Work in progress

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV

I’m not a fan of going to the dentist, but it’s necessary. I went in for my routine semi-annual cleaning this week and forgot again to take some pain reliever in preparation for the poking, scraping and having to hold my mouth wide open for an extended period of time while my hygienist and then my dentist both do what is needed to ensure I have had a thorough checkup. I had a lot of work done in my mouth over the years-fillings, crowns, root canals. So it was no surprise to me to hear my dentist inspect and update me on the current condition of 2 of my back molars that we have been “watching” for the past 2 cleanings, are not in good shape and will require that I get a crown and a new filling. As you can imagine, I was less than enthusiastic to hear this. But honestly, I was not surprised. We are human. We are not built to last. Our muscles, our bones, our minds, our bodily functions, are going to begin to show signs of “wear and tear” in one form or another as we endure this life. Whatever we choose to make our habits, good and bad, will affect how we are able to function long term. So, as I listened to the hygienist tell me what I can do to improve my dental health, I realized once again I have a choice to make here: I can take what I’ve been told and put it into practice -or- I can continue at the same pace. I tell people all the time, in every job I have been blessed to occupy, that there is always something to learn. None of us is perfect, we claim to be experts in a given area, but the reality is if we are going to make it in this insane paced world of ours - we have to be flexible, adapt, change and grow with the changes as they come.

Sometimes, change comes and we are dead set against it, not moving, not doing it. We don’t want it, we like where we are and what we are doing because it has worked so well to this point, why fix something that isn’t broken-right? I could choose to keep doing what I have been doing to take care of my teeth-brush every day twice a day, floss occasionally; or, I could take what my hygienist said to heart and step up my flossing habits. The evidence of our habits speaks for us. My hygienist could tell that I brushed my teeth well, got high marks for that one. But, flossing on the other hand-the evidence was not for me, it was against me. Those back molars are tricky to get between, and the work she did during my cleaning resulted in removing some build up and also left my gums tender and bleeding slightly. Not a high mark for me on that one unfortunately. So, I have some additional work cut out for me to improve my dental health. I just wish I could avoid the reality that’s mine in a couple months, returning to get some additional work done.

As I made my way in to work after my dental cleaning, I came upon the scripture noted above in my morning devotional.

“Okay, seriously God? The last thing I feel like doing right now is thanking you and praising you. This dental work I have to have done is just one more thing to add to our budget with everything else we are trying to manage. I don’t know how we are going to do this, but somehow I have got to trust that You will make it work. Now, where is my pain reliever?”

This is where my spiritual habits cycle through. This is where I realize I have a choice to move forward, step outside of what my human nature would choose to do, and act out of my spiritual nature. I can only stretch, grow, learn and evolve in my spiritual nature if I choose it. If I take my current state of mind, what I learned up to this point in my walk with Christ and thought: “I’m good. I don’t need to go over that again. I can handle this from here with what I already know”, then I wouldn’t get very far. There is a point when we must reach for and cry out to God, again and again and again. Our need for Him never ceases. We are not good, ever. We are a mess, most of the time. We have good seasons and bad seasons in life, and in every single moment we must choose to thank Him and praise Him because of one simple truth: He gave us life! If you are living, breathing, existing then you have REASON to thank Him and praise Him! Your life may suck right now, but you are ALIVE. You may be in the most desperate of circumstances, but you are NOT ALONE. I can’t explain it, and I won’t even pretend to relate or understand anyone’s given situation today. But I believe and I know there is always HOPE IN CHRIST. For the person reading this right now who is in a helpless, hopeless state of mind-I cannot fix this for you, but I can pray for you! I believe God will make a way for you, because I have witnessed His miraculous provision for me and my family, and I have witnessed it in the lives of so many others. God created you for a PURPOSE you may not fully understand, but I know He has something good for you. Don’t give up, don’t give in to whatever is keeping you from embracing His deep love for you today.

You are a beautiful, unique creation, and whatever it is that you are facing today-MY GOD IS NOT DONE WITH YOU YET!

You are probably dealing with something a whole lot bigger than my dental health woes today. Just know that you are not alone, you are deeply loved and your life has great purpose! I’m praying for you and I believe God will take care of you.


Rise or Roll Over.....

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16)

Early morning riser-I am not. If you know me well, then you are very much aware that mornings are not my favorite. First place my feet land when I get up is in my fuzzy slippers, and I head directly for the coffee. I remember growing up, I loved sleeping in and as a teenager I know it drove my Dad nuts to walk by my room and it could have been 10:30-11:00am and I was still in bed. He is an early bird, up early every single day without fail because in his opinion the day is half over if you are still in bed after 9:00am-ha! I haven’t slept that late in years, not since late in college and into my marriage. But there is a correlation in my life between this preference to sleep in and cover my head with the covers, and my approach to the world around me.

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)


I recently deactivated my social media account because of a number of reasons but the primary being to re-set my focus and my balance in my life. It has been a challenging year for a number of reasons, and I was reaching a tipping point and my stress level was at an all-time high. Reality today is not what it was for most of us 15 years ago. We had a whole lot less being shoved in our faces at all times, blasted across every source of news coverage, and thanks to the constant evolve of technology today we can have a cellular device in our hands at all times and even accessible to us hands free at every given moment. I think the direction of our day to day purpose has become far too dependent upon what we share or what we witness others sharing. What do you choose to do with the first moments of your day when you wake? What is the first thing you reach for-your phone, or your Bible? I am finding in my time disconnected from social media, that I have less stress and higher motivation to better balance my time. I am impressed by people who are able to multitask and spin a half a dozen more plates than I can; but I know my limits and I want to make the best of what I am capable of. I know that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13), but I also know His intent for me is completely different from what it is for the next person. He does not expect me to run at the same pace or better than anyone else. He has created, gifted, purposed me for what is uniquely me. I decided years ago I was done and not going to live trapped in this mentality of comparison. It is a vicious and defeating cycle that a lot of people have allowed to rule their lives and dictate their every move. I don’t like the feeling at times when someone doesn’t agree with how I handle something, as if I should apologize for doing it differently. There’s that pressure again, to conform, to handle it a certain way because that is what society or my community or my family or my church or my ‘whatever’ expects of me. I battle with that just the same as anyone else, but you may find if you are in that moment with me that I choose to be silent, or simply state this is where we agree to disagree. I know when it’s time to walk away, even though I would rather engage and argue, and it may mean someone has to physically pull me away from that situation so I don’t put my foot in my mouth. Yep, I’ve unfortunately done that a few times in my life. Then there’s moments in which I’d much rather retreat, crawl back under the covers and just not deal with it at all because I’m worn down, exhausted, exasperated. I don’t want to miss out on what God may intend for me in a particular moment, but sometimes I just don’t want to have to deal with it at all.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

So, the opportunity is going to come at any given moment for me to make the choice to act upon the good purpose God intends for my life, or not. I could choose to let my past experiences-my own personal preferences, my personality flaws, my life choices, all the things that have happened to me-dictate how I walk out my day OR I can call upon the name of Jesus, draw from the strength of the Holy Spirit, breathe in the fulfillment of His Word and step out with abundant joy! I have one amazing and powerful Reason to live nothing short of a flourishing life!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13)

To live as Christ means choosing to step outside our comfort zone at any given moment. It means I’m going to have to rise rather than roll over and pull the covers back over my head. It means embracing my purpose in Christ, my full capability for today.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9)


Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” John 16:33 ERV

'It’s too hard, God….'
'How am I going to do this, God? This is impossible!'
'What do I do now? There’s no way out of this now…..It’s hopeless….'


