Birth Pangs and the Glorious End of Them

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What do we see the world placing their faith (or lack of it) in? When man lets man down, outrage ensues. When the institutions, actions, and hearts of humanity fail to deliver, all hell on earth breaks loose ~  and then some. Lots of little irritants add up to create pain.

And it begins ~ (Pervasive and relentless pain that seems to be getting worse all the time)

We are not yet at the end of things as they exist today ~ but birth pangs give one a very strong taste of what the final push might look like, dear friends. The process is not pretty. It’s excruciating, even. But the end will come ~ and the result is beautiful.

Are we entering the transitional phase?

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other...Matt 24:10

The deceivers will come ~ the ones who pretend that they will save the day. They will prey upon and pounce all over the disappointed. worn out and angry souls. They will make their feel-good promises, all for a turn at being heard. They will tell their little lies.

In times of immense stress, weakness is there and will try to take over everything. People listen to anything that sounds reasonable during such times. People even turn on one another for that which will soothe them in this very moment.

This is the time that we might wish to turn back ~ we may want to run. But the plan is in motion already.

It is beyond critical that we tune our ears and listen to the right voice!

And many false prophetswill appear and deceive many people….Matt 24:11

The real truth tellers will be shunned ~ sent to reside in the shadow of the lawless and loveless ones. The gray will seem to grow and grow, but the reality of the black and white is actually still there. Others try to redefine it. But the Word is the Word.

People will tell us there is no right or wrong – that it’s all “relative.” But there will be ~ it just won’t be the truth. We will be told that if we don’t accept their version of truth, we are evil. Much will be marked by lack of love, twisting of truth and an abundance of hate and apathy for that which is of Christ.

Chaos has a way of causing numbness eventually.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow coldMatt 24:12

It will be hard ~ very, very hard to stand strong in and for Christ in these times. It will be difficult to be less-than paralyzed by the gray ~ the lukewarm ~ the dark and the wickedness. The pain will be palpable. The savvy soothers will be tempting us at every turn.

Yet even in the midst of feeling numb or unable to move, we must stand firm. We must test the spirits. We must remember the Word and the truth about Jesus and consistently allow it to prick us and poke us to keep us vigilant. We must never lose sight during the worst of the birth pangs, contractions, and searing pain, that there is the ultimate and most blessed hope awaiting us.

We can only do it in Christ’s strength. Never on our own. He will be what helps us to stand strong. Only Him.

It’s really happening ~ and there will be a happy ending for some.

But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matt 24:13

And there will still be those who crave. There will still be those who will listen. There will seem to be few left who wish to hear about His love, His truth and the salvation He offers to each and every one of us. They may be hiding, but they are listening. We need to keep telling His story.

They shall be found. He knows who they are. They shall be found and they shall be treasured.

Birth and the bringing of new life is a beautiful, yet painful thing. But treasure is found along the way.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matt 24: 14

And just when hearts feel they have broken too many times over all that surrounds them ~ just when we think we have seen the pinnacle of wickedness, lovelessness, hatred, brother against brother, and more, what looks like the worst of the worst will rear it’s ugly head.

And those left are admonished to flee.

And we are crowning ~ the pushing will hurt. But the Lord will help His own to endure.

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand–  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains…Matt 24:14

We may not know for sure when, but we do know it will happen. And It will be sweeping ~ it will be vast ~ it will be overwhelming and surprising and painful and beautiful and powerful beyond words. There will be no question any longer about what it happening. Magnificent beauty is about to rip upon the scene and fill the dark spaces with light.

As much as we know the result from the pain of childbirth is a reality, the pain in the process often still takes us by surprise. But Jesus prepares our hearts. He emphasizes that we would do well not to forget.

He admonishes us to watch. To remember. He does so over and over again throughout scripture.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matt 24: 36-39

And because we do not know the day nor the hour, are we to just sit back and wait passively? Is this an empty, daunting hope we wait upon, or one we are to be active participants in looking for with joy? It’s going to happen either way ~ but preparations most certainly matter.

Jesus says it does. He says it matters that we watch, expect, wait in an eager way.

He also tells us not to miss out on living out life now with Him right beside us as we watch for His return.

 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matt 24:42-44

The pain exists, friends….. and there’s no way to run from that. We shall see things that break our hearts. We may mourn for those who continue to refuse Him. We may dread the ugly part of this beyond glorious and beautiful story that He has written long, long ago.

But we must remember. We must never forget to remember that as hard as the pains may be ~ as taunting and daunting as the relentless squeezing is ~ there is a beautiful end to this earthly story ~the one that’s the beginning of our real life, divine, and perfect story.

It’s the ending that is just the beginning. And Jesus has not forgotten that.

Jesus has not forgotten US.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust God, trust also in Me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back, and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:1-3

Are you ready for the crowning part?

He is coming ~ soon and very soon.

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Dear Discouragement: Thank You for Reminding Me

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Sometimes I get discouraged.

  • I get discouraged trying to make peace.
  • I get discouraged as I try to encourage others when there is brutal opposition to such things growing day-by-day, minute-by-minute.
  • I get discouraged as I try to love others, when what they actually want is not real love.

Yea. Sometimes I get discouraged.

Tonight as I ponder and pray over the most recent discouraging and blue mood that I am now in, I ask….”what discourages me the most about this, Lord? Will You help me and dig down into my heart and my mind? May I have the answer, please?”

  • It’s not the expectation of getting a specific result.
  • It’s not the need to be recognized for being some great cheerleader and lover of people.
  • It’s not even the desire to see people actually CRAVE and WANT to be lifted up in fellowship with one another and draw closer to Jesus ~ the One, True King!

It’s not those things that got to me today. It’s my heart. (I know, I know….big surprise).

My heart is just not as it should be. “Will it ever be, Lord”? Will I ever feel better about the state of my heart toward others when they are rude, mean, or even malicious when I try to do nothing but encourage them? Will it ever stop being distorted from something selfless into a selfish focus upon myself?”

I must admit – God has helped me learn to dust off my feet a lot more than I used to be able to ~ it’s just that every once in a while, I don’t think I quite dust them all the way off. I get tricked into thinking that I did, but in reality, I let it build up down there.

It gets muddy. It gets heavier and heavier to pick up my feet and put one foot in front of the other. That’s when I know I am carrying the dirt around with me. That’s when I know that I haven’t turned it all over to Him.

