Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Reset

The Lord is near to all who call on him. (Psalm 145:18)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do.
My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth. (Isaiah 55:8-9)


The holidays are upon us once again, and I am amazed how fast the time flies year to year. I am reminded in the stillness, the beautiful glow, that we are really, truly, completely blessed. Every year as this season approaches and unfolds, my goal is always to intentionally carve out time with my immediate family to simply rest. To breathe in the moments and savor the time we have to not have a plan. Nowhere to go, no need to step outside of our dwelling, but to simply enjoy time together at home. As many of you know, our lives have been considerably busier this year with two in college: my oldest child, Rylee, and my husband, Ryan. …

The battle belongs to the Lord.....

Every day something other than God threatens to control me. It is a reality of life and what we must face, endure, push through to get to the end of the day saying we accomplished A, B, C. For some of us, the pressure to perform, to please, to anchor ourselves in what we do and how we do it is almost overwhelming. We are very hard on ourselves, we are hell bent on not just the satisfaction of knowing we did it and can check it off the to do list, but to hopefully hear someone say, “Wow! You went above and beyond! You are amazing!” Why is it that the God who created us, established in us upon our receiving His salvation, that we are loved, cherished, highly favored and beautifully purposed, is not enough? Do we realize when we adopt this mindset, this way of living, what we are saying with our lives and to our God? Without realizing it, we are setting ourselves up for immense disappointment and dissatisfaction. This is not the mindset that God intends for His children. The fu…

Hope, in the badlands.....

Image
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)

What is life without significant struggle? Not reality I can tell you that. Some have had more than their fair share of struggle than others, and there is good reason for it. Notice I didn’t just say there is a reason for it, but there is good reason for it.

I came upon this scripture today, and it hit a very raw place in me, because of the current season I am experiencing. A visual in my head, as I read the scripture several times, of precisely God’s intent for me right now. For nearly a year now, I have been incredibly unsettled in my job. I didn’t have any specific indication that my role would be changing in any way, but the pressure was on in ways I cannot fully explain. Some unexpected transitions are underway in my …

The goodness of God

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 NLT)


I had a conversation with my son last night on our way to drop him off to his school play rehearsal, and it was timely I think. He talked about an issue, some drama that went down with a group at school amongst some of his Thespian classmates, something that would concern any parent. My heart warmed as I listened to him share how their teacher was approached for help, intervened with this group and the issue handled appropriately for the sake of the one deeply hurt by the entire situation. I had a chance to share with my son how important it is to think before speaking, that what may be interpreted one way by many as harmless and amusing, could be entirely hurtful and wrong for the person who directly receives it. I was a prou…

Rest, yes, rest.....

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
(Victoria Moran, 'Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty')

‘We cannot be dependent on ourselves and dependent on God at the same time. When we consider the practice of rest unnecessary, we also will inevitably lose sight of the necessity of God.’
('The Necessity of Rest and the Necessity of God', by Anne Jackson, Relevant Magazine August 27, 2008)

God provides for His own.
It is pointless to get up early,
work hard, and go to bed late
Anxiously laboring for food to eat;
for God provides for those He loves, even while they are sleeping.
(Psalm 127:2 The Voice)

There is a lot to be said as we get a little bit older, and hopef…

His perspective, my balance......

…Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful… (1 Corinthians 10:23)

I have this ongoing struggle, and I know I am not alone in this. When you are on staff with a church, the struggle is intensified all the more I think. This need to do something good all the time, every time the opportunity presents itself, and especially if nobody steps up to make it happen. I’m learning as I get a bit older, and after asking for and receiving wisdom from those who have gone before me, that this is a balance I must find for myself. A big part of that struggle is this need to please. Is it a need to please others, and by that I mean other Christians—especially our immediate church community and fellow staff members—or is it a desire to please Father God? This is where the struggle is very, very real for me. I felt for so much of my life, if I said and did the right things that I was told would make me a good person, then I was set. I was at church every time the doors were open, f…

Love, love, love......

