11/21/2011

These Things Take Time

"Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby." Oswald Chambers

I was getting so frustrated because of all the things I felt were oppressing me today. All I wanted to do was to have some time to concentrate and when the kids finally went down for their nap, all I could do was lay on the couch and think of nothing. The traffic jam in my head was all the ambitions I have crowding each other for the right of way. The ones that managed to muscle their way through had everything to do with Thanksgiving dinner and bible study tomorrow. The urgent always pushes the hardest and honks the loudest. It is my pleasure to be blessed with Thanksgiving duties and bible study worship duties. I don't resent them at all, just like I don't resent my beautiful children that eat most of my time like little caterpillars munching a leaf. Some day they will hide in a cocoon and fly away as butterflies all but forgetting the time when they were dependent on me. So, no, I don't resent any of the wonderful blessings that take away my time. But I was frustrated nonetheless.

It's not the overflowing blessings that I have a problem with, it's managing them. Sometimes I wish my brain was more man-like with little compartments to put every area of my life. Units of time allotted for this important task and that one. And when I decide to open a compartment to access one thing I forget about all the rest and devote my time to the task at hand. As it is, I am so distracted that just the thought of completing a task with a short hour and a half of nap time is almost a joke. Maybe it's my obsession with closure or completion that keeps me from beginning anything I may not have time to finish.


The LORD reminds me of what's important. That this moment is not forever. He has things in the works that I know nothing about. The parts of my muddled brain He is scraping away at are at different points in the process. I may get an inkling of what His future plan is for my mind and try to rush into the desired behavior before He has made me ready. Hmmm, didn't I write a song about this once? Yes, I did. It's the one about being in God's hospital, going through intense surgery and having to wait on His healing before I could get up and move mountains. So maybe I'm not as far along as I feel sometimes. The tension in my back and neck seem to tell me that I have trouble resting in His peace.


God became a baby and learned to walk, talk, and use a human mind to do the Father's will. Complete trust accompanies supernatural peace, that of a child resting in the secure arms of her Father. How many times has Elianna told me, "I can do it myself!" when she can't? I have to just back off and watch her try until she is humbled by defeat and asks for help. That's the story of my life, child. Someday we will both learn that our Heavenly Father knows best. When we seek Him first it will all fall into place without traffic jams or frustrations. In this life I will have trouble and I will take heart knowing that Jesus overcame them already. Lord, thank You for Your Spirit who helps me remember all You teach me. Amen.

Vision Forum Entry

Well, at least I enter this one! I would love to get my daughter a set of books that the company sells. Elsie Dinsmore and it's $140! So, here goes it! Love this company: for Christian Books go to www.visionforum.com!


11/03/2011

He Redeems the Moments

It only takes a moment to change a lifetime. It almost sounds like an overly dramatic cliche, but I am trying to grasp the impact of the statement. It's in the small moments that I have found myself losing my temper lately. My three-year-old girl will be four in February and my one-year-old son will be two next month. They are both approaching a transition and I am lagging behind in my parenting methods. This creates frustration for all. Suddenly my daughter is desperate for one-on-one attention of any kind and my son is gaining more power over his environment every day. I have a preschooler ruling my moods and a toddler ruling my home! How did this happen?!

It's not important how this happened. What am I going to do about it now? I have found myself stealing moments away from God. They are the seconds before I lose my cool and burst forth in anger at one or both of my kids. Sometimes even fractions of a second when I ignite a fire within my chest with certain selfish thoughts. Phrases like, "How much of this screaming can I take?" or "I just can't handle this anymore!" or "STOP!" come rushing at me with the force of a freight train and I am powerless beneath them. All because I am looking to my own strength to overcome them.

I've started planning what I can do to prevent outbursts of anger. I injured my lower back a month ago and any form of living room workouts just aggravate it. The only prescribed exercise for lower back pain is walking, bicycling, elliptical, or water aerobics. Winter is happening this week and should last for the next several months. I don't own any of those machines or a pool. The only thing I've even considered is the gym. But I digress.

I believe the LORD wants me to be dependent on Him, not some exercise plan. Yes, exercise is a necessity for stress relief and I plan to look for His hand helping me do it. But I shouldn't look to any thing as a means of peace during moments of freight train anxiety. Truth be told, when I exercised regularly I was known to lose my cool then too, albeit less often. This back pain has been a blessing in disguise to show me where my dependence should lie.
So the next time my little girl stands one foot away from me whining, "I want my mommeeee!" over and over and my son find another book to shred, I can reach out to God's open hand and walk into His peace and wisdom. The train may come but I am not going to lay myself on the tracks and give up. I will walk toward the light and sense that terrible force of anger rumble on behind me and off into the distance. Soon I know that my bursts of anger will be like a distant train whistle and a memory of where I was without God's peace. He will soon redeem those moments and restore my children's confidence in their Mama.
"Come unto Me." When you hear those words you will know that something must happen in you before you can come. The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, anything at all that will put the axe at the root of the thing which is preventing you from getting through. You will never get further until you are willing to do that one thing. The Holy Spirit will locate the one impregnable thing in you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him." Oswald Chambers

A lot of my friends have been saying lately that they can't seem to hear God. The above is a portion of an entry in "My Utmost for his Highest". It appears to be exactly what our problem is. Our unwillingness to obey God is what keeps us from hearing Him, coming to Him, and being blessed by Him. Once we even show the slightest inkling of surrender God is quick to reward that with instant peace and joy. Beyond that He fills our cup to overflowing!

God will not have robots as His children. There are no puppet people doing the bidding of God under complete compulsion outside of their wills. That's what the animals are for. Those creatures that aren't made in God's image, but are a beautiful creation of Him to do as their instinct dictates. A dog cannot be a bird, nor does it long to fly. If that were the case we would have animals with identity crises all over the world!

