This Child.....

I wasn’t going to blog again this year but I had an itch today and couldn’t resist. I have been thinking today about this season, the reason we celebrate, or more specifically the reason we have such inspired focus. I find myself at very ordinary moments the last few weeks drawn into the experience of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Some of that pull comes naturally from being a Mom myself, but the gut wrenching reality hits me when I stop in the middle of a song I’ve heard and also sung several times, “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant, and try to absorb what she must have felt. How did she go day to day carrying this gift, this Child that came about through such extraordinary circumstances? Did she have to slow her thoughts down, did she get overwhelmed just thinking about the depth of her role as the mother of the Son of God, the Savior of mankind? I wonder how many nights she found herself overwhelmed with joy and praise to our Father God, and then suddenly in a sobbing puddle of tears knowing one day she would have to watch this blessed Child endure suffering and death on the cross? I can’t fathom it, it is what brings me to tears as I think of her.

Suffering. I think the word gets watered down in this culture at times especially in terms of our economy, our nation’s state of being. I dare say we’ve become way to comfortable using it to describe what we may be going through at any given point in our lives. There are so many scriptures about suffering especially in the New Testament. I stumbled upon this one today and it stuck, practically shouted at me from the screen as I read it.

Hebrews 13:13 (The Voice): If we are honest, we have to admit that coming to Jesus and entering into His church ruins us—at least as far as this world is concerned. If we identify with Him in His suffering and rejection, we become a reproachful irritation to the powers that rule this culture. If we ever felt at home in this world—if we ever sensed that we belonged—then we would wake up one day to discover that we will never be at home again until we enter the city of God. By entering through Jesus, we become citizens of another city, subjects of another king. As long as we are here, we should live as resident aliens longing to go home. Let’s then go out to Him and resolve to bear the insult and abuse that He endured.

If we are truly honest with ourselves and with each other, we have no understanding of what suffering truly is. There is One who does. And He can comfort and provide in ways that nobody else and nothing else can. I believe on some level as she carried him, from the moment Gabriel spoke this promise over her of this Child and His purpose on this earth, she knew. She still struggled with what every Mother does, the pain of childbirth, the joy of watching her baby boy grow, the frustration with him over the typical things that little boys do, the humor and drama that can come with a teenager, and the pride in seeing him become a young man. She then had to witness her Son enduring what nobody has-suffering, torture, death on a wooden cross and all for the sake of US. ALL OF US. I’m stuck in and sunk in this truth now more than ever---HOW WE NEED A SAVIOR! Whatever we are facing today, whatever we must endure we need to grasp the knowledge, the truth that what we experience is for our good and increases our CAPACITY for God! We are strengthened and empowered by our God daily, but we have to choose to lean into Him. It is there for us, but only if we choose to lean into Him.

He knows suffering, He knows our need, and He knows us.

Whatever it is you are seeking to fill that place deep inside you, that aching need, this is your chance. This is your moment, to grasp hold of the Savior of the world. He loves us and you need Him.

I promise He will meet you right where you are.

Christmas Hope and New Year’s Joy to you and yours!

Stop and listen, His Word is for you....

It never fails. After Halloween, the schedule and the pace gets bit busier, more frantic-at work, at school, at church, at home there is just not enough time in the day to do everything that is on the list of things to accomplish. This year I have more on my plate than in past years, and it is amazing how saying yes to just one or two more things has resulted in more spreading myself thin than I’d originally intended. This past weekend was no exception. I helped with the Project Graduation garage sale setup and event Friday and Saturday. Saturday the usual errands and a few more for the holiday season kept us going until well into the evening. Sunday was an amazing day of worship with our church family, then a fun lunch/movie event for our children’s department, and the snow falling was just the fresh burst I needed to get a little bit of decorating done at home. We all got cozy and enjoyed a board game, then some dinner and a favorite TV program to end the weekend. Oh and I managed to do some yummy baking/cooking this weekend with some lemon bars, cinnamon rolls and crockpot pumpkin butter. The weather outside was a bit frigid, but we had a toasty, cozy time inside with one another when the busy-ness of the weekend ended.

As we worshipped Sunday morning, in the middle of “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”, verse 3 says,

“And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing Your praise unending ten thousand years and then forevermore!”

God spoke to me in that very moment of that song, and placed Isaiah 40 in my mind and heart. It was as if I could see it being written in the holy air around me in our auditorium, hearing Him whisper the words that I know so many needed to hear:

“…He gives strength to the weak, He gives power to the powerless…” (Isaiah 40:29 NIV)

“Hope in Me, Believe in Me, Trust in Me…..this is what you do….”

There are moments like this in worship that I have to let go, lift my hands and recognize in my being, in my physical and spiritual posture, that I need Him so desperately! It’s a wonder more often than not I am not completely face to the ground, because I realize how desperately I need my Father God!
Every single day, every moment of our lives on this earth we have opportunity to stop, ask and listen to what the Father is calling us to do. This weekend was that moment for me once again. Isn’t it interesting in our journey with Christ, how the moments we find ourselves stretched to the breaking point financially, He says “Now”. He gave me a word Sunday during the message from Pastor David, and I found myself weeping as I shared with Ryan, this is what He said to me, this is what He has asked us to do: Trust and Obey. This is what you must do, this is your spiritual act of sacrifice.

Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey!

So as we head into the holidays, ask yourself what will you do in your moments of desperation and seeking? Will you stop and listen, ask the Lord to reveal His Word to you and speak to you what He intends for your life right now?

Weary but wondrous journey.....

Rounding out the dental cleanings for the Freeman family this year is me, and so thankful to hear our dentist say this morning, “Excellent checkup!” I am thankful for no surprises there. We’ve had enough surprises this year, thank you very much. Life is like that though, completely unpredictable. You can plan your whole life for your education, your career, your marriage and family, thinking when you meet and accomplish each goal you’ve got it made. So when something doesn’t go the way you expected, how do you handle the train suddenly being de-railed? How do you handle it when your train is de-railed for awhile, perhaps years? You are left with no choice but to pack up what you can carry for the journey, and walk on. I feel like in some ways Ryan and I are still doing just that, walking on. Our train hasn’t quite gotten back on the tracks but we are rebuilding it and preparing it for the day we can see the restoration complete and the train start rolling once again. I am finding this to be a year of many questions, a whole lot of waiting and praying, and learning to be comfortable with silence. When God speaks, it is to further the season in me of waiting, listening, seeking, simply being still and content with being completely unsettled.

Why do you say, “My troubled path is hidden from the Eternal;
God has lost all interest in my cause”?
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
The Eternal, the Everlasting God,
The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary.
His wisdom is beyond understanding. Isaiah 40:27-28 (The Voice Translation)

I stopped trying to understand God and the path my life has taken some time ago. I still ask Him, “Why?” but I don’t get hung up on it as I once did years ago. At some point on the journey, I let go and asked God to catch me. I decided it is far better for my heart, my mind, and my soul to sink into the presence of the Father in the worst of times as much as I do in the best of times. Sometimes it takes reading and speaking a scriptural truth many MANY times, praying til my knees ache and I’m weeping on the floor, and at the end of myself having just enough strength left to whisper the name of Jesus….that’s when His peace flows through me like a welcome breeze. I don’t have any more answers at that moment than I did when I began to question Him, but it doesn’t matter. His peace, His love for me, His presence is far more than enough to comfort me at that very moment.

But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint. Isaiah 40:31 (The Voice Translation)

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month, and I can’t think of anything better than to shout out my deepest gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to my Pastors and their influence on my faith in Christ. Pastor David, you and Connie have been such a blessing to Ryan and I in our time of getting to serve with you at The Crossing Church. You’ve met us on the road of life with heartfelt understanding and support, mentoring and accountability, and compassionate wisdom that has been perfectly timed in our ministry experience. Your heart for others and your abundant care for your church family has been a beautiful testimony to us as well as the entire community of Springfield. God has blessed you and I am certain He will continue to bless you as you continue to live out and serve Him by the calling He has placed upon your lives.

Pastor Wayne, your heart for our youth and their security in Christ is a beautiful thing to witness! I am so thankful for how much you and April love and care for our children and the entire youth group at The Crossing Church. Your efforts and your creativity, often going above and beyond what anyone else might think of, is evidence that you are called to care for this generation and preparing them to lead us one day. I am so appreciative of how you have shown God’s grace to every single teenager who comes through the church doors, every opportunity you have taken to reach these kids for the sake of Christ.

Pastor Dan, you and Kim have been such a joy to know in our time with The Crossing Church. I am so thankful for your leadership and your wisdom as a pastor, how God speaks through you at the precise moment a word of powerful truth is needed. I am truly appreciative of how you continue to allow God to move you into serving the needs of others whether it is when you are speaking from the platform, or teaching in lifegroup. Your heart for others and your willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need is so greatly appreciated.