Trapped. Doomed. Game over. Something happens, then just as you are about to get up and regain your stand, you get knocked down again and kicked in the teeth. Life is throwing all the punches, and there’s no letting up. You can’t imagine it getting any worse, and then it does. What else could possibly go wrong? And how on earth is it going to get better?
What’s your natural reaction when something bad happens? What do you do to cope? What is your method for working it out and finding a way to recover? How do you ultimately move on?

I can recall from an early age, being encouraged to do my best no matter what life throws my way. As a Pastor’s daughter, I grew up watching my parents both set this example of joy in all you do, helping whenever you can, being kind and loving at all times. We had friends become like family to us as we settled into a new church home wherever my Dad was called to serve. They always made it look so easy, so effortless. As I got older, into my college years and beyond, I had some beautifully honest and transparent conversations with them learning about how much of a challenge much of it was for them. Learning about the struggles they had in ministry, the challenges my Dad had with his leadership position at any given moment, and how it required something of him that I am certain he would have preferred to not have to deal with at all.
I can remember a time in our years at a church in southern California, I think I was maybe 10 years old, when Dad got emotional in one of his Sunday morning sermons. It was the first time I had seen my Dad having a breaking point, and it happened in the middle of a sermon. The Holy Spirit moved in Him at that moment for a purpose well beyond what I am sure my Dad realized. Even at that young age, I can recall the feeling in the sanctuary as he pounded the podium in sync with his words, the emotion of it. I can’t remember what he said exactly, but I remember it was a cry out to God for direction. Everyone sensed it, you could just feel it. At that moment, I was immediately concerned about my Dad, but at the same time it left an impression upon my heart. My Dad did not avoid it, gloss over it, push it away, or in any way attempt to dismiss what God was speaking into him for that message that day. He chose to courageously share His heart for the movement of God in all of us at that moment. And I saw in my Dad for the first time in my life how deeply He loves the Lord and loves being His. I have watched with great love and admiration as my Dad has given his entire life to the ministry of the gospel of Christ. He has been a tireless and unwavering example to me of living a life in Christ without apology. He has shown me how to stand firm in my faith and in my life. Because of His influence, I have chosen at some of the worst moments in my life to deal with it, learn from it, recover from it, and move forward knowing the best is yet to come. I consider my Dad to be my hero, absolutely, but not because I think he is perfect. I consider him to be my hero because I have seen in him that even at my weakest, even when I am not at my best, even when the sky seems to be falling, I have reason to keep moving forward. I will not give up, there is always a reason to press on.
I am thankful I have an earthly father who has exampled to me love and kindness, courage and determination, and that he pointed me to a relationship with my heavenly Father. This influence is what steers me to have hope at all times, no matter what life throws my way. There are a lot of people in this world who have no hope. That’s why our Father God allows us to keep on living on this earth. We have work to do, everybody! We have a lot of love and kindness to share with a lot of people who are in such dark circumstances. He wants that for me and for you, for every single person on this earth. We need to take courage, find hope, be brave in this terrible world and be an example for Christ.

my Ebenezer...


“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12

There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet mysterious way provided through. Helped me endure. Comforted me when I was overwhelmed and teetering on the edge of sanity. I couldn’t say it right away, but in time I was able to whisper from my heart in gratitude, “Thank you, Lord”.
1 Samuel 7 we read about the Israelites returning to God, Samuel telling them this is what we must do and this is how we acknowledge our God has surely helped us. The altar was built, and he named it Ebenezer, Hebrew origin meaning ‘stone of help’. It was a moment they chose to mark with great significance, honoring the God who helped them. I have not personally done something this significant in terms of a marker in my life that physically symbolizes God’s help for me. But I recognize moments in my heart where I have been marked by His deliverance. It is something only I can see and fully experience, reminding me of how good my God has been to me. We have this foundation-Jesus Christ! He lived, He endured unfathomable things for our sake, He was brutally killed on a rugged cross, buried in a borrowed tomb and then raised to life so that we may have salvation full and free! How many times do we in our human nature, allow some awful life experience to suddenly render us forgetful of the very power that lives within us? We have it, at ALL times, the ability to call upon the Lord and EXPECT His mighty Hand to save us. He is able to care for us in EVERY moment of our lives, and yet we fumble about, trying to grasp at something tangible the moment life goes sideways on us.

I remember when my son Bailey was a baby, he had been so sick. Three bouts of bronchiolitis, and the wheezing kept coming back even after treatment. He wasn’t nursing well, and he was so fussy, and I was sleep deprived from having a new baby and a 3 year old, and I was pretty much on the edge of having a complete breakdown physically and emotionally. It had all fogged up my clear vision of my God, my Provider. As his condition rapidly deteriorated one day, we called 911, which resulted in an ambulance ride to the hospital, which then resulted in a positive test for RSV and admittance for treatment. The days that followed would be very difficult as we watched our baby boy struggle with this virus, nurses and doctors doing all they could do to get him healthy again. It was terrifying for me to realize in that season just how incapable I was, but how CAPABLE my God is! There was no quick fix for this. We had to take him home on oxygen, continue doing breathing treatments, and schedule nurse visit weekly to check on him and ensure his breathing was steadily improving. We also had to start taking him to a Pediatric Pulmonologist for check-ups in addition to his regular well visits with the Pediatrician. I researched RSV, respiratory conditions, Asthma, and anything else I could read to understand my son’s health condition. I was not an expert by any means, but I was prepared with questions and soaked up what the doctors told me every time we went for a check up. My son was not going to die from this, but he was definitely going to be challenged by it. As he improved, I was able to sleep better, and I was able to re-connect with my God, my Sustainer. He was there with me all the time, but my human condition, my inability to release my worry for my son, somehow kept me from knowing that. I had to literally hit rock bottom, to know full well the Solid Rock supporting me the entire time.

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come;” (-Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson)

In a way, my son Bailey was my Ebenezer for that season of my life. I discovered my foundation in Christ once again as I watched God work in and through my baby boy, and as a result, He did a necessary work in and through me.

There will be experiences throughout our lives that will threaten to permanently shake us from the STRONG foundation we know in Christ. I would not wish this experience I lived through on any parent, but I am thankful for what God did in spite of it. He brought us through it, and taught us through it. He is good and faithful, yes, He is.

Resilient


‘I've had moments where I thought I wouldn't heal, or untangle myself, or get a better view of myself and of them. I've had long periods of time where I've felt flattened by an experience, but I have always been able to rise again. And that's what makes me resilient. My resiliency is mine. It is the only unbreakable part of me and is what makes me capable of Love even with a mountain to climb.’ (Stephanie Moors, Yoga Lifestyle)

This current season of life is proving to be one of the most unpredictable I’ve experienced. As Ryan and I edge ever closer to the big 5-0 in a few years(I think we should celebrate this one with a trip to Hawaii, don’t you?!), we are learning how to let go of some things and to embrace some things that life is handing to us. Maybe in a few more years I’ll be able to open up more about these “things” but for now, I'm gonna do my best to share the process with minimal details.