God wants us to be free for the sake of freedom. (Galatians 5:1) He doesn't want us to make bad choices or be outside of His will, but the possibility of evil goes along with the power to choose. My greatest challenge comes in trusting God under circumstances that seem impossible. For control freaks like myself it has taken a miracle and many years to let go.

10/05/2011

Will You Play With Me, Mommy?

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and gazed up at His face. He was in the midst of teaching her and perhaps the disciples something and Mary was simply riveted. So much so that her sister started to get overwhelmed by all the duties that Mary probably would be helping with on a different day. Poor Martha was more concerned about making a good impression than experiencing Jesus and all He spoke about at her house. How much she missed! I hope, for her sake, that when her Lord corrected her that she wiped her hands, took the pot off the fire and sat down next to her sister to have a listen.

Yesterday my daughter asked me two dozen times in a row if I would play with her. I really wanted to but there was laundry to be folded, dinner to be made, toys to be picked up, and countless other daily things to do. Every time I would finish one thing another thing would catch my attention and I'd be off after it. Elianna would ask again as if she'd never asked, "Mom, do you wanna play with me?" And once again I would say, "Honey, I do want to play, but I have so much to get done. Please stop asking." When bedtime suddenly arrived she was frustrated and disappointed, throwing a mini-tantrum when it was time to brush her teeth. While I brushed my teeth that night I asked God to help me be a better mom and wife. How can I cram more into a day? God brought a couple of conversations to mind.

One was with my mom concerning her upbringing in a very tidy house. "I remember wishing my mother would have played with me more." I can say that my mom didn't keep house the way that my Gramma did. In fact, she used to say that she simply wasn't "domestic" and most of the time the house was a mess growing up. But you know what? My mom knew a lot about me and she always had time to talk.

Another older woman I respect highly was tidying up her well-kept office. I asked her if she was able to keep a clean house when she had small children. She said that she was, but she wished she'd spent more time playing with them and less time worrying about tidiness.

I supposed the Marthas in my life came to mind for a reason. I decided I needed to be disciplined about making time for the kids. I'm going to be homeschooling them, after all. So I set my alarm for 9:30am for a half hour of play time! It was nice to know I wouldn't get lost in the child's play vortex of make believe after dress up after show and tell after bounce the ball. I warned the kids that as soon as the alarm went off again that they would have five more minutes (thank you, snooze button) before the carriage turned back into a pumpkin. They seemed ok with that. I realized that a half an hour is the perfect amount of play time. They were good to go until nap time where they sleep soundly now. Thankfully, I can put in my iPod and finish some more housework while listening to praise music and worshiping Jesus in spirit and truth. It's great that I can be Martha and Mary too! Balance is so important, don't you agree?

After nap time I will set the alarm for 4:30pm and we will play for another half-hour. It's those little pockets of time that will show them they are more valuable to me than keeping things tidy. I will always have stuff to pick up and move from one place to the other, I won't always have my babies here to play with.



9/04/2011

"It's OK."

Unforgiveness turns a mild disagreement into a cataclysmic event. Holding onto something another person did to wrong us is like holding a fire in our hearts. If the fire has diminished into a flicker then we can go back to the incident and fan the flame. The heat from it can create damage to internal organs and spiritual lines of  communication. It cauterizes and creates callouses in places that are intended to be soft and receptive.

Unforgiveness makes our ears deaf and eyes blind to the person who has wronged us. All we perceive of them is the wrong they have done so that they might as well be wearing a striped convict's uniform. The smoke from the burning memory makes the convict's intentions hard to see. If they have apologized, we miss it. Letting go of their wrong and forgiving them will mean we lose the powerful feeling that we are in control of teaching them a lesson. And why make ourselves vulnerable to repeated assaults by the same obstinate people? What if we forget what they've done? What will our ammunition be if they hurl accusations at us?

Unforgiveness puts up a spiked wall around our hearts. We think that we are protected when we are actually trapped; the spikes pointing toward our hearts. Perhaps the wrongdoers have already forgiven themselves, attempted to make amends, and are free to learn from their mistakes. But the unforgiving ones cannot get away from the smoke and destruction of a bad deed remembered and relived.

So what becomes of an imperfect person? Without grace we are lost forever. God forgives and forgets and so the imperfect are slowly made perfect. Forgiveness brings a wrongdoer into the light of love and shows them their mistake within that light. Look what you've done. Now...know that when you own what you have done and feel for a moment the gravity of the thing, it will vanish forever. You are sorry and He sees that. The best words anyone can hear from God at that point are: "It's OK." You mean, Lord, that it's OK to make mistakes? It's not the end of the world for me?

God will never drudge up past mistakes to bring us to our knees. The Accuser is the one who tries to ignite those old memories and destroy our hope in the flames. Living Water quenches those accusations with the power of perfect shed blood. When we offer our apology to our Creator, He forgives us. When we believe that we are forgiven, we are free. If we mistakingly believe the Enemy of our souls instead of the Truth that sets us free, then although we are forgiven we remain enslaved. It is a work to believe on Jesus. It is the work. Especially when someone you love doesn't forgive you. What a dangerous fire unforgiveness is to relationships! But thankfully, God is love and the author and supplier of love. Love can cover even the sin of unforgiveness with forgiveness of it's own. You don't forgive me? It's OK.

8/10/2011

Hey Jealousy


When I see people with an amazing love for God I doubt their authenticity. They are the first ones I scrutinize to see if they are for real or not. I am pretty easy on non-believers or even new believers. But when it comes to people who worship with abandon and talk about God the way I feel about Him, I start to cross my arms in speculation. Even some of my most favorite Christian musicians and even close friends could find me doubting their love for our Father. When they prove that they truly have His Spirit and love Him as much or more than it appears, then I am simply jealous. It's like I don't want anyone to be able to boast of His affections the way I can. I want to have Him all to myself and my love for Him can't compare to anyone else's. I hope God is ok with that childishness in me. I suppose there are far worse ways to be jealous.

