Friday, November 18, 2011


For the next Three Weeks might we explore: The Practice of Preparing… What does it look like to prepare our hearts for God? How do we prepare our families and homes to encounter God afresh this holiday season? How do we intentionally, prayerfully prepare for holy-days? The whole community looks forward to your prayerful reflections stories, ideas….
From Ann Voskamp's post on Wednesday

That question caught me.  Arrested my attention.  Tugged at my heart.

Especially today. Today we received our packet from Compassion International about our child from Ecuador that we are newly sponsoring.  Not only has he been waiting for over 6 months for a sponsor and never had one before, we have never been sponsors before.  I have been waiting to BE a sponsor for over 6 months.

How do we prepare our family, our home to encounter God afresh this holiday season?  How do I?

Its something I struggle with, because with little kids, it becomes a "what can I get, what do I want, how much can I get..." type of season.

I don't want that.  More than ever, I don't want that.  I want them to be thankful for all they have.  Not yearning for the material things they don't.

I know someone else who is yearning for things they don't have.  Me. Dave. It seems to come so naturally for us.... why shouldn't the kids pick up on it too?  Its all over our culture, and I can lay blame at the feet of our consumerism culture.

But I am to blame too for they learn it in the home first.  They learn it from me when I buy whatever I want at the moment.  They learn it from me when they hear me talking about wanting something for the house we don't have.  They learn it from me when I tell them "no" when they ask for something, but when I want something (not need) I say "yes" to myself.

What kind of mixed message is that?

How do I prepare them to encounter Christ?  Not just this season, but always.

By taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Last week, talking to Peter during the service when he opted to stay with me rather than go to childrens church.  Answering his questions.  Helping him understand what Communion means, allowing him to take it with me, to break the bread with me then and talk about it after.  Hearing the desire to do it again hidden in his voice as we talked.

This past week and a half as we have prayed for this one boy in Ecuador who needs someone so badly to love him and sponsor him, to pray for him.  Explaining what it means for him to live where he does, how he does, to the best of my ability.  Sharing pictures taken by the team of bloggers who were in Ecuador last week.

Teaching them somehow to let go of the tight grasp they have on their "things" to give away the good stuff, not just the old, ratty toys and stuffed animals they have, but the new.  The things they might want, but not need.  If they don't want it cause it's old, or dirty, or broken why would someone else want it?

I want Peter and Marina to learn what it means to be blessed with more grace and joy by God out of giving rather than receiving.

I want them to understand how blessed we are by God to have all the things that we scatter willy-nilly through the rooms of this house.  I want them to know the POWER behind giving thanks in everything.  The good and the bad.

These kids of ours.  They aren't extraordinarily selfish or out of balance. They are like any other kid their age.  But I want them to have hearts of compassion.  They are tender-hearted and I want them to be tender out of compassion for others to the point of wanting to DO something to help them.

They can learn more about God and encounter more of Jesus in the naming of the gifts we have been given. 

I am not really sure how to help them encounter Jesus this season.  But maybe showing them my heart in giving with help.  Allowing them to see my tears as I pray for this brother of theirs in Ecuador.  I hope that this year they can see Jesus more clearly. Not just from how this time of year seems to promote a "magical" quality in everything... but by really seeing Jesus, and what this season is for.

I struggle with it every year, but for some reason this year seems particularly hard for me.  We want to do so much for them, but really there is no way to "compete" with other things we know are going to be given.  And I don't want to compete. 

I would rather they didn't get anything at all, but instead gave things away.

I never learned that as a child.
Not how to let go easily.

I don't want them stuck in the mindset of getting and having to learn as an adult how to give.

Not that I don't want to gift them with presents and things, because I do.  I love seeing their faces when they open up something they really want.  I want to see them savor the moment. 


I want to see their faces when they see someone else open up something they really wanted, that Peter and Marina have given.  I want to see Peter and Marina savor the moment of giving.... and find really, true joy in that moment.  A joy that they will keep giving to receive more of.

Oh the joy that comes in the thanking God for everything.  The good, bad and ugly.

The bigger house.  The large yard.  Family close by.  The sun streaming in the livingroom window.

The mess of toys and art supplies on the floor that I keep tripping on cause the kids didn't put them away.  The mounds of laundry to be done - because we actually have clothes that need cleaning.  The spiders that make the cobwebs that drape our corners and ceilings no matter how often I sweep them and wipe them away - because we have an abundance of wood in our basement to put in our wood furnace to heat the house through the winter.  The dirty kitchen floor and counters - because we have a family to feed and food to do it with.

Fingerprinted windows to clean --- kids to print those windows up in their pointing and waving and pressing up to see out at birds and snowflakes.
Litterbox to change --- cats to curl up on our feet and laps when we settle down together.
Light bulbs to switch out --- we have electricity and the ability to light our house at night.
Carpet to vacuum --- people who are able to run in and out of the house to play or work and track in their day with them.
Beds to make --- loved ones to fill those beds, and somewhere warm and cozy to lie at night.

As I make my lists, the load of things to "do" becomes lighter and I can do it with a smile, because it is a joy to do these things because I have someone to do them for.

More and more blessings and gifts from God.
All becomes grace.
All is grace.

Oh that my kids will learn that. That is how they will be more prepared to encounter God this season. Naming the gifts. Thanking God for everything. 

Lord, teach me how to teach them out of what you have been teaching me!!!  Fill up the holes that I will leave, have left, the gaps, and reveal yourself to them.  Help them find the balance of enjoying what they have been given, and giving away to others. Help them learn their wants from their needs, and understand that it isn't wrong to have desires, or have those desires met, but not to worship anything or desire anything more than they worship You and desire You.

Show me the balance.  Fill up my holes.  Help me worship and bow down to You first and always and only.