I felt for the longest time in my life, my happiness and my confidence came from knowing I was loved and accepted by my family and my friends. If someone was upset with me, hurt by me, angry with me, well, I couldn’t let it go. Especially if it was a reaction to something I tried to do to help. I’m a helper. I really like to help, and when I see a need, I want to do everything I can to make it better. Sometimes, help is welcomed and appreciated. But sometimes, it is met with a boundary line drawn in the sand, and a reaction that leaves me feeling deeply wounded. It’s hard not to take it personally, because my intent was misunderstood. I’m heartbroken, because I realize right away I’ve overstepped and perhaps gone too far. I’m left with this crippling feeling of regret for having ever said anything at all and immediately analyzing everything I said and did to deserve that reaction. This is the point in the emotional spiral, when I am so thankful God makes His presence known in me. As my hands go up and I realize how helpless I am, His grace and mercy come over me. And I realize, I can’t do anything more, but He can do far more than I and already is at work in that situation. I know I’m going to trip over myself many times in this life, try desperately to do the right thing, and perhaps try too hard to fix something that isn’t mine to fix. I’m thankful for a God who loves me and knows the intent my heart, in spite of my tendency to go a little too far sometimes. I am thankful for the loving and affirming accountability by those in my immediate circle of support, because without them, I’d be stuck in the mess of it a whole lot longer.

I’ve had moments like this one that resulted in a relationship drifting apart, losing touch with that person entirely. Still others that resulted in the necessity for space immediately, but a mending came years later. I know my experience in this current season, like seasons in the past, will only serve to make me far more resilient to face what is yet ahead. I believe we all have opportunity handed to us to improve upon ourselves in every experience, but especially the most difficult ones. We can either let it sink us and define us, or we can take from it what was learned and use it to move forward.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

What do you see?




‘God is uncompromising when it comes to dealing with our heart, body, soul, and spirit and its issues.
Before God can move through us, He must first move in us.’ (Brian Houston, Hillsong Church, “Live, Love, Lead” 14 day devotional on Bible app)


Zechariah 4:1-10 NIV:
Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep. He asked me, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.”
I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?”
He answered, “Do you not know what these are?”
“No, my lord,” I replied.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
“What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’”
Then the word of the LORD came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.
“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”


When I was in high school, I can recall several moments in my walk with Christ when I was so on fire and so incredibly excited about taking the world by storm for the sake of Christ! I was not eager to go door to door, sharing my salvation on the street corners, but instead I had a deep love and appreciation for those conversations one and one to simply relate to others and their current life circumstances. I didn’t make new friends easily or quickly, but as I was taught and mentored by several amazing Christian leaders throughout my young life, I learned a rhythm of my own as the Spirit led me to share Christ’s love with those who I knew needed to know Him.

That aspect of my personality and my faith journey have not changed much, as I still appreciate so much today the opportunity I have to talk about my love for Christ in simple conversation. I think there was a time when I felt pressure and high expectation to memorize the right scriptures and the right words to perfectly present the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone I encountered. As I entered real life, graduated college, married, moved away from home and discovered church for myself, found other amazing and loving communities of faith wherever we lived, I found a new and unique rhythm all my own. That is precisely how God intends for our stories to be shared with the world. That is precisely how God intends for His church to lead others to know Him, love Him, and follow Him.

I love this passage in Zechariah, the pointed responses from the angel, causes me to pause and consider as if I were in his place:

“What do you see, Andrea?”

Zechariah needed a little help seeing literally and spiritually just what God had purposed for him. First, it is to be accomplished by the Spirit of the Lord, not by any ounce of strength I may possess on my own. Second, when I am fully aware and appreciate the power of the Spirit within me, then I am prepared to accomplish what I set my hands to. That mountain that’s in front of me, that thing that I see looming ahead, that thing I know I must face and I must get through to the other side…..I must choose to see it through the eyes of Christ. I must choose to be fully seated in the abundant purpose God has for me each and every day. Then and only then, will the accomplishment be realized.

Whatever you are facing today, whatever you have set your mind to accomplish in this life, both personally and professionally, begin first by asking God what remains in you to work through. Be patient, trust His timing, even when your personal preference may be to get through it a whole lot faster! Then you will be prepared to put your hands to the work He intends. Then, your abundant purpose will be known.

See your life, your purpose and share your story with others as the Father intends for you. He is not finished with you yet. I am thankful for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is about to do!


Lay it down....


Ephesians 4:32 NIV Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I have learned a little late in life just how much benefit there is to releasing my burdens to Christ. I would like to be able to boast in my ability to trust God with my cares wholeheartedly, but it would be a lie. I fall short daily. I have to completely uncurl my grip on my life every single day, and it is not easy. I like having control, but that’s not reality. God holds it all in the palms of His hands. I have this great view from my work station, our front office entry has floor to ceiling windows, so I get to look at and take in the beauty of the beginning of the day. It is my favorite time, because everything seems brighter, fuller, vibrant when I begin by considering all this that God made. Likewise, the days we have intense weather and it is dark and ominous outside, I look out in awe of the power of His creation. When I consider every day, the beauty and the intricacy of what God has made in this world around us, I can’t help but see the parallel with how He cares for us. And yet, our minds and hearts can be so easily swayed, and ruled by the things that happen to us. What is your natural reaction to a significant life change? We see it and are personally impacted by it: addiction, marital struggles, terminal illness, unemployment, homelessness, physical/emotional trauma, depression, anxiety, chronic illness and so much more. Our humanity cries out in reaction to these things with heartache, anger, disappointment, grief, fear, despair…..
How do we as His people find our way to a reaction of release rather than to grip more tightly to what we think we have control of? How do we fully and completely trust our God, who is capable of far more than we can possibly imagine, with the burden we carry? It is not easy, and it won’t ever be a natural reaction. Because of the Holy Spirit residing within us, we must choose a supernatural reaction!

We must stretch and work out our spirituality daily, no differently than what we do when we go to the gym for a good workout. The ability to trust God with our lives doesn’t just happen like the flip of a switch. It takes time and effort on our part. God doesn’t need us to trust Him, but He wants us to. He delights in our love and praise for Him! He created us for great purpose, to make His name great in all the earth, to share the abundance He has given us with others. I can’t imagine the joy the Lord experiences in seeing His people living in true freedom! We have so many reasons to give up and give in to the pressures of life coming at us all the time, but we have one amazing, all powerful and abundantly loving God who is reason enough to rise above it all!

I was challenged in our worship gathering yesterday to release some things that were burdening my heart. I came away from that time feeling the benefits of that release immediately. I don’t understand why people choose to linger in their burden, grip so tightly to the things of this world that they simply cannot control. Please hear me in this: releasing your worries and cares to God’s hands does not mean you don’t care; it means quite the opposite, my friend.

So I challenge you today, to lay it all before the feet of Jesus. Confess it, ask God to take it and cleanse your mind and heart, and then walk away from it. Choose to live free and forgiven. If you are going to remember it, then choose to remember forgiven! To spend a moment of your life dwelling on anything less is as if you never truly laid it down.

You are meant for more, far more than you can possibly imagine. Consider today your opportunity to live extending the kindness, compassion and forgiveness of the Father by your words and actions. Let your life shine more brightly today. He loves you and He delights in you! Isn’t He good?

Thank you, Father, that your compassion is abounding and never failing for me. I cannot imagine a moment of my life wasted dwelling on anything less than Your great love for me. It is what motivates me to love others and to be the best version of me in this cruel world. Help me today, Lord. Help me to trust You more and more. I am choosing to let go, trust You and live forgiven. Amen and amen.

Season of Lacking



Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.(Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT)


I cannot remember a single moment of my childhood when I felt I was lacking for anything. Sure, like any child I had a few things here and there I asked for, hoped for, even prayed for and I did not always get that thing I was really wanting that I thought would make my life somehow better. I can recall being disappointed about not receiving something I had put on my wish list for Christmas. I can recall my first heartbreak when a boy didn’t return my affection for him. I can recall my first rejection for a job I really wanted but did not get, and had to watch a great friend get it even when she knew how badly I wanted it. I can recall a number of disappointments in my life as a wife and mother, the majority of those-I know you can relate!-because I had this unrealistic and fantasy like idea in my head of just how perfect, happy and whole my life would be after I met the perfect guy and had the perfect family I had always dreamed of. Life is certain to provide us with a variety of experiences far from what we would prefer, but here is the blessed reality of it all:

Jehovah Jireh has the ability to provide and to destroy seasons of lacking in us.