Isn’t it funny (sad and twisted, actually) that just when I have figured out my boots are dirty, that’s the very time that someone is standing there – right around the corner – waiting and needing a person to come along and encourage them? (I strongly dislike the enemy, don’t you?)

Ug. So yes, friends. Yes, I am venting tonight about my discouragement. Please don’t feel that I am trying to be some martyr asking for your pity! I am just sharing my heart when I know that it needs help from the Lord. I want for you to see that I do not have it all together, because that is the truth!

No way!

I am crying right now because I feel down. But I know the truth – these are just my feelings. This will strengthen my faith as I move from this blog post to the Word of the Lord and time in His presence and prayer.

I will cry out to Jesus tonight, friends.

  • I will cry out and tell Him the truth about my discouragement and moody blues.
  • I will cry out and tell Him I feel sorry for myself. That what started out as me feeling sorry for others has turned to sinful self-pity.
  • I will cry out – I will tell the truth about the boots that I have been walking in and that I forgot to ask Him to carry me when it got heavy.
  • I will ask Him for forgiveness. I will ask Him to purify my heart. I will ask Him to clear my mind and make my feelings go to the place that they should be.
  • Most of all, I will ask for Him to reveal to me where I went wrong – when did I start trying to encourage in my own strength? That’s where it went awry, I just know it!

I may stay in the place of feeling discouraged for a while – this I know. But it won’t be done alone.

This tear ~ the one coming out of my eye and streaming down my face right now ~ it’s a good thing. It’s the thing that reminded me I need to seek Jesus and His comfort in a different way tonight.

Sometimes I get discouraged. I get discouraged that I wasn’t able to encourage others and love others today as I wanted, or as they seemed to “need” for me to do it.

But take heart.

If you, dear friend, like me are discouraged….take heart!

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:17-19

And that is what making peace really is ~

  • It is found in crying out.
  • It is found in the presence of our Savior.
  • It is not found in being the best at dusting off our feet, sifting all of our feelings, compartmentalizing all our thoughts.

It is found only in HIM ~ because He loves us. Because He sacrificed it all for us.

So thank you discouragement. Thank you for reminding me.

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Cutting Through the Gray ~ It’s Worth It!

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Sometimes everything seems just….gray. We feel trapped. Isolated. Lonely. Left out.

We feel hemmed in. Angry. Bitter. Hated.

We look out to the other side – thinking what’s better must be way over there.

Away from us.

Do you see the magic of the grace of Jesus around you today? Right where you are ~ do you see it? Or do you see the gray?

Do you know that even if things look ugly, murky, dark or cold, that He can change your view? Do you know that you are not alone?

He is here ~ right here with you. Fences don’t mean anything to Him. Neither does gray.

His light, His grace, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His power, His strength, His comfort, His peace, His might, His holiness ~ ALL of who He is cuts right through that ugly gray, that lonely place, that dark.

It changes everything, friends. He changes everything.

Bask in Him today, wherever you may be. Let Him cut through the gray and the fences and open up for you, the freedom you have in being His child.

You are His. No matter where you are, He is there.

He gets in the nooks and crannies. He cuts down the fences. He infiltrates gray with light and love.

Sometimes it hurts. But that hurt is so worth it all. Hurt is temporary. Salvation and living a life centered on Jesus is eternal.

He is so worth it.

girls-529013_640Romans 8: 35-39 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

This Fear ~ The Truth and the Lies

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Lies. The lies are intricate. They seep deep down and dig in ~ then they sprout and spread.

But truth: The truth is eternal.

It can be drowned out, but it doesn’t have to be.

Others will tell you that if you had the right attitude or outlook, that you could move yourself right on past this. Then you go home and you are alone. Their words ring back inside your head over and over again. Your mind is working overtime. It’s spinning around this anxiety – this fear.

Lie #1Be strong – think of yourself first and foremost. Cut all negativity out of your life. You have the power to do it. YOU are what matters. YOU have the strength. YOU have the resilience. YOU are all that is important – and your happiness.

Then the other voices will come – the ones in your head that like to come out to play during such times as these. They sing the songs of deceit. They try to make you feel they are your only friends in the world. They momentarily take your mind off the worry – this fear.

Lie #2: Don’t do that – talk to us, instead. Stay by yourself. Isolate yourself from all that junk and all those people that are adding to your anxiety. They don’t really care anyway. YOU can handle this. YOU can be alone. YOU are strong enough and YOU don’t need them anyway.

The songs turn into an intentionally weaved symphony of hatred, bitterness, resentment. Depression ensues. Heart is surrounded, mind overtaken. Clarity disappears. But the still voice is there – the One that has never left, but is asking if you are going to listen. It has the answers. It offers the peace. It can rescue you from it ~ this fear.

Truth: Why don’t you listen for a moment? Are you going to be still long enough to do so? You can call me and my voice will grow louder. I am here for you and waiting. It will become easier to you to hear if you start to listen. I am the One you need to spend time with. I am the One with the truth. The truth about it all ~ this fear.

The clenching is strong; all the physical signs are there. You have tried to will your mind to stop worrying – stop being anxious. You have listened to the condemnation from the liars. You have let the guilt grow inside about how wimpy you are. You have even tried to remember what all the others told you that God’s Word says about turning over your anxiety, your sadness. You wonder why ~ why can’t you do what you know you should do. Why do you let it rule you ~ this fear?

Truth: I have told you before and I am telling you now. It is not about being able to avoid these things. It is not about being able to cast away all others in your life that might hurt you or cause you to feel unhappy. It is not about being strong enough to remove the fear, the pain, the dark on your own. It is about walking with Me and listening to Me even in the midst of all that. You are not alone – even in this place – this place that is filled with this fear.

My favorite place in the Bible is the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus did not “get out” of the anxiety that He was dealing with during this time before the cross (even though He could have). He did not pull Himself up by His bootstraps and make sure to avoid the coming suffering, continued persecution, and horrendous torture He was about to face.

He focused instead on communion with His Father. The anxiety became secondary, although it was still present ~ very present.

The Savior of the WORLD did not try to rely upon Himself to get through it – the fear.

He pressed in and relied upon the Father. The voice of the Father. The fellowship with the Father. The submission of His will to the Father.

This fear ~ this fear is no greater than anything Jesus Christ Himself experienced. He is the One who truly understands. He shows us that we don’t isolate completely during such times. He shows us that we are to ask those who love us (the disciples in the garden) to pray for us. He tells us that we are then to go straight back to our knees and cry out to the Father. All else will fade to black.