God, sanctifly me through and through until I reflect only You.

Jesus, let this boy from Ecuador entering our lives right now, at this season help change us all and open our eyes to see all we have been blessed with, gifted with out of Your lavish grace, and help us lavish it on him, and others that cross our paths.

Prepare our hearts to see and receive You this season... and to respond back to you with joy and thanks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gifts given

Yes, I know....

Yet again I want to apologize for being away from my blog for so long.  I have seen and heard and read time and again that it is bad for your blog when you aren't regular with your posting.

I agree.


I haven't been here.

I have wanted to write.  I have a desire to write.  I get thoughts and ideas come into my head.  They sound wonderful at the moment, but when it comes down to taking the time out to actually write?  It doesn't happen.

Life has been good.  It's been full.  Living in a bigger house, getting our other one ready to sell and listed, keeping up with the kids in school, trying to stay connected to Dave and them, well it hasn't left much time for other things.  By the time the kids are in bed for the night, Dave and I get ready for bed and collapse to read or talk or both for a little bit on our bed, and our lights are generally out pretty early.

That's big for me.  I used to be the one who would stay up until at least midnight.  That was when I was doing all my writing.  I needed that time alone.

But now, well yes, I do need time alone.  But I am spending a lot of it with God.  And when I'm not alone, I am spending it with my family.  I can't concentrate enough to write with them around.

As much as it bothers me not to be on here more, I feel like God is telling me its ok.  There was a time when I needed to write to process through things.  Now I am more healed than I've ever been, I am spending a majority of my time with my family and not getting too overwhelmed by them or by life in general. This is where I need to be right now.  I am learning to be ok with that.

I have some things stirring around in this head of mine.  Maybe they will eventually make it out onto the blog.  God is still at work in me, refining as always.  It good, hard at times, but good.

The main reason I am on here today though is to share my thanks.

I am learning the joy of gratitude.

I have been reading Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts."  Her encouragement to start counting the little things, from the sun streaming through the window, splashing on the carpet, to a quiet day at the church, to tickle fights with the kids, to quiet reading in bed with Dave has started a good work in me...

Honestly, it is transforming me.

Her book is amazing, but beyond that the TRUTH that I am hearing from God and what it is doing to me is nearly beyond description.  For now, just take a moment and look at the book.  Go to THIS SITE and take a look at the first chapter for free.  I did, and then just had to buy the book.  I am slowly working my way through it, but after reading the second chapter, I knew God was calling me to start my own list of gifts - working my way to one thousand and beyond.

Here is my contribution to the naming of gifts today.  Note, I am not starting at #1 because well, I am currently over 200 and that would make this into a loooooonngggg post!  :-)

I will spare you all of that....

But I will start where I was at on Saturday and give you my named gifts from then to now.  These weren't all the gifts, but many of them passed before I could record them.  I have to get more practiced at this!

#261.  The chance to sleep in a bit.
#262.  Making soft boiled eggs upon request from my son
#263.  Peter playing on the computer
#264.  He can play kids game on there BY HIMSELF now!
#265.  Sun in Marina's hair
#266.  Kids singing along to music
#267.  Conviction from God to sponsor a Compassion child
#268.  Pastor Casey (our new pastor of Children and Youth ministries) coming today.
#269.  Sun up before the kids has to go out to for the bus (because of daylight savings ending)
#270.  Apple butter on toast (need I say more?)
#271.  Marina learning and singing worship songs in church
#272.  Hearing her singing those same songs at home later.
#273.  Teaching Peter how to play checkers
#274.  Quiet, peaceful, God-filled day at church while I work

God is so good.  Take the time to notice the gifts He gives you.  Just your very next breath is a gift.  Name it.  Name every gift.  It brings a joy and a reminder of the deep grace we are given.

Check out Ann's most recent post as she prepares to go with her husband on a trip to Ecuador with Compassion International.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Blessing is a cycle...

Blessing is a cycle.

When we bless someone else, we get a blessing in return.

So, what about with God?

Many times in the Bible we are called to bless the Lord.  In Psalm 134 the word “bless” is used three times.  Twice the Psalm entreats us to “bless the Lord.”

However the last time it is used, it is a blessing spoken on us… “May the Lord bless you…”

Yesterday I finished up the Bible study I was working on through the summer.  “Stepping Up,” by Beth Moore.

The last couple of days she made the point that blessing is a cycle with God, not just with one another.  It is a lopsided cycle, but a cycle nonetheless. 

In faith we come into God’s presence, blessing Him, honoring Him, praising Him, worshiping Him.  Then He responds, longing to bless us, opening His hands to us to give blessing.  And we walk away.

How many times have I gone into worship, struggling to remove the distractions so that I could truly bless God, truly praise Him, and then walked out and later felt empty?  I felt blessed at the time of the service, in the service filled and at peace, joy in my heart.  Once I left the building, headed home and back to my “life” I felt empty and restless, with the worries of life pressing in again.

I can spend my time in the Bible, studying and praying in the morning, but it doesn’t seem to carry over into my day, to relate at all to anything I am actually doing and encountering in the day. 

Not all the time, but it seems to happen more often than I want to admit.

Beth said that many times we come out of our times of blessing God and leave His blessings for us behind.

Think about that for a moment. 

If blessing really is a cycle, we bless God, He blesses us and back again, why would we not want to take His blessings with us?

We praise God and bless Him, honor Him and lift up His name, and then He pours out His blessing upon us. 

It is hard for this little brain of mine to comprehend how it all works.  I offer up my pitiful attempts to bless God, and then His infinite mercy and grace are flooded over me.   How can I possibly walk away from a time like that and not be blessed?

And yet…

Many times I blindly stumble out of my times with God, leaving behind His mercy and grace, all flooded over and dripping on the floor.  I come out forgetting I was drenched, feeling dry as a bone.