At any given time in our lives, we will have to deal with circumstances beyond our control. We will be faced with a season of lacking. I think it is safe to say, most of us don’t like not having control. Most of us prefer to have full and complete control of the circumstances happening around us, don’t we? But we don’t. The greatest challenge in my faith walk I am finding again and again, is the ability to fully trust this great big God I love. I want to worship Him, follow Him, serve Him, tell everyone I know about Him, but I can’t quite trust Him with, well, everything. I want to hold on to some things, because I just can’t quite let go. Knowing I have control of my life, brings me a certain sense of comfort, balance. When life suddenly slaps me with the unexpected, and I am forced to live in this season of lacking, it is paralyzing. I have had a struggle with anxiety nearly all my life, and it started as a child with test anxiety. As I got older, I found this anxiety threatened other areas of my life beyond the classroom testing setting. At some point early in our marriage, I found myself in a state of depression. I learned very quickly that anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand. Thankfully, I had family and close friends around me who lovingly and purposefully encouraged me to talk to my Doctor, and see a Therapist as well. When I find myself facing a season of lacking, my natural reaction is for the anxiety and depression to take control, I am overwhelmed, my heart races, my emotions are heightened, I literally cannot hear what is going on around me as I feel myself sinking. At its worst, it sends me into a fetal position on my bed, and I am kind of unreachable for a short while. Other times, I am able to calm down and find my balance through breathing techniques, meditation, scripture and personal mantra recitation, yoga, lots and lots and lots of prayer, use of essential oils, listening to a calming song playlist. I am an optimist, and I tend to see the glass as half full, but when a season of lacking hits and it feels like a domino effect of one bad thing after another, that’s when I have to dig in my heels and choose to stand. That’s when I have to choose to lean fully and completely upon Father God, and sometimes I find myself crumbling into His arms. I know He is there, I know He loves me and I know He intends it all for my good, but it is agonizing not knowing, not understanding why He lets it happen.

"What is the purpose of this season of lacking, God?"

"When are you going to provide?"

"How long must I endure this?"

So, what is my response? How do I deal with this and step out of it?

My foundation of salvation in Christ and my faith, the Holy Spirit living in me, the basic beautiful knowledge that God loves me in spite of myself, all contributes to my ability to find my way to the floor, and sometimes flat on my face, ready to rest fully and completely in Him. When I am there, when I have let all my questions and my emotions and my opinions and my preferences fade…..that’s when I am precisely where I need to be and where He intends for me to be. This is where my faith is built, and this is where wisdom is attained. It’s my only pathway to contentment in a season of lacking. It is the pathway to knowing Him more, and trusting Him more.

I believe God allows seasons of lacking for each one of us and no two experiences will ever be exactly the same. When we pray for someone who is struggling and witness God’s deliverance for them, it is only natural to want that for our own struggle. The hardest thing I have had to tell someone in the middle of a struggle, is I don’t know. I don’t know why you are facing this, and why God is allowing it to happen to you, but I know He has a purpose for you because of it. I know somehow He is going to use this to make you new, to bring you into a fresh position of peace and contentment in Him. It doesn’t make sense to our human minds, but it does when we consider it from the perspective of our God who gave His Son for us.

Thank you Father, for reminding me that this season of lacking has purpose beyond what I can see. I know You are good, loving and gracious and I don’t deserve a bit of it but I am thankful for it. You are my God, and I am learning to trust You more today than I did yesterday. All I have and all I am is Yours. Take this season, Father, and use it for Your glory. Amen and amen.


Deliverance

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 NLT


This week I’ve kind of been in a funk. Burdened for loved ones who are in a difficult season of life and true to my personality-I am heartbroken and want to help. I don’t like being in that place. Stuck in the wrestling between my flesh and my spirit. God knows their need and will care for them perfectly, but for whatever reason I struggle to release it to Him. I struggle with trusting them fully to His care. It’s a terrible struggle, and I should be able to let it go right?

I shared last week a funny moment we had one evening on our walk through the neighborhood. I watched as my youngest Chloe, laughed and jumped around, so animated, so concerned about a horsefly bothering her Daddy. “Get off my Dad!!” It was funny at the time, but I am reflecting on that today in a deeper sense. I find it hard to resist reacting that same way when someone I love is in harm’s way. I want to help them, rescue them, protect them. But, I’m not the one intended to do that. There is only one who can do that far better than I, than anyone of us. He has the victory, every single time. Our hope, our help is in Christ Jesus. We know this to be true the day we accept Him into our hearts, but why is it so hard to maintain that? Why do we struggle to release it to Him right away when we enter into a difficult season? I think it is partly because our memory of the last time He delivered us is what we compare it to. The timing, the details, the whole scenario of how God delivered us that first time. It’s all too easy to expect a carbon copy deliverance every time we face a difficult season. Are you with me?

I gave a listen today to Steven Furtick’s message entitled, “Barriers to Blessings” and it stuck me precisely where I needed it. God gave Him a word and I got it. All too often when we seek deliverance in a difficult season, we expect Him to do it the same way He did it last time. Memory is a beautiful thing especially when we can recall His faithfulness to us. But we have to be careful in our perception of our God, that we don’t allow our faith to be in the system more than the Source. When we approach a difficult season, how do we talk to Father God about it? Do we rattle off a prayer in systematic fashion, telling him our struggle and then without missing a beat asking him in almost an instruction manual format to take care of it? Do you find yourself telling God how to deliver you? I think it is a realistic and dangerous place we must acknowledge we may find ourselves in. This is the place we have to choose deliberately, with complete abandon to our own perception, to throw off all we know and have experienced before, and trust Him absolutely. I am fiercely protective of my loved ones, and so my natural reaction to the things that threaten to take me or any one of them down in this life will always be like Chloe’s reaction to that horsefly buzzing around her Daddy. I’m learning as I get a bit older, to trust God with far less preconceived ideas in my head and a lot more simple trust from my heart.

So join me today, take some time to do a bit more meditation, yoga, quiet time, prayer, study with the Lord and release it all into His waiting hands.

He’s got this.

We don’t need to know how or why or when, we just need to trust the One who is going to take care of it.

He’s a good Father!

Truth


“By our attitudes are we nullifying the Christian message? Does our behavior contradict the very truths we are trying to get across to others?” – Selwyn Hughes, founder of Crusade for World Revival

People are looking at me. People are watching what I do. People are listening to what I say. They will judge me. They will criticize me. They will not agree with me. They will condemn me. The majority will go along with the loudest and most popular voice in the room. I wonder how many of the loudest voices in our society today stop and think before they open their mouths? I wonder how many of them have someone designated to speak on their behalf, and despite their not completely agreeing with what is to be spoken, they remain silent and go along with the status quo? Truth stands alone, and honestly quite often when we choose truth we will have to be prepared to stand alone. Truth does not always unify, and often times can divide because everyone’s own opinion is so much more highly valued in this day and age. The moment we make an effort to practice accountability with one another, the immediate response is to get defensive. The only way accountability works and truth wins is when we choose humility. I have witnessed how damaging pride and a self-serving agenda can be, and it is devastating. It leaves a mark on your heart for life. It causes me to pause and question whether or not it is worth it to have hope in the human race. When I’m at my lowest point, all I know to say is, “God, why?! Just take me now! I am so done with people, with this world, and so ready for eternity with you!”