And now it gets very personal, because I saved the best for last: My Dad, and my husband, Ryan.

Dad, you are the ultimate influence and example for me and I cannot express thanks enough in words. You’ve taught me about what it is to live a Godly life, an abundant and extraordinary life in Christ, and even by your not so perfect moments over the years you have taught me that even in our worst moments we are deeply loved and we have purpose to fulfill in this life. You’ve shown me such value in a life of uncompromising faith, that we cannot waiver no matter how hard life gets, and keep pressing on to accomplish all that we are capable of, to be fully and completely who God has purposed us to be. I am so proud and thankful to see how your life has touched so many people well after your retirement from full time service in the church, and I hope to leave a similarly beautiful legacy of faith for my children to follow. I’m not putting you on any pedestal, I’m simply pointing to what is evident and a testimony of how God has used you in my life and many others. I already love and appreciate your influence on my life because you are my Dad, but I am all the more appreciative of you because of your role as a Pastor too. I am certain God is very pleased, Dad. I am so proud of you and I love you so much, Dad!

Ryan, I am amazed how God continues to shape and mold you as a Worship Pastor. You have such a beautiful sensitivity in your heart and your spirit, a kindness and a gentleness that is so admirable. You have a heart for worship, an ability to orchestrate the music, weaving it into every service in a way that brings such seamless flow to the entire worship experience. You come by this very naturally because of your Dad, my sweet Father-in-law, for whom I am truly appreciative of his pastoral leadership in worship ministry as well. What a heritage you have to look back on and what a joy to see it being repeated in you and your brothers, David and Joe! It is not a performance for you, never has been. It is amusing to me over the years the few comments we’ve had here and there from those who would interpret anything you do on the platform as anything less than God-breathed. I know you do this, I know we do this, for God’s glory and for the hearts of those who need Him so desperately. I’m heartbroken for how poorly some have handled you in years past, but I also know this is where God’s purpose comes in and in spite of what we see occur at the hands of men, we know His ways are higher and He has placed you in each opportunity for a specific season and reasons beyond our understanding. Each experience has helped shape and mold you into who you are today, and I know our experiences past, present and yet ahead make you precisely who God intends for you to be as a ministry leader. He is not finished with you, and in some ways I believe He is just getting started with you! I am so proud of you and I love you so much, Ryan!

I am reminded today what a tight rope we walk in this life as Christ followers, because of our humanity, our frailty. At any given point in time something can happen to cause us to lose our balance, fall into a deep, dark place of despair if it weren’t for our faith in God. When we are grounded, practicing daily and feeding our hearts, our minds, our souls with scripture, with ceaseless prayer, with an attitude that returns to gratitude in the worst and the best of times, offering up daily abundant praise for our God, then and only then can we recover our balance and continue to step forward on that tight rope.

The train hasn’t been restored to the tracks yet, we are still walking on and working toward full and complete restoration, but it is beginning to take shape. We know we are bound for Glory eventually, but our time on this earth is going to continue to be unpredictable and is certain to test our faith. I am learning day by day, to trust Him more. Far better than I did yesterday, further still today.

A Holy habit....

Is anyone else as stunned as I am that September has come and gone? How can that be? October is here and inevitably you know that means the holidays are going to come barreling toward us at a very fast pace. School began, our schedule is just a bit trickier this year as if having one vehicle wasn’t challenging enough. Just to give you an idea of what the typical week is like for me, well, here is it in a nutshell:

5:30am My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button typically an average of 3 times. Somewhere between 6:00-6:10 am I drag myself out of bed and stumble to the restroom.

6:45am the older two kiddos are heading out the door to catch the bus for the middle/high school. Coffee is on by now, and I’m well into my morning prep routine for the work day.

7:00ish am—Ryan gets Chloe up and dressed, and she rolls over back to sleep in our bed, and next is getting AJ out of bed and ready for the day. Hopefully by 7:05am he is up and eating some breakfast. Hopefully.

7:20 am-my goal to be out the door and headed to work as my workday starts at 8:00am if we have the blessed joy of the use of my Mom’s Honda. If not, then I get a ride from a coworker. If I can’t get a ride, then somehow we get the two youngers in the van and Ryan takes me to work.

7:45 am-hopefully Ryan gets AJ out the door to the bus stop. Bus arrives at 8:05 am, and then Ryan’s off to drop Chloe at daycare.

8:30 am-Ryan arrives at work and his day begins.

3:30-4:00ish pm—Older 3 kiddos arrive home from school on the buses.

5:00 pm-My work day ends, and if I drove myself, that means I can go get Chloe and head home.

5:30 pm-Ryan’s work day ends, and we see him at home around 6:00 pm.

Lunch time switch up—On the days we have to juggle with one vehicle, Ryan comes to get me at work at lunch time, then I take him to work and keep the van so I can get Chloe from daycare by 5:30 pm when they close. Arriving late to daycare results in an additional $5.00 for every ten minutes you are late past 5:30 pm. Fantastic. On the days we have the blessed joy of the use of my Mom’s Honda, this doesn’t push my need to get from work to daycare in 10 minutes.

Tuesday nights-Ryan finishes work at O’Reilly at 5:30 pm, then heads to Palen to teach guitar lessons from 6:00-7:30 pm. Will typically get home around 8:00 pm.

Wednesday nights-work day ends, pick up kids from home and inhale some dinner in the van on the way to be there for Bible Study starting at 6:15 pm. Usually home around 7:45-8:00 pm depending on if we have worship team rehearsal or not.

Thursday nights-Ryan has a guitar student at home. Bailey has Drama Club after school so thankfully the Grandparents help us by picking him up and getting him home.

Side note: For those of you who have the ability to get dinner on the table the same time every night, well, good for you. This Mama hopes to get dinner on the table with some helpful participation and assistance by the family by 6:30-7:00pm. When Mom’s got to work full time job outside the home, it is absolutely necessary to her sanity to delegate the responsibilities of keeping our home running smoothly. There is much I prefer to do myself, but who am I kidding? I cannot and shall not attempt to do it all myself. I know my limits and when it gets to the point that I think I’m gonna spontaneously combust or I need to get away by myself to some remote beach on an island for a week….God knows better than anyone in those moments while I am thankful He sustains me, I could very well lose it completely at any given moment.

Friday night-Freeman family fun night which typically involves movies, games, just a whole lot of some kind of fun for our family after a very busy week.

Saturday-Ryan teaches at Palen 10:30-12:30, usually home by 1:30 pm unless a student cancels or reschedules. As soon as he is home, we run errands, including getting groceries, and prepare for big home dinner and perhaps kids will have a friend sleepover. Sometimes Ryan plays at Enoch’s BBQ, or we go on a date, get together with friends/family, etc.

Perspective-We are in the middle of a debt snowball plan so the insane schedule we keep is not ideal but necessary to meet the goal we have set for ourselves, a goal we have been deeply convicted to meet and to establish long term freedom. We are living like nobody else so that we can live like nobody else! Freedom is on the horizon, but it requires extremely hard work on our parts for awhile.

Sunday—If all goes well, we are headed out the door by 7:25 am, but who are we kidding? The fact that we have 4 children should be enough reason to understand this family is rarely out the door on time. And it doesn’t help that none of us are early risers. Seriously. Family of night owls here. Just keeping it real. We are a work in progress.

We love worship and we love what we are doing at The Crossing, so Sunday is the best day of the week! We have a great lifegroup and we are finding God’s hand evident in everything we are doing. It is a great place to be, helps set the tone for the rest of our week for sure. Sunday afternoon arrives and it is as if the world as everyone knows it simply disappears….we are relaxed, we are restful, we are napping, we are enjoying the day God established as a day of rest. It is really too bad we can’t have 2 Sundays. Monday’s arrival is not one we jump up and down about in our house. It is a brutal reminder of the reality of life and what we must do whether we want to or not.

I just read a great article on the habit of worship, living it, breathing it, making it something we realize automatically. I thought it was particularly good when he talked about considering the alarm going off not with the typical dread and reaction to hit the snooze and sleep another hour, but to associate our alarm signal with our habit of morning worship. Not saying it is easy, and he points out how it really isn’t often our preference to read our Bible or pray, because we get busy doing other things like enjoying reading a great book of fiction, listening to our favorite tunes, sleeping in rather than rising early to pray. Some would say they feel the opposite here, that they can’t wait to open their Bibles, pray for hours on end, and rise before the sun to spend time in meditation with the Lord. I get that, but it isn’t my nature. No judgement here, just pointing out the reality of our unique make up as human beings, that we all have different interests and preferences. So, how do we make worship a daily habit, not as mediocre as brushing our teeth, eating a meal, getting dressed, etc. but a Holy habit? After all, as we live this life, it is a journey. We will never be perfect, holy, righteous in our human state on this earth but we are continually striving toward the goal of being like Christ.

Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or not, do it all to the glory of God! 1 Corinthians 10:31(The Voice Translation)

Our time is precious, and most of us in this day and age are busy, rushing from one thing to the next, and hoping to find some time at the end of our busy day to simply collapse. How much more important for us to consider how we are spending our precious time, how much of it we are committing to our heavenly Father? Is our first and last thought upon Him? Is our focus and our center through the day on Him? Find your Holy habit today and discover the difference it can make for you in a lifestyle of worship.

Steps in faith...

To the valley, for my soul,
Thy great descent has made me whole.
Your word my heart has welcomed home,
Now peace like water ever flows.

How do I seek You, Lord? Where do I find that peace and rest in You? What more do I need to do in my daily walk with You to know You more, love You more, serve You more?
I’ve been on this journey toward a more fluid Christ walk for some time now, at times so restless to find a place of content that will signal my heart, my mind, my soul, “Ah, yes, there it is. I have arrived!” I see this contentedness in others whose faith I have admired for so long, those who appear to have a deeper and more intimate connection with the Father than I do yet. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m getting at here, as I know it probably makes me sound as if somehow I am comparing myself as a Christian with other Christians who seem to have it far better than I at this point in my life. Not quite, and in fact, it is an admiration from afar I’d call it. I see the love of the Father, a boldness of faith, that is something I have a longing for. In my seeking, longing, quietness with the Father I find myself reflecting deeply by starting with this thought:

Thank you Jesus, for loving me and for Your purpose for me.

Years of life’s battles and the wounds and scars of some of the worst moments can truly clutter the pathway. I am finding all too often I got in my own way. And it isn’t over yet. I battle this daily. When I stop making excuses, too easily placing blame on something else or someone else, holding on much too tightly to something that hurt me so deeply I can’t seem to let it go and fully forgive, come to the very edge of my sanity and seek a place of solitude and clarity---that’s when it comes. Like a wave, a fresh awakening to the deepest part of me. Holy Spirit, flow through me and reveal the ugliest and most painful things buried in me, so that it may be washed away, swept clean to enable Your presence to flow freely and without interruption.

…the God who made you,
The One who got you started, *Andrea:
‘Don’t be afraid, I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name.
You are Mine!

(Isaiah 43:1-The Message Translation)

(*I love to personalize scripture by inserting my name. It is a great reminder of how God speaks to us through His Word.)

As I grow deeper in my search for God, seek out the presence of the Holy Spirit, I am finding He delights, He finds joy in the moments we lose ourselves in Him. When everything else is secondary, and we drop what we are doing to simply sit in His presence and breathe His name, tell Him we love Him, we need Him, we welcome Him, He does His best work on us. I am a work in progress, always will be, and that is hard to swallow. Why? Because I want to be at my best for Him, I don’t want to admit I’m weak and can’t handle something in my life. I want to be fully and completely His, useful and effective, not lacking in anything at any time. But that’s not fair to myself, and it isn’t being honest with myself either. If I’m honest, I find myself daily relinquishing myself, recognizing my flaws and accepting His loving purpose for me in spite of that. I am made perfect through Him. He has freed me from myself, He has washed me clean and made me right for His purpose. He will carry me, He will be faithful and true to me. For that, I could praise Him all day long, every single day, for as long as I shall live!

Praise the Father, Praise the Son,
Praise the Spirit, Three in One.
Clothed in power and in grace
The name above all other names.
Yours is the kingdom,
Yours is the power.
Yours is the glory forever!
(“Praise the Father, Praise the Son”, Chris Tomlin)

This journey is not nearly done, and as Christ followers we must come to this understanding more than once, that we will never fully comprehend our Father God, His Son Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit; but, we will have a greater and deeper faith walk as we continually seek after Him all of our days.

Where will you go in your journey with him today? Seek Him….welcome Him in….know He is here!

Finding my way to being "in the middle" of His will...

I read a great article today, confirmed some things in me. Most of you know by now but if you don’t, Ryan and I have an intense and very full schedule trying to balance full time work for us both, 2 part time jobs for him on top of that, 4 children in 4 different schools, balancing our time individually with God, each other, our family, extended family, and our church family and friends. There is community among us as family, friends, believers in Christ and there is necessity, responsibility and fellowship to be honored between us all to find ourselves at the end of our lives on this earth hopefully in a place of content and peace knowing we lived and served well. If you aren’t weary after reading that, well, I am. When I take a long look at my 42 years of life so far, what I have done, what I am doing now and what I have yet to accomplish ahead, I am tired in both good and bad ways. It is particularly tricky to balance a part time bi-vocational ministry position when we have so much we have to consistently complete to live the obedient and abundant life God has purposed us for. Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, it is something we came into reluctantly because quite frankly we were so burned from bad experiences with previous churches. We’d given so much for what God had called us to, and it seemed to be cut off prematurely when we felt we were truly just getting started. Add to this the ongoing pull I have had to follow my passion to become a professional counselor for teens in our public school system, somehow trying to time that with our insane schedule and responsibilities we carry. It is enough to send me to the floor of my closet at home, turn off the light, close the door, and wrap up in a blanket to be hidden from the reality I’d rather not face today, thank you very much.

Do you know why that is such a welcome escape? Because when I am there, I find I can be still, truly quiet my heart and mind and let the God I love and respect and honor and long to know more deeply today than I did yesterday, wash me from head to toe in His peace. I can listen far better, know Him far better, and seek Him for the wisdom and guidance I need to step out into that reality with far more confidence than when I entered that closet in my previous weary state. I can find my way back to being “in the middle” of His good and perfect will for my life when I know I have found that balance that is right just for me. It is a balance we each one must find on our own, and cannot/should not be determined by anyone but our Father God. Not your parents, not your best friend, not your mentor, not your coach, not your teacher, not your pastor. When you have positive influences from others in your life that is healthy and vital and important to your journey to find balance, but ultimately you must find that place of rest and stillness to consider what is my Father God speaking to me?

As a pastor’s wife, for anyone who may find themselves in a pastoral staff position, the appointment comes with both a written and unwritten list of expectations and responsibilities. We find ourselves under a microscope, better be prepared to be observed, scrutinized and watched very closely. Whether we like it or not, it is what it is, and we have to be ready for any and every criticism that may come our way in the process. God calls us all to be set apart, in the world and not of it, and we all have a part in ministry whether we serve in a staff position or not, we have a responsibility to act justly, walk humbly and love unconditionally for the sake of our Father God. I am not perfect and I will screw up far more than I get it right, it is just the nature of my humanity. I have found lessons learned in those moments where my humanity got the better of me, and it has made me stronger, better, far more confident than I was before. I have also learned the importance in my life to this point that boundaries and balance is key, and I will not apologize for setting it according to what God is speaking to my heart. I watched my Mom serve and lead in so many roles over the years as a pastor’s wife and was truly amazed by everything she was willing to do for the churches we were part of. But I also found myself having conversations with her years later in which she shared her hope that I would find better balance in my life and my role as a pastor’s wife.

Too many yeses in the wrong places might cause me to schedule myself right out of God’s plan for me.
(Excerpt from “Smack Dab in the Center, Deidra Riggs, (in)courage: home for the hearts of women, August 20, 2014,

I believe I have found that, but it is interesting to me how few people I have met along the way who do not understand it completely. So, it means I take each opportunity that comes to my attention, and I immediately pray first. I ask God, what is my part in this? What have you called me to do? How can I better serve you? My balance falls according to one simple rule:

1. God
2. Marriage
3. Family
4. Church

So important to note that the #1 priority, God, is all inclusive to myself. This is defined as all inclusive to what my heart/mind/soul needs in terms of nourishing my spiritual state so that I can be the best I can be for all the other priorities. If at any point I allow these priorities to get unorganized, then I find myself in a state of frantic bewilderment. I can potentially shut down at that point on my husband, my children, my extended family, my church family, you pick it and I am likely to be too far gone to reach. I am a very driven, organized, highly sensitive and detailed person so I thrive and find my inner peace by keeping life in a certain order. Those of you out there who deal with anxiety/OCD/perfectionist tendencies and personalities can completely understand what I am saying here. My point of focus begins with God though, not myself. God knows me deeply and understands me better than anyone, and so knowing my tendencies toward anxiety/OCD/perfectionism, I start by turning all of me over to Him, and He grants me the wisdom to lay out my priorities in a way that truly honors Him. It is a daily challenge though. If one thing doesn’t fall into place, the whole thing can come tumbling down. So I maintain that balance by keeping in tune with the Father throughout the day. I ground myself in His Word, in prayer, and in constant communication with people in my life who are sources of mentoring and encouragement to my spiritual walk when I need it most.
I value time at a much slower pace than a lot of people I know. For me, balance is realized both on God’s terms and my own terms.