The peace of the Father.The joy of the Father. The comfort of the Father.

We can’t avoid it ~ this fear. We can embrace it. But not alone. Never alone.

We can sweat and cry and pound and scream in the privacy offered as we meet with the Father and come into His presence. We don’t have to be tough. We don’t have to be strong. We don’t have the ability to overcome it on our own anyway (we can fake it, but that’s about as good as it gets).

Jesus suffered. Jesus felt anxiety, worry, and fear. But He cast them away.

He sweat blood to do it. He sweat it out with the Father.

The fear was there. But then the peace was there too. Then came the strength. The strength that only comes from God.

This fear. This fear you are enveloped in today, friend. Admit that it’s there. Stop berating yourself for its presence. Instead, come to your knees and cry out to the Father. Ask Him to strengthen you. He may even remove it. But even if it is not made to disappear, He will equip you. He will destroy the lies and make the truth minister to you, grow stronger, and help you to walk in peace even in the midst of it ~

Even in the midst of this fear.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

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The Lyrics In My Head

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Soul block, heart of stone, walls are up, all alone. Ugly thoughts, so sad a plight, battles fought, you’re always right.

Jealousy…

Bitterness…

Coveting…

Anxiousness…

Looking Out…

Neglecting In…

Filled with Doubt…

Ruled by Sin!

And the peace…the peace…wash away….wash away. 

And the peace, the peace…wash away.

He will wash you clean!

He is I AM….I AM…

Be still…

He is I AM.

He is I AM….I AM…

The Great I AM…

Your Savior, Your God!

Anger reigns, sucking out, all the life, instilling doubt. Sapping faith, stealing love, imprisoned hearts, look not above.

Tormented…

Terrorized…

Voices Calling…

Agonize…

Avoid them…

Isolation…

Depression…

Condemnation!

And the peace…the peace…wash away….wash away. 

And the peace, the peace…wash away.

He will wash you clean!

He is I AM….I AM…

Be still…

He is I AM

He is I AM….I AM…

The Great I AM…

Our Savior, Our God!

Judging eyes, Pharisee, hate the sinner, fail to see. Children loved, some feel lost, Someone’s paid, all the cost.

Eyes on Others…

Size them Up…

Indignation…

Give them up…

Put them down…

Look for the flaws…

Judge their hearts…

Forget your logs!

And the peace…the peace…wash away….wash away. 

And the peace, the peace…wash away.

He will wash you clean!

He is I AM….I AM…

Be still…

He is I AM.

He is I AM….I AM…

The Great I AM…

Our Savior, Our God!

The pull is strong, but not the One, with more power, that is the Son. You’re not lost, you’re not theirs, along with Christ, you are co-heirs!

Redeemed…

Divinely Loved…

Sancitified…

By God Above…

Not left unguarded…

We’re in His grasp…

We can dispel…

With ugly masks!

And the peace…the peace…wash away….wash away. 

And the peace, the peace…wash away.

He will wash you clean!

He is I AM….I AM…

Be still…

He is I AM.

He is I AM….I AM…

The Great I AM…

Our Savior, Our God!

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Fainting and then Flying ~ When the Helper Comes

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And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. John 14:16

It was last Wednesday night. It wasn’t the first time this has happened to me, but it still takes me by surprise when it does. It’s happened three other times in my life, but never to the point that I actually fainted – lost consciousness. I went down.

Yes, I went down, friends. ALL the way down. And in that down, I was truly lifted up. I was kept, comforted, and helped.

But, being a human, made of flesh, I was terrified at first. As it was happening, I felt panicked. I felt and thought to myself “am I going to die this time ~ is this it? Is this the end of the road?”

And then the Helper came.

I was watching a tutorial about skin care, as I am about to start helping one of my children to clear up their acne and I have much to learn about proper facial and hygiene techniques. I admit, I was getting a little bit grossed out by what I was seeing on the video. I took my night time pills and vitamins. Usually, I then have about 20 minutes before the melatonin-type substance my doctor give me kicks in and I can go to sleep.

Suddenly, I felt overwhelming waves of nausea. My extremeties went numb, my head started spinning, and my breathing became extremely shallow. I stood up. “Must get to the bathroom down the hall and get to my phone.” Everyone else had already gone to bed.

I tend not to be ready for bed until about 11 pm. The rest of my family turns in a bit earlier than that. So I was alone. Or so I thought.

Suddenly, as I am moving toward the hall, everything zeroes in and goes black. I wake up because I hear “CRUNCH”. I am on the floor in the dark hallway. No phone. No nothing.

I don’t know if the crunch was my chin or the ice that had fallen out of my water bottle I was carrying and now was laying on top of. But the Helper came. The Helper woke me up and then He stayed with me the whole time!

It’s beautiful and awesome the way the Helper works things out for us. He knew that I would respond to coaching. At first, I thought “I coached myself through this.” Then, I realized that it wasn’t me at all.

You just fainted….you are okay. Just lay here. Do not move yet. It’s okay. You will be able to call for help soon if you need to. But right now we just need to stay right here.”

Fear. Panic. But a very strong logical presence and voice of reason telling me to LISTEN.

I stayed put. I stayed face down on the ice cubes. Funny how they had all fallen to be right beneath me. They soothed me. I didn’t care about my compulsive need to have everything neat. It did try to capture me for a moment, but then the voice told me that I should leave them there, not worry about them, and let them help me. The ice did help me. The Helper told me that it would.

“You need to start taking deep breaths. Your body has not got enough oxygen flowing through it. There…see? The tingling and numbness is gone now. Stay on the ice. Keep breathing deep, but don’t move yet. You can crawl to the kitchen and get your phone in a minute. You aren’t going to die. I am not leaving.”

Then, suddenly, another voice interrupts. “WHY aren’t you praying? Why are you so concerned with the physiological aspect of this only? This is really sad that you aren’t praying. It’s the first thing you should have done.” Condemnation in the midst of even this. The enemy was zeroing in for the attack.  But he did not win.

I realized this morning that the interrupting voice was a deceiving one. I had tried to make myself start praying at the time, only to be brought right back to the calming, coaching, voice of wisdom. I couldn’t focus on prayer and I felt condemned and sad about that. That voice that interrupted was ME. It was the enemy trying to distract me from the Spirit of the Lord who was there to help me. The Helper had this under control!