“Long before he laid down the earth’s foundations, [God] had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love” (Ephesians 1:4 MSG)

In my life, I think I’ve experienced love on several levels but I am no expert. None of us can claim that. If you can, well, you aren’t human. We are all lifelong students in the experience of love. My first experience with love was most likely before I was aware of it, as an infant. If you are a parent, you know what I am talking about. The look on a baby’s face when that first smile appears, tiny hands reaching up, a sleepy one snuggling in to sleep in the arms of Mom and Dad. We see it in their eyes, I can’t explain it but it is a glow that only a parent can see. Love. I think in some way, it is our love reflecting back to us in their eyes. It is indescribable and something that makes a lasting impression the moment it happens.

As a teenager, I remember the first boy I had a crush on and thought I “loved”. I look back at those years, an…

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly......What's My Choice?

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.
There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:16-17, The Message translation)


All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing!
I have a reason to worship!
I will bring praise!
I will bring praise!
No weapon formed against me shall remain!
I will rejoice!
I will declare!
God is my victory and He is Here!
(Desert Song, Hillsong)


The Fall semester, back to school, a return to routine is upon us and for most of us it is welcomed with great delight! When something unexpected darts into our day without warning, and especially if we are already in a vulnerable state, it can send us into a downward spiral quickly. I had one of those days this week that went some…

Grace

‘I am in control—calm and serene.
I am watching quietly from where I dwell….’ (Isaiah 18:4 The Voice)

I didn’t make it to vote yesterday, but intend to in November. I have decided on my choices for various candidates on federal and state levels. I will not share that here because for me it is a personal choice that I’d rather not have to defend to people who don’t agree with my choices. My stand is this and only this: it is vital that we educate ourselves and not simply vote our conscience. We are part of a great community, a great country, an amazing world with such a beautiful mixture of cultures, beliefs, traditions precisely as God created and intended for it to be. There is no place for divisive, cruel, narrow minded, one size fits all language and attitude amongst us. We need to make more room in our hearts, in our minds, in our conversations for GRACE. God extends it to us, so should we extend it to one another. There are no perfect candidates, they are all e…

Here it comes....

Walking into work this morning, I had my usual in hand-coffee, handbag, lunch tote. It is cloudy today, didn’t watch the weather forecast but clearly we are due for rain. Sure enough, as I stepped up the sidewalk to my building, it began to sprinkle. I stopped to pull my umbrella from my handbag and all I could think was, “Lord, please hold off the downpour until I can get inside to my office…”

God’s timing is perfect, and well it was so true for my morning today. Between a word I heard on the radio, my morning devotional and what occurred as I made my way in to work, it was evident He was speaking very clearly to me about something.

‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.’ Proverbs 19:21 ESV

It is all good and fine when we have a plan. Day to day, we all have our planned pattern of events from the time we rise in the morning to the time we fall into bed at night. Most of us have established a routine of life, some of us have …

Getting down the mountain.....

I am not sure when it started, but at some point in my life I developed an extreme fear of heights. My Dad has the same struggle, so I sometimes wonder if perhaps it is hereditary? Hmm, not sure but would be interesting to research that. I remember one of my first snow ski trip experiences with my church youth group when I was in 8th grade I think. That was actually my second ski trip, so I had some experience after my first ski trip, and surprisingly, getting back on the slopes after a year wasn’t bad and the skill came back to me pretty quick. I loved it, and we would enjoy going annually for Spring Break with our youth group at UHBC in Springfield, Missouri. Awesome memories! My 8th grade year trip, I was bound and determined like many in our group, to tackle one black diamond slope. For those of you who have not been snow skiing before, that is the highest or nearly highest level difficulty slope you can take on. It is extremely steep, to the point I found myself feeling…

Hold on....

There are moments in life when I think, okay, I can breathe a sigh of relief and call it good. Then there are moments in life when utter chaos seems to be the norm. Well, I am entering a whole new season with my family right now and in the next couple months that caused me to have a moment of near breakdown last night.

If you know our story at all, well, the short of it is we are still coming out of a season of financial recovery. We are making slow but steady progress, not as much progress at this point as we would have liked, but progress none the less. We have been counseled, and shared similar struggles with dear friends who have been through a similar season, understanding and encouraging us because the reality is this recovery takes years. The past 18 months roughly, Ryan has been considering a number of job opportunities in both secular and religious sectors, but as God has directed us along the way, doors have closed one after another. As we prayed, sought advice from fa…

Fear to Faith.....