In that moment when I’m frustrated, angry, disillusioned, disappointed and just done-He reminds me of His purpose in the waiting. His reason for why we are still here. His reason for allowing so much garbage to be spoken, shared, printed, televised for all the world to witness.

Grace... Mercy... Forgiveness... Unconditional Love... Peace that Passes All Understanding...

Truth is not always popular, but it will win even if we aren’t able to personally witness it. Truth will win because of what God has given us through the gift of His Son, our Savior.

What will you do to set the example today for others? They are looking at you, watching you, listening to you and ultimately learning from you. We are examples to each other, young and old, generation to generation, day in and day out, and we must consider what we are doing in attitude and in lifestyle that may be contradicting the Truth we are intended to represent as Christ followers.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:10 NLT)

‘I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection ……’ ("How Deep the Father’s Love for Us", by Stuart Townend)

Seek Him first, live humbly, and love abundantly. This is truly what we are called to do in our time on this earth. This is Truth.

Grace


Sometimes in life we stumble upon writing that shines a light on what’s been in progress in us for a long time. If you hope to be married one day, or maybe you are engaged, already married, in the midst of a separation, divorced, newly married again, or single and wondering if it is ever going to happen or perhaps considering never getting married at all - this is a worthwhile read. There was a time in my life when I felt very strongly marriage should be considered a partnership, an equal between two people. I can recall moments in my marriage when I believed we had hit a bump in the road and our commitment to each other and what we brought to this partnership was in need of serious scrutiny. I remember making a list at one point in my mind, and on paper too, of all the things I took care of and all the things he took care of. My mind raced with comparisons, weighing what I thought was fair or not fair, right or wrong. I didn’t understand why he didn’t meet me where I thought he should. I didn’t like that it didn’t equal up to what I had thought it should, what I thought we agreed upon when we started this.

This point in the article hit me and impressed me to write today:

In a partnership, there’s give and take. In a marriage, there is only give.

http://www.sgberman.com/2014/07/10/five-reasons-marriage-equal-partnership/

Consider what the scriptures tell us: And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12 AMP)

When God is in it, and you are 100% committed to someone other than yourself, then your marriage will grow, thrive, endure. When your focus starts to lessen toward the one you’ve committed to for any reason or you find yourself questioning that God is even in it, I challenge you right now to stop your mouth from flapping and get on your knees and ask God to break your heart. If you can’t shine the light on yourself first, ask God to examine your heart for anything less than what you committed to your spouse the day you spoke your vows……then find your way there. That’s precisely where you need to be. There is nothing selfish about love. It is in its truest form completely and absolutely selfless.

When Ryan and I were at what I thought was our worst, I remember feeling so incredibly helpless. I remember thinking I don’t know how we are going to get through this. And I sure as hell don’t know if it’s even worth it. It would be so easy to give up and go on by myself. I could do it if I had to. I went into absolute and complete “I am Woman Hear Me Roar!” mode, and I was in no way going to let this stupid sucky season in my life take me down!

But, after the edge of my insanity moment faded, and I could stop the pounding of my heart, the gasping ugly tears subsided, and I could simply breathe again, I was reminded by my great big loving and abundantly good God:

“Grace...”

What am I so deserving of that he is not?

I have been reminded time and time again, through some terrible seasons and some of the most beautiful seasons in my marriage, that I don’t NEED him. But I LOVE him. And what we have together is deserving of what I can GIVE and GIVE SOME MORE, and not dependent upon what I am willing to do as my part. My marriage is NOT a partnership. It is a UNION of two lives into something far greater than either one of us. It is a GIFT from God and something I am willing to fight to the death for and beyond!

I love you, Ryan, and I am so thankful that we have chosen to fight the greatest fight I’ve known in my life. I am thankful God gave me you.



Breaking through....Trust renewed

I was in my junior year at MSU, had come through a difficult season of my life and just kind of bulldozing my way through. I didn’t care how I did it, or how well I did it, I just wanted to get through school and be done. I was both raw and numb emotionally as I was working through so much unfinished stuff in me. I have found therapy/counseling to be very beneficial for myself, for my marriage, and for my oldest child over the years. It’s stupid and incredibly arrogant to think at any point we can weather through life on our own, and I know some will not agree with this-but sometimes God is not enough. Sometimes God’s provision and deliverance for us through a terrible experience, comes in the form of a professional therapist. I was there, more than once, and the mind is a powerful thing. When you reach that point, the point when you are teetering on the edge and starting to lose hope, that’s the point to ask for professional help. I’m really glad I did. It was hard for me to admit God was not enough for me in that season. I was nearly buried by what I had endured and not dealt with. The hurt, the emotional abuse, the guilt, the shame of what I had experienced. I nearly let it define me. I nearly let it defeat me. But I was so weary from it all, and I was struggling to function on some basic level day to day. I knew if I didn’t get help, I’d be miserable for the rest of my life. I would continue to live in the pattern I had created for myself. It was not healthy. I was getting by, I was not living the abundant life God intended for me. I needed to be reminded of who I was in Christ, His greater purpose for me.

I will never forget the method my therapist used to help me visualize who I was in Christ. I had forgotten, but He knew all along I was in there. Underneath all the ick I had experienced and allowed to bury me, He knew the child He created was still in there and ready to be free. But I had to realize it, and accept it, choose it. Free will is a tricky thing. We aren’t puppets. God has so much for us to experience as His. But we have to choose it. He cannot force it, snap us out of it, make us do what He thinks is right. It’s not His nature. He loves us enough to give us that choice. He is a good Father. So my therapist asked me to close my eyes and visualize a chalkboard, and what would I have written on it about myself. That was not easy, was actually very painful. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t have much good to write up there, and honestly I found myself staring at the chalkboard with nothing. Just blank. When it started to flow out of me, it was messy and ugly and awful and gut wrenching…..but necessary and good. As I visualized this, spoke it and tried to find my way to some form of calm, I realized He was there in the room with us. He was there with me in that very moment. He had been there all along. But, somehow I had forgotten Him and become way too comfortable in my misery. That’s no way to live, and I was ready to find my way to stepping out of it. The next thing she asked me to visualize, was Jesus stepping up to the chalkboard. And she asked me what I thought He would write about me. More tears. Yeah, a whole lot more tears. My heart broke, as I found myself seeing for the first time in a long time truly how Jesus sees me. How He knows me. How He loves me. He calls me worthy, loved, beautiful, purposed for great things, blessed beyond measure. I can’t make this stuff up. The mind is a powerful thing. It is all too easy for us to blame satan for the struggles we go through, but we fail to recognize and own up to what we do to ourselves! When we release our grip on ourselves, the control we think we have, and throw off what threatens to define or defeat us, the things of this world, the way others have treated us, the experiences we have had that we think are all that we know to be true of this life…..it is a freedom that cannot be described, or captured outside of personal experience between yourself and God. I could try, but words are not adequate.

Freedom is found when we lay it all down, walk away from it and never pick it back up again. And sometimes it takes some extra help and intervention to get to that place. I am thankful that I found it. I am thankful I had family, friends who saw in me the necessity to dig deeper and said so. I am thankful for the accountability I had and still have to this day not only in family and friends, but in our church community. We cannot do this thing called life and live it to the fullest in Christ, if we are isolated. We need each other. We are better together.