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

So yesterday (Thursday), I thought I had coached myself through this ordeal. I thought it was sad that I didn’t pray first, coach later. I thought the voice telling me I should have been praying was the Holy Spirit and the coaching voice was Annie.

I had it backwards. I know – I just KNOW, that the devil was trying to deceive me. I was already being prayed over. I was already right in the palm of the Lord’s hands.

God helps us in ways that go far beyond our understanding. He is Big enough to help us through the situation and the prayer is there for us already if we are under duress.

Yesterday I thought “This is why no one should be alone when it comes time to die – so they don’t forget what is most important – to pray.” But I was wrong. I was dead wrong to be thinking that! God showed this to me clearly when I did my devotions and prayer time with him last night.

The Helper WILL come. He’s already there. Even and especially if we are alone, friends. The Helper is with us.

I was able to get to my daughter for assistance in due time. I found out that I just had probably had a small anxiety attack which probably caused a rapid drop in blood pressure or blood sugar. Don’t worry for me, friends – I feel fine! It’s physiological. It’s about these crazy changes my body and hormones are causing within me. My doctors are aware of this and helping me through this transition.

But most of all, the Helper is with me.

I don’t want to die alone when the time comes. But I know that no matter what, I won’t. I am His child. I am filled with the Spirit of the Lord. He lives inside of me until the very last breath. He will remain with me even after that. This is what I have learned through various experiences in my life ~ especially the really scary ones.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17

It really is true. God’s promise is TRUE. We should rejoice! We will never be alone, friends. We are kept. We are treasured. We are never to be abandoned.

So today, will you help me to kill fear? Will you help me to kill loneliness and isolation and panic and worry? Will you ask for the Helper to meet you and gird you with Truth, Wisdom, Love, Comfort, Peace and Joy? Will you?

Our hope is in Him, and Him alone. He strengthens us even in the midst of our utter weakness. Yes, even if we are laying on the floor and paralyzed, we are walking strong because of Him. And one day ~ one day, we may not get up off that floor again ~ it is inevitable. But it’s not the end of the road if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! For us, we will be soaring in that moment and for all eternity, friends. Soaring,  I say!

We may faint physically, but sometimes ~ just sometimes ~ those are the times when we are the strongest. Those are the times where we know and feel the presence of the Spirit of the Lord without question. This renews us, friends. This revitalizes us. This makes us stronger in Him. We have only to wait upon the Lord and He will provide us with His strength.

That’s a promise!

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and all the men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

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The Answer to Mama’s Question About Suffering

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About six months before Mama went home to be with Jesus:

“Anne…..you have studied the Bible more than most of us in the family….why do you think that God allows suffering? I’m not angry with God, but I really do wonder about that.”

Pause…

“I don’t know that I know the answer to that, Mama. The only thing I can think of is that maybe one reason that he allows it so it will be easier for us to leave when the time comes.”

Pause…

“Maybe. Maybe so.”

I think of this conversation with my Mama a lot. I was so grateful she was talking to me about suffering that day, even though it was twisting my guts and my hearts into tiny squished up pieces.  Mama never shared a lot of her complaints in life with others. She was an absolute pinnacle of strength in many ways. She intermittently, throughout life, would share that she was tired – I think that’s just because there was no way around the fact that it would show. So she more-so wanted to make sure that when she wanted to go to bed early in the evening, no one would think it was because she didn’t want to be around them. It just was what it was: Mama liked to sleep.

Mama loved family above all else. Family get togethers, checking in with each person about the happenings in their lives, being there for others, being the caretaker, the hostess. Others first….that was what kept my mother going. That…WE…is what motivated her in life. I know many people may say that about their parents,  but this was true to an extreme (a good one) for my own Mama.

I knew. I knew the thing that would make it hard for her to let go and allow cancer to take its final toll would be concern for us.  And if there could be one small thing that could make her care about her own self, it would be the desire to stay behind and see her little family grow and move through the different changes, big life events, heartaches, and joys in their lives here on earth.  I knew.

I was drawing a blank though, during that conversation. I truly didn’t know what to say. I believe, to this day,  that the Holy Spirit told me what to say. He told me the truth. The truth for Mama specifically, as to why God would allow such suffering.

See, at this time, cancer was starting to sprout new tentacles. New, rotten, squeezing, suffocating tentacles. The ones that would finally squeeze the last breath out of her.

And I think she knew it.

Sometimes things never come full circle in life. Other times, they do, and you get the gift of seeing God weave His divine confirmation and redemption through that part of the story. This was one of those times for me. I will never forget it.

I think it was about a week before Mama died ~ she was in hospice ~ at home in her bed and my brothers and I were with her. She turned to me and kind of out of the blue said….

“You were so right, Anne. I still wish I could stay, but you were so right about the suffering thing we talked about.”

She wasn’t sad, she was resigned. She had an inner peace about the whole thing, although her body wasn’t treating her quite so peacefully. She had made peace with the good that was to be brought about out of the suffering. The good, was that it made it “less hard” for her to leave us. Then she started to talk a lot about Jesus and how He was coming for her.

Mama still struggled to leave, but, to me, it seemed more like her body was trying to keep her here than anything else. Suffering didn’t make it easy for her body to let go by any stretch of the imagination. But it made staying less appetizing. That’s for sure.

Mama loved her Savior. But she was a Mama through and through. A Mama who had a little bit of a stronger tie to this earth that others might because her kids had no Father (he died when we were young teens). A Mama who had an elderly father she wanted to look out for, grandchildren she wanted to see grow up, and adult kids who she knew would be orphaned upon her departure.

But during her last days here, God took Mama on a journey and showed her the beauty of what was to come in her new and eternal life. She was able to share much of it with us.

And then He came. He came and He took her home.

Suffering didn’t stop any of that. It didn’t stop Mama from sharing the beauty of what she was seeing as Jesus came for her.  It didn’t stop God from taking His loved one home. It didn’t stop her from still caring about everyone around her to the last breath.

It didn’t stop her from telling us her last wish either:

“I want ALL of my family to come with me to Heaven.  I want ALL  of my family to come with me to Heaven.  I want ALL of my family to come with me to Heaven.”

But she also knew this: Her own wish was not  the most important one. So she made certain to tell us that. She followed that up with telling us the most important thing she could.

