Truth is: Obedience is hard....

'Sin's masterpiece of hopelessness is overshadowed by God's masterpiece of forgiveness and mercy.' (Bible App study plan-Billy Graham's The Reason for my Hope)

This week has been brutal and the main reason I know is because I am headed to the Women's Encounter retreat this coming weekend. The enemy would love nothing more than to dance upon my weakness and make me think I am unable and unworthy of going to experience what he himself knows will surely be an amazing and necessary experience in my life. I was reminded last night, as Ryan and I went to pray and love on a family in grief as they watched their loved one in her last stages of cancer, that life is way too short to allow a moment to be wasted. My mind was flooded with my last moments I had with my Grandmother several years ago as she was in her final stage of the battle against cancer, that we are called to live a life that reflects Jesus and to live it to its fullest. My Grandmother lived life to its fullest, loved the Lord, instilled in me that even when life is hardest, you make the best of it and one true thing remains and all else is secondary to this: a relationship with Jesus Christ! I know this, I've known it from the day I accepted Jesus in my heart at 7 and then rededicated my life to him at the age of 12, and at the point I thought he'd abandoned me and I was so unworthy of his forgiveness, searching for Him and finding Him throughout some of my most difficult and amazing moments as a teenager, as a newly married woman, and as mother. Life is hard, it is at times unbearable and my greatest shame today is that I've allowed so much of my time, too much of my time and energy to be spent on worrying. Worrying that we didn't have what we needed, that we needed to stick with the plan to get to the point we would have what we needed, that we had to tithe this much and we had to save this much and we had to do this or do that, and questioning why God was not acting when I expected Him to act in my is almost a form of bondage I have put myself in without realizing it fully. Until now.

Your love has ravished my heart and taken me over, taken me over..and all I want is to be with You forever, with You forever...
So pull me a little closer! Take me a little deeper! I want to know Your heart! I want to know Your heart!
'Cause Your love is so much sweeter than anything I've tasted!
I want to know Your heart! I want to know Your heart! (Bethel Live: For the Sake of the World)

It pains me to know I've only come so far in my life to this point to realize how I have gotten in my own way, the path of full and complete obedience to the Father and holding nothing back. How much I think I know of Him, but oh, the painful reality that I still have so much more to know of my God! I believe that through this process, as Ryan and I are committing to full and complete obedience to our God in every single area of our lives, we will be better prepared for the ministry He has purposed us for. I know my faith is being tested, I know that God is breaking us down to see Him more, to know Him more, to love Him more not only with what we have but with what we don't have! We have to trust Him not only with what we can understand and justify with our senses. We have to trust Him sacrificially and wholeheartedly, with reckless abandon, with what we do not know and cannot see!

If God is for us, then who can be against us? Romans 8:31

My God is Able, He is I AM, the Way, the Truth and the Life--Oh, that we would release our burdens, our worries, our hopes, our dreams, to our very core release all and surrender our lives in complete obedience to Him! I don't know what that means for you, but I know what it means for me. We have just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg in our own lives this week, and in spite of what we have yet to accomplish and how so many people would take a look at it and say it's impossible, it can't be done....STOP. Stand firmly on the foundation of our God, knowing and believing full well that He is the Overcomer, and we are able to overcome because of His great love for us. God is so good, He is so good, so good to me!

This is a process, He is just beginning to break me down and I know I am not fully prepared for the work He is going to do in me this weekend. Please pray for me and the group of women I am going with on this retreat. Blessings to you and for your journey today, my friend!

Journey into 2014: Ready or not, it's on!

Faith-defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something; strong belief in God or in the doctrines of religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

Apprehension-anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen; misgivings, unease, nervousness, tension, dread, alarm, fear.

Trust-firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

The pathway to full and abundant faith in God is a rocky one. The life of a Christian is difficult. To those of you who are reading this and seeking answers to some sort of void in your life, here is a news flash—I don’t have all the answers and none of us does! I don’t know anyone that would choose to boast such a thing, so my hope is in writing this that those of you who claim to be so full of faith and a “strong” Christian—this is quite possible a moment for you to stop that comfortable thought process and consider that it may be the perfect time for you to be ready for your faith to be shaken and tested. It is necessary, it is certain, and I guarantee from personal experience that you will find it is in those moments, when we think we know so much and have accomplished so much---God is going to do a work in you to break you down. The greatest danger in our journey of faith is when we become comfortable in our faith walk. We must be so cautious and sensitive to how subtle this level of pride can slip in and take up residence in our faith. Faith, it is defined as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”, “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof”. You know that place you reach in your faith walk when you are uncertain, filling with doubt because of a particular challenge you are facing, suddenly or over time your trust has been rocked---that is the point when a whole new level of faith begins!

Apprehension—we all deal with it on some level. Some of us are more inclined to a more debilitating level of anxiety in our psyche. My husband and my daughter both deal with this on very serious levels and so it is a balancing act, considering through the day to day what is the best way to manage it. Thanks to therapy and some healthy resources we have found over the years, we are able to find that balance and work through it one day at a time. Still, there are moments when it comes slamming down on one of them, and I find myself in a position to consider with caution and loving sensitivity both to their needs and to what God is calling me to do to handle it, how to work through it and help them come out of it. An anxiety disorder is not something that you can get rid of, it is not something you can get over like a bad cold or virus. Anxiety is a condition that for many is a lifelong battle within themselves. It is like a monkey on their backs—always there, ready to create havoc in their lives at any given moment. I struggle with understanding how best to help my loved ones work through it and find peace, but there comes a point when I realize I have to trust God will take care of them, meet them on the level I cannot reach, take them by the hand and help them walk through it.
I am going through a terrible trial right now in my life, battle raging in our marriage and primarily due to financial garbage that threatens to undermine what is most precious: trust. When trust is broken, when we are at the bottom, holding on to a thread of what may be left and wondering how are we going to weather this storm---well, I am doing the only thing I have strength left in me to do. Cry out to God, to have mercy and come meet me in it! God, I am so weak and so brokenhearted, I just don’t know how to get through this because I don’t know if I have the desire enough to get through it?! How do I recover from this, how do we recover?!
You know, for me, and my constant need for things to be organized, planned and perfectly in order, there’s a choice I must make daily and throughout my day to grasp gratitude. For by that gratitude, when I can breathe, calm my mind and heart, and lean into my Father God and thank Him for being bigger than all of it, I realize He’s got something to teach me and I better listen and learn. If not, I will be consumed with overwhelming, with fear, with desperation, with doubt and crippling uncertainty.

We have a choice, to recognize we can be defined by our anxiety or not. We can allow it to twist our pathway into a direction we didn’t really want to go, or we can make the painful and difficult effort to step into God’s grace and take a chance He has something far more abundant for us!
How far are we willing to go to live in full and complete trust in our God? Stop your tunnel vision, and consider it from God’s view. You can’t see it and you must trust only what He can see and knows is so much better for you. This is the mark of a faith-filled journey, a trust without hesitation, a life right with God. Join me on the journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts, your experiences along the way.

Psalm 46:1, NLT--God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

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