When my son Gabriel does something good, we celebrate him. Then my daughter, who's two years older than him boasts that she can do the same thing, and "more better, even"! There is a cute jealousy that happens there. I feel like God may want to remind me of the same thing I remind Elianna of when she tries to diminish Gabriel's accomplishments. We tell her, "Gabriel is still a baby, so when he says, 'please' it is quite a big deal! You shouldn't have to be rewarded for something any big girl should always do." I still make sure to recognize when Elianna is being polite or caring to others, but we don't say, "Yaaaay!" and give a bunch of high fives every time she behaves herself. It starts to become expected and the bar is raised. I tell Elianna, "You worry about your own behavior, not your brother's. Don't tattle and don't boss."

If I would focus my heart on my relationship with God then I wouldn't have time to compare myself to others. I see the women and men with arms raised or weeping on the floor and my first thought is: Are they for REAL? I mean, if they are then I want what they have. But if they aren't then that is too sad and I can't bear to watch a fake. I'm not going to try and outdo them with my praise for fear of making it about me, but I do want to know more of the love of God. I'm jealous of Abraham, Moses, and Mary Magdalene. My goal is to have the same faith as they did. Not because I want the recognition but because I want to be that close to God.

Another thing that Elianna and Gabriel are famous for is making me feel super loved. My favorite is when I've been gone for a little while and they run to me yelling, "Momeeeeee!" and grab hold of each of my legs. I am practically toppled by their love and need. It's the greatest feeling I know. But the interesting thing is that when one of them sees me first, the other one comes running just as loudly and quickly if not "more better, even". They stop short of pushing the other child away to get more of me. In fact, it's almost as thought their adoration of me is made more fun because they are doing it together. Elianna will often start tickling and chasing Gabriel with sheer excitement to be feeling secure with Mommy or Papa. If she were to push him down and say, "MY Mama!" then she would surely be disciplined. But I know there are times when she wants to be the baby and get all the cuddles and loves that her brother seems to get a lot of at times.

So God must love when His children run to Him in groups. Some run faster and some yell louder. I want to be the first in line to latch onto His leg and smile up into His face. I want to be watching for Him every day, all the time so I can be one of the children that are 'in-the-know' with the Father. I want to feel like my relationship with Him is unique and special. Like one of many children I don't want to be the silent one who gets lost in the background. I want to be a Daddy's girl, always needing His presence and approval. I don't want to be like any other believer. He reassures me that I'm not. He is infinite enough to always have a place on His lap for me. He is accessible enough to never be too busy to listen to me. He is omniscient enough to have His complete focus on my devotion to Him while also giving undivided attention to each individual worshiper. My job is to worry about my own worship and my own relationship. But I think it's a good thing that I want to be the favorite kid.

7/28/2011

Be. Here. Now.

"God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious." --Oswald Chambers for July 28th


When I was a stinky hippy (and I do mean stinky because this girl didn't shave her pits at one time) I had two friends named Mike and Jeremy. They were inseparable and completely attached at the hip. So much so that their names became one whenever I told people who I was hanging out with: MikeN'Jer. I know that God protected me through my time with them, even though it was one of the least wholesome times of my life. I actually learned something of value with them, too.

The reason I bring this up is because of a book I read that belonged to Mike. It was a very New Age, very 'hippie' book called "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass. Now, before you run with the notion that I've lost it to a faux-Hindu worldview, I bring you to my point: The title of the book. I didn't get much further than that in understanding the purpose of the publication. I really wasn't interested in the yoga and the meditation on my naval and all that nonsense. But I did see the value of embracing the moment. 
While there isn't much good living in a vacuum of a few seconds or even an hour, a day holds so much that God can make a thousand years out of it. I'm glad for the influence of MikeN'Jer when it came to appreciating every tiny little thing. We didn't get much done or feel very complete in our depravity, but we did have loads of fun together. Now I find myself paying close attention to the "small things" and pulling all the meaning out of each moment. It is really the way of the child...
When I have a destination in mind I am out the door and in the van before my body even reaches those places. So it frustrates me when my three-year-old girl and 19-month-old boy take more than thirty seconds to cross the porch and then get caught up in the intricacies of a dandelion seedhead. I reach boiling point, standing there in mid-motion, stuck in a child's world-sized moment while in my mind I am already driving to my first errand. No wonder I get so upset with them! I am trying to keep up with the demands of the day and I am missing the peaceful opportunities that would bring me fuel for the journey. Be. Here. Now. It is a discipline that is only perfected when we forget about the ticking clock and let God keep the pace of our day. The destination is of little importance if we miss life in the meantime.
How many times have you heard someone say, "Enjoy it now, because it goes by so fast!"? Sometimes I want to respond, "No it doesn't." Not when I am in toddler time! Because while my child needs to obey me when it's truly time to hurry, I also need to obey God when it's time to slow down. Is it really that urgent that I get to the Post Office five minutes earlier? Have I left enough time in the day for my children to see more than a blur of each place we go? What am I teaching them about life when I let stress propel me from task to task? 


Be. Here. Now. The present is where we experience God's presence. 

7/27/2011

Unto the Lord

Mahalia Jackson
I admit, I get caught up in the talent contest shows. Just yesterday I was folding laundry, singing Mahalia Jackson songs and imagining myself in front of a mean Englishman who sits smugly to judge my abilities. It occurred to me how nerve-racking that would be. Then they would show a backstage interview of me saying something like, "I've dreamed of this all my life!" or "This is the most important day for me!" and I would head out amid cheers and assessing eyes...