  • More important than “I  love you.”
  • More important than “I will miss you all.”
  • More important than “thank you for being such a wonderful family.”

More important.

“He says Come All.” HE says “Come ALL.”

Maybe Mama wanted to tell us that she now knew the answer to her question so we didn’t have to wonder. I keep on thinking that might be why she made it a point to tell us what HE says. It was a plea, an exhortation, and utterly emphasized in tone and urgency. Mama wanted us, she needed for us to know the REAL answer to the questions of life. She wanted us to know that the reason for the suffering is so that we know that THIS life is not where it’s at for us. That all that matters now, and most certainly at the end of the day, is that He says “Come ALL.”

This life is not where it ends if, like Mama, we choose Jesus. We come to Him in them midst of our sufferings and trials and gain a knowledge of Him that is so much more clear than it can be when we are distracted by good health, prosperity, and ease. Those are good things, but they tend not to be the times that we seek Jesus’ face as ardently.

He meets us there.

He loves us there.

He carries us and sustains us there.

And sometimes,  just sometimes ~ He decides that is the last time we will weep.

Eventually, He takes us home.

Won’t you come too? To our forever home with Jesus.  If you haven’t decided yet, think about it. Today might just be the day you need to decide.

He’s given us the answer. He’s given us the open invitation. And He wants us to come to His feet today. Today may not be our day to go to our forever home ~ the place we will reside for all eternity ~ the place where my Mama is, with Jesus. But we are invited. We are invited into His presence now.

We can rest in Jesus today.

Because He says “Come ALL.”

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

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About that One, Little Leaf that’s Left….

Earlier this week, I shared about all the leaves that I saw swirling around on the ground and what they represent to me regarding the Christian life, the purging of the vestiges of sin and self, the process of sanctification, and the need to abide in Jesus~ all the time.

Today, I feel a lot like this picture I shared from Creation Swap. Do you?

There is a twisted, and very raw kind of beauty that I see when I gaze upon this picture. My body feels the pain from all the pruning that went on this week. Yet, my eyes, mind, heart and soul are thankfully, focused upon that one, small, and beautiful little bud left on the branch. I am thankful for the season to recuperate a little from all the purging. I’m sure there’s more to come, so it’s time to use my time wisely – time to press in – time to abide in a very intentional and focused way.

  • I am sore. Literally, the pain in my body returned as of Tuesday and has gotten really hard to deal with.
  • I am trudging through my days.
  • I am worn out. Mentally, physically, and just plain drained.
  • I need to retreat – thank the Lord it’s Friday!
  • I need replenishment. BIG doses of replenishment. The Jesus kind.

I don’t understand why we get so tired from all the pruning sometimes. We aren’t really doing the work of it anyway. I tend to believe it’s because we don’t simply submit to it ~ we fight it. Even when we know it’s for our own good, our flesh fights.

If you are weary today, like me, try to focus upon the new bud of life and growth that has been created by the Almighty in your life. You are the branch, and He is the vine.

Let Him feed you…
Replenish you…
Heal you from the fight.

Surrender what has fallen away and, this is really important here…

DON’T LOOK DOWN!

Look up with me, friends. Look up to the One who knows, understands, loves you bigger and better than anyone or anything. The One who is far more important, far more nurturing than that cocoon of leaves that used to surround you and give you false warmth. The One who really loves you. The One who will tell you the truth every single time. The One who saves you from even yourself and the things that you thing are “good” in your life. He’s for real ~ and He only will give us what is truly for our own good, and most importantly, that will bring glory to Him!

And abide. Abide in Him, friend. That’s what this girl is going to be doing.

  • He will give us rest…
  • We will find joy in the midst of the weariness…
  • He will fill us up with Himself…
  • And we WILL be healed!

Jesus retreated and spent time with His Father all the time. I think this weekend is a good time for a Father-Child retreat!

Focus with me upon the leaf that’s left. Let it grow and bloom. Remember: it’s time to nurture it. Don’t let shock set in and take over. He’s got us. We have only to rest in Him.

So, stay where you are if you are feeling the need for Jesus. Stay where you are if you feel it’s time to press in, stop moving for a while, and let Him replenish you. Stay where you are if you are tempted to run and jump before it’s time.

Because if we move too soon? Well, just read the verse below and then I’ll let you decide for yourself.  🙂

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15: 4-5

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There’s No Getting Away From Crazy: But You Don’t Have to Do it Alone

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If there’s one thing I have learned, it is this: Balance is elusive. It’s elusive, and it’s an enigma, all at the same time. And crazy lives on both sides of balance – it lives on the side when you think you have it, and it lives on the side in which you think you don’t.

On the one hand, it’s important to strike an overall balance in our lives ~ to try to, at least. But that process can make us crazy if we go too far. If we get tricked into thinking that we are supposed to stop looking at the “overall” and head into the nitty-gritty of it, we become crazy ~ because IT IS NOT POSSIBLE. We also become crazy if we throw up our hands and never seek to keep things in check – because the wrong stuff will start to take over.

And, it seems ~ either way we go, SIN rears it’s ugly head. C-R-A-Z-Y!

Here’s what I’ve found. I have found myself (all of my life) being sucked into this idea that I have to have balance in every area all the time, or I get into trouble. But part of the trouble lies in the fact that once this vicious cycle starts, I end up idolizing balance and becoming totally discontent with my current situation if it isn’t falling into the category of being perfectly balanced and even.

This is no way to live.

At the same time, even when I realize these things and find the way to stop myself ~ stop striving for some perfect balance in every area of my life ~ I find myself going crazy then too. That’s because I am a very thoughts-driven and analytical person, someone who NEEDS lots of down time because when I work, I WORK, and my health and emotional well-being suffers when I don’t have enough “balance.”

Crazy lives on both sides of the coin for this girl. I guess I have to figure out which crazy is the lesser of two evils (evil grin). No, but seriously. I really do!

This is such a difficult concept to deal with, friends. If we give up completely on this whole balance or no balance thing, either side of the line we land upon, sin has an opportunity ~ so does crazy. It’s another one of those things (that I HATE) where it’s just not A or B ~ it’s some kind of in-between and gray area, and my brain hates those! Talk about crazy!

If I throw up my hands and realize there just is no such thing as balance, I have no order in my life and I go ballistic. The stuff of the world WILL overtake us! We have to surrender to Jesus, make the best choices we can, and keep the junk in check. But if we rely upon “balance” too much as a crutch to do such things, we aren’t really relying upon the only One who can help us anyway. So, there ya go.