Yesterday, after reading Beth’s words the night before was a whole new day.  Monday I was those dry bones.  Yesterday, these dry bones were dancing, washed and covered over by the flood of His grace.  His blessings washed away the doubts, fears and stress of the day before and I was free.

All I had to do was ask.  All I had to do was ask God to help me walk out of my time with Him with His blessings in my hands.  I opened my hands and gave Him all my garbage, all my worries, all my stress.  Instead of dropping my hands and walking away when I was done, I kept them open to receive what He had for me.  In the process my heart stayed open to receive the life giving rain of grace, and my eyes stayed open to see the peace and joy God gave me as a result.

It started another cycle of blessing.  Praising Him for seeing and feeling the change, for being able to walk on with His blessing over me, in me.  And my Jesus blessing me again and again throughout the day, reminding me of His blessings for me… 

Oh His grace…

in the moments I fail
the moments I am freed…
in the moments of victim
and then
the victory… 

I stumble
and then
I cry…
He lifts me up
and then
I fly…

 His blessings are
beyond compare
To bless Him
and be blessed

Oh His grace
His grace…

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rest? How do you quiet the guilt to really rest?

I haven't joined in here before, but I saw a friend's post telling about it and the word struck my heart today because it is exactly what I am feeling.

Gypsy Mama has a "five minute Friday" every week.  She shares a word and then you take five minutes, no more or less, and free write, with no editing, on a word she chooses.  This week the word was REST.

As I have been getting up early with the kids each day, I am still exhausted.  My eyes are crossing trying to look at the screen and its only 8am. I don't want to get rid of the exhaused feeling with a latte (homemade) just yet, because then I am not listening to what my body is trying to tell me....

I wrote below a bit of what my turmoil is and what is currently keeping me from sliding back into bed.

I am going to link up to Gypsy Mama's post, and you can go over there and see what else others have been writing about, as well as the "rules" if you want to join in.

Preface, my writing went over the five minutes, I think I wrote 7 minutes instead, but had to get that last thought out.  :)

Here we go............

This is my second day with both kids in school.

I don't know what to do.  Yesterday I feel like I did a fat lot of nothing. I didn't clean (well I loaded the dishwasher and did a quiet time and unloaded the dishwasher and made supper and ran errands first thing in the morning).

I realized when I went to bed, that though I took a few moments to rest here and there throughout my day i didn't really rest.

See, we have a house in town that we need to sell. but we need to get it all cleaned up and ready to go and it's no where near ready to go.  I really need to go into town on my 2 days off without kids and scrub the bathroom so i can caulk around the tub.  I need to clean windows and finish cleaning the kitchen and clean the floors, powerwash the deck and the outside of the house.....

And where does rest come into all of this?

I run from one thing to another Monday through Wednesday. Then I come home and have Thursday and Friday off and Saturday and Sunday are devoted to family and church and I can't make myself pull away.

What is it that makes me feel guilty for taking time to rest?

I need the quiet. I need the time to spend time with God.  Just Him and me not Him and me and laundry, or Him and me and cleaning either house!  I need to hear His still, small voice.

But I feel guilty.
Why can't I rest at home in the time I have to rest?

Do I hear a voice in the back of my head telling me I need to get this house under control and keep it clean? Do I hear another voice asking me if I have the other house ready to sell? (that would be a very big YES to both those questions!)

I want to feel the freedom to rest, and feel the peace that passes understanding the "be still and know I am God" type of rest.

I need to somehow feel like i can rest, take a nap, sleep in, (or go back to bed) and not feel guilty about it or that someone is judging me for it.  I need to find a space here, in this house, that I can curl up and rest in Him without feeling guilt.

How do I unplug from this cycle of "do something" or feel guilt?

I am going to have to go try finding a place, here at home, where I can chill and not do anything but listen for Gods still small voice. 

....but it won't be my kitchen! That has 2 five gallon pails of fresh picked tomatoes that need something done with them....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New season dawning with New freedom

Dawn at Ocean Isle Beach, NC (taken 8-09-11)
Just a year ago found me preparing to lead a Bible study for the first time since college.  I was in a hard place, a dark one.  Depression had snagged me again, and it was hard to look up and see the sun. 

But God had also been speaking to me. 

Through others He had urged me to go back and see my former counselor for a bit.  Then He set a desire in my heart to have a Bible study with “my ladies” from the previous year.  The thing was, even before that He set in me a powerful desire to go through Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study.  Then one of “my ladies” approached me to see if I was going to do a study, actually lead a study.

Feeling that was another prompting of the Spirit, I said yes, got people together, ordered the workbooks and borrowed the video sessions from another church.

Breaking Free” followed by “Believing God” were two ways that God really worked some healing in my life.

God has healed me and brought me through so much.  In 2007 and 2008 He did the major reconstruction.  This time was a minor remodel, but it shook me and changed me.  Now more than ever I am resting on the Truth, and able to recognize and combat the lies.

“[The Enemy has] greatly oppressed me from my youth, but [he has] not gained the victory over me.  …the Lord is righteous; He has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”  Psalm 129:2 and 4 (slight rewording mine)

Depression has fled before the Lord, the One who fights for me.  There are times of doubt, wavering, depression.  Not light before. Not despair.  Worry sometimes?  The tendency to be anxious?  Yes, but it doesn’t go too overboard if I catch it right away, and combat it with the truth!

God has led me into the dawning of a new season.

I am leading a Bible study again this fall with “my ladies” and hopefully a few more added to our group.  I feel more excited than fearful.  Anticipation more than dread at the thought of leading.  And really, I don’t “lead” God does.  We share and discuss and open our hearts to one another.  The Holy Spirit works in our hearts.

We all have seen great things happen in each other’s lives as a result of God using the Bible studies, and our prayers for each other.