Pause. Rewind. What did I say backstage? Where is my heart? What is the most important day of my life? I realized right there folding toddler p.j.s that I had the wrong audience in mind. Sure, I would love to show the world how amazing a Christian's voice can be and how I would use my influence for the Lord's work and all that, but who am I trying to please? They would eat me alive if I tried to satisfy them. Next thing you know they are showing a clip of me crying and walking away from the camera, rejected just like the other ninety percent.

God stepped into my mini-fantasy and lifted my chin to squint at His throne. The light was almost blinding and His presence overwhelming. But the joy flooded in and I started smiling immediately. In my heart I began to sing for my King. Where was the fear of rejection? Where were the ignorant and unpleasant faces ready to present me with their verdict? So far away and lost in the goodness and acceptance of my Lord. But there was a new feeling, too. I was starstruck and felt a little silly. Here I am singing for God! My voice is so inadequate but I love it. It is something He made and He also delights in it. As the song led my voice into loud and soulful bursts of worship, I felt my heart lighten and my fears dissolve. Why hadn't I truly been singing for Him this whole time? Perhaps it was because my heart truly longed for someone else's audience and approval. Now that I know I can please God with my voice, maybe I will offer Him a concert more often. Maybe it will ALWAYS be unto Him.

7/05/2011

Belief

"Believing is such a delicate thing. Doubt is just like belief because it is fed by thoughts and meditations of the heart. When food for doubt tries to enter, it is our obligation as Christians to reject it. Food for belief is to be sought after then cultivated, grown then harvested, eaten then shared at the table of love. Do not forsake the gatherings because there we are fed the food of faith and our belief is nurtured and gains strength. If doubt tries to corrupt the mind then we've only to seek God's face more passionately. Wrap yourself around His arm through the dark storm of disillusionment and deception. Belief is commanded."

I wrote the above passage in my journal today because I have been battling some unusual thoughts. I go through seasons when the enemy attacks me with deep doubts about the existence of God. It's almost tempting to forget the fourteen years I've spent seeking the truth and finding God through manifestations of Christ all around me. When I am caught up in the moment and start to entertain the nonsense of altered realities out of sheer boredom, I am treading on dangerous ground. It's almost as if I have come to the edge of the path and the darkness and emptiness in a world without God is so horrible it is almost sickly fascinating. There are some beautiful-looking things dancing in the distance and I dare to squint and take a small step forward out of curiosity. I pause, remembering that the Lord in His merciful love has already solved that mystery for me: they are nothing but corpses blowing in the wind. While the God-created wind is beautiful, there is nothing enticing about death. That's all there is whenever I smell the air of doubt that blows across my mind. That split second when you think it might be someone barbecuing and then you realize it's burnt hair you smell, that's doubt. It ain't no barbecue.

Father, please purge all doubt from me with Your gentle yet powerful moving hand. My dream is to see You in every moment of my day, having Your presence fill every inhale and expressing Your joy with every exhale. Please let me never look away from Your face, no matter what storm may be raging around me. Amen.

6/28/2011

Moments Pass

I have a problem with passing moments. I don't like the fact that they pass. I'm not a fan of linear reality, even though I've known nothing else. Well, that's not exactly true, I've known dreams. In dreams there seems to be no consistent time frame. You can bounce in and out of different scenarios without warning but you can also stay in one world for what seems like a day and wake up five minutes later. While we can't retain most of what happens in our souls while we dream, we do feel a sense of wonder upon waking.

It breaks my heart to have to hurry my child from one event to another, even if I know she will have more fun at the place we are rushing off to. I wish we could stay in the moment she is in...forever. There are moments in the worship of God that I find my heart bursting and overflowing with His loving presence. But there is always grasping as the moment vanishes with the ticking second-hand. I just want to scream, "Noooo!" as the moment quickly becomes a memory and I am back to the dullness of my earthly life. What about the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen? Then it is night and your photograph only mocks your memory and reminds you of something you will never have again. Photographs and memories just aren't good enough are they?

We are constantly going through loss here. We lose our innocence first and then our health. People come and go and parties end. There's something so wrong about it all. In Heaven we will never have to stop playing and we will never leave the party. There will never be a dark night where beauty sinks into the background. Around every corner will be more dazzling displays than we can ever know here. Most magnificently, we will never have to stop worshiping God. Our eternal destiny is to behold Him without filters and to hold a moment with Him as long as we want in an incorruptible place with no limits on the vastness of our experience. While this world crumbles with every passing day, we can be confident that everything we have given to God is held in His safe-keeping for us to hold infinitely abounding forever.

6/16/2011

Holding Fast

I'm facing a nice bouquet of challenges right now. A rocky marriage, feverish children with coughs and digestive pains, my worst night of sleep since Gabriel was a baby, my own sore throat and runny nose, my own digestive pains, and currently my sinus headache is making it hard to see the computer screen. But God is shining through all of this yuckiness with such beauty that I have to smile. He provided financially for Jon to fix his truck in a miraculous way, through the blessing of my earthly Dad. He has brought my Mom and Grandma here for this week and we are having a lovely time despite all the sickness. Elianna's fever broke at about 5am this morning, praise God! And even though I was woken up at 1:30, 3:22, 4:15, and 5:10 this morning I am able to put words together in coherent sentences. A nap will be crucial today so I pray the LORD will supply that need. My mom and I are going to get pedicures for fun girly time at the College of Cosmetology. Life is grand and God is such a good Papa! 

I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.I will be glad and rejoice in You;             

I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1,2

6/07/2011

Looking for the X-traordinary

There's a longing in mankind to be super-human. I was made freshly aware of that as we watched X-Men: First Class last night on our anniversary date night. While the movie was X-cellent and the eff-X even more so, I left with an interesting thought that I felt I needed to X-press. My husband made the statement that the characters' creator Stan Lee must be living the life with all these movies being made based on his comic books. I said, "He will be more a few more years." He's the same age as my Grandma who turns 89 this year. The main idea behind X-men is that they are the next step in the evolution of mankind. Apparently all of their super powers are genetic mutations that have happened as a result of time and adaptation. Its too bad Stan Lee hasn't evolved yet. It looks like he is headed for Eternity along with the rest of mankind who hasn't evolved the regeneration gene. But he is an imaginative genius who hits the heart of a deep longing in humans. It's where we get all of our hero stories and action flicks. It's the longing to be saved by something greater than ourselves.