Crazy. That’s me right now. I want it all, friends. I want to make it a bit easier on myself to be this smiling, happy, filled with joy for Jesus, always-has-time-for-others-and-the-stuff-that-really-matters, person. I want to work, but I want to work during hours that work well for me and my little life. I want to go to church, but never feel badly if I can’t go because I don’t feel well that day (I feel badly because I miss out on time with my family when I can’t go and fellowship with others). I want to have good health so I have the energy to be vibrant and filled with love and a surplus of stuff to give to others I care about in life. I don’t want to have to focus so much on the simple things such as caring for my health and keeping it all in “balance” that I have to miss out on the things that are most important. The whole thing draws me (sucks me into) thinking about SELF. Ugly, and crazy ~ most certainly.

I want it all, I guess.

Thing is, that’s what’s making me crazy, friends. How about you? Do you ever find yourself struggling with the line between moving through each day for what it is – moment by moment – yet not being able to just hang up being responsible in order to do so? Do you feel like you are constantly torn between letting go and taking action steps with wisdom and integrity?

This is one of the hardest things for me to contend with in life. It’s not either/or. It’s not surrender and take the parts of that that stink and turn them over to God. It’s not keep going and working and not having balance, yet don’t get crazy in that process, either. It’s almost impossible for me to find words to truly pinpoint the mess that this whole concept is and the ramifications that it has on the mind, even the heart.

BUT, I know this: There is a reason that this exists as a challenge and difficulty in our lives. There is a reason it is so pervasive and gnawing, and troublesome. There is a reason we have to fight against it so hard.

There is a reason.

For me, I believe the reason is that it is the constant thorn in my side that helps me to remember I will never be fully satisfied with this life – that I am meant to set my eyes upon eternity. And that saves me from the love of the world and the flesh. At the same  time, I get to be challenged to find what it means to be content amid the discontent and struggle that this causes me. I get to find, through Jesus and Him alone, that even when smack in the middle, ALL THE TIME, of feeling this need for balance that will never be there while I walk this earth, He can bring joy, contentment, and peace to my life.

He brings peace within the crazy.

Is balance elusive in your life, or have you found the way to have it while still relying upon your Jesus for everything? Is it ruling your life one way or the other? The need for it – for the perfect schedule and routine so as not to upset your day? Or the coveting of it, due to the lack of it in your life?

Who is ruling? Who is reigning? Which side of crazy do you live on, friend? Is Jesus there with you? Is He making crazy something you can clearly see for what it is? ALL the stuff that is not Him. ALL the stuff that is external and of THIS world?

I’ve lived in both places. I’ve lived crazy because I was a slave to my routine and my need to have everything perfectly balanced and set up to my liking – my lack of bend and flexibility almost snapped me in two. And I’ve lived the crazy I am in now ~ with the fact that I will never be able to truly seek Jesus and rely upon Him if I have to have things set up my perfect little way all the time.

Balance is elusive. Crazy is real.

But only Jesus is Right. Only Jesus is truly Faithful and Reliable. Only Jesus truly can bring about Peace, Joy, Contentment that overpowers all that causes us strife.

I’ll never understand this whole thing about balance and the constant roller coaster it creates whichever side of the line we happen to be on in any particular season we are in throughout life. But Jesus does.

He understands.

And that is NOT elusive.

I think I will rely upon that ~ upon HIM today. How about you?

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:5-9

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Zoom Out Time: Perspective Matters

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Brain? Frying.

Heart? Hurting.

Head? Pounding.

My God Saves!

Patience? Thinning.

Body? Screaming.

Mind? Reeling.

My God Saves!

Wisdom? Waning.

Emotions? Spinning.

Thoughts? A’ Swirling.

My God Saves!

Energy? Draining.

Gentleness? Careening.

Peace? I’m a’ Cleaving.

My God Saves!

Surrender? Happening.

Sanctification? Continuing.

Redemption? Everlasting.

My God Saves!

Renewal? Waiting.

Replenishment? Hoping.

Refreshment? Needing.

My God Saves!

Peace? Permeating.

Joy? Filling.

Understanding? Learning.

My God Saves!

  • He saves us from it all. He fills us with Himself.
  • He tosses out the gunk. He stockpiles, for us, wealth.
  • He makes broken hearts to heal. We inherit all through Him.
  • Eternity is sealed. He’s discarded all our sin.
  • Moving with Him, through our days.Preparing to enter our forever life.
  • “Don’t lose heart”, He says. There’s a reason for this strife.
  • Trust in Him, no other. Nothing else is tried and true.
  • Not a loved one, sister, brother. Only He makes all things new.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

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Life Requires a Leaf Blower: Get One With Lots of Power!!!!

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During my return drive home from taking the kids to school this morning, I saw leaves; dried up, crunchy, brown and ugly leaves. They were everywhere! All over the ground, blowing in the street, creating mountains of crunch on everyone’s yard.

Leaves: They seem to be taking over everything in my view. Cluttering it up…getting in the way of seeing green. They bother me.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.   John 15: 1

I was praying over the day to come – another day at work. Another day of stalled weight loss, which is crucial (twenty more pounds, and they are STUBBORN) to my health improvement. My two kids and the struggles they are having in Math class, and with teenage hormones, but who both love God and are trying to figure out how to let Him reign in their day-to-day. My eldest beauty ~ the one who has been an adult all her life, but is loving her Jesus and trying to wrap her mind around the fact that “balance” is elusive. And my husband ~ learning to love Him the way Jesus would have it is a daily learning process. My husband: His work, His heart, His patience with me. And the many, MANY folks whose hearts are hurting…who have entrusted me to pray specifically for them….for them to know Jesus and be wrapped in His peace and comfort.

During this prayer, I did not have my eyes closed (gotta drive, yo), and so I kept on seeing the leaves.

Then, in a flash of a second, He put it there: The Spirit of the Lord reminded me. He reminded me through the leaves.

 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:2

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Our lives here on earth and the walk we take with Jesus are much like the leaves. We treat them as such too. But we have to remember ~ we must look at the leaves through Jesus’ eyes. We tend to see only the outside. We look for that which is obviously beautiful, or we tend to see just the crunch and the brown ugly once they have fallen off the tree. And we don’t want to have to do the work involved when it comes to the leaves. We just like to sit back and enjoy them.