  • Freedom from depression
  • Freedom from anxiety in new surroundings
  • Husbands coming to church with their wives
  • Family units getting stronger
  • Children and grandchildren being kept save
  • Peace in our own hearts about other concerns

All of us are learning to turn to God, to really believe that:

  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God’s Word is alive and active in me.

We are believing God!

I am so looking forward to this new season in my life.  I am finding myself anticipating more than ever what God is going to do, and how He is going to reveal Himself and His character to me.  He loves us to know Him more, and He loves to show us new facets of who He is.  I can’t wait to draw nearer to my Savior.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Drained dry of words


It's been over a month since my last post!

I didn't realize how long it's been.

I have run out of words.  I read almost daily, but only light stuff.  Stuff to make me laugh a bit before I fall asleep at night.

This has been a busy month, and that in part, drained my words.

We moved.  Packing boxes every night, taking loads to the new house at least two or three times a week, and still trying to live life is more than a load to carry.  Last weekend was the final push and we have all the main stuff and are sleeping/living at the farm now, in the ranch style house.  It is about double the footage of the house we were in, and has a full basement besides.

Of course, my in-laws are still in the process of downsizing and moving out.  As I have moved things in, I have been packing her things up.  My mother came and helped me here, cleaning and organizing to get more put away.  My father worked for two days at the other house tearing up the bathroom floor, preparing to replace it.  He has to come up again to finish it.

Now that we are here and moved, our priority has to be working to get the other house ready to sell.  It was too small to attempt while we were still living in it, so now we have to clean there and get the outside ready too.  We can settle this house later... we have all our life to do that!

Another thing that has drained my words is the feelings of disconnect from God.  When I don't feel connected to Him, I don't feel inspired.  When I don't pray anything but "pop corn" prayers, I don't fell like I even have what it takes.

And I wonder.  Does it matter?  Who am I writing for anyway?

Am I doing this blog thing just for me?  Am I helping anyone?  Am I doing with it what God wants me to?

It's hard to write here when I don't write much in my journals right now either. 

Yes, I know. It's a phase of life.  It's the middle of the first summer that I can really say I have been enjoying my kids and my family and it's going too fast.  We have moved, in and of itself that is a huge thing too.

Writing may take a back seat.  But at the same time, I feel like I am really missing something by not writing... by not taking the time to exercise that part of me.

I am NOT closing down my blog, but my amount of writing is going to be a bit lower, because in reality, I have very little time right now.  I am very tired physically, so the thought of staying up much later than the kids to write (as I know some people are able to) is too much for me.  That also makes it very hard to get up early, before them, to write too.

I am struggling to find time in the morning, in my day at all, to spend with God.  That has to come before any writing. He is my inspiration for writing, so I can't write without His inspiration.  I mean, I can write, but it would all just be drivel.

So I am going to continue to write, allowing Him to inspire me, move me, working in my head and heart to share as I continue to walk on the road with Him.

I just have to put Him first.  Sounds so easy, but in the busyness of life, it is so, so easy to become distracted.

I am quite easily distracted. 

Please bear with me as I attempt to go to God first with everything.

I am praying for God to fill up my soul.  I need His help to remember to go to Him first.  I need Him to renew me when I am tired, for only then will I be able to do all that I want to, or rather all that He wants me to.

This renewal thing.  Hard when I feel I have to keep "doing" all the time.  But the doing has left me dry and wordless.  Even this writing, trying to explain what is going on - this even feels dry and empty... like I am pulling random thoughts out and not one is of much consequence.

Don't get me wrong.  This has been one of the best summers I have had.  The depression hits me sometimes, but not as hard and not as often.  I am able to enjoy my family and friends.  I have been praising God for the changes He has been making in me.  But I still feel distant, removed from Him.  It takes hard work to focus on Him and everything else ends up getting in the way, and then I get impatient with myself and others.

So, please pray that as I try to rest in Him and focus on Him, that I will really be able to let go and do just that.

We are going on vacation in about 7 days... to North Carolina, to the ocean.  My kids (ages 7 and 5) first plane ride.  I can't wait.  I know it's going to be fun.  I just want to come back rested and unworried, and closer to God than when I left!  (I say that because I know most people need to take a vacation to recover from their vacation!)

I don't know how much internet access or time I will have to write while I am gone, and in this week of preparation, I don't know how much time I will have to write.  Please pray for us... for safety, for the kids to love the plane, not be afraid of it... for an incredible time at the beach.  Please pray also for health for us.  My husbands mother just is getting over a bad cold that turned into an ear infection.  We don't want to go that route for any of us, and I am feeling "under the weather" to say the least.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.  Hopefully as I feel closer to God and get more inspiration from Him, my posts won't be so random, and won't be so rambling!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Standing Stones...

I have been participating in a Scripture Memory Challenge over that the Living Proof Ministries blog.  Two years ago, Beth Moore asked for some people to join her in committing to memorize two verses a month. 

On the 1st and 15th of every month we would comment on a specific blog post made for that purpose, and leave our name, city and state, and our bible verse, with the reference and version of the bible we took it from.  I was able to keep up pretty well with the accountability and did all right.

Last year, though Beth didn't do an official challenge, I did still try to keep up the 1st and 15th memorization, but it was hard and I kind of slacked off.  I don't think I would be able to tell you any of those verses anymore (not that I could right now of the ones I memorized in 2009, though I might remember a few).

This year, Beth issued the "challenge" again.  She set up ahead of time, as an incentive for us, a special celebration at her church in Houston, for this coming January, once we all have made it through the year, and all 24 verses. Our ticket in the door is our scripture memory spiral... along with having "signed in" on each post with our name, and memory verse each time, and the ability to say back to another siesta (sister - just one of the folks following along on her blog) 12 out of the 24 verses we have memorized.