I want my life to be a beautiful reflection of God’s abundant provision, honoring Him with obedience in all things, and consistent in showing compassion and love toward others. I hope He is pleased. I hope I can find myself “in the middle” of His will more often than not. It is a daily, life-long challenge and I don’t intend to give up easily.

How you found yourself “in the middle” of His will? What steps do you need to take to get there?
I am praying for you, my friend. We are all in this together…..

Search me, know me, test me……

Psalm 139 is on my heart today, just mulling it over in my heart and soul, pondering, “What does God have to speak into my life through this meditative scripture?” Break it down, here’s a sum up of what this chapter speaks:

He knows me…
He is with me…
He made me…
He will deliver me…

Verse 23 of the Voice translation of the Bible says this and it is my prayer this week:

Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain.

I can just imagine sitting with David while he scratched out the words, pleading, crying out to God, because isn’t this what we long for the entirety of our journey with Christ? To be known fully by Him and to know Him more?

As I walked yesterday across campus on my lunch break, I prayed unceasingly, “Lord, move in this place, move in my heart to be more of you in this world!”

I’m heartbroken this week for many reasons, and it’s hard to miss when the stories are blasted in the media headlines for all of us to experience. Robin Williams’ death was a painful reminder to us all that at any given moment somebody is struggling with an addiction, with depression, and we are still learning the best ways we can help them get through it without it resulting in a tragic end to a remarkable life. There is help and hope in our God, and there are resources available in our communities for support so we need to be a part of the solution and share it! I will be one of the first to admit there are times when God is not enough, when we need intervention and help from tangible resources that are available in therapy and counseling, doctors and specialists who can partner with us to help us get to a healthier balance emotionally and physically. We cannot judge or dismiss struggles in this life by telling one another, “You just need to pray more and read your Bible more!” or any number of things that are typical responses in our Christian circles. We need to recognize that God provides helps to us through these resources, and it is okay to admit we have a struggle, we are weak and recognize the brain is a powerful force to reckon with to the point that sometimes we cannot sense God’s presence in our lives. There is no shame in this, because ultimately God knows each of us best and He knows what tools will be the most effective in shaping us to the healthier and whole being He always intended for us to be! Don’t for a moment allow yourself to think you are alone in your struggle. Reach out to someone you know you can trust, God the Father and then your community of Christ, whether it is your church family, a family member or a friend who is closer than a brother and can be trusted like no other with your struggles. You deserve to be loved and embraced in the midst of your weakness, you deserve to be valued and you deserve someone to listen more than anything. Sometimes the best help we can offer to someone in their time of struggle, is to simply listen. Lend a shoulder to cry on, or a lap to lay upon. These are moments of release and restoration that can be our greatest comforts in our darkest seasons. If you don’t have that, message me and we’ll talk. We need each other, we need our Father God, and we can only get through this rugged life one day at a time successfully when we know we have someone to lean on.

I want to extend this challenge to whoever may be reading this blog entry today, to be light in someone’s darkness because you have an opportunity that should not be missed! God will use you, and let me encourage you in this very moment to consider it doesn’t mean you have to be eloquent, or have the entire Bible memorized, or a witnessing tool in your hand in the form of a trac or scripture guide. Start by lending a hand, lending an ear, sharing your story and the rest will follow. God has a purpose for each of us, so let’s get out there and follow up on what He’s called us to do. Be His light, be His love, striving to know Him and share Him with every single person who crosses our path. Live out His love and light, share Jesus, and invite the Holy Spirit to breathe through you and be a vessel He can use to touch someone’s life today.

I believe this and I am praying this for you.

Life, precious life

Yesterday was a very special day in the Freeman family...we welcomed a new niece Miss Joslyn Reece to the world! I can't think of a better way to kick off my day today than to blog about this thing called life. Life. It is meant to be appreciated, cherished, valued, lived fully and with immense joy! I remember the day we welcomed our first born daughter Rylee Ashton into the world, and it seemed as if nothing and nobody else mattered in that moment: life kind of stopped. Everything was a whole lot brighter, softer, more fragile, more precious. Fast forward to the day we welcomed our fourth child into the world, Miss Chloe Grace, and I remember feeling some of the same things, but then on the way home as I stared into her beautiful eyes, something heavy hit my heart like a ton of bricks. I just wept. I'm talking sobs, ugly cry, the kind of crying that you are so glad you aren't wearing any makeup and you need a kleenex box because your nose is running like crazy, and you hope the people in the car next to you don't notice and think what is wrong with that woman? I don't know, I guess it just hit me, the reality of it and when Ryan asked me while glancing in the rear view mirror and driving us home, "What are you thinking about?" all I could think about and what I finally choked out of my mouth was, "I just want so much for her!" We were in the beginning of a very difficult season at that time, and I think I was more terrified than any other time in my life of how I was going to take care of her, hold it together for her and let her see Jesus in me in spite of how I really felt. I didn't want to ever have to tell her life sucks, and often times you will get hurt and fall down more than you will find joy and success. I felt guilty too because in those first months of her life, I couldn't grasp God's presence and fullness of joy because I was so weighed down by our circumstances and how we were ever going to get through this. I'd like to tell you a light bulb moment occurred, that we found peace and healed, that all was right with in a matter of days. But it wasn't. Ryan and I had many months, which turned into about 2 years in which we both struggled desperately to find our footing again in our faith walk. God was always there, no doubt about it. But for whatever reason, He allowed us to be heartbroken, angry, frustrated, lost in uncertainty for a time if for no other reason than to teach us to release our grip on the lack of understanding and need for answers, to lean into Him and see clearly that He is Here. He is Faithful. He never fails! He is our Rock, when all else fails us. He is our Comforter when all we can do is cry out, "Jesus!" in the dark, as we struggle to find sleep each night. He is our Provider, and often in the final hour and when we are most desperate. He is our God, bigger than any dark valley we find ourselves lost in, and greater than any force on earth that could threaten to knock us off of our feet.

I can look back over my life and pinpoint when He reached His hand to me in the darkest moments, and I found Him just when I needed Him. When we moved to Missouri from California, I was 13 and pissed off. I didn't want to move and I didn't understand why God would do this to me. But God had a plan, He provided friendships at school and at church, a supportive and loving home and church environment to help me transition from those dark moments into a new season of life in a new place where He very clearly called my Dad to serve as senior pastor at University Heights Baptist Church. High school days were some of my toughest, as I struggled to find my identity, to find worth and looked for a large percentage of that in the desire to have a boyfriend. Junior/Senior year was a time when I found myself in a relationship that never should have been, but God allowed it for my good apparently. Innocence was lost, I gave far too much of my heart to a boy who didn't deserve it, and it ultimately isolated me from friendships at school and at church. Somehow God's mighty plan prevailed, prayers of many I didn't realize were being offered on my behalf helped break through and I made the choice to end it. The road to recovery and finding any shred of worth in myself was a long one and would take years to restore. I was blessed to encounter unconditional love and support from my family, my friends and through the help of therapy found some sense of stability emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The college years arrived, and I still struggled with my sense of self-worth and looking for happiness in a relationship, a boyfriend. At some point in my junior year, I found myself in a place of release. I made up my mind, I can't make this happen and I need to release this and trust God to provide for me fully and completely. I needed to know at that time more than any other time in my life, there is a God who loves me and knows me far better than any human can, and no relationship on this earth can bring me the joy and fulfillment that He does. My life needed to be re-set, I needed to stop and look in the mirror, consider that now more than any other time in my life, I had to truly discover how deep the Father's love is for me! I decided then, no other relationship mattered, and I wanted to be content in myself, truly love the person God made me to be, and if I never met the man of my dreams, if I never fell in love then that was okay. I was ready to embrace life single and let go of whatever idea I had in my head that I was destined for a Mr. Right to come along and make me truly "happy".