But that is part of embracing Ugly Love. The brown crunchy stuff that seems useless is a major symbol of God’s TRUE love for us! It’s part of what He does to make room for the really good stuff He has for us.

The whole cycle needs to be seen for the beauty that it is! Every stage is part of what the Lord is working within us.

And we must remember:

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. John 15:3

So our trees in the Spring, as they bud, excite us. They almost relieve us. Because we feel we have looked at barren sticks for so long that we are ready for some action! We are ready for growth.  Ready for flowering. Ready for the warm sun and the cool breeze to ripple through all that is new and fresh and make beautiful sounds. We’re ready. We’re ready for the smells, the sights, and for our senses to be tantalized through the beauty and the newness of it all.

Of course that would be exciting for us. We are creatures filled with senses that beg to be satisfied and utilized.

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Did we abide in Him during the harsh winter time? Did we still nurture and care for our barren-seeming tree? It’s still alive, I hope.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

But then, deep in the middle of the Summer, although the trees are still in full bloom, we tend to get kind of used to them. We can become complacent about that new and beautiful blooming growth we saw as it was first popping and coming into fullness in the Spring. We take it for granted. Aside from that, some of the leaves are getting ugly-fied by the heat surrounding them. It’s too hot. It’s no longer “perfect” weather to sit back and enjoy the newness of it all. Lots of the flowery parts have turned just all green.

Too much uniformity. Too much “sameness”.

Are we neglecting to water the tree because it seems fine just all by itself?

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

We are fickle and we tend to get bored even when the fullness of growth comes in ~ we lack appreciation. We forget what this stage stands for in the face of all the new things God has done in us. We forget or refuse to abide in Him.

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In the Fall, everyone gets excited about change. We got tired in the Summer of all the same sea of green and seeing new colors excites us. Hopefully, we aren’t simply happy because of the change and the fact that it breaks up the monotony, although I fear that is often the case for us. But if we begin to appreciate the beauty in the ugly of love, growth in Jesus, and changing to become more like Him, we can appreciate this season all the more. The turning of the leaves into beautiful colors can be a clear sign that all that we prayed over – all the good work that we asked Him to do in us – it’s coming about. He is helping us to discard that which is no longer meant to be part of the vine.

He paints beauty in the midst of the ugly on last time before discarding it. That which needs to go, shall go. Hopefully, we don’t lose any branches!

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. John 15:6

And then: It’s dump time. It’s time for the last vestige of beauty to be surrendered. Does our Savior not know us? He knows we need a small transition in order to let go sometimes. But some leaves are tossed right off the vine immediately. Others, he allows to change in the Autumn and let us look at them a while before they turn brown and fall down. It’s about letting go – all the way. Dump time. Time to get rid of everything that doesn’t belong.

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This stage is painful. It doesn’t appear to be beautiful, but it truly is! Because we are left with a clean slate, we get to experience the grace and mercy of Jesus in a very special way. We are left with a living tree that is stripped of all that wasn’t meant to remain and a beautiful clean canvas upon which the Lord can work His divine wonders!

This is the place where ugly really shows. This is the place where we feel overwhelmed because we no longer have use for the brown crunch that surrounds us. We are ready to discard. We are ready to clean up. Every last leaf is bothering us. We can’t seem to catch them all. They need to disappear forever.

Have we come to the Father and cried out for help in the mess and the aftermath of our sin or unwanted and unfruitful baggage we have been carrying around?

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7

After pondering this, I realized: I am a hater of the brown crunch. I love the buds and the changing colors of Spring and Autumn. I have learned to embrace new growth, just as I look forward to the beauty to be found in getting ready to let go of that which doesn’t belong. Yet I haven’t fully embraced dump time.

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I struggle with seeing the mess of me all over the ground.

Just like the next guy, if there’s stuff that needs to be purged, I am all for it. Get it outta there! But I hate clean up time. It’s tedious and never-ending. It never seems to be efficient. It’s ugly to look at – all that junk on the ground. It’s not nice and neat and perfect and doesn’t fit in my little box. The tree looks great – the bare sticks reaching up to the heavens ~ ready for their new blooms after a season of rest. But the ground? It’s a hot mess!

But this sea of brown and ugly is living proof that our God saves! And we will bear good, better and beautiful, luscious fruit again!

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8

Rakes don’t work all that well – not for the little pieces, anyway. You know…the ones that break into a million more little pieces when you try to rake them away?

Picking them up by hand and placing them in a trash bag is good, but you might break your back after a while. That hurts.

Mowing them up can be a good thing, but you’ll have to make several endeavors at this before they are all gone.

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I say let Jesus be our leaf blower. Let Him clean up the crunch in our lives. Let Him take the trash out with us. We have to partner with Him. Doing it on our own is not productive and not even necessary. We have to be willing to take steps to turn the power on and get out there and face the mounds of brown ugly. We have to invite Him to help us. But it’s worth it. It’s part of the process of embracing the really ugly stuff we no longer need and then discarding it – forever. Only He can help us truly do it the right way.

There’s beauty in every cycle – but some of it is not meant to remain. Some of it is the process of getting rid of it. Some of it looks very, very ugly and is a real pain in the rear. But it’s there.

And so is He, dear friends. So is HE!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15: 9-11

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Wally World Called: Your Heart Check Up Results Are In!

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I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but it most certainly happens to me a lot ~ just when I think I’ve exposed most of the hidden, dark places in my heart, and have decided to really work on those with my Jesus, more and more just keep popping up. It never ceases to amaze and surprise me. It shouldn’t, but it does.

If you ever find yourself getting too confident about the state of your heart ~ if you ever feel you might be missing a little spot that is tainted with some poison and threatening to spread ~ simply follow these instructions and you will see the light (or…uhem…the dark, I mean).

Here Ya Go ~ courtesy of one grumpy girl who needs her Jesus!