Well, I am halfway through.  I went through yesterday and made myself go over and over the verse references, so I have them in the right order, and then I tried to remember all the first phrase of each verse.  Before I fell asleep last night, I went through all 12 and was able to remember the full verses.  I am so thrilled.  This is much better than the past two years.

Maybe it is because I have that incentive.  I already asked my hubby if it would be possible for me to go to the celebration in January, and he said it was fine with him.  I am hoping to meet up with my "siestas" that I have gotten to know from their posts, their blogs... but more important, I am looking forward to celebrating with God the fact that I was able to commit to memory precious bits of His Word that no one can ever steal from me.

This time around, as we are halfway through, Beth asked us to finish the sentence "memorizing God's Word has...."

I realized, as I looked back, that every single verse has made a huge impact on me because each and every one of them has been fitted to my exact need at that moment, or spoke to situations I found myself in for the next 15 days or so after I chose it.

I had to respond to Beth's question of what the memorization has done by saying each verse is a standing stone.  A standing stone attesting to the power of God, the amazing acts of God in my life, in the lives of those around me... Twelve standing stones so far.  I have no doubt that there will be a total of twenty four by the end of the year. 

It's not just a random gathering of verses.  Each time, I ask God to give me exactly what I need for that day and the ones to come.  Each time He has answered me. 

On Monday, I still hadn't chosen a verse for the 15th. I was nearly a week late.  I couldn't find anything to settle on.  It was quiet at church.  I was working, but I felt like I was in so much of a haze.  I just couldn't focus well on anything, and I was all out of sorts.  I think I was dealing with some depression.  I felt disconnected from God, from my emotions, and didn't like the out of touch feeling I was having. 

I finally got so frustrated at not being able to find a verse, and with the way I was feeling, that I said out loud, "God, I just need a Word!  I need a Word from you!" 

I felt silly for saying it out loud and was glad that no one was there to hear me, because it came out much louder than I had intended.

I have been "parked" in First Peter for a while (what I had thought was only a seven day stay turned into a month or more now), and had moved away from that book to find a verse, but found myself back there - and there it was.  My verse.  Literally moments after I cried out, God answered me with a verse.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."  1 Peter 2:9

Here I was feeling disconnected from my emotions and God. Frustrated with some things I was working on.  Gloomy because of the dark, rainy weather.


I am chosen.
I am royalty.
I am holy.
I belong to God.

That who I am.
Why?  Whats the purpose of that?

So that I can declare His praises.  Praise God and glorify Him before everyone I meet.  Everyone in my life, that I encounter, who I work with, should be able to see God in me, and hear how He has worked and what He is doing.

Why am I to do that?  What prompts praising God?

He called me out of the darkness.  I remember the darkness well.  But now I am living in His glorious light (I suppose I always was, but didn't see it... now He has pulled the veil of lies away and I can SEE!!!!)

God gave me the verse that I needed to remember.  I had some things that happened on Tuesday that could have really dumped me down.  But I had that verse.  Normally I would have reacted much worse to something like that - and I did react, but it didn't get me down for as long, because I remembered my verse.

No matter what happens, I have an identity defined by God.  I have a purpose defined by God.  I have nothing to fear because I am firmly in His light.  Even if it's a cloudy, dark, cold dreary day!

See. That was an example of how this memory verse is a standing stone to me.  All of the others have their own story to tell.

How I have grown to love standing stones! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

believing and praying

"I've anchored my life in the belief that God can do anything, but somehow feel presumptuous believing He will for me.  That's doubt masquerading as false humility. And that, my friends, saddens God and limits His work in my life."  Glynnis Whitwer in her devotional at Encouragement for Today.

How much of the time do I pray, even now, feeling presumptuous because I know God can do anything, but will He?  Will he for me?

I fear praying bold prayers, giving voice to the silent dreams inside, afraid they are not what God wants for me.  That allows fear and doubt to rule me, to dominate my life, to dictate what I am going to do and say.  Instead, in faith, I need to step out and believe.  Pray, daring to believe that God will answer my prayers.  If they aren't in line with His will, He will make them line up.  He will say no.  He will redirect me.

I don't want my prayer life to take a back seat to "life" as I live it.  The "life" I live as I run from one thing to another, exhausted.  Not taking care of myself by getting enough sleep, or eating correctly, gets me tired and crabby, which then overflows into how I care for the kids and interact with my husband.  

Is that really Life?  No, not the way God intends us to live it, and not the way Christ modeled it.

Jesus made prayer His priority.  When He was tired of the crowd and needed refreshing, He went to be with His Father, He rested, He ate.  I need to do all those same things.

I need to start my day at nightfall, getting good rest and continue my day, following that rest by time with Jesus.  Time in prayer.  Time in His word, refreshing my spirit the way my body was refreshed by sleep.  Then the rest of my day should continue in productivity with whatever God has laid out before me.

I need to restructure my days and nights so that I get into a different rhythm.  I need it.  My spirit needs it.  I spent the weekend without any one on one time with God, and I could feel it yesterday.  Thursday, I spent some good time with Him in the morning, but Friday, Saturday, Sunday and even mostly yesterday, I didn't concentrate on time with Him.

I now am running on an empty fuel tank... on fumes.  My new day, starting with my nightfall will be spent at work, in a meeting and locking up after another meeting is done.  I won't get to really rest till well after nightfall tonight (or should I say tomorrow? See, my brain can't wrap itself around this one!)

I long to be closer to Jesus.  I want to pray in His will.  Yes, I am still afraid to pray the wrong things.  The only way I will know how to pray His will is to take care of myself, as God's temple, and to restructure my busy schedule so that I can have the room to take time out and away to spend time with Him.