Be alert. Be on your guard. He is prowling, preying, watching for the first chance he gets to pounce. We are like sheep, we stray often and we are stubborn enough to keep going our own way in spite of the wisdom, the guidance we receive from Father God, from accountability partners, from trusted family and friends in our lives along the way.

When we are at our weakest, our God is certainly strongest!

He has already won, He has overcome for ALL our sin---do we truly get that? What I did in the past, what I do now, what I am going to do in the future, He knows and He chose to cover it ALL on the Cross. He knows us, from before we were known on this earth, and until well after we leave this earth and enter into Eternity with Him, He knows us best and created us for greater purpose than we can hardly imagine!

I have battled with depression and anxiety in my life, to the point I found myself doing serious spiritual battle in the darkness of my own bedroom after our second child was …

Listen

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3 NIV

I spent some time this past weekend in my quiet time, my prayer time, asking God to shed light on the places in my heart that I may have not wanted Him to see. My weaknesses. My inadequacies. My lacking of anything that would be fully and completely His. Questions I was left to ponder from two amazing Bible study/worship gatherings yesterday.

Am I cold, hot, or-God forbid-lukewarm in my faith?

Is my life a reflection of the hallowed name of my Father God-fully glorifying Him in all I say and do?

First truth that comes to mind clearly: I am a child of God. The day I accepted life in Christ, is the day I chose to live fully and completely in His beautiful purpose for my life. I didn’t get it at the age of 7, but as I have grown and matured in my faith, I have found strength, certainty, and conf…

Embracing the interruptions....

Some days are better than others. I count myself entirely blessed each and every day when I arrive home and can proclaim, “I survived!” Can you relate? We are all in a race to the finish line, busy all the time, places to go, people to see, goals to reach, lists to check off. So how do we handle a day when our schedule is interrupted? I didn’t blink at first when this happened yesterday. I picked up Chloe from preschool after work, and I needed to make a stop to pick up a prescription at the store, and then it happened. I saw them standing at the stop sign, a common place that many in our homeless community stand in hopes of some help as we all drive by. A middle aged man in a wheelchair, and a young woman probably late 20’s next to him. Not far behind them was an older model SUV vehicle, looked like it had been in a couple wrecks at best. I felt that all too familiar nudge from the Father in my heart as I pulled into the parking lot for us to go in the store, “They need yo…

Seeking "The One"

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 NIV

Relationships. They are not easy. They are very, very complicated. I have gone through some ups and downs in my 44 years on this earth, and have found over the years God has given me a heart for mentoring young women into a healthier state of mind. Not for what they need in a relationship, but what they need in themselves. Where does your heart reside right now?

If you have a relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and have given your life to Him, then your heart is His. Your heart’s deepest longing is to follow Him.

That is where it starts.

I accepted Jesus at the tender age of 7. I didn’t fully grasp what it meant to be a child of God, a follower of Christ. As my life would roll on, I found myself returning to Him in rededication at the age of 12. My walk with him had not gone deep enough because I was still so very immature emotionally and spiritu…

My reflection.....

“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” Oswald Chambers

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

Deliberate and selfless faith. What does this look like for me, for you? How do we develop it, attain it? I don’t have an answer beyond what you may already know. It is something we must choose daily, and it is something that will be developed and matured in us our entire lives. Two things resonated with me this past weekend from the messages I received in two worship gatherings.

First, the beautiful and difficult purpose of spiritual discipline. We have an opportunity daily, throughout our lives, to choose to be open and broken for the greater will and purpose of God. All too easy it is to get swept away by our grand dreams and desires, the emotion of feeling God is in something, when befo…

His Answer...