Jesus walked on water and turned a brown bagged lunch into a feast for thousands. Is that just a matter of molecular structure? Did God change each of Jesus' footsteps into a solid instead of a liquid or just multiply the atoms of the loaves and fish? Surely God is capable of manipulating things at a cellular level, He designed cells!

Jesus went beyond the laws and boundaries of this world. He also told His followers they would do even greater things than He had done. If this world is fallen and flawed then we all have something in us that was meant for life beyond death and the grave. We watch the amazing feats of these superheroes and we marvel (or DC?). There is eternity put in our hearts by God's design that makes us long for abilities we cannot "evolve" on our own. God is the source of those powers and His will is the environment in which we have permission to access our eternal nature. He wants us to know Him so well that we are like extensions of Heavenly realities. People in the bible have raised the dead, teleported, healed with their shadow and sweat, been immune to a venomous snake bite, walked through walls, called down fire from heaven, stopped the rain from falling, ran faster than horses, taken out an entire cathedral out with bare hands, taken out city walls by marching around and yelling at them, defeated an army with a choir, parted a sea with a stick, held back a river by standing in it, and welcomed every type of animal and bird as they came two by two without being chained or roped in. I'd say those are pretty super things for humans to be a part of.

The important thing is to have a relationship with the Creator of this place. Apart from Him we are capable of nothing that lasts. With Him we are in touch with the Source of our eternal purpose for existing. Death is wrong and we know it. Why work all this time just to turn into dust or ashes and be forgotten? Our love can be so deep and yet we are gone in an instant from this place leaving only our legacy that will be used by others in whatever way they see fit. If only we could regenerate and harness energy to stay young. If only we could make such a huge impact on this world that they build a statue in our honor. Is that really even good enough? I wouldn't want to live in this place of death forever. And I definitely wouldn't want some statue with bird poop on it to tell my story for me. All of my good things are being collected by my Father. He knows everything about all of us and keeps a record of it. The things I didn't do for Him will pass away with this world. But the things I have done unto the LORD will be my eternal legacy.


I would love to bring my Heavenly abilities to earth for His glory. It is mind-blowing to think I might be a supernatural hero for God. I already feel myself soaring high like an eagle over the lies of the enemy in the spiritual places. Maybe someday I will free the captives and sing open the prisons of despair with, "Holy is the LORD God Almighty! The whole earth is filled with His glory!" We all want to be extraordinary and live for something bigger than ourselves. It's not evolution that will make it happen, it's devotion.

6/04/2011

Approval

My husband and I were watching America's Got Talent and I found myself inexplicably saddened by the number of people that were there to audition. So many people looking for their big break or a way to make a living doing what they love: showing people what they can do. Seeking and confidently looking forward to the approval of the audience and the judges, they put themselves on the altar of the stage to give their offering. Am I good enough at what I do? at who I am? Good enough to get applause and the privilege to enter the mouth of an even bigger dragon that knows no satisfaction...

I had the opportunity to show off my vocal talents for some baseball game people recently. They were trying to find people to sing the National Anthem at the games instead of just having recorded music. I practiced the difficult song and got overly psyched by watching past Nat'l Anthem performances online. I thought I would definitely be one of the more talented people that was there to sing. It became a competition even though there weren't enough singers there to fill the baseball game spots. They were going to take all of us anyway, but we were still comparing ourselves to one another. Look at what I can do... see how I bring something unique and special to this? I bet you'd never would have guessed that the voice you just heard could come out of an ordinary-looking person like me. I wonder who will be at the games? Maybe a talent scout will hear me and decide that I am worthy of an audience with someone they are connected with. You never know when your big break will come. If you don't get out there and sing, it may never happen...

It's all an illusion and I see that now. I may suffer from approval addiction or be a people pleaser, but God has shown me something eternally valuable right here and now in this dying place. I can't want the approval of man and also want the approval of God. One day there will come a time when I will be asked to perform a task that God would not approve of, by people who promise me approval. Will I be faithful to obey God amidst even the nods and atta-girls of an unfaithful people? Can I do something socially odd and risk being labeled and judged as "too religious" if it will please my Father?

Galatians 1:10 ... For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

John 14:23 ...for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.



Matthew 6:1-16 (Heavenly or earthly rewards?)

Let me tell you, it's scary to think that I would lose my reward in Heaven for the peanuts I could get here in this dying world. May I always find myself using my talents for His glory and may I seek only His approval for all that I do. Thank You, Father for saving me from losing my reward: Your approval. I love You.

5/31/2011

Trial by Faith

1Peter 1:6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
 8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. (NLT)

I admit, this scripture scares me a little bit. Though I want my faith to be strong and mountain-moving, I am reluctant to walk right into faith-building trials with open arms of joy! I hear about what some Christians have had to endure in this life and the pain is unfathomable to me. Would I survive the heart-rending pain of loss?

The scripture about God giving us only what we can handle is not referring to trials, necessarily. (1 Corinthians 10:13) It is referring to how we shall be tempted. I suppose you could apply it to the temptation to lose faith amidst trials and in that case God wouldn't allow so much that we wouldn't be able to see Him through the pain. But I have heard people refer to 1 Corinthians 10:13 as "God never gives us more than we can handle," meaning suffering. But I think God always gives us more than we can handle, or rather He allows it. I think He allows it on purpose to show us we can handle nothing without Him and everything with Him. Satan is after us incessantly waiting for his opening to hit us in our weakest areas. God uses the enemy's attacks as a way to make us skilled in battle. It is always more than we can handle and therefore God always gets the glory. He provides the way to bear up under temptation and He provides the comfort and strength to make it through whatever tragedies life throws at us. We could never handle it alone.

