If I Could I Would

photo credit www.creationswap.com Jose Fares

photo credit http://www.creationswap.com Jose Fares

If I could I would….

Run a marathon…
Lose the last 15 and keep it off forever…
Blog full time for Jesus and not think about paying bills…
Go back to school for my masters degree…

If I could I would…

Freeze my kids right where they’re at…
Get mama and daddy back…
Love my husband even better…
Slow life down, but stay together…

If I could I would….

Visit the holy land…
Weep in Gethsemane…
Bow at calvary and the tomb…
Gazing outward, upward, eternally…

If I could I would….

Make sure every mouth was fed…
Every single heart is led…
To Him, our One, True HOPE…
Always waiting, living, expecting..

But should I? Could I? Would I?

Really would I?

What WILL I do?

How about you?

It’s not about woulda. It’s not about shoulda. And no, it’s not about coulda.

It’s about ARE ya?

Am I?

Am I really willing to follow after Jesus with all my heart, mind, and soul?

Am I wiling to look obsessed, crazed, face alienation, loss, sacrifice, even my own life if necessary?

Am I willing to follow – take up that cross and truly follow no matter what the cost?

ALL the way?

It’s easy to say yes because I have the intention of doing so. But I will never fully trust that I could not be the next Peter, depending upon the situation that may actually come before me.

I want to be a true follower after my Glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! I want to always be ALL the way in! I want it badly. It might be one of those…”careful what you pray for” things, but it’s right. It’s good. It’s truth. It’s BEST.

I prayed for a deeper love for others a couple of years ago. I got it, but I have been on a roller coaster ever since. I know it was good. I know it is exactly what He calls me to do. I know He answered my prayer and granted me a gracious gift that I never dreamed possible. Sure, there are times that it slips away, but I find that if I get right back down on my knees before Him and ask Him to purge my heart and refill it with His love, He delivers.

No…I can’t say we can reach a point where we “take up our cross” for once and for all, and it’s, just – done.

We have to do it again and again and again.

And if necessary, or if called to do so, we are to nail our hopes, dreams, our everything but our love for Jesus into that cross. We already nailed Him to that once. Why is it so difficult for us to nail the things of this world to it?

It’s worth it. He thinks so. He has, and continues to demonstrate it quite clearly.

We need to pray daily for the strength to do it, just as Jesus did it for all of us. We need HIS strength.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25-26

We may not have to give everything up all at once like some of the disciples were asked to, but we need to be prepared to do so. I wonder how many of us can truly say that we are?

Jesus isn’t about “could I?”

He isn’t about “should I?”

And Jesus is not about “would I?”

Not when it comes to giving up of self and giving all for the sake of others.

Not when it comes to offering us the gift of eternal life with Him for His glory!

It’s not only not all about me, but it’s not even some about me. That’s how I know that I haven’t fully surrendered and will have to do this every day, sometimes even moment to moment, friends – because it’s still some about me.

It’s to be all about HE!!!!!!!!!!!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” Matthew 16:24

Help us, Jesus. Help us to have the courage and the strength to truly be willing at all times to do whatever it takes to truly follow after you with all that we have, all that we are, all that You have given us. We know that You will equip us – it may not be easy, but we know You are faithful and love us. Most of all, we know this is for Your glory and is what is good. We pray that You will remind us not to forget to come to you every day, in every new situation, and ask for the strength we need. We thank you for sacrificing everything for US. Fill us with YOU. Help us make it all about YOU.

Jesus…YOU ARE.

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This One’s Going to Be Tough

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Yes, this post is a tough one, friends.

Before I share, let me remind anyone reading this that everything I write is what I feel the Spirit of the Lord nudging me to say. Especially when I have some hard to share, I go to Him in prayer first, to make sure I am in the right place with Him before I do so.

The other thing I want to remind everyone of is the fact that any and everything I say, is typically stuff I am dealing with as an individual. If it also applies to you, that is AWESOME. But know that I share the hard along with the smooth because it has to do with lessons that our Lord Jesus Christ is teaching me.