The power of No. The answer we don’t want to hear. The finality of it. All too often when we ask God to answer our prayers, in the back of our minds and the seat of our hearts we hope He will grant our request and say “Yes!” So how do we begin then, our approach to God with our requests? Are we beginning by centering our hearts, our minds, our very being on what He intends for our good, no matter what His answer is? What He intends for our good is often not what we have in mind. Our entrance into prayer with our Father God can either be heavily weighted with emotion, or, breathing freely and expectantly open. Bring your emotion, your pain, your sorrow, and your joy, your bliss, your excitement and as you settle into His loving arms, let it all go and focus on simply being open and at peace in His perfect presence. Praise Him and thank Him for Who He is, for all He has done for you, then open your heart with confession of what is weighing you down. Accept His forgiveness, wel…

The Power of One....

Today is not just another day. Today is a new day for me because of Christ in me. Each and every single day I have of this life is a blessing, a promise, a guarantee from my Father God that He has great purpose for me and He is just beginning to do a great work in my life today! What is powering you up today? Consider your options, you have two.

One: the power of the one who rules the world to push, pull, and drag you down!

Two: the Power of the One who rules your heart, mind, body and soul, to inspire, empower, encourage and embolden you up!

I think about how determined, dedicated, and passionate my son Bailey is about his love for music. He has found his niche, his greatest passion in music whether it is performing in the school play or with the school choir, in his school talent night or on stage at a coffee bar, and even as he is preparing for auditions at school and for the upcoming solo/ensemble and choir music festival competitions this Spring. He gets in his zone, sets…

Trust, Hope, Faith.....

The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in Him with all my heart.” (Psalm 28:7).

It is interesting to me the path we take in our trust walk with God. That’s what so much of our relationship with Christ depends upon doesn’t it? Not that his power is measured by anything we do, but the realization that having been given free will, we have a choice to fully trust Him or not. It is a simple but difficult truth we will struggle with our entire lives. I have been blessed to know and love some amazing people in my life who exude this amazing persona of boundless faith and trust in God. I confess there have been moments in my life when I found myself envious of those who seem to have a stronger faith, a better trust in God than I have. I have learned by getting to know the depth of their faith walk, that in fact they had to endure some significant pruning in their own lives to get to that place of deeper faith and significant trust in our Father God. We have so mu…

Tears Have Purpose

I’ve always been one to come to tears easily. Whether it is a heartbreaking love story, tragic humanitarian effort story, a beautifully written song, a familiar smell, or a phrase someone said in my life at a time I needed it most. When it hits me just right, I’m a freaking mess. We are talking ugly cry. This past week has been brutal for me for more reasons than one. Life has hit me just right on some things, and I think God prepared me for it to hit in worship last Sunday morning. I’ve sung the song many times, “Closer” by Bethel. I love that song, but it truly crushes me. It crushes me in a good way, please understand. It is one of the few songs I’ve come to know that brings me to a more intimate state of being with my Father God. A state of being that I hadn’t known in my walk with Christ for years I think. Ryan and I have been through some challenging life circumstance the last five years. I can look back over that time and see where God used His Word, the truth of Hi…

Our Hope; Just Wait.....

Have courage, for the Eternal is all that I will need.
My soul boasts, “Hope in God; just wait.” (Lamentations 3:24 The Voice Translation)


Just wait. Something good is bound to happen. Just wait. Something new, something better is coming. Just wait. You have your whole life ahead of you. Just wait. Good things come to those who wait. Just wait. Patience is a virtue. Just wait.

Patience. Waiting. How many of us are thrilled about the unavoidable reality that we are going to be expected to wait for a great deal in this life? Not my cup of tea, and I imagine many of you would agree. My devotional this morning was very timely, needed. Not because I am in a hurry for something in particular to happen, some momentous revelation, life altering moment to finally occur. Ryan and I have been in a state of transition for several years now recovering from some challenges life has handed us, and finding restoration as we embrace some new opportunities in ministry. If you’ve been …

New year, New perspective....

1 Peter 5:8 …..be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too.

How are we doing this New Year? How is our perspective? How are we approaching each day in this new season God has granted to each of us? Two precious gifts God has given us:

1. God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ
2. Life

Are we fully aware of how fortunate each one of us truly is? If you stop and make a list of what you have, what you possess, what you own, what you can call yours, I am not sure any one of us really has anything to complain about. What if we took a different look at our lives and instead of doing the typical list of Good and Bad, we simply and purposefully chose to focus on what matters most and nothing else?

The choice to focus on what matters most, to walk boldly, cou…