So I suppose I shouldn't be so scared of the 1 Peter 1:6 scripture. When I lose sight of reality because of the powerful illusion all around me, that's when I fear the abrupt change or the sudden shock of bad news and tragedy. LORD, help me keep my perspective and see beyond the creature comforts You've provided to the real reason I am here: to do Your will. May I embrace all of my trials according to the faith You are building in me. Even if I do receive greater honor for applying that faith, may You get it all back from me in adoration. Thank You for letting me be a part of Your bigger picture. Thank You, Jesus.


5/26/2011

An Inheritance Incorruptible - My Voice

I've taken up watching one of those singing contests on NBC. The first couple of shows were interesting because the contestants sang to the backs of the judges chairs. Being called "The Voice", the show insinuated that the performers would win based on their vocals alone. It was a nice concept and only lasted of course until the judges turned around. Then it became a show just like all the other talent contest shows. The women were given outfits to wear that left nothing to the imagination and there was no end to peacocking around the stage. So much for the "voice" part of The Voice.

It did bring up inspiring feelings about my own vocal abilities, though. I seem to respond to these silly shows with a heated opinion and the thoughts, "if I were on that show..." along with the fantasies that follow. I place myself on the big bright soapbox that is called a stage and I show people what is UP. The LORD gave me an opportunity to sing a little after indulging these diva feelings. I sang for some people looking for national anthem performers for local baseball games. I sounded so much better in the shower than I did out on the baseball field. In the privacy of a reverberating bathroom I wow'd my imaginary audience and felt super patriotic as air force jets flew over me and fireworks burst all around. Out on the real baseball field I couldn't hear myself and facing the flag made me have my back turned to onlookers in the stands. My good friend videotaped it, mostly under the guise that I wanted to show it to my family out of town. I watched it with my husband as soon as I got home and confirmed my disappointing performance. It was no Beyonce, I'll tell you that. In fact, I started the song too high and ended up sounding like a strangled animal in my opinion.

Someday I hope to sing for the LORD and only the LORD. I was born with a vocal ability and a burning desire to use it. When I have the scenarios playing in my mind about performing His music for the world, I am confronting their wows and admirations with giving glory to God. But He knows how dangerous it would be for me. Imagine if they did say what an amazing gift I had! Would I soak it up like a naive child that waits for the approval of the masses? Or would I see it for what it is: empty words designed to give another person the power to direct my fate? Do I really want to cast my pearls before a critical opinionated panel of judges who wouldn't know the Holy Spirit if He pierced them with a sword? Would I really survive in the illusion of fame and worthiness under the heat of electric lights and the invasion of cameras?

God, my Daddy. You help me see danger and protect me from it. Thank You for not allowing the wolves to get wind of my scent. I am a vulnerable creature running through a wasteland of predators if I am not with You. You keep me hidden beneath Your mighty wings until I am ready to mount up on those which You have given. Even then I know Your vast shadow will always blanket me with Your presence. Guide my steps and place me where You would have me shine for You. In Your mercy You have shown me that singing for You and only You is my calling. Everything else is chaff that will be burned off as I enter eternity. If I have wisdom then I would sing only Your praises and Your truth. That way I am auditioning to be a soloist in Heaven, where my voice will never fade. The closer I am to Your throne, the shinier this star will be. The Light of Life will blaze across a golden stage and each performance will only get better as eternity brings me closer to knowing the true purpose of my voice. To sing about You, for You, and to You my God and King forever.

1/15/2011

Day 13 & 14 Bible Reading

Genesis 14 - War breaks out in the Valley of Siddim; Abram rescues Lot; Abram eats with Melchizedek, priest of the Most High and king of Salem.

Nehemiah 3 - The building of the walls and gates;  repairs to houses of prominent Jews in the area; repairs to all areas in Jerusalem and who did them.


v.12 Shallum the son of Hallohesh, leader of half the district of Jerusalem; he and his daughters made repairs. I think it's awesome that the guy had his girls out there doing heavy work alongside the men...and the fact that it is mentioned is pretty big. Maybe all he had were daughters! One thing's for sure, he had some useful chicks!

Matthew 13 - Parables and parables explained; Parable of the seed on the soils; Parable of wheat and tares; Parable of Mustard Seed; parable of treasure, pearl, and dragnet;


v.12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.


Wesley's Notes
13:12 Whosoever hath - That is, improves what he hath, uses the grace given according to the design of the giver; to him shall be given - More and more, in proportion to that improvement. But whosoever hath not - Improves it not, from him shall be taken even what he hath - Here is the grand rule of God's dealing with the children of men: a rule fixed as the pillars of heaven. This is the key to all his providential dispensations; as will appear to men and angels in that day. Mt 25:29 (parable of talents); Mark 4:25 (light of the world aoncrext); Luke 8:18 (light of the world again); 19:26 (parable of talents).


v. 57 - So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

We think we know a person because we grew up around them. But unless God gives us the revelation, we don't know them like He knows them: as they truly are.

Acts 13 - Holy Spirit requires Barnabas and Saul to be sent; Saul called Paul in Paphos; Paul and the sorcerer; they go to Antioch and Paul expounds on the Old Testament;


v. 3 - Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

(laying on of hands reference!)


1/12/2011

Day 12 Bible Reading

Nehemiah 2 - Nehemiah is granted leave to go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; While there he treaties his people to rebuild and is ridiculed by the locals

Genesis 13 - Abram and Lot separate to different lands because they can't both dwell on the same land with all their posessions.

