own insufficiencies that I have allowed to lay down walls of limits
amidst these moments He has made for me.
My vision is limited by me.
The horizon,
unlimited potential,
and beauty...
THAT'S what He created.
I want to see.
I want to see past the limits I have bricked up all around me.
I want to see with Spirit eyes...
Blinded to all else.
Because that's when Grace experienced is labeled...
Because what else do you say when a
is freely forgiven,
joyfully welcomed,
given this Love,
and immeasurable riches?
What else do you say when unmerited favor is handed out
to one like me...
...and so lavishly?
What else do you say when the rightful hand of death,
this death sentence I so deserve,
is paid for by Another?
What do you say when this wretched ife is not only forgiven-
it is proclaimed,
declared NOT GUILTY?!?
What can I do but shout,
And what else can I offer...
but my life in return?
It's not enough.
No, it is not payment.
Because THAT is a debt I cannot repay.
Jesus already took care of that.
It is my offering.
My thanks.
My joy to give.
And I am beginning to understand that is it His joy, Your joy Father, to receive.
In all its messiness,
in all its ridiculous junk...
It is His joy to receive it because...
That's how He loves.
Far beyond what I can understand...
He loves me.
He desires me in the middle of my mess because He has His cleansing blood
ready and waiting,
His robe of righteousness to bestow on me.
And I...
I don't deserve it...
That's how He loves.