Yes, God can do what He says He can do.  And He is willing to do it in my life, and in yours.  It isn't presumptuous, its called stepping out in faith without trusting in my own strength to do something "just in case" God doesn't come through the way I think He should.

I never knew it would be such a struggle to really believe God.  It sounds so easy, but it is a daily decision, a moment by moment decision sometimes.  Prayer, effective and powerful prayer is found in someone who really truly believes God, has faith and is willing to step out over the edge of a cliff without seeing anything that will keep them from falling.  

That unwavering faith is what fuels someone to ask the seeming impossible, because with God all things are possible.... for those who believe in Him.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My story...

I ran across a blog post today that challenged me.

The writer shared that we all have a story, and need to know how to tell it.  That means we actually have to know what our story is.

Much of my story has poured out here on my blog.  I have written a lot over the years, though it has tapered off some in the last months.  But just because I have found more freedom in Christ, found more joy, found more of Jesus... well that doesn't mean that my story is done.

God has so much more for me (and you).  His redeeming love has rescued me from so much.  He is rescuing me.  Daily.  He will rescue me.

I don't get it.  His wild, irrational, redeeming love.  But I am so grateful, thankful, overjoyed, humbled.  He sings over us when we are unaware.  He constantly whispers truth about ourselves and about Him in our ears.  Sometimes it takes a lot to really hear what He is saying.

Oh God, help me hear and acknowledge and really believe what it is You are saying!

This post about becoming an expert at telling your story had a challenge at the end.

He asked, "In three sentences or less, what is your story?"

Here is what I came up with, after many drafts.

"Coming from a sheltered home-life, I succumbed silently to cruel bullying in school.  After finding Christ in college, terrible depression enslaved me using my poor choices and relationships.  Ready to die, God stopped me, setting my feet on the path of freedom, teaching me transparency and dependency on Him, giving me an impossible joy."

So, I am asking you.  What is your story?  Can you express it in three sentences or less?  Will you share it with me?

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Here I am sitting at the computer on a beautiful, sunny, warm day.  I am inside, only because the kids and I were out this morning and ate lunch as a picnic in our back yard.  They got tired and wanted in, so therefore I had to go in too.

I have a ton of things I could be doing around here.  The list seems to be unending.  I have been working on some laundry, cleaned up the kitchen some, and started defrosting some brats for supper. 


I have a ton more to do, other than the day to day upkeep.

We are going to be moving, probably at the beginning of August to the farm.  We need to get the house ready to go on the market.  I can't begin to comprehend how in the world we are going to get this place ready!

All I can see right now is the big picture.  I can't figure howanything that I attempt to do today even begins to affect that big picture!

I am overwhelmed.  When I get overwhelmed I grind to a halt. 

It doesn't help that I'm still not feeling 100% over the cold I had yet.  I am still exhausted, and coughing some still.  I want to curl up and sleep, but that may not be all due to the cold, as some of that comes from the automatic shut down I go into when I don't know how to tackle what I have to tackle.

With all the day to day things I need to get done, I can't seem to figure out how to get the other stuff done on top of it.  I am so behind on the laundry, the cleaning, and daily maintenance because of my cold, that it will take me all weekend to get caught up on that, and by the time I get to next weekend... well, I will be starting over on that stuff again, and not get to the clearing out of this house to move.

Dave set the kids last week to packing up some of their toys.  Marina partially filled one box and quit (and I kept on throwing away things, or throwing more in there.  Peter filled 3 boxes.  That was a start.  I however keep flitting from one thing to another, with great intentions and nothing gets done.

I can hear Peter in their room right now, throwing things into a box to take things out to the farm.  I wish I had his motivation, or focus or whatever it is that is getting him going right now!

I guess what I could use is some prayer~
to be able to see one piece at a time
to have the motivation to do something - however small
to not let myself get overwhelmed but instead focus on God who is my strength
to trust in Him and believe Him in this upheaval as well

Don't think that I don't want to move to the farm.  I do.  Very much.  I just wish there was some way to "zap" all our stuff there and not have to figure out how to pack it all up!

So, if it is quiet around my blog for a bit, it isn't because I don't want to write.  It is mostly because I am so exhausted and have so much to do.

When I have this much on my plate, I find myself feeling dry and unable to write.  I hate that feeling and it is hard to try to write when I feel like all I am writing is "drivel!"

Know that I am taking time to read and visit other blogs, but I just have felt really dry and unable to contribute much.

And now I must go and see what "damage" the kids are doing as they are trying to "pack up their room" to move it to the farm!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Be prepared. Be sober. Hope fully.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed."  1 Peter 1:13

How many times have I gone into things, unprepared to take action?  So many times I have floundered because of that.

Here though, Peter says to be prepared. 

How exactly?  That's what I struggled with as I meditated my scripture memory verse.  My thoughts have clarified some now and I think it is by soaking in the Word of Truth.  If I focus on scripture, not just the times I have to memorize it, or get a quick moment in it, rather have focused times of reading and studying it, I will be preparing my mind.

When I am tempted, God says that he will provide a way out of that temptation.  But how will I see the way out unless I have been soaking up his truth?

When I am faced by temptation, I have to be prepared for action.  In the King James version, it says "gird up the loins of your mind."  It seems a strange thing to us now, but back in the day, they wore long robes that hampered their movement.  When they needed to be prepared to move or run, they reached down and grabbed the bottom edge of the back of their robe, pulled it up to the front and tucked it into their belts... in effect creating crude shorts, in which they could run, move, fight more freely.

Peter is saying we need to do the same thing with the loins of our mind.  Prepare ourselves in our minds.  Gather in the loose "robes" or affections, entanglements, and bring them under control of truth, God's Truth. 

Then is says simply, be self-controlled (or sober in KJV).