Matthew 12 - Jesus and the Pharisees - Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath; Heals withered hand on Sabbath; Isaiah prophecy fulfilled that He should be secret and also for the Gentiles; A kingdom divided will not stand; v. 31 blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men; Brood of vipers!; tree known by it's fruit; held accountable for every idle word, v.37 "for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned"; sign of prophet Jonah; "Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?" "Whoever does the will of My Father"

Acts 12 - James killed with sword by Herod; Peter freed from prison; Herod fails to give glory to God and is struck down and eaten by worms and dies. Barnabas and Saul/Paul take on John Mark.

1/11/2011

Day 11 Bible Reading

Acts 11 - Peter defends God's grace to the Gentiles; Barnabas and Saul/Paul in Antioch

Matthew 11  - John the Baptist asks if Jesus is the Christ; Jesus identifies and appreciates him; Jesus rebukes the cities; "hidden from the wise, revealed to babes"; "...and I will give you rest.";

v. 11 - John the baptist is "greatest" among "those born of women". But even the "least" in the kingdom of heaven is "greater" than he. After a little research i have found this to mean that a Spirit-filled Christian with the least amount of faith is closer to God than someone who keeps the law but does not have the perfection of Jesus living within them.
v. 19 - I like this: "...wisdom is justified by her children." I almost sense as though the wisdom that the LORD gave to my parents is evidenced in me. Perhaps the wisdom the LORD and my parents gave me will be seen in what my children are like as adults, by the grace of God.
v.28-30 - "Come to me all you who labor and are  heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Need I say more?

Genesis 12 - Promises to Abram; Abram's journey; Abram says Sarai is his sister

Nehemiah 1 - intro; the king's cupbearer

1/10/2011

Day 10 Bible Reading


Genesis 11 - Tower of Babel; Shem's Geneology; Terah takes Abram, Sarai, and Lot to Canaan

Ezra 10 - Last chapter of Ezra; putting away of pagan wives and children

Matthew 10 - The Twelve Apostles are sent; Jesus builds them up
v.8b - "Freely you have received, freely give."
v.14 - "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet."
v. 16 - “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
v.19, 20 - "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."
v. 26b - "...For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known."
v. 27 - “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops."
v. 30 - "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
v. 32 -  “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven."
v. 34 -  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."
v. 38 - "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
v. 42 - "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”


So many scriptures from Matthew 10 that I have used in the past. The way God takes care of those who do his work. I need all of this guidance to stay on the path. Every word that Jesus spoke was so valuable, like gold falling from His lips and I am catching all of it. LORD, let Your Word live in me as I walk out this life.

Acts 10 - Cornelius the centurion; Peter preaches to Gentiles and they receive Holy Spirit; Gentiles baptized

1/09/2011

Day 9 Bible Reading

Acts 9 - Saul on Damascus Road, conversion; Ananias obeys God; Saul receives sight and the Holy Spirit; Peter prays for Tabitha the seamstress, she rises from death.

Genesis 9 - God tells Noah how it's going to be; Noah gets drunk on wine; Ham's indiscretion brings a curse to Canaan. Noah lived 950 years!

Genesis 10 - Geneology of Sons of Noah; Set up for Babel dispersion

Matthew 9 - Jesus forgives paralytic and calls Matthew from his Tax office; Matt invites all his tac collecting friends to dine with Jesus (probably); Fasting associated with mourning and new wine/cloth; Raises girls, heals bleeding woman from hem touch, heals blind men and tells them not to tell, but they do anyway; Heals mute demon-posessed man; Jesus sees multitude and is moved; "The harvest plentiful..."

Verse 17 - My interpretation of Jesus' words about the new wine and new cloth are: don't require a new believer to practice the deeds of someone who has had many years to be changed and sanctified.

Ezra 9 - Intermarriage with Pagans; Ezra mourns and laments to God about their guilt in intermarrying.

1/08/2011

Day 8 Bible Reading




Genesis 8 - Rain and waters cease, Noah exits the ark from the "Mountains of Ararat", God makes convenant with Rainbow.

Matthew 8 - Jesus cleanses/heals Leper, Centurion's faithful servant, Calms the sea, Casts demons into pigs


Verse 17 - The prophet Isaiah had said that Jesus took and bore our infirmities and sicknesses. There is always a cost to the healing, it's not some magic trick.

Ezra 8 - Appointing the people to build and attend the temple, fasting at the river Ahava, sacrificing on the way to Jerusalem

Verse 21 - fasting as a way of humbling ourselves before the LORD to ask His guidance.

Acts 8 - Saul persecutes the church, Simon the Sorcerer, Phillip and the Ethiopian


Verse 16, the Holy Spirit is referred to as He, just in case there is any argument.
Verse 18 - Simon is some illusionist who craves fame and not the things of God, Peter doesn't mess around. LORD, help me never to see Your Spirit as a means for me to gain glory for myself.
Verse 37 - Believe with all your heart before baptism...

1/07/2011

Day 7 Bible Reading

Genesis 7 - The Flood


Verse 11 - In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.


I wonder what that means. Woah, now that is a Nat Geo special I would pay to see.


Verse 16b: ...went in as God had commanded them; and the Lord shut him in.
Verse 24: And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.


Matthew 7 - Judge Not (Plank, pearls before swine, ask seek knock, golden rule, narrow gate)

Ezra 7 - Ezra on the scene, after Zecharaiah and Haggai had come and gone, took him four months to get from Babylon to Jerusalem,


Verse 10 - For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.


Interesting that Ezra had prepared his own heart...how we are part of God's plan. We choose to nurture the desire God places in our hearts before we are born. God doesn't want automatons for children. Ezra loved the Lord so much and made his life a prophet's life by preparing his heart to seek, do, and teach His word.


(Definition of Nethinim - servant; specifically of the temple and priests/Levites)


Acts 7 - Stephen's Address: "The Call of Abraham", Stephen is Martyred
I love this part... I don't love that beautiful Stephen is killed, but I love his response.