What is true edification of the body of believers and followers after Christ anyway? Is it just the shiny, sparkly, feel-good stuff that builds one another up and helps create feelings of unity and bliss through the beauty of it all? Or is it also the other the stuff that lies on the other side of the coin?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

That’s my life verse, friends. That is my calling.

Yeah….I think the other side is just as important as the “up” side, don’t you? And, quite frankly, I think we neglect to take care of both sides of the coin when it comes to edification of the church.

I find that we either err too far on one side more than the other far too often.

Sometimes, it’s the side of “hey, let’s share all the good and positive stuff about being Christians with one another.” You know? Stuff like…..

  • Keep it to yourself if it doesn’t sound or feel good.
    Be patient – always. Never feel restless. Or at least, if you do, certainly never share it. You’ll bring people down! (Yo…that’s scientology, not Christianity, by the way).
    Make sure you don’t admit your imperfections or mistakes. If you do, make it sound holy or something. (You get the drift).

Or what about the other side of it? Maybe we spend all of our time commiserating and complaining together and never praising and celebrating all of our many blessings?

  • Nobody understands us because we are so persecuted, you know.
    The devil made me do it – or made you do it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
    Condemnation, condemnation, condemnation. Fear, fear, fear.

But I think the tough part comes into play when we not only realize we need to do both things – )rejoice with one another AND weep with one another), but when we find that it’s really, really hard to step first – really, really lonely to feel like you are constantly taking the risks and not sure if you will still be seen as “Christian” by your fellow believers. I’ve been there so many times in the past year and I’ve watched so many others struggling in that very same place.

Something is very wrong about that!

I for one, experience a mixture of things surrounding this issue lately. On one hand, I have seen more grace and compassion exhibited in the Christian world I am directly involved in than I have in quite some time. On the other hand, I see the enemy trying to cloud up any endeavor towards transparency in the church that He possibly can.

It’s a tough one – this particular spiritual battle we are facing. It’s not a new one – not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is evolving constantly – and getting trickier and more deceitful by the day. Rough and tough. Ugly and deceitful.

I must admit – this brings me down. Waaayyyy down, at times. And for a person like me, it’s difficult to hide it.

Did you see what I just wrote though? I wrote “hide it.”

Therein lies the battle I personally experience in relation to this. Even knowing this stuff – even after already having been tuned into it over and over again by the Lord, I still fall prey to feeling pressure to hide it when once in a while I have a down day. The enemy is laughing his rear off right about now too. He loves it.

I have found that I have had to pray for the courage to be real and transparent when it comes to the days I am not finding the coin on the “up” side more and more lately. Ironically, I can also clearly see that even if uncomfortable about it, people crave this honesty. There is no doubt about that left for me at all!

I believe that’s because when we model that type of honesty – that willingness to be vulnerable – to show the ugly or the not-so-perfect – that it gives others a sense of relief, almost – “permission” if you will, to be honest themselves.

At least on the inside.

It gives others a sense of relief that maybe they aren’t the only ones who feel that way.

They just may not say it.

If and when you are the one in the position of saying it – of mustering up the courage to be fully transparent and honest about the tough stuff, and you can tell others feel that same way but for whatever reason (reasons of their own) aren’t about to say it, remember that you don’t need them to make you feel like you are only human too.

Jesus can do that for you. Nothing we go through is something that He didn’t experience to the fullest (suffering-wise) while walking this earth.

Seek to understand others.

Hard enough for most of us, eh?

But when not feeling understood yourself? Look to Jesus first.

Hopefully, a fellow believer and follower after Christ will also come along side of you and help you in your transparency and through your tough. But if not, we can always count on Him!

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

What if you are the person on the other side of this? What if you are the one who is not feeling you can take that risk and be honest and transparent? What if you are the one who feels the same way, but can’t bring yourself to say anything?

Well, I am there too sometimes (I told you…I sometimes feel pressure to “hide it.”).

For me, what I do is I first ask the Lord “what is holding me back? Is it fear? Is it an attack? Is it sin? Am I keeping my “mask” on or trying to be the perfect role model? (which is not a perfect model at all).