How can any of us be self-controlled or sober when we have all these loose things and are unprepared in our minds?  I know from experience that my self-control is out the window.

If I am not prepared, then self control will be hard to come by in the heat of the moment, when a decision needs to be made - do I do this, or do I do what God wants me to?

Being sober (or self-controlled) also means not to be inebriated in my mind.  It means cutting out the things that would dull my senses to God, his glory and goodness, his love and faithfulness, and that would hinder my coming to Him in everything, hinder my prayer life.

Here is a quote from Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse.

"Be sober, be vigilant against all your spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate and modest in eating, drinking, apparel, recreation, business, and in the whole of your behavior. Be sober-mined also in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves."

I have found my scripture memory verse this time to be full of such meaning and depth, that I have really gained a lot from studying it.  There is such application for me, for where I am at right now.

When it seems like God has given me a "wait," that doesn't mean that I get to coast.  If I coast in my walk with him, in what I am doing for Him, in how I am pursuing him, when He gives me the "go ahead" I won't be ready.  I may never get the "go ahead" from Him!  I might miss out on the opportunities He laid before me because I wasn't tuned into Him and didn't see them!

Continuing to prepare my mind for action, and continuing to be self-controlled will keep me in tune with God.  I will be able to build and maintain a strong connection with Him so that I am ready for anything.

The final thing is that my hope isn't in the preparation and readiness for action, or in the temperance and modesty in the whole of my behavior, my hope is fully fixed on God's grace.  He already has poured out such grace on me.  To think that He will continue to pour it out on me...

How to imagine the vastness of God?
How to grasp the unending grace of God?
How to understand His willingness to pour it out on me?

There is no understanding it.  However, even with things you don't understand fully, you can still fully place your hope in them.

So, I am determined to prepare myself for action.  I am going to be ready when God tells me to "go."  Instead of trying to gather my stuff up last minute and go, I want it all packed up and set.  I am determined to be self-controlled.  I know that I won't always be perfect at that, but I can strive for it, with God's help.

And above all else, I am going to hope fully.  Not halfheartedly.  Not partially.  With all my heart, mind, soul and strength I am going to love God, I am going to set my hope on His grace.

If, rather, when I fall and fail, I am going to get back up and keep on.  I don't want to give up anymore.  I have done so much of that.  Giving up on things in the past.  But not this time.  Not with this.  I have done too much work to gain the healing and wholeness God wants for me.

I will:

Be prepared.
Be sober.
Hope fully.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Afraid to dream?

I read somewhere today about dreaming dreams. 

You know, what kind of dreams and aspirations you have.  What are you longing for, dreaming for, wanting so badly you can practically taste it?

One of the prompts at the end of the post was this:

“Lay out your dreams before the Lord, asking which are His dreams too or which might not be in His will.”

I started thinking about it and wondered, do I have any dreams to dream?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe I am afraid to dream.  Does that make any sense at all?  I mean, here I am, after all these year, finally feeling really free to do the things God has called me to….


And what?

I wrote in my journal that I am afraid to dream.  I can think of a lot of reasons from my past why I would or should be afraid to dream.  There have been times where dreams have gotten squashed.  There is a varied past that the enemy would love to throw up in my face,  or use to haunt me too.

Mistakes made.
Words said.
Things done.

But that any of that would hold me back from dreaming is a lie.

I am learning to minister where I am right now in a new capacity, feeling new wings underneath me.  I am learning what it means to be a wife and mom free from my past and leading worship, being the administrator at our church, leading a women’s Bible study each semester.

To think too far ahead is scary.  I don’t know what to expect, I don’t know if I can even dream anything.  And if I dream it, can I do it?  (I know, apart from God I can’t… but you know what I mean)

I haven’t hardly spoken or thought about any dreams that I might have with anyone, much less with God.  So to lay out any dreams before God to see if they are in His will or not - that’s scary - because I feel like I would have to really commit to something then.

I feel like God still has me in this “wait” pattern yet, but at the same time, I have to be preparing myself.  How and with what, or rather for what, I don’t know.

Looking down deeper now, I an see a couple of dreams.  Some of them aren’t dependent on me, so I won’t share them here.  However, some are.  One of them is seeing my kids becoming sold out for Christ.  I want to see them really love Him and follow Him of their own will and decision, not because I do, or because I make them go to church, but because they really want to.

That’s a dream, so I guess that I’m not too afraid of dreaming.

In ANOTHER POST at A Holy Experience today I read something that also really hit me that I have to include here.  Her husband is a farmer and is in the process of planting his fields...

"This is what the Farmer is doing: he’s cutting the soil open. The sharp edge of the disk slashes the ground wide open. And Jesus, he bears scars and what is torn open in our lives, it can seem like destruction. Yet.
Out of the lancing of our fields, life will unfurl.
Out of the scars of Christ, our salvation comes.
Out of what seems to ruin our lives, our very rescue can begin.
The resurrection people know it: The tearing open can be the beginning of triumph." (Ann Voskamp)

I have had some pretty deep “tearing open” of my own these past years.  I feel light years from that now, and yet closer too.  New life is springing forth for me now, in me. 

New green shoots springing from newly turned over ground.  Tender and easily bruised, but full of such promise.  They need to be treated tenderly.  What the fruit will be that these shoots hold, I don’t yet know. 

Maybe they are the birth of new dreams for me.  These new shoots in me need to be treated tenderly, protected from the lies from the past and present that would trample over them, crushing them back into the ground.

God, help me not be afraid to let these green shoots continue to spring up and grow.  You planted the seeds in me that they have come from.  Lord, help me root them deep into the soil of Your guidance, and feed and water them with Your Word and Truth.  Help me not cave into the lies, worries of what others may think, or fear of failure.  Help me cling to You and listen for Your voice.  Help me to keep everything laid bare out before You so You can see it all, expose any lies or sins, so that I can know that I am in Your will.  Help me walk out in faith.  To put action towards those dreams in the steps that You show me from day to day.  Because I am on the road with You, Jesus.  Now I want to start WALKING on that road, not just sitting or standing on it… I want to move forward along the way You show me.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

God has it all...