As I am wrapping up this blog entry, a Big Daddy Weave song came to my mind. I love their arrangement of “Trust and Obey”. It is soothing to me. I am a musician at heart, so of course, I find comfort most often in music but it is especially powerful when I know the truth of it is based on the Word of God and His promises to us.

‘…But we never can prove
The delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay
For the favor He shows
For the joy He bestows
Are for them who will trust and obey….’

When we are battered and bruised by the things of this life, it is difficult to put our trust in anything or anyone. But God is faithful. He is the source of our hope and help. Always.

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to GOD! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor GOD with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent GOD’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that GOD corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this. Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG


There is a way....there is ALWAYS a way....


This past weekend we accomplished something of a miracle. Moving. So, to give you the short version:
Monsoon like rains and storms hit Springfield Friday and didn’t let up until early Sunday morning. Moving Day was Saturday. Moving service scheduled weeks ahead to take care of our big, bulky and heavy furniture, and we rented a box truck to move all the boxed stuff, odds and ends, etc.
Moving Day arrived, got the box truck early, and headed to the house while Ryan got ready for it to start at the apartment. Little did we know what was about to go down.

Moving service called and cancelled. Short-handed. I won’t go into specifics here, but you can only imagine the state we were both in at this point. First, when Ryan got the call. Second, when he called to tell me. I was at the house because we had two deliveries coming and I was waiting to coordinate the unload when they arrived with our stuff. So, while my sweet Chloe was outside in our new garage enjoying watching, talking to, attempting to feed crackers to the worms crawling in out of the rain, I was in a minor panic. I took momentary panic and pushed it into high gear, told Ry okay, we gotta go with it, and we both proceeded to get on our phones and contact anyone and everyone we could think of to please come and HELP!

I am still absolutely astounded and overjoyed by how God works in the midst of these momentary panics. He used the unknown, the freakishly stressful unknown, and made it good. I keep rolling it over in my mind, my heart, just so thankful, so thankful, so thankful. We are just so incredibly blessed by the amazing group of people who came to help us from family, to dear friends, to our Story Church family-Wow! Thank you so much! I can’t stop smiling when I think about it. God took a bad thing and made it so very good! This is that moment when we realize once again the invaluable benefit of being part of a community of believers. And it is not the first time. We have watched time and time again, over the years, as our community of believers has come to our aid in both tangible and intangible forms. This is the difference between surviving this life, and choosing to thrive in this life.

Parent moment here: If you have children, then you will appreciate this as much as we do. This whole process, this amazing experience we had this past weekend was such a beautiful lesson for our children. When our children see us react to stress, what will they take away from it? The way we respond in stressful moments will have a lasting impact on our children and influence how they handle stress on their own one day. I am the type that does not shrink to a challenge, and in fact I step up to it and look it over, determine there is a way to get it done. I don’t give up easily. And I don’t want my husband and my children to give up easily. So, my immediate reaction is to evaluate it, figure out a way to take care of it, and then afterwards no matter how it went down consider what I learned from the experience. My husband’s reaction is to get very quiet, look very tense, no real verbal response, and essentially looking like he could either completely shut down or implode at any moment. So, my reaction to him in this state is Ultimate Cheerleader Wife! Game on! We will not back down, we will not give up, we will move on through it! I can come on a bit strong, and I know by the look on Ryan’s face and my children’s faces when I’ve gone overboard and need to tone it down. So, it’s a learning experience all around for all of us. But the point is, keep moving forward and don’t let anything knock you down and keep you down. There is a way. There is always a way.
So, to my amazing, handsome, strong and absolutely wonderful husband Ryan-I am so thankful for you, and so proud of how you handled it all!

Rylee and AJ-Awesome job stepping it up and doing everything without complaint! You worked so hard and made the best of it to help us get moved into our new home-I’m so proud of you both!

Chloe-my sweet girl, you make it all so delightful and fun! You didn’t miss a beat and brought joy to the day!

Bailey-You may have missed out on the move, but you absolutely stepped it up Sunday, my partner in cleaning the apartment and then getting groceries. You are going to make a wonderful husband to a lucky young lady one day!

I can think of no better way to close out this blog entry, than to point to the best thing about this whole experience: the opportunity we have to do the same for someone else. It is a cyclical process, the beauty of this process of being part of a community of believers. We cannot truly appreciate what’s been given for us, until we have chosen to give back. It is in the little things and the big things. We have opportunity daily to give back, and we should give back because there is always a need. I can think of several people in my life that are need right now, and because of what I know has been a blessing to me, I absolutely choose to pour back into their lives so they can know that blessing of being part of a community of believers too. We cannot keep it to ourselves, we cannot be selfish. We are all in this together, and we need a great big God and a community of believers to make the best of this life we have been given!

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16NIV


Losing control


I was reminded this past weekend, I have so much to learn yet about my Father’s full and abundant purpose for my life. Specifically, the ongoing and very painful lesson for me is losing control. I am not sure at what precise moment I clamped down, set my grip on what I thought was control of my life. Through a series of losses we experienced personally the past 6 years, I allowed a shift to occur in my relationship with God. I was tired, frustrated, angry, fed up and determined it was going to be different from this point forward. I wasn’t avoiding any ownership of what we had experienced, it was certainly realized. But, I also wasn’t able to forgive, work through it and move on to the place God intended for me. That unfortunately took years for me to accept. I chose to rely more upon my own strength than to release and draw upon the strength residing in me all along from Holy Spirit.

Recently, I have been settling into a new job. It has been a challenging start, and I did not fully realize that with this new opportunity would come a renewal of that lesson in control for me. We attended worship with family Saturday night, and the message that was given brought me to the necessary place of release. He asked us to consider what was weighing us down, holding us back, write it down on the card provided to us. I knew right away and didn’t hesitate to write it down. I knew it, but even as I wrote it down, I stared at it and thought: I don’t know if I can let this go. The bucket came, and I dropped it in but kind of had to restrain myself from digging it right back out. As the visual and the lyrical met in the conclusion of that service, I found myself connecting again with the Father, recognizing it is necessary once and for all to recognize the abundance found in releasing it all and trusting Him. As Sunday morning came, we entered into worship with our home church, and I settled into the familiar pace of leading worship beside Ryan-I nearly missed the completion of His message to me. I needed to embrace the brokenness in myself, to fully appreciate the abundance He had for me all along. It is a far easier thing to sit in the comfort of our human habits like that need for control, rather than to trust Him fully and reside in His presence. One of my struggles, my fears in leading worship, is the possibility of losing control. I don’t want my loss of control to distract someone from the message God has for them. The trouble is, I get so focused on being the vessel, being the instrument for His use, I could miss the message He has for me. And sometimes, the message He has for me requires that I lose control and let Him have His way in me. It’s funny how He uses the very things that could potentially distract us—forgetting lyrics, singing the wrong part, microphones not working, lights malfunctioning, whatever could go wrong going wrong-as a means to seat us precisely where we need to be. I’m learning again and again throughout my life, God’s intent for me to not be in control, and in fact to be okay with a lack of control. He has it all well in His hands, I can trust Him. He is good, He really is.

Wrestling with the necessary...