After seeking and praying about that, my only suggestion is to surrender and allow the Lord to fully convict our hearts and breath in the answer as to what to do. If He is encouraging us to become more transparent, we must trust Him and then do it.

It takes courage and full reliance on Him, and make no mistake about it – we will be attacked – more than once!

I told you, this is a tough one.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I am telling you now – I feel discouraged by all of this at times. But the great thing about it is, I don’t STAY discouraged. That verse above gives me the power and the renewal needed in my Spirit to get back up again.

Inside of the nooks and crannies of that tough lies the hard, yet beautiful, truth. I’ll take that any day over the easy and pretty little lies the enemy feeds us. I may not feel great about it for a time, but it’s so worth it once the storm subsides.

It’s going to get harder. There are going to be more difficult levels of tough to contend with if we commit ourselves fully to this, dear, dear friends. But are we soldiers committed to being salt and light in this world, amongst one another (fellow believers) as well as those who are walking in the dark? Are we?

That’s a question each of us must answer for ourselves, hopefully with God and His will for us in the depths of our hearts and minds. I hope that when we are indeed resistant, or trying to hide, it knaws at us from the inside out – I really do!

We aren’t going to bear good fruit if we don’t allow for the pruning. Pruning is not for the faint of heart, either. It takes vulnerability to become truly strong. Expressing vulnerability and being there for someone else who does so is part of the kind of love He emphasizes we not only show, but truly develop for one another deep down inside.

You are my friends if you do what I command.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 14-17

This takes action. Consistent and relentless action. Intentional action. This takes going far beyond quietly feeling it in our hearts and not saying anything about it. This takes daily renewal and input from our Savior and the subsequent refilling of the power that comes only from the Spirit He has placed inside of us!

Yes, this is a tough one. But it is the right one, the best one, and it IS the Jesus one.

That’s where I want for us to be – together.

Show some weakness today if He leads you to be courageous and do so. And know in that, you are manifesting His divine and glorious strength!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Look for the Glint

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We are to look for Jesus in others with all that we have.

Do you try to see the best in others?

Do you look for the glint in their eye?

What’s special about that person you are interacting with today? What do you see in them that reminds you of the glory of God’s creation?

Even when darkness or despair is overtaking a person, do we search for some kind of beauty in them? Do we see them as magnificent creatures that God values and loves and wants to draw closer to Him with every passing moment?

There’s a glint somewhere in there.

Are we doing anything to ignite it? Are we really looking?

Do we feel afraid to point it out when we see Jesus shining through? Are we blinded by our own unwillingness to look deeper, harder, get outside of the box that we have placed others in depending on their situation or circumstance?

Look for the glint. It’s there.

Then, make sure to point it out. Celebrate it. Make it known that you see it.

LOVE them.

Have that moment where you connect – eye to eye – Jesus vision to Jesus vision.

Then sit back and enjoy what you see.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus….
Look full in His wonderful face…
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Helen Lemmel)

It’s in all of us. He is inside of every one of us who has accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.

See Him.

Look for Him.

Even if you have to squint to see the glint.

Especially then.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4: 7-8

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We Got Ta’ Move It, Move It!

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Today our ministry had a field day and we all worked together on teams to support our well-loved field countries and celebrate the children around the world that we love so very dearly. We had a day of it and the display of teamwork and unity under Christ was most certainly a sight to behold. It was a privilege to be a part of it all.

Fun was to be had and crazy (in the good kind of way) was the standard for the day. Just my kind of thing!

I will say this: Doing even the smallest of physically active things today, in our cushy little shoes, and our nice little park to run in, along with coolers full of plenty of water, amongst other things that we are blessed to have for our comfort in this land, this 46 year old sister was still feelin’ some pain by the end of the day! Yes Sir-eee!

Most of my problems occurred due to some crazy (in the not-so-good kind of way) allergy problems that became exacerbated throughout the daily activities. But I must admit, some of the reasons I believe we are physically “hurting” in some ways tonight are due to the fact that we are, even when we try not to be, such sedentary creatures here in the United States. It’s just a fact of life for at least a good part of the work day in most instances.