I was studying Child and Family Development, working toward my degree to eventually teach preschoolers, heavily involved in the Baptist Student Union, singing with the worship ministry traveling team, and served summers on short term mission projects locally and abroad. My faith increased, I found myself in a very comfortable place in my relationship with Christ, ready to go where He called me and actively pursue opportunities to serve and further the Kingdom of believers. In the Spring of 1993 God caused my path to cross with a very handsome, extraordinarily gifted musician-Ryan. I wasn't looking for a relationship, I didn't see it happening and yet, it did. God used an ex-boyfriend to point it out to me. Somehow, the stars aligned, God's hand was evident as the conversations began, phone calls, first dates, courtship and eventually a beautiful engagement. We were married December 30, 1994 and the journey into life with my amazing partner began. I can't possibly sum up nearly 20 years of marriage in one blog entry. But I will say this, life is never dull, it is painful, terrifying and absolutely unpredictable all the time! Marriage is not easy and it takes a lot of effort from both partners to make it lasting. I cannot imagine my life without Ryan, and even though there are brutally hard days when I feel like giving up, going it alone....I don't know how I'd do it. I believe through our experience, years together, we have learned to love each other more deeply, always unconditionally, because that is how the Father loves us! I know no matter how deep and dark the places my mind may go when life is hard, God will never leave me or give up on me. I am worthy of His love because of what His Son did for me. I am worthy of His time and care and purpose, because He created me! And He loves you the very same way!

1 John 3:1 Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children.

Life is far too precious, too brief for any one of us to waste a single moment lost in a dark place for any number of reasons. The power, life and love of the Holy Spirit resides in you from the moment you choose a relationship with Christ. Know He is here, always, and ready to embrace you in your time of need. If you struggle with finding your way back to Christ, reach out to someone you trust, or you can even message me to encourage you back to Him! We are the body of Christ and we are here for each other.

Welcome to the world, sweet Joslyn Reece! I am praying for your heart for Christ one day!

Holy Spirit....Come....

I’m walking, I’m filling my lungs with oxygen as I breathe in, breathe out, work through my exercise routine of sorts, allow the Holy Spirit to flow through my heart, my mind, my soul, and wrap me in a cloud of sweet peace.

Yes, that’s what He does.

Every single day….
Never far away….
Cradling my heart as I release my hurt….
Embracing His hope, as I hear Him say……
I am here, here with you, my child!
I am here, here to stay.
Come and draw near to Me,
Come and rest in this peace….
I am here….
I am here!

John 14:26The Message (MSG)
25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

As I was walking back to my office, I found myself residing in joy, sheer joy, of the knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s residence in my heart, in my life! Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m listening to Christy Nockels beautiful song “Waiting Here for You” and practically raising my hands up as I cross campus, and cannot imagine there being a greater place to be than in His sweet and perfect presence! How often do we stop the busy, frantic, stressed, unending stream of life we experience and allow ourselves to be swept into His peace? I promise you, if you’ve asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior, entered into this beautiful relationship with the Father….you know what I’m talking about.

If you have yet to experience it, especially in the very middle of the most desperate times of your life, then I want to encourage you and urge you to stop what you are doing right now. Find a quiet place for you and the Father, and let it go, just release everything to Him and ask Him to enter. Ask Him to forgive you, to cleanse you, to embrace you. He will. I know it, because I have experienced it and I’ve witnessed it in the lives of my family, of my friends, of people I’ve only known for a day or even a few hours. I believe you will be blessed and I believe you will be changed. And then, I want to hear from you! I want to celebrate with you and meet with you so we can support one another and be accountable to one another! That’s what we do in the community of Christ!

I’m praying for you, hoping for you to find Him, perhaps find your way back to Him after being far from Him for a long time. You know who you are, and I hope you know how deep the Father’s love is for you. It doesn’t matter if you have fallen and think you aren’t worth helping up. You are a person of worth, you are set apart for greater purpose than you realize even in this moment as you are reading this blog entry.
What are you waiting for? He is waiting for you. He is never far away.

God setting things right, finding my way on this journey of faith...

For the life of my fourth-born child, Chloe Grace, God has been slowly unraveling me and breaking my heart and my soul down into something new. I have realized in that time through a lot of every day, not so monumental, but occasionally revealing moments with Him that I've gotten in the way of my own potential. He's been whispering something new into my heart for several months now. It is hard to put it into words, mainly because He has spoken so clearly to me that the time isn't right. This is a work, a new work in me that is very much in progress. I have dreams, aspirations, some I've shared over the years, my passion and interest in therapy/counseling, my appreciation and deep love for the mentoring of young women, and a passion for worship ministry beside my amazing and gifted husband. There's such a world, endless world of possibilities imagining what God could do next in our lives.

He pointed me to Romans, twice now in the past month. This pointed instruction of what is truly at the heart, at the core, of what we are doing and who we are to be in Christ. We can do, say, act on what we think will make us right with God, what will grow our relationship with Him, what will fill our churches, what will take up the majority of our time for the sake of the Kingdom, but throw away the clock, the schedule, the "vision plan", whatever it is we have on paper or planned out in an acceptable and agreed upon format by our leaders, our committees, our teams, and the bottom line is.....

Are we considering first and foremost if we are truly right with God?

Before we lift a finger, before we utter a word, before we make a single move for the sake of any idea we think we have that will work---Are we truly right with God?

Are we allowing His voice, His Word to invade our compartmentalized, inadequate, jumbled up, frenzied minds and resolving that Yes! My mind, my heart, my soul are fully and wholly focused on You, my God and King?

In Romans 10 I read tonight that 'the Word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It's the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching.
.....With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: "God has set everything right between him and me!"

....Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ's Word is preached, there's nothing to listen to.

Are we listening? Are we truly listening when He speaks to us in the quiet, in the midst of precious time spent alone with Him every day? Are we seeking Him throughout our day, unceasingly, on the drive to work, in the middle of that project at your desk, at the end of a difficult phone conversation, as you drive home after work and try to make it through the remainder of your evening with some form of time to unwind and find time alone with Him again before your head hits the pillow?

Please join me starting this weekend, Saturday July 12 as I find time to get away with the Father to truly listen, allow Him to unravel me further, and speak clearly what His will is for me in the days that lay ahead? I will be sharing my experiences weekly on my blog as well as a brief video journal. I hope you will tune in and share your thoughts. I am praying for you, and I believe God has a word to speak to your heart. I can't wait to hear about it.

Love this journey, rocky roads and all-


The Same Ground

I was reading in Ephesians 3 this morning, Paul reminds us that unbelievers and believers alike stand on the same ground before God, have the same access to His presence. How then does that affect our approach to our God? How are we preparing our hearts and minds as we enter the mission field every single day of our lives, knowing we are no better or worse than the average person we cross paths with at any given moment?

No matter who you are, your status in life, your experiences, your education, your failures, your successes—we all have the same access to an amazing and powerful, loving and merciful God! I don’t care if you have memorized the entire Bible, or you are lucky to remember a few verses that were in your devotional this morning….so you didn’t get a devotional time in today, or perhaps it has been weeks since you spent time with the Father….you’ve wandered away from Him, something happened that you’ve decided God doesn’t get me, He doesn’t understand me and my life, He couldn’t possibly love and forgive someone like me……or you are on top of your game, you’ve hit the top of the ladder in the corporate world, you’ve accomplished everything you set out to do and you don’t need God, God is for people who are in trouble, who have screwed up their lives and made a mess of things, who really need Him more than I do…..

Guess what? We all need Him. And the wonderful news is, He is always right beside us and ready to welcome us with open arms! You may think you don’t need Him, but the day will come when you find yourself wondering how to fill this void, this odd feeling that something is missing in your life, that there has to be something more. We are all on the same ground, have the same access to an amazing and loving God. A God who cannot and should not be defined to any one of us by a church or religion’s definition of Him. Before there was religion, there was just God and man. In perfect harmony with one another. At some point along the way, man decided to invent religion, and so today we find ourselves in a world with so many defined doctrines and ideas about who God is. I appreciate my upbringing, my Baptist roots, but more than that I am so thankful to have a relationship with a God who loves me no matter where I show up for community gathering with other believers.

I am struck by this truth today, reminded that I have a beautiful opportunity every day with my friends, coworkers, strangers I meet at the store or on the street, to enter into conversation, offer an open ear and heart to what they need and share the love of Christ. These conversations are seeds being planted, the spark that could light a fire for Christ in their hearts. I want to be part of that seed that is planted, the spark that ignites, because that is what it is about. Sometimes it starts by stopping and giving 2 ladies a ride home with their groceries instead of driving by and watching them wait for a cab to pick them up. Sometimes it is stopping and getting gas and some groceries for a lady who is in a hotel with 3 kids after leaving her abusive husband, trying to make a fresh start. I am thankful I listened when God spoke to me in both of these situations, to be His light in a situation where I could have chosen to move on, stay in my comfort zone and make excuses, assume someone else would help them.

We are on the same ground, we have equal access to this amazing and powerful God.

So what is holding you back? What is your excuse? Let God in. Let Him change your heart and your life. Let Him use you to bless someone who is in need today. Let Him bless you in the process. Isn’t it cool how God works?

The blessing and burden of a worship arts pastor

Ephesians 1:11 ….As His heirs, we are predestined to play a key role in His unfolding purpose that is energizing everything to conform to His will.