LORD, may I have even the slightest atom in common with Stephen someday. Help me to suffer the onslaught of peoples' negative reactions with your love and grace for them. Help me first to serve as Stephen did and then to "die" to myself as he did. Help me speak the truths of Your word with boldness no matter the cost. Help me be guided in this by Your Spirit so that I won't be led astray by my own will. I love You.

1/06/2011

Bible Reading Day 1, 3, 5 & 6 and POEM

Day 1
The word I will describe my first reading with shall be: Establishment. Not only am I beginning a reading plan today but I am reading some amazing starts to some amazing books. Genesis, Ezra, Matthew, and Acts.


God is establishing Earth, His will for rebuilding His temple, His descending to Earth, and His church. Four parts to God's intricate plans for His children are described in each of these chapters. I feel like I am embarking on a grand adventure into a world more beautiful than imaginable...the mind of God.
LORD, please fill me with the food of Your word as I "open the pages" and meditate today on these verses. I love you. Amen.
 
Day 3
Gen 3 - God is so loving to His creation even after rebellion and sin...
Ezra 3 - 13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

Could not discern - "The mixture of sorrow and joy here, is a representation of this world. In heaven all are singing and none sighing; in hell all are wailing, and none rejoicing: but here on earth we can scarce discern the shouts of joy from the noise of the weeping, let us learn to rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Meantime let us ourselves rejoice as though we rejoiced not, and weep as though we wept not.(ref 1Corinth. 7:30)" - Wesley's Explanatory Notes

On Guard
May I, when I am sad remember Heaven.
May I, when I have joy remember Hell.
So tears may not be something that can drown me
So laughter won't convince me all is well.
For though my soul is saved and looking forward
To sweet eternal bliss forevermore
My sorrow for the lost and unrepentant
Will keep me doing battle in this war.

Matthew 3:7-10 - Let me just say that John the Baptist was one scary guy and I wouldn't want him yelling at me! I would take him seriously since he pretty much lived on nothing but sanctuary with the LORD. When a man like that says to repent, I would repent. He is very much like a loud prophet who won't be ignored. Can't wait to meet the guy.
Matthew 3:13-17 - The Baptism of Jesus. When we are baptized it is a public recognition that we have chosen repentance and salvation. Jesus was revealing Himself through His baptism as the Son of God and our salvation. Not only is it a celebration but the angels and principalities see it and take note, take heed.


Acts 3 - The lame man leaps! This, I believe, is part of Jesus' prayer "...Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven..." In Heaven this man would leap! We have power from Heaven through Christ who lives God's Heavenly will through us. When we believe, we become reflections of the REAL life and TRUE reality that exists in Heaven. Born again, I live in Heaven yet I am here. That's so like The Matrix (I mean The Matrix is such a picture of that) :)


Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
"...through faith in His name..." The LORD has yet to reveal the mystery of the power of His name to me. It's not some magic word that if we say it enough will work. It's so much more than that and in this mindset and my culture I have a hard time with power being in a name. Like Juliet, "What's in a name?"


DAY 5 Acts 5 - Ananias & SapphiraEzra 5 - King Darius receives a letter about the rebuilding of the templeGenesis 5 - Begats, Geneology of Adam and those up till Noah (Enoch walked with God...)Matthew 5 - The Beatitudes & Similitudes; Sermon on the Mount
Notes
Genesis 5:29 And he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”

I wonder how Noah comforted his earthly father's generation. Perhaps when God sends the flood is does a lot to restore the soil and make it ready for planting again. It would definitely change the ground because up until then the water supply came up from springs rather than rainfall, it is thought. The "firmament" being a constant cloud cover that finally fell during the Great Flood. Hence, the rainbow was first seen after the sun was made to shine in a blue sky rather than overcast. So many thousands of years they never saw the magnificence of the sun or were made to roast in it. Rain must have been a very preposterous notion since they had no need of it. It's a great mystery.
NotesMatthew 5:37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

I forget this part of the verse! How the enemy of our souls fills our minds with so much chatter and excuses... Whatever is more than a simple yes or no is manipulation or a broken promise waiting to happen. A solid yes or no is the best evidence of integrity. To agree to do something is human, to follow through is Divine. :)
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you...


This brings to mind the Muslim terrorists and locally, the militant gays. While I won't be seeking out these people while I am a mom of two young ones, I will keep them in mind in my prayers that they may be found.


DAY 6
Genesis 6 - Mankind's years lessened; sons of God & daughters of men; Noah finds grace
Matthew 6 - Sermon on the Mount Continued; The LORD's PrayerEzra 6 - King Darius decrees to help the temple to be built; Passover is had on 14th day of first month; Pilgramages are made;Acts 6 - Stephen, full of faith and power; Stephen is framed; Stephen has face like an angel

NotesMatthew 6
Concerning deeds and prayer in the first part of Chapter 6: It is lovely to me that our deeds and our prayers are gifts to God that He cherishes so much that He wants them all for Himself.

"Deliver us from the evil one.."
Thus verse in the Lord's Prayer reminds me of a verse in the last chapter: "Do not resist an evil person." The LORD is our deliverer and He should be acknowledged and glorified as such in our lives. That is why we pray "Deliver us from the evil one..." By the way, I don't know how it turned from "evil" to "the evil one" but I have a feeling it is suppose to be the latter translation. The enemy's best offense is to convince people he isn't a real person.

"Forgive us our debts..."
14“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. "

This is the only thing Jesus expands on in His prayer model. It is also the only part of the prayer that is a statement. It is assumed that if we are asking for forgiveness that we have already forgiven all that we are responsible to forgive. It is our act of "good faith" in our act of praying through faith.

"When you fast..."
The word "secret" is mention two times in this paragraph about fasting. It definitely should be a secret as much as is possible. I look forward to being able to deny my flesh. It would be such good practice!