This girl works out, friends. I really, really do. I am someone who is pretty consistent in jogging and getting some cardio activity in at least three or four times per week. I go on walks on my breaks during my work shift, and try not to take the short way from the parking lot into the building when I am out running errands and such. But that’s not enough.

No… it still doesn’t make a dent in helping to counteract this sedentary lifestyle we live!

We Got Ta’ Move It!

I was thinking about the children as well as the adults around the world today that our ministry supports. I thought about how so many of them are so very active in their own lives, yet they have so few of the comforts that we have to make activity more – well, comfortable.

We often think they are just forced to be more active due to the lack of conveniences they have that comes from the poverty that envelops their lives. That may be true, but at least they are on the move. Movement is a good thing when one is following after Christ. Living a sedentary lifestyle can become kind of a poverty of it’s own, can’t it?

We have to work much harder, much more intentionally at going against the grain of inactivity in the midst of our luxury. My friends and I at my work are certainly not sitting around out of laziness – we work very hard and integrity and stewardship is of the utmost importance to each and every one of us as well as the ministry as a whole!

It’s just that our world has become so technically driven, that our jobs, for most of us, entail sitting at a computer. A lot!

We do certain things to help ourselves, like stretch together, in unity, every couple of hours. We are grateful to be able to have a few outings once in a while too. Many of us get physical exercise in several times per week on our personal time outside of work, and that helps a lot.

But, if you ask me, we still need to do more to counteract this lack of movement that is becoming an epidemic in this world in which we live (sit?).

Thankfully, I was reminded today that although we have work to do in order to stay physically fit in the face of this sedentary life, God is moving His people in great and mighty ways! The same goes for our spiritual health and relationships. It is far too easy to start going through the motions and becoming statue-like if we don’t work those muscles and get out of our comfort zones intentionally and regularly!

Isn’t it awesome that when a body of believers comes together in unity under Christ, and is committed to keeping that oneness of spirit whole and healthy for the glory of the Almighty, that movement is then something we can count upon showing up time and time again?

He’s got ta’ move us!

Jesus and the disciples were on the move all the time. The only exception was when Jesus needed to make it a point that we should be intentional about rest, prayer, and time with the Father. Of course, we need to work on remembering that as well.

He moves us to love more. He moves us to get down and get messy and in the icky of it all – together. He moves us to step, skip, run, jump, create, learn, flex, and sing to bring glory to His kingdom and praise Him with more than we ever thought we had. He moves us to laughter, to tears, and tells us when to plant ourselves down with the Word and folded hands or when to jump up out of our seats and shake ourselves into an awakened and enthusiastic state.

No matter what, He is moving us as we follow after Him with all our “minds, hearts and souls.”

That’s not something many of us will sit around and celebrate quietly. THAT is something that will get us right up out of our seats, jumping up and down, and squealing with the joy of Jesus every last time we recognize it.

We’re Goin’ ta’ move it – more and more and more. He’s moving us right where He wants for us to be.

And oh yes. Yes, we shall follow!

Just look for the war painted, sunburned, and allegy-ridden people who have big fat smiles plastered all over their faces.

Those are called JESUS SMILES. And hopefully, you will see them more and more often and in more and more places as  you look for them in your day to day life.

If you feel complacent, bored, stagnant, or just plain antsy, press into the Lord and ask Him to help you take the steps needed to counteract the sedentary stuff of life and get moving. He will be faithful and guide your steps. He will heal you and transform you along the way. You may get a little sore, and yes, it might hurt at times.  But it will all be worth it as He continues to move you where He wants for you to be.

But to follow after Christ, sometimes we got ta’ move it.

And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Matthew 19:2

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:27-30

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Reality over fiction

Hi Friends! Check out another friend’s new blog! He is starting out strong and I am hoping you will follow along with his adventure and journey!