This morning, as I sat in the sanctuary, I had a bible in my hands and it fell open to Psalm 18.  (No, it wasn't my bible, so I can't say that my love of that Psalm helped it there....)  and this is what I read:
"He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me."  vs. 19
A spacious place... an open area, or a place of safety as one translation renders it....
And I felt that there this morning.  I knew that God has it all.  
I mean, we are selling our house so we can move to the farm. But first we have to paint, clean, empty out and do some repairs.  At the same time, still live there with 2 kids and 2 cats.  How in the world are we supposed to keep this little house clean enough to show it?

God can see it.  He knows what we will do.  He knows our choices.  He knows the buyer.  He knows how He is going to use this house. He knows how He is going to use us in the lives of the buyers, in the lives of Dave's family.  He knows how it is all going to turn out....
... and suddenly I could breathe again...
He brought me out to a spacious place - (into a place of safety)


Be cause He delights in me.

He delights in me.  In you. In everyone He created.  He rejoices over us with singing.

All these thoughts flooded me as I sat there in His presence in the sanctuary, my safe place.

I had peace.
It's so amazing, that peace that passes understanding.
I just look at where God has taken me, and though I am overwhelmed with the thought of prepping my house for painting with my dad, much less anything else, I know that God has taken me through so much worse.  
There was no way I could have persevered through what I did without Him pushing me all the way.  He was the one who placed that little bit of grit and determination in me to keep me going, even when the rest of me wanted to die, stop and forget, and give up.  
As Psalm 18 says in the New Living Translation:
"Lord, You have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness.  In Your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall." vs. 28-29
The impossible things that we are up against, that seem like such a high wall to climb, they aren't impossible with God.

God has taken me into my promised land.  Once the Israelites were in their promised land, they had to fight for every square foot of it, even though it was theirs.  They had to take it from their enemies, even though it was theirs.

I have to take my promised land too. Its different, but the same.  I have to take the land that is mine, but not in my strength but God's.  Its with HIS strength that I can crush an army.  It is WITH my God I can scale any wall.

My wall and army is my house and the mountain of work there for me to do.  But my God's strength is more than enough.  
Without Him, I will not be able to scale the walls of my Jericho, but with Him, I won't have to even touch those walls. 
They'll just come tumbling down!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The right Garden...

I read something recently comparing the Garden of Eden with the Garden of Gethsemane.   

The different men in them.

They were both wrestling.

When you read the beginning of Genesis, you don’t see the wrestle.  But it’s there.  It’s implied between the lines.  If you’ve been walking in the garden with God, in freedom and love and trust, there is a wrestle to move away from that.  How difficult the wrestle is sometimes depends on how long you’ve been walking with God, and how deeply you have believed Him.

The thought that God didn’t really have their best at heart must have been like a knife.

The thought that God was holding something out on them, or denying them something they hadn’t even thought to have asked.  Painful.

To have the truth twisted just a little bit, turned a minute hair, and the wrestle was over.

The choice was made.
They ate.
And then they saw, really saw.

Oh, I have lived so long wishing that my eyes had never lost their innocence!  Wishing that different choices had been made.  Wishing I had won my wrestlings, and thus stayed close to God.

How much regret and guilt and shame must have weighed Adam down.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, there was another wrestle.  A hard fought one.

The thought of what God was asking Him to do must have been like a knife.

The thought that God might find another way to work out His purposes, yet be choosing Him to suffer.  Painful.

Through the wrestle, maybe Jesus’ emotions cried out terribly to not even have to make a choice.  Maybe He didn’t want to.  I know there have been times when I have been forced to make a choice and all I have wanted to do was run away.  But in the running, that is a choice as well.

I have lived with the agony of emotions torn apart.

Jesus did that night in His garden.

Jesus’ choice was made.
He ate.
In His eating, He saw, really saw, the depths and the heights.

His eating took time.  Painful, pain filled time.  Torture, separation from His Father, death… but then, glorious resurrection!

In the Garden of Eden, Adam made a choice.  It was a choice to believe the lies, and not God.

Adam chose unbelief.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus cried out, “Not my will but Your’s be done,” He made a choice.  His choice was to believe the truth, believe His Father.

Jesus chose belief.


In our gardens of wrestling, where are we going to land?

Are we going to be in the right garden?

Am I?

Am I going to be in the right garden with Jesus, crying out, “Not my will Father, but Your’s be done!”  Or will I succumb to the lies and the subtle and not so subtle traps of the enemy in the wrong garden and tell God that I am going to do it my way, not His?

If I pick the second, I am choosing unbelief.  That’s the start to all other sins. If I don’t believe God for something, I am going to try to fix it on my own, try to escape whatever is bothering me, and land myself in more sin and trouble.

If I pick the first, I am choosing to believe my Living God.  Actively believing God means trusting Him with my all.  Me.  My life.  My family.  My job.  My church.  My future.  All of it is in His hands.  His plans are the best for me. 

That active belief produces life altering peace like nothing else I have ever experienced.

I want to always end up in the right garden, the Garden of Gethsemane.

Yes, it was filled with pain.  Yes, it was filled with tears.  Yes it was filled with wrestling, sweating to the point of blood.  Horrid wrenching emotions, nearly leading to despair. 

But it is a Garden filled with God. 
It is a Garden in which  I can walk with Him.
It is a Garden I can be free and unashamed…. Even unashamed of the emotions the wrestling has pulled out of me.

It is the right Garden.
The Garden of Belief.