  • Go to work for a few extra hours after getting no sleep the  night before.
  • Then get yelled at by a customer who is angry at her husband, but taking it out on the world (YOU, dear friend, are her “world” for the next hour).
  • Pick yourself up, continue in prayer, thank God for your job, and head off (gratefully) to meet the rest of the day. (keep smiling)
  • Get in the car and face the fact: You must go to Wal-Mart on the way home. Know this- I say, KNOW with all that you are that it will probably REALLY STINK to go to Wal-Mart at noon on Saturday. But know too, that you can do this. God’s got you. (You’ve prayed, right?)
  • Go to said Wal-Mart. At Noon. On Saturday. Just DO it! (Step first, and then the waters shall part)
  • Spend 10 minutes doing some deep breathing as you wait, wait, waaaiiiiiit to turn left to get into the parking lot. Eeets ok man…no rush here at all….just smile and love your brothers and sisters (Use this time to pray)
  • Get into the Wal-Mart and do your very best to be as nice as you can to the lady behind the pharmacy counter. She’s had a bad day. Smile. Tell her you really “hope people are nice to her today and that you appreciate her being here to help on a Saturday.” Be okay with the fact that you walk away feeling you just made her day even worse somehow. Let the confusion dissipate. Shrug it off.  Have clarity in Jesus, friend. (You’re okay, I’m okay, we’re ALL okay)
  • Go do the rest of your stuff as fast as you can because you know you are teetering on a very dangerous precipice. Flesh is starting to try to take over.  Keep smiling. Keep praying.(This is where the people are, friend. Love them)
  • Get practically driven over by four very grumpy and not-shy-at-all people WITH carts, even though you move as far over…defer as much as possible to them so that they can park their cart right in front of you and step in front of where you were standing. (are carts used as a weapon now ~ who knew?)
  • LET them nudge you. They may not smell good, but God loves them too. So should you.
  • Try to smile and talk to these people. Even though they refuse to make eye contact, they are still breathing, right? Right? (Do not be afraid of zombies – they aren’t real)
  • Feel your heart beating faster? Pause. Go to the aisle with the plumbing fixtures and spend a few moments seeking Jesus and His face.  Breath deeply again while you ask Jesus to help you love people. Start to cry a little, and ask Him to change your heart.
  • Get the few remaining items you need and do it quickly. You feel the panick attack ensuing and need to use wisdom and discernment right now. (You are here to get meat to make nice food for your family. You love your family. You are here to get stuff for your family. You love your family.)
  • Keep breathing. The walls really aren’t closing in on you. (This is not about YOU)
  • Have conversations with yourself and with Jesus about the state of your heart and your mind. Remind yourself: You should be grateful that you HAVE a place to go for these items and that you have a job and the money to buy food.
  • Tell the devil to take himself straight back to YOU KNOW WHERE. He is trying to condemn you for your lack of love. This is conviction time, not condemnation time.
  • Get in the car. Talk to Jesus. Thank Him for taking over and helping you make the right choices in the face of how you felt. (It wouldn’t hurt to lock the door in case of the zombies)
  • You made it. You left without being mean. You left without striking back even though you were treated very rudely many, many times within a 20 minute time span. This ~ THIS will not break you. (The “job well done” talk with yourself doesn’t seem to be working, though)
  • Go home and feel and feel and act grumpy most of the afternoon. Realize your family can see it – feel it. It affected you. You know it, so you try to stop. It’s not working. (Pray for a clean heart)
  • You see it now: You were fooling yourself. You DIDN’T “make it”, friend. You didn’t love others fully.  you barely got by, is what really happened.  It coulda been worse, yes. But it coulda been a lot, LOT better! (Yes, you have been deceived and YES, your heart is still…”not well”)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Even though YOU realize your heart is sick, others will try to take it – Your heart. They will try to twist it into something that suits them. They will play with it and stomp on it and then toss it in the aisle that no one wishes to visit. This is why you feel you are being chased by zombies. But those zombies are just children whose hearts and love has grown cold. Very, very cold. And God loves them too.

He loves them too. And your heart is meant to be captured by HIM. When you feel that others are trying to take it, have no fear, friend.

He’s holding it in HIS hands. Just keep giving it back to HIM every single day.

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The results of my heart check up may not have been pretty, but they were helpful and revealing.

Here are my instructions to myself now:

  • Realize without question that your heart is dark. You need Jesus.
  • Be thankful for the reminder that you NEED to abide in Him, His strength, His glory, His presence.
  • Understand without question: You NEED to ask for Him to create a new heart entirely for you.
  • Have Faith: In the One who knows – the One who cares – the One who CAN and WILL transform this heart from ugly to stunning and pure!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

And it only took one little trip to Wal-Mart at noon on Saturday to remind you: Our God saves.

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Come With Me ~ ALLIN

Friends,

I have been praying for some time, along with others, about other ways in which to use my love of bringing praise and honor to Jesus through writing. Meaningful ways. I love the community we have here – amongst one another.  That is not going away. No way, no how!

But his prayer has been about how God might wish for us to reach others in different ways, further enhancing community in Christ, but most of all it has been about how to help others in our world to draw even closer to Jesus and live their lives with their eyes set upon Him.

It is not going to replace what I do here. It is simply another place in which I get to shout out His name with praise and adoration. I have said no to many such offers in the past. This one? This one is going to be different ~ I can feel it when I pray about it. He told me to say yes. Maybe He is going to whisper that word in your own ear too.

ALLIN. Living ALLIN for Him.

It is not about platforms. It is not about “followers” (except for those who are following after Jesus Christ). It is not about “promoting” anything other than Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

My friend Heather has had a vision about how she might reach others for Christ in a deeper way. She has had this dream for many years, and much prayer has gone into this adventure for Christ. She didn’t know what it would look like, but she knew God would give her the green light when it was time to step and move forward.

It’s time.

So the time has come. Several prayed-over folks have been given the honor by God, through Heather, to be contributing authors for this new ministry and community. I so happen to be one of them and thought those who read my heart here just might be interested in being a part of this wonderful community.

You are all valued and special in the eyes of the Lord. Maybe you will find even more to celebrate about Him here too!

It’s time for us to jump in – together – ALL IN!

Below, you will find the details about this wonderful community and ministry. Join us, won’t you? We are growing it together – US – with JESUS – I see fruit in our future. Abundant fruit.

Lift off is TODAY!

Join us, dear friends. It will be different than other things you have seen. It is the Lord’s. It is ours as co-heirs with Christ.

It’s about community in Christ. It’s about praising Him, sharing Him, learning about what He writes to us in His Word.

It’s about living all in for Him – not toe-dipping. Not halfway.

It’s about authentic admission of where we fail, but simultaneously it’s about the victory we already have because of Christ Jesus.

Yes. It’s about blossoming in our love for Him ~ in our awe of Him.

It’s ALL of it!

Let’s go ALLIN for Him together. Details Below….

cropped