I am proud to be a pastor’s daughter, and even more proud to be the wife of a worship pastor. God has a great sense of humor, because not only did he pair two first born’s and pastor’s kids, but he paired two different personality types who have an intense passion for worship leadership. At a very young age, the age of 9 to be precise, my passion for music truly took flight. I had my first solo in our children’s choir performance of “The Music Machine” at our church in Lompoc, California and I was hooked. I love singing, but what makes it effortless and like breathing to me, is when I use it to give God glory and the focus isn’t on what I’m doing but what I am giving to Him through this gift He’s given me. There is no greater joy for me than to lead worship beside my amazing husband. He is a deeply humble, passionate, and transparent in his leadership style and skill. No two worship pastors are alike, I have watched the ever evolving role change as we’ve been part of a number of churches over the years. It is interesting to me how our church leadership teams define the worship pastor’s role. I find it particularly amusing when that leadership team doesn’t include anyone with a worship leadership background. Does this strike anyone else as odd? If you are paying attention, particularly you who serve on leadership teams whether it be as a deacon, elder, pastoral staff and/or search team please consider how crucial it is to your team balance and vision for your church to have one or two people on your team that has experience and some background in worship leadership. I don’t care if you agree with me or not, but I hope you’ll consider it because I believe it is important in your overall understanding of your worship pastor’s role.

We had our church family meeting last night and I have to share how blessed I am to be counted as a member of a group who cares so deeply about the vision of our church. It is so important to make time with our church families to sit down, talk about what we are doing, what we can do better, and what we hope and pray to accomplish for the Kingdom going into the years ahead. I am so appreciative of the leadership, the passion and heart being poured into every ministry in our church from the lifegroups, to the youth ministry, the children’s ministry and closest to my heart-the worship ministry. Now I am a bit biased being the wife of the worship pastor, but I hope anyone who knows Ryan and has witnessed what he brings to the ministry because of God’s gifts being used in and through him, that his intent in every single thing that he does is for God’s glory alone! One of the things that I admire and love most about him is how deeply passionate and lost he gets in his craft. God has blessed Ryan with such a nearly tangible gift with music, and I am amazed to watch his mind work as he pours his mind and heart into the preparation for worship every week. I have the joy and sometimes the burden of watching him work, at times late into the night, prayerfully and methodically organizing what our team will bring to the church body week to week, according to what the subject matter is for that week’s message from our lead pastor. I took the opportunity to interview my hubby on his role as worship pastor. Here’s a glimpse of his heart:

Me: What draws you to lead worship?

Ryan: At the risk of sounding too "typical" or "cliche", the Holy Spirit. There is a longing that comes from deep inside my soul to, first, worship God but also, because of the anointing He has placed on me and His call on my heart, to lead others in worship of Him.

Me: Why do you do it?

Ryan: Because God's called me to it. Again, cliche I know, but it's true. There was a time I never wanted to have anything to do with leading worship or working in a church, for that matter. Growing up as an MPK (music pastor's kid) I saw, first hand, the good, bad, and absolute UGLY, of what life as a minister/pastor was like and I wanted no part of it. When I started out learning guitar and studying music, I wanted to be a professional musician/artist and tour the world. I didn't want to have to deal with people....the difficult kind...the ones that always have an opinion and ALWAYS have to share it...even if you could live the rest of your life just fine, never knowing what their opinion is. Oh, they are everywhere, I know, but it seems like the ones in churches have a higher concentration"opinion". Eventually, however, God's call on my heart never grew dim. Instead, it got stronger as time went on and I finally surrendered to Him and His calling and I'm so glad I did. Leading worship is a blessing to me. As I surrender myself to Him, to use me as He would wish and touch people's lives through me, I am touched by Him, as well. The best thing about it is that it's not me, but Christ in me.

Me: What is the best thing you have heard from others in terms of “how you are doing” as a worship leader?

Ryan: Probably this. "I've never experienced the presence of God like that was awesome! I was so moved by the Holy Spirit that I couldn't even sing." Again, not me, but Christ in me.

Me: What is the worst thing you’ve heard?

Ryan: Unfortunately, this. "We did one of my favorite songs, today. I was able to worship." Some people might not understand why this would be the worst thing I've heard or could hear, but it's true. Worshiping God isn't about singing our favorite songs or hymns, people. It's about worshiping God! As long as what is sung is true to scripture, lifts up and glorifies Jesus and is edifying to the body of Christ, it's good. We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Not whether or not we like what songs are being sung. A close second would be, "well I just didn't get anything out of that service, today." Ugh. Sorry, but I wonder when, or even if, some people will ever "get it". It's not about what you're going to get out of the worship service, but what are you bringing to offer to God? It's a heart issue and until people truly understand this, it's like that old saying..."you can lead a horse to water, but...."

Me: What makes you keep doing it and not walk away?

Ryan: Purpose. Purpose and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I will always want to be where God wants me to be and if ever/whenever He would say "it's time to move on", I would follow. I have, however, had times in my life where I've been "displaced" from it by circumstances out of my control. Those were difficult and painful times in my life. Necessary to His plan for my life, but painful.

Me: What is your greatest burden when preparing for worship week to week?

Ryan: That I always yield to the Holy Spirit's leading and never my own.

I read two very interesting articles today about how worship is evolving in our churches today.

After reading these articles I’m struck with several thoughts, but the first is this:

We are called to be set apart, holy, righteous.

It is a concern as we watch churches change, evolve, conform to what we think will bring people in because of what is the latest trend, biggest hit, latest subject coming across our social media outlets. The greater concern before the power is turned on, the stage is set, the instruments are placed and the team is in place, rehearsed and ready to lead, should be what does God have to say through our worship leadership today? When is the last time you took a week, or a month, or several months to shut down the power and gather informally without microphones, without a platform, and simply worship God? Sometimes it is healthy and necessary in the spiritual life of a church body to do a heart check for the team, for the congregation, to examine our approach, our attitude, our state of being when we enter into worship together? What is driving your church’s vision week to week, month to month, and how are we truly reaching people for Christ? When all is said and done after we’ve changed the aesthetics of our worship setting including some new lighting, perhaps a new visual feature, improved the sound system, bulked up the band with new instruments and vocal members, whatever elements your team has decided will make the difference and the people start coming in droves---at the end of a year of doing this, how many of those people stayed and invested long term? How many came a few weeks and never returned? Are we making these changes because we see the need to keep up with the “successful” churches surrounding us in our towns?

At what point do we start listening to the conversations from people we meet day to day, who don’t care about the “how” of worship but more about the “Who” of worship?

I challenge you today, every day, every week, every month, to get on your knees if you aren’t already and ask God –

“What do we need to do to allow You to shine through, meet them where they are today?”

Our goal in worship is to connect with our heavenly Father, to share our hearts and minds collectively as we praise Him, cry out to Him with our hurts and our needs, support and encourage one another in a group gathering, and ultimately be the “church” He always intended for us to be!

Mother's Day 2014

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

It is difficult but not impossible to remember what life was like before I had children. Becoming a mother encompasses so much of me, and it is such a large part of who I am. It is not what defines me but it is what drives me so much of the time. I suppose when my children are grown and have lives of their own, that may change. I believe my confidence in being a mother is in large part due to my love and experiences caring for children starting with those first opportunities as a teenager babysitting. I am blessed by the gift of being a mother to four amazing children in my time on this earth. I hope and pray my children take this with them through life, so here is what’s on my heart for each of you this Mother’s Day, 2014:

1. God is for you, and when everyone and everything else is against you—Stand firmly and confidently in knowing He is beside you, He will protect you and He will provide for you.

2. Live life wisely and joyfully—Don’t waste a moment consumed with anything negative. Focus on God’s best for you and refuse to be bound by anything less than Him! Make wise choices with your time, your money, your heart. You will be bombarded and tempted by so many things in this life so please choose to filter it all through God! He will guide you! Thank God every day for simply giving you life, and live it joyfully because we are not guaranteed tomorrow!

3. When you make a mistake, learn from it and move on!—You are going to trip and fall many times in life, but what matters more than the mistake you made is your ability to learn from it, stand up and walk on. You will be stronger and better because of it!

4. You are loved by your family and friends but make no mistake-we are flawed, we are weak and unfortunately sometimes the people you trust most will let you down.-- First, read #1 again. Second, Forgive! God has done this for you, so should you do this for others.

5. Dream big and don’t be afraid to go for whatever your heart desires!--There will be voices speaking advice to you of what is practical, what is predictable, what is presumably best for you to be successful in life. Listen to your heart, ask God to guide your decisions and do what you know is best for you! I will be your biggest cheerleader as you set out to make a life for yourself one day. I will be proud and supportive every step of the way, no matter what!