Watchman Chronicles

You never know what any day holds, especially a day at the park! I took some time today to hang out, read the BIBLE and witness to others.
I found out that I will take a life of reality with GOD leading me over trying to live a fiction life anytime. Here is the conversation I had with one man today…try to follow along as we pick up where the story gets good.
Guy: you know they are trying to lasso an asteroid to have it orbit the moon so we can land on it for research?
Me: wouldn’t it be easier just to land on the moon?
Guy: sure, but we already did that.
Me: sure, but how exactly are we going to lasso an asteroid?
Guy: they said they can land on it, set up some kind of a device that will slow it down and them drag…

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Super Cool Surprise!

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Today something happened that surprised me in a super cool way.

I decided that I needed to take my workout cloths to work, put them on at the end of my shift and head out the door and go jog.

The reason I made this decision was a logical one. Ever since I have been working a daytime shift, I have found that by the time I get home, after battling the traffic, something inevitably would come up that I needed to do for one of the kids or something, and I would just end up missing my workout. I have pretty much dwindled down to only working out about 3 or 4 times a week. Anyone who knows me knows that is NOT ENOUGH.

Working out, and jogging in particular, is part of my “medicine,” friends. It, like time spent with Jesus in prayer and His word is not an option. Believe me, I have tried to find the way not to have to work out six times a week – I’m just as lazy inside as the next guy – it can’t happen. That’s another story, but take my word for it.

So, back to the cool thing that happened.

I found myself running these trails outside of my work – completely new territory for me. Lots of hills, winding, and unknown ground for me to cover. And yes, there were about two times in this 45 minute run that I did have to stop and catch my breath for about 30 seconds – that’s for sure. But, I was pleasantly surprised as to how easy this run was in comparison to what I normally was doing around my house.

I pondered this driving home – although I am thrilled to death at this nice little surprise, why in the world would this have been easier for me? The route I run at home is not perfectly easy by any means, but it is nowhere near as difficult (hilly and windy) as this one today was!

Here is what I think made it easier:

The not knowing what was in store for me, friends.

I normally don’t like change at first. I have to acclimate, find my bearings, get my structure to hang onto within the lack of structure – then, and only then, can I manage through change in a great way!

But not knowing what I was in for today actually really helped this run go well, I think. See, so often, when we stay in our comfort zones and follow the easy or well-known path through life, we think it will be a piece of cake. But not so!

See, I know what parts in my “normal” jogging route are going to be horrible for me. I know that path like the back of my hand. I know exactly where the hill is going to be that makes me stop, exactly where the turn is that hurts my knee. I know where the bad parts are.

But when I stepped out of the known into the unknown today, I didn’t know what I was in for, and it was hard, but I didn’t know any better – I didn’t know when to brace myself for the icky stuff.

Sometimes, not knowing what to expect can really help us out. It especially does so when we involve God. I prayed several times today for God to keep me to my word…that I would go jog after work, no excuses! That He would show me what route to take and help me to do well. He delivered.

I’m not saying to always go the different way for everything all the time for the sake of change – that could become a false idol of sorts too, you know? But, if you are in a rut, and the Lord is leading you to obey Him, follow His lead.

For me, the obedience part was in being willing to take my workout gear to work and be disciplined a few times a week to ensure I get those workouts in. Not only did He help me follow through with that today, but He blessed me extra with a super cool surprise.

His path is the narrow one, and is the one He leads us to take when He sees fit. We must be willing to bend and be flexible and discerning as to where He would have us go. Then, the rest is up to Him.

Don’t know what will happen when I next run this route…maybe I will switch up directions, and maybe not. But I am looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store for me. Because no matter what, I am running to Him, not away from Him.

God never changes, never wavers, and never fails to remain faithful to we who seek after Him. But we do need to change in order to obey Him, become more like Him, and remain in His perfect will for us. If we do so  according to how He leads us, we are blessed more abundantly than we ever thought possible!

And that is super DUPER cool!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

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One and Won

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Do you lack for love?

Show some.

Not feeling accepted?

Connect.

Feeling alone?

Relate.

Bitter today?

Forgive.

Feeling misunderstood?

Understand.

Hopeless, can’t see a way out?

Reach.

Down and out?

Be vulnerable.

Pride eating you up?

Risk it.