Renewal. I need it daily, well, if I’m honest, moment to moment, every single day. I am so thankful for the life I have been given. More days than not, I struggle with the motivation to do what is necessary. I like order, I am an organized person, but if I have the choice I’d much rather let the necessary go and run away to do something leisurely instead. At some point the nagging of what is waiting for me to do, the necessary, starts to affect my ability to enjoy the leisurely. It’s a wrestling match every day. Some days, depending on what circumstances are hitting me, the wrestling can be more intense. Finances, relationships, work, school, etc.-and I find they tend to hit in waves of 3’s, never just one thing to deal with at a time. There is always something, and it is always poor timing. Poor timing from my viewpoint, but not from God’s viewpoint. I find as I get a little bit older, have a little bit more life experience under my belt, and with the help and support of several key people in my life, I can find a pause in the midst of the wrestling to check my perspective:

1. Breathe-Trust the Father!
2. Mantra-Pick one, make it yours, repeat several times-Trust the Father!
3. Pray, pray, pray-Trust the Father!
4. Scripture-seek, memorize, return to it throughout the day-Trust the Father!
5. Ask for prayer support-family, friends, prayer circle, Bible study group-Trust the Father!

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 NIV

I’m certain in his time on this earth, even Jesus wrestled a little with the necessary. When we read in scripture his conversation with Father God that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, we get a glimpse of his humanity. He begs His Father if it’s possible, take it from me, let it pass. But the next sentence from His mouth is out of His recognition of His greater purpose. His life, sacrifice, for us. His ownership of the blessed task He has been given, to give of Himself to save us, to save all of us. It makes my necessary seem so miniscule in comparison, so why in the world am I wasting time wrestling with it? Why do I let the circumstances of this life bear any amount of burden on my life, when I have this one amazing reason, this incredible purpose for being here?

This process I choose daily, the renewal, is what sets me on the extraordinary necessary path of fully living out His purpose for me. Those steps I shared earlier, there is a commonality I have throughout: Trust the Father! When I do that, in every step of that process, I know I have fully released. I know I am at peace. I know I am fully aware of my purpose. I know I am seated firmly in His abundant, amazing grace. That’s what makes it all come together. Thank you, Father!

Beautiful struggle.....

I envy my young ones. I envy them because they have no reason yet in life to worry, and they simply don’t look back. I look at them in amazement sometimes, wondering what it is that keeps them moving forward without a care in the world. Truly, their only care is to leap into life with every ounce of their being. No holding back. All in. Going for it! I watch, and often hover-helicopter parenting, yes?-concerned their first venture into something without knowing what they are getting into could land them flat on their faces. Don’t get me wrong-God appointed us parents for good reason, to ensure they are safe, loved, disciplined and educated to walk into life as a healthy and whole human being. But, He also expects us to recognize throughout this parenting experience that we are often not as in control as we would like to think we are. I had a conversation recently with my oldest child, Rylee, about relationships. It was a beautiful thing for me to listen to my daughter share her heart and what God is calling her to be, what she is wrestling with in her heart and mind. I was not nearly in as mature a place as she is at almost 20 years old.

At 20, I was in a difficult season of life. A crossroads really. I had changed my major, transferred from one school to another, and I had been in and out of a couple of bad relationships. I was dissatisfied with my life, but I was reluctant to make significant change. I lingered in a couple of casually intimate relationships, exploring what I thought would fix my unhappiness, only to find myself feeling more hollow, more empty, and slipping far deeper into the pit I had been digging for myself for several years. I knew God was there, but I had become selfish, lazy, complacent toward Him. I wanted immediate gratification for my lacking, but I wasn’t willing to own up to the reason for that lacking. I had relied less and less upon Him, and so it became easy in my wandering to avoid Him. When the lacking, the hollow feeling in me became too much to bear, I found myself at a breaking point on every level: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am thankful at that point my Mom saw in me the very thing I needed. Someone to listen. She didn’t scold me, she didn’t judge me, she didn’t demand or expect anything of me. She made herself available to me not just as my Mom, but as someone simply available to hear my struggle and help me find my way through it. That conversation was the beginning of healing for me. I began therapy, started working through so much wreckage in my heart, my mind, my entire being that had weighed me down for too long, convincing me I was worthless and hopeless. I didn’t like the person I had become, and as I climbed slowly out of the pit I had been digging myself into all those years, I discovered anew the person God had created me to be from the beginning. She hadn’t gone anywhere, she was right there all along. He reminded me of who I truly was in Him, and I was able to look in the mirror without disappointment for the first time in a very long time.

I learned in that season that I am my worst enemy. Sure, I’ll acknowledge that Satan has his ways and does his part in wreaking havoc in my life at any given time. But I refuse to give him all the credit, because that’s just one more way to avoid taking ownership for my actions. Repentance, true repentance, means calling out our lacking and choosing to turn away from it completely, never turning back. My young ones, they are so blissfully unaware of just how difficult life is! They have yet to understand and experience this journey from the struggle, to repentance, to forgiveness, to abundance. I see the abundance in them now, wondering at what point life will hand them their first significant struggle and their own journey will begin. When they do, I will be ready just like I was with Rylee recently, to simply listen. God, give me continued wisdom with these beautiful lives you’ve entrusted to my care on this earth. What a wonderful, heartbreaking responsibility you have given me. Thank you, Father.

Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

The struggle is real, but unnecessary...

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. Psalm 24:1-2 NLT


2011 was a particularly difficult year in my life. It was difficult for many reasons, some I have shared and some I have not. The birth of our fourth child, Chloe Grace, on March 2 was a welcome breath of fresh air at that time. My husband was recently unemployed, I was blessed to be able to take six weeks maternity leave from my job, and as we drove home from the hospital all I could do was look at her and weep. It should have been happy tears, but I remember the feeling in the pit of my heart. Like I could literally feel the weight of it in me. I was really terrified for the first time in my life I think. We had faced difficult circumstances before, but this, this setback for my husband, for our family, was unlike what we had experienced so far. I look back at myself in that moment in the backseat of our vehicle holding my sweet baby girl’s hand, telling Ryan how much I hoped for her and at the same time wondering how on earth we were going to move forward. I was overwhelmed and exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually. Our life circumstances began to harden me and my grip tightened on what I thought I suddenly had to be in complete control of. I knew God was there, I did not believe He had abandoned us, but I wrestled more in that season with the ability to trust Him than I ever have. Extreme life change can send us into one of two directions: pity mode or panic mode. My choice was panic mode. From March 2011 to August 2012 as I watched my husband struggle with one not so great job after another, I sought advice from family, friends and colleagues, asked God for help and guidance occasionally, and with help eventually set us up to relocate to Springfield, Missouri to start over. I chose to put my strength and determination more in myself than in God. It was not a healthy balance, but it was my state of mind at the time. It didn’t take long after we settled into our new home, that I found myself breaking down and things we had not dealt with in our marriage started to come to a head. It started with me finding release at a women’s retreat, to finally acknowledge to myself, to God, to Ryan that I had been holding on too tightly to the control I thought I had. I had not trusted Ryan, and I had not trusted God. I didn’t want to, because what we had was broken and the hurt, the disappointment set in me a resolve to trust nobody but myself. The realization of it all hit me like a ton of bricks. If it weren’t for the love and support, the consistent accountability I had from close family and friends, I don’t know that my marriage and my family would have come through to this point of the journey as it has. God’s hand was upon me through it all, and every moment I was allowed to experience was because of His greater work taking place in me.

I was reminded today in my quiet time, that we have a God who knew us, laid out our lives and our great big purpose well before we came into existence. He knows us at our best and our worst, and He loves us the same. He sees us struggle and thrive through life, and He loves us the same. He knows the point at which we will turn away from Him, and the point at which we will return to Him. He loves us the same.

At the worst moment in that difficult season, when I could have chosen to give up, I heard the Lord whisper to me what I already knew:
“Ryan deserves the same grace and mercy I have extended to you. Your worst is no better than his worst. Your best is no better than his best. I love Him anyway. And so do you.”