Rylee Ashton, Bailey Thomas, Avery James and Chloe Grace, know you have a mother who loves you and prays for you without ceasing. I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I know He will make it so regardless of my ability to see it, understand it or agree with it. I love you and I believe in you! You have made me a very happy Mama on this Mother’s Day!

To live as Christ

How then shall we approach the remainder of this year ahead of us? With an attitude bent toward settling for less than what Christ has purposed you for? You know the attitude I’m talking about. How many people do you know right now, today, who are comfortable being miserable? Who have adopted the attitude that my misery is all I’m ever going to have, so I’ll wear it on my sleeve for all to see. Who have decided that this is as good as it’s ever going to get, I should just accept my circumstances as my fate being determined and make the most of it. Who have chosen to assume the lies being fed to their heads and hearts is their destiny, and it can’t possibly get any better. That mindset may be due to something that happened to that person, to root them in doubt and despair, to distract them from their full purpose and worth. I have been there, and I have struggled with this very thing. It can become like an article of clothing you wear, like an invisible covering. Invisible to everyone but you. You can feel it, the weight of it on your shoulders. The shame. The disappointment. The resentment. The heart break. The anger. The despair. If you let it, it can erode your soul. As we experience life, we can choose to deal with it or let it deal with us. I am of the temperament that I simply refuse to allow life to deal with me. I want to deal with it head on, I will not give up or give in, I will not settle because I believe no matter how hard or impossible it may seem, I will make my way through it and see it done. Finished. Completed. In the past, never to be revisited again.

I do not want to settle, for I know the God who has filled me with purpose and will fight for me even when I am not feeling up to the battle ahead. That covering falls away when I choose to look up and embrace the love and mercy the Savior has for me every single moment of every single day. It is a promise that in the worst of times I have a reason to hope, I have a Savior who will carry me and guide me in the path of confidence and determination. I want to live a life that is pleasing to God and freeing for me, whole, complete and sealed by the Holy Spirit who lives in me. I want to see others embrace that love and mercy, so I will not stop in my daily striving to live as His, not bound by the things of this world! I am inspired and empowered today by this word:

1 Thessalonians 3:8 (The Voice)—For if you are set firmly in the Lord, then we can truly live!

I have been praying for several people this week, so many needs, it has burdened my heart. I wish there was more I could do personally, physically to meet their needs, but I am so incredibly thankful for the power of prayer! I hope today you know, no matter what you are facing, you can release your burdens and look up to the Savior for love and mercy overflowing. In Him, when we are fully living in Him, then we are truly free and we can say we are living in Christ.

Simply rest, Simply ready....

What if….? Why…? How…? Lord, I just don’t understand. Help me to understand!

I was thinking today about what my approach to the Cross of Christ will be this Easter. Easter aside, I ponder this daily. Not as often as I should, because there are days like today when I wake up fully intending to focus on Christ and His purpose for my life as soon as my feet stumble across the floor. I have been burdened, restless about something for weeks now and I believe God is moving, stirring in my heart and my life. It is new, and it is only a whisper from Him. It is a stirring that I have experienced in my heart and soul before, in my early days of summer missions in Missouri and Hawaii, mission trips to Salt Lake City, Utah, to Barbados, and innumerable outreach events with our churches over the years. I want to be His light in the lives of those around me who need help so desperately. I don’t want to become so focused on what is on my to-do list for the day, the week and the year ahead that I realize one day I have missed out somehow. I want to stand before my Father God and be able to smile at Him and say, “Lord, I heard You call and followed Your purpose for my life. I hope I did all that You call me to do!” I know I will not feel worthy or fulfilled except for the immediate love and grace He provides. I don’t want to miss it, what He may have for me to do this very day! So, the question stands—what is it You would have me to do Lord? Like I said, it has come to me only in a whisper, and a depth in my soul, a yearning to simply pray. I don’t know what else to do in my prayers, except say, “Lord, I am here!” This has been my prayer for weeks. I struggle with wondering what is coming. I struggle with the questions I stated at the beginning of this blog entry. I can’t even finish those questions, and I don’t understand this restlessness. This is only the beginning. What I do know for sure is He wants me to rest in Him, rest in not knowing, and allow myself to be broken, open to listen and obey. I could complicate this by driving myself crazy with questions, assumptions, focusing on the frustration of not knowing beyond His whisper to me to rest in Him, listen, obey. And I believe He is teaching me to be content in the act of rest, the act of hearing and acknowledging His call to me to simply be still, be ready, be content in this moment with Him. I have been reading and studying Hebrew 4:12-13 (MSG), the necessity for me to be ready, to be fully in His rest.

God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

I can’t and shouldn’t get away from it. His call to me to rest, hear His whisper, praise Him even in the midst of my uncertainty, knowing full well He will guide me as His perfect purpose for me unfolds. This is a new chapter in my life, new challenges we are facing this season and I believe more than ever it is in preparation for our next steps in ministry. What does that look like for us in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? I don’t know, but God does. Today He is calling me to rest, so I will do that and focus on the ministry He has for me to carry out today. I want to be ready at all times, I want to be unearthed, uprooted, unsettled because it is then that I find my passions are heightened, my giftings are ripe for use, and I will not be caught off guard or left in the dust wondering what I missed.

Spring is here!

The tease of a warm Spring day here and there, that's all I need to give me that feeling of renewal. You can feel it, smell it, sense that new sense of expectancy, that something new and amazing is yet to come. I'm an optimist so I have always looked at life with the belief that something even better is right around the corner. I don't dwell on the negatives, the challenges, I simply focus on what I can do to work through it and get beyond it.

2014 is testing the very depths of my beliefs. I've been wrestling with a lot these last few years, and I'm still uncertain about so much. I know God is good, He is my Savior and my King, and all things are possible through Him and because of Him! I also know that life is not kind, it is not going to ever be predictable, and often times I will find myself falling more than I'm able to succeed. I have a better grasp on the truth that God allows the tough things to occur to test and strengthen my faith, my obedience, my determination. I'm not completely certain, but I'm learning more and more that I can truly trust Him to care for my every need. Daily I have to re-set my mind to focus first on what matters most: how blessed I am and how much God has provided. I am finding that as hectic and demanding as life is, I have to choose to slow myself down and simply listen. Meditate. Breathe. It means saying no to a few things, for the sake of my own sanity. I have experienced a level of disappointment and hurt in recent months that could have forced me to do something desperate and instead, I chose to find resolve, determined to set my life on a course for restoration. And that is not something that will happen overnight or even in a few months. This is a process which I have only just begun. I read this article this morning by a woman who shared how she bounced back. Some things she is doing rang true for me, similar choices I have made in my life. But at the end of the article, she stated something that is stuck in my mind today. It gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be 'broken'.

.....'I learned that when we’re broken, we’re really just broken open. We are a seed that sits in the dark, damp earth waiting for spring.'
(read the full article here:

Her words put it into almost tangible meaning for me, this state of being 'broken'. I'm there, I feel like I'm just beginning to put some of the pieces back together in my life. I want to be restored and whole again, but I welcome the process of getting there. I know God has something more to speak to me in this season, and I don't want to miss it.

I read in Colossians the other night during my devotional, Paul's powerful reminder to me that I have the power of Christ in me, and because of that I can live a victorious life. I want to embrace that more fully. I want to see His victorious favor ring true in my life in the months ahead. I am seeing glimpses of it already, He's blessing me in ways I had not anticipated and I certainly do not deserve. This is the path to restoration. I'm finding my way, one step at a time.

Freedom through obedience: The hard but right choice

I am not letting go until You bless me!

Genesis 32:22-32 Jacob wrestles with an angel of God.

Have you found yourself at a place in your life, where you have felt like you are wrestling with God? I have! I am very strong willed, stubborn and outspoken and I tend to go at life with determination. I like for everything to be in its place and organized. I am fairly flexible when change comes, map out a new plan, adjust and move forward. I will not fail, I will not back down. I am determined. Did I say that already? Yep. So, I can identify with the story of Jacob because in some ways I have found myself wrestling over one thing or another in my life when it comes to God's purpose for me. I know what I'm capable of, what my skills and my gifts are. I get my mind made up, pray it over with God and when He gives the green light I don't slow down. I'm on a path, I am moving forward. What happens when the circumstances of life throw us off our path, our certainty is shaken, and even though God is not moved by it, we are and so we stop. We question, we worry, we panic. God, what happened here and what does this mean in terms of the path to meet my goals? How do I move forward now, because this is too hard, and I don't understand why it is happening now? I thought I had it figured out, and perhaps that's the point when I realize, I think I know God but truth is---I don't. Truth is, we will not fully know God in our lifetime. Our life long quest as Christ-followers is to know God. Is it hard for you to wrap your mind around that, because I have to admit it is for me! I think as Christ-followers, it is easy to get confident in what we think we know, and our outward appearance exudes this confidence that we have it all together, we are full of the knowledge of Christ, we are strong, we are confident, and we are complete. To an extent, yes, Christ does complete us because we are forgiven, we are a new creation, the old is gone and the new has come. With our new salvation, we must recognize that it is only the beginning of our lifetime of achieving righteousness and wholeness in Christ. So, as I am wrestling with God recently, this new awakening I am experiencing in my faith journey, the reality of my weakness hits me like a brick wall. I have for far too long fought to hold on to what I thought I had control of, what I thought I needed to control because forces within my life had failed me and I felt I had to step up and lead where others had failed. I realize and can testify to this today: I am nothing without Christ. I can try with all my might, heels dug in, white knuckled, and teeth gritting down hard, muscles pushed to the point of absolute shaken fatigue, but.....I will fail every single time when I don't give it up and recognize the power of Christ is what truly compels me. I cannot boast in anything but the power of Christ in my life. I can wrestle with God and resist His complete power in my life, insisting that somehow my own plan will work well because it's just so well thought out and organized but it is only when I reach the point of breaking....I can fully embrace the power God has provided to me all along!

Like Jacob, I sense God speaking new life into me in this season, that in fact I have wrestled with Him and I am coming through! I may be limping a bit the next day, because I tend to fight with all my might, the human will is stubborn! I am so certain, so expectant of what God has for my life, so I will take my firm grasp from what I think I know to what I truly know, that I know, that I know....that God's ways are so much better than my own. I cannot fully fathom His ways, His understanding is beyond my complete comprehension. I cannot claim to have seen an angel of God or God himself face to face, but I can claim that Christ has won me and my affections, and He has my full and complete trust and obedience! It is hard to admit at 42 years old I have more freedom in my faith than any time in my life before now. It is hard to break out of a mindset that we develop over time, by the way we are raised and our childhood influences, by what others tell us is best. Advice and wisdom from those we love and admire is good, but God knows best. We have a choice in life, I have a choice to balance what I know and consider the wisdom of my Father: His wisdom and guidance should be the priority and all others are secondary.

I am not done wrestling with God. I know I have some things in my spirituality yet to work through, but in time I intend to be made stronger, made wise, made more into what my Father God has always intended for me to be. His. Fully and completely, His. I am not there yet, but I am closer than I was before.

What are you wrestling with today? Work it out with God, consider what He has to say and to do in your heart and soul, to mold you more and more into the Beautiful You He has always intended for you to be! I want to live to tell my story, all that the Father will do in me yesterday, today and tomorrow because I know His plan for my life is far beyond what I have in mind.


I can't deny it, as much as I'd like to say I can ride it out and claim it's all good, not having any trouble over here, life is good. Life is hard, it is painful, it is stressful, and it is just plain impossible some days to deal with everything coming at me. The past few weeks have been some of the hardest days of my life. I was a bit reluctant but at the same time felt very strongly that God wanted me to go with a group of ladies for our church women's retreat, Women's Encounter. The week leading up to the retreat, was hell. I know the other ladies in my group will tell you the same, satan was gunning for us to the very last moment before we stepped into the vehicles to head out. Though we struggled, we all agreed and encouraged one another through that week to stay on course, not give up, reminding one another we needed this retreat and it was a specific time that God had appointed for each one of us. The retreat was amazing, brutal but amazing. I came clean, truly emptied myself of so much junk I've carried for nearly 3 years now. It's hard to admit we are beat up, in pain, burdened, weak, heavy hearted, angry, bitter, and ready to walk away from the very thing God has called us too. When Ryan and I made the transition to Missouri, we were coming out of the most difficult ministry experience we have ever had. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when things started going down hill, but at some point there was a shift in what we were doing to this incredible pressure of somehow we weren't doing enough, the to-do list was not meeting with someone's satisfaction, and from there you can imagine the tearing down that occurs in a person's pride and confidence, and overall abilities. You start to question, you start to doubt, you start to fear. You start to question if you can move on and maybe you aren't up for this calling anymore. It sucks when man gets in the way of what God intends for His called. And I didn't see us moving past it anytime soon. I was done. Ryan and I were both dealing with varying degrees of anger, doubt, disappointment, heartbreak, and grief. How do you work through this stuff and somehow prepare to move into a new ministry opportunity? You can't bottle it up, you can't put it off to deal with later, you can't get over it quick and put on a happy face for the sake of jumping right into the next thing God has for you. It takes time for this kind of wound to heal. So, how do we make this transition? We found ourselves stepping into a short term worship role at a small store front church, but we felt a bit shaky going into it. It was good, but somehow there was something yet to experience and we knew it wasn't going to be long term. We found ourselves at the close of that opportunity and through some connections, introduced to another ministry opportunity. As we continued to nurse our wounds, figure out a way to heal and find restoration, we felt compelled to step into this new opportunity. I cannot describe it any other way that a breath of fresh air for both of us. Little did we know that God intended for the shift in our healing process to truly begin with this opportunity. Shortly after the holidays, just as we began a new year in 2014, the hard truth of what we had to face, own up to came slamming down on us both. There is a point in our lives, when we've experienced so much disappointment and so much of life that didn't go exactly the way we had hoped, that fear and desperation causes us to determine, "God, I cannot let go of this. I don't trust you completely with this, and I can't seem to find you when I need you most. I need to do this for myself. It is just too hard. I am desperate. I am tired. I'm losing hope." What do you think happens when that voice drowns out the voice of Truth? When that voice starts to win, to dominate to the point you act on something in a way that puts everything most precious in your life at risk? Panic. Betrayal. Disappointment. It is an incredibly helpless place to be. More so than any other time in my life I think. We had a choice right away to give up, or to give it all to God and acknowledge He was never far away. He was right there with us in the absolute worst of it. He was in that pit right beside us.

The worst of it? The immediate realization that I felt so unworthy, so horrible to have ever questioned God's ability to take care of me and my family. There is this guilt, this self-condemnation that wedges its way deep into my mind, and then it starts to infect the heart like a virus. I was crying out to God, searching His Word for answers, answers that were right there in black and white, and yet....I hadn't completely let go so I couldn't really grasp it! I couldn't grasp that simple truth that He was right there all along! I was in my own way, I was getting in the way of the complete restoration God has always had for me. All of this garbage that Ryan and I have been experiencing, holding on to, was so unnecessary and exactly the point satan wanted us to be all along. Can you imagine the reality I came face to face with on that retreat, because I finally let my guard down and dropped it all at the foot of the Cross? Can you imagine the humiliation and disgrace I felt in that moment? And then, can you imagine the utter and indescribable relief? Oh the joy of knowing my Savior in a fresh and new way! Oh the freedom in knowing I could be released from this bondage I'd been in for so long! How could I question God was not enough, at any point in my life? You know how. The human mind is a wondrous but terrible thing. I am convinced now more than any other time in my life, we have got to take our minds captive for Christ! Whatever we think we are doing right in our day to day time with God, whatever our habits, our schedules, our routines--stop and consider what more can I be doing to guard my mind, my thoughts? We must be on our guard, daily, throughout our day, because satan will do things in the most subtle way over a long period of time to tear us down! This is a life long battle and particularly for those of us who are prone to anxiety and OCD/perfectionist disorders. We have to be on our guard, we have to arm ourselves, and we also need to breathe life over one another, be an encouragement, be an accountability partner, be Jesus to one another and not just to people around us who don't know Him!

Ryan and I are in a season of brokenness, and we are so in awe of how God is using our church family and especially our leadership team to walk us into a season of restoration. As we walk through this season, we have chosen to stand firmly on the commitment to full obedience to Him with our finances, with our marriage, with our children, with everything He has given us. Everything we have and everything we are has been laid bare before Him, and we are walking into this new season of ministry with a church leadership team and family right beside us every step of the way, offering us the unconditional love and accountability we have needed for so long.

Can you feel it? Can you see it? There is a shift taking place in our lives this year, and God is ready to pour out His abundance at just the right time as He wills it. God, we pledge our lives to your ministry, we are thankful for renewed hope and as you continue to break us down and build us back up, we will step into the good, the bad and the ugly knowing we have such freedom to share with a world that needs You so desperately!

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

6 …‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

'that word “spirit” in the Hebrew means “breath.” it’s saying, it’s not gonna happen just by our talent, connections, who we know; it’s going to happen because God breathes in our direction, God shifts the winds and blows healing, promotion, restoration our way.'

(Check out the full blog entry: "How you're coming into a shift", Bizarrely Blessed,

Truth is: Obedience is hard....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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...