Chances are, people aren’t going to come to you most of the time in the endeavor to try to love you, understand you, feel your pain along with you. They may not even do so for the good stuff, friends. Getting to know you, who you are, your story? Sometimes they do, but often this is not the case.

Why not be the one who consistently reaches out to others? Why not be the one who serves others first, like Jesus does?

Why not?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3

When we take the focus off of ourselves, those things we struggle with don’t necessarily go away, but they seem to diminish in importance. They no longer possess us. They no longer hold the same negative power in our lives. And most importantly, we then are loving others in the way Christ always has intended that we do.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The enemy knows this. He knows he can win, albeit temporarily, if he can keep our focus upon ourselves. He knows he can triumph by isolating us in a sea of self-pity, anger, sadness and despair.

We are ONE, in Christ Jesus, friends! And in this, we win.

We are ONE. And we have already WON.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Build up the body of Christ, and you shall be strong as well. The greatest act of service is to love one another. Focus upon that – loving others, and you will be just fine.

This is written for those who don’t feel just fine today. This is for those who feel alone, lost, or not important today. There is something you can do.

Let Jesus do it through you. And know that even if you don’t feel like it, you are, dear soul, very loved.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4:11-12

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Pass Me the Jumbo-Sized Q-Tip, Please

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Lately, I feel like God is trying to tell me something really, really BIG.

I have been feeling this uneasiness inside…beyond the “normal” uneasy feelings that I have due to the roller coaster of life, changes going on all the time of late, and just all the pressing in I have been doing with the Lord in regards to purging out my yucky self and allowing more and more room for HIM.

No, this is aside from all of that. Or, in addition to it, I guess you might say. It’s driving me flat-out NUTSO! Looloo. To the crazy house.

For a while, I tried to just pray about it and plead and tell the Lord that I am open. Then, when the feeling became more intense, I decided that maybe He is teaching me to wait upon Him and His timing. So at that point, I decided to just keep doing what I’ve been doing and continue to listen for Him.

He is still speaking to me – that inner Spirit tells me things each and every day. But behind it all, after making sure it wasn’t just mind chatter, I still have this thing left that I am pretty sure is still from Him, but He has chosen not to yet reveal to me.

Or is that really the case?

See, what I am struggling with, is not that the thing is there, but that I am uncertain as to whether I am just not hearing it, or He is asking me to wait for it. That’s the crux of what’s bugging me today.

I truly don’t know, friends. I don’t know if I haven’t cleaned out my listening ears properly, if there’s something in the way (sin?) that I need to work on that I just haven’t figured out yet (in order to hear Him better), or if He is just asking me to exhale and wait with patience. Could He be asking me to find peace in the uneasy of it all? It’s very possible.

My conclusion for the day is that there is no answer. All of these things could be possible.  But little old Annie has a big thing in there that is screaming to get out. Either that, or it isn’t really begging to come out yet, but I am attuned to it and know it’s there…so my control-freak of a self is fighting against the not knowing.

What I do know is that God knows all. He doesn’t need for me to know more than I know right now.

But I do want oh, so badly, to be a good listener. And I am praying for that from the most sincere place in my heart that I possibly can.

Do you ever feel like God is trying to tell you something pretty big and you are trying too hard to hear? Do you ever feel like maybe you aren’t listening well enough? Funny how that happens, no?

I guess all we can do is to continue to pray, seek Him, trust that He will reveal to us that thing if we are right that something’s there, and keep Him close through it all.

I think my ears are cleaned out – but just in case, this old gal is going to take a shower, get squeaky clean, and let the rain of His word pour down upon her tonight.

That’s more cleansing than any Q-tip could ever be!

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28

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Burn, Baby Burn!

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One night a couple of weeks ago, I was reading in my bible, and my son was using the microwave. Suddenly, I smelled something burning. And it smelled bad.

Unfortunately, he had forgotten to place water in with the stuff he was making and it caught on fire. All I could think of at the time was how amazed I was at what just one small little fire isolated within a microwave could do.

It had a far-reaching effect, no doubt about it.