Why do we struggle to trust God with what He already has? We can set a course in life for what we think is the best laid plan, but if we don’t start by acknowledging first He has control….He sets the pace….His way is better, wiser…..we will crash. The struggle is real, but completely unnecessary.
I’m learning day by day, I’m more likely to have questions than answers. I have it together some days more than others, but I’m constantly striving to set my course with His intention for me in mind.

I am so thankful I belong to Him. He is good, so good.

Forgive....Release....Freedom.....


Forgive ... Release ... Freedom ...

Forgiveness. It does not come naturally to us as human beings. When we are hurt, our natural reaction is either to lash out and seek revenge or to withdraw and wallow in our wounded state. In my experience at least, these are the two most common reactions to being hurt.

I have been experiencing a challenging season in my life professionally, and as a result, I have been working through the process of being hurt and disappointed. I am a strong, independent and determined person and I have faced greater obstacles in my life compared to this particular situation, but it has been difficult for me to release it fully. I came to a point this morning, as I was doing my devotional time, considering my last days in this job and closing out physical files and my workstation, preparing for my transition to a brand new and wonderful work place ... I was still holding on to something. Because I felt, I was owed something. Know what I’m talking about? That whole reconciliation that occurs in the mind - our worst enemy is truly ourselves! - wondering when life is ever really going to be fair to us, when someone who has done something wrong to us doesn’t get what we think they deserve and hasn’t acknowledged the wrong they have done to us. Oh my goodness, it’s a nearly paralyzing experience we put ourselves through! It is absolutely unnecessary and a complete waste of our time and our emotions. I came upon this today and it helped me release and embrace on another level the ability to forgive.

‘Forgiveness is about release, releasing ourselves from those self-imposed limitations and self-defeating behavior patterns that tie us to the past in negative ways. Forgiveness is releasing our anger, fear, pain and resentment and opening our hearts to joy, peace and love. Yes, others may have done things that have hurt or harmed us, and they are responsible for those actions. But these individuals are not responsible for how we live the rest of our lives. We are responsible for that. How we respond to these past events and what we carry into our present and our future is entirely up to us and no one else. If we allow the past to negatively affect how we live the rest of our lives, the choices we make, our relationships and our behavior patterns, that is our choice and responsibility not that of the original offender.’

https://positiveprovocations.com/2013/01/25/the-healing-power-of-forgiveness-release/

If you are struggling today to forgive someone or something, whatever that is for you - join me in taking the steps to fully releasing it to God’s perfect care.

Forgive ... release ... and live free!

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

Nourishing the heart

Years ago, we experienced the joy of building and owning our first home in Spring Hill, Tennessee. One of the things I was most excited about was having a garden. I had visions of plants and flowers of several varieties, but I knew it would take time and effort I hadn’t put into this before because we had always lived in apartments up to that point. I had occasional potted plants, but nothing that gave me the opportunity to put down roots. I had learned from my parents experience keeping a garden growing up, so this was my chance to put my own interest and little bit of experience into action. I got all the tools, the soil, the seed, the nutrients to feed them, and the mulch to protect them during the winter months. I got into a rhythm pretty quickly and easily, and found I really loved it. I remember right before we moved away, how much I was going to miss that. I still look back at pictures I took of those flower beds and seeing how pretty they were, and how they grew, and wanting to be able to do that again one day. Are our hearts any different? I am doing a new Bible reading plan this year, and as I dig deeper into His Word, I find at times I cannot get enough of it and have read ahead some days. My soul, my heart, my mind, all need that spiritual nourishment, not unlike the needs of a plant as it begins to grow, settle into the soil, put down roots. What are we doing daily to be more spiritually nourished? How are we cultivating our gardens? Are we hungry for the Word, or have we become indifferent, stagnant, dormant?

We have a choice when we dive into the commitment to a life in Christ, to survive, or thrive. If we are not fully aware of our example to others, then we are not fully awake in our commitment to Christ.

Being full awake means we are starting by first spending time nourishing our spiritual beings with time in His Word, talking with the Father, talking with our community of believers and cultivating our hearts to be more like Christ. It takes a commitment to care for a garden, just as it takes a commitment to care for ourselves in Christ. We cannot expect to be more like Him, if we are not seeking after Him and choosing to know Him a little bit more every day. Roots will grow down deeply into the soil when the time and care is taken in cultivating a garden. It is no different for our hearts. I think it is worthwhile to consider how we begin, settle into a rhythm with Father God so that everything that follows in our connection with our community of believers flows seamlessly.

If some fail to do what God requires, it’s as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God’s law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed.
(James 1:23-25 The Voice translation)


Consider today what your garden may require. I’ve got some weeding to do in mine, so why don’t you join me? Let’s dig deeply into the soil, nourish our hearts in the Word.

Human nature vs God nature

Matthew 6:6 ….Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you….

I am in the middle of a transition of sorts in my life right now. The past few months in particular, my job has been uncertain and the necessity to explore other job opportunities became my new reality. I am in the process this week of interviewing for a position, thrilled by the opportunity, entirely grateful God has gone before me, and His amazing favor is upon me. I cannot imagine going into a season of change like this or any other without having my heart, my head, my entire being focused entirely upon the One who made me. Not only is it expected of me as a child of God to seek after Him first and in all things, but it is indicative of my faith in Him. It is not human nature, it is God nature for me to choose to pursue and peruse after God’s purpose for my life every single moment of every single day of my life. I am diving deep into His Word this year with a new reading plan, already rediscovering the light and life of His promises anew. I am far more confident, calm and centered because of my choice to further discipline myself in the study of His Word, praying, seeking Him daily. When I choose to center my focus, determine to live my life in a way that reflects Coram Deo-living before the One who sees all that we are and do-then and only then will I know I have lived well and according to my Father’s will in heaven.

It would be all too easy for me to turn inward, isolate myself as the struggle to find something certain weighs upon my mind. I’m not perfect; I have moments, many of them, where my human nature wins for a time. I struggle to get beyond the thoughts, the questions running through my mind of “Why? How? When?” and it can become overwhelming very quickly. At some point in this process, I am able to stop and move in this direction:

1. Call upon the name of Jesus! There is POWER in His name!
2. Speak the Word! Open my Bible and read His promises, write it out, post it, speak it aloud and recite it throughout the day!
3. Pray, pray, pray and pray some more!
4. Praise Him for this, ALL of this—the good, the bad, the amazing, the awful, the certainty of His provision in spite of my inability to see it right away!

What is your practice in this season or the next? How will you choose to live your life reflecting the abundant love of Christ rather than reflecting the disappointment of the circumstances you have been handed today? Life is hard, but God is good! If you don’t have a mantra and need one, feel free to use that one. I am not sure who said it first, but it is one I have uttered many a time and sometimes repeatedly through gritted teeth. Human nature is going to wrestle God nature ALL the time, count on it! It is in this wrestling that our faith is tested, proven and triumphs so that we can emerge stronger than we were at the onset. Through Christ, we are victorious!
My greatest word of testimony through this season so far is that I have not been worried. I have been disappointed, but not defeated. I have been concerned, but not conquered. I have been blessed to know what purpose and provision is in Christ, what it is to have a circle of family and friends near and far, a support system beautifully woven by the Hand of God into my life. For that, for my great big God and all He has done for me and is about to do, there aren’t words enough to express it. No matter what, He is good, always good and I am truly grateful.

Whoever you are, whatever you face today—you are not alone. You are loved. I am praying for you, and I know the moments when God presses into my heart to pray for something seemingly random for someone I don't know, it is in fact a specific need for someone out there who needs the love of Jesus. He is for you, and so am I.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...