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 planner...it'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,
"Mam...do 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 now...it 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...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 worked...no 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 doing...no...
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 sentiment...an 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