The stench in the house was unbelievable. I opened the doors that night as well as first thing the following morning, wiped down the microwave, lit candles, sprayed air freshener – the works. All to no avail. We had been invaded and the stinking enemy wasn’t about to leave without a fight.

After coming home from work the next day to the same stench, only worse (more stale), I finally resorted to google to find out what I need to use to get the icky out, Apparently, once again, vinegar and I were to become close friends.

Why, oh why, did I hold out and not go to google in the first place? Because I am stubborn, that’s why. Hint, Hint: I like to try to do things on my own all too often. And I should know better by now.

This may be overly simplistic, but isn’t sin much like that gross burnt smell that permeates everything no matter what we seem to do? Isn’t it uncanny that when we attempt to do all that we can in our own power, trying to rid ourselves of it without help, we simply can’t undo the ugly much of the time? Sure, some of our own ideas and action steps may help – but like the smell in my house, the headway we make on our own typically isn’t the lasting kind. And if it is? Well, all I can say about that is that self-reliance WILL turn against us – it’s sneaky that way.

Put another way? Some type of residue is still there until we surrender fully and ask for help. Or it goes away temporarily and then comes back with a vengeance.

The vinegar doesn’t smell too great either. I suppose if I was using it on a cut or scrape it would sting too. It might even burn. (Sometimes things that are healing for us, or good for us can seem like the enemy at first).

But unlike the burned food in the microwave, the vinegar going to be a good thing that cleans out the ugly and brings in the new.

We can burn from sin in our lives – dying a long, slow, and painful and ugly death. Or we can submit fully to the Lord and all that He has in store for us and make what we can of this life, always looking with hope and expectation to our real life in eternity with Him (th really good one).

Yah, sometimes that submission thing stings a little, and sometimes it outright feels like we are walking through fire, but that kind of burn is one that enables us to be rebuilt into something whole, something good, something real and in line with God’s divine plan for us.

Once we move past the sensation and the feelings and all the thoughts that go along with hard stuff, things begin to taste sweeter, smell nicer, and the pain isn’t so hard to bear any more.

Make no mistake about it: any purification process is going to entail some sting.

If there is something in your life that stinks and just keeps coming back time and time again to haunt you, may I encourage you to go straight to the Lord as your primary source for healing, guidance and strength today? Ask Him with courage, faith, and hope to purify you – to get the gunk out. Yield to His will and whatever sting may come along with getting rid of the dark and bringing in the light.

For it’s not the light that hurts…..it’s the sickness leaving that does so. It won’t be going without a fight in most cases. Anyone ever had a fever? We get mad at the fever, but in all reality, it’s a sign that the body is doing it’s job in most cases. It’s fighting to remove what doesn’t belong there in the first place.

It’s a continual process, friends….that thing we call submission, that thing we know to be transformation. That refining we must undergo for our own good is truly meant not for our own joy, but to fulfill His purposes. But most of the time, after challenges and trials, it does bring it’s own kind of joy to us as well. His kind of joy and His kind of peace!

And that is the only lasting kind.

Instead of the stench that comes from the burning of rubbish that stinks up our lives, God can light a fire within us instead that brings about sweetness, beauty, and contentment. It’s one that has a divine purpose – and it’s one that inspires compassion, love, grace and dignity.

Yes, today, if submission is stinging or burning you a little, remember it’s just part of the purification process. Cry out to the Lord, as His son or His daughter and tell Him how you feel. Let Him know you want to do His will, and you will submit to Him, but that it isn’t feeling too good right about now. Ask Him to give you the strength to get through the burn and help make you into what He wants you to be.

I’m doing this today, and pretty much every day, friends. So please know that you are not alone. Even if I wasn’t doing so along with you, Jesus is always with you – you are never, ever alone.

Some days I feel His renewed and transformed fire within me and it ignites passion, enthusiasm, and joy. Other days, it’s one that comes from the fact that He needs to clean out the dark and smelly spots that are clouding things up.

Either way, we can choose to allow the Lord to place His fire within us however He sees fit, knowing that all the while, He has our best interests at heart.

How GREAT is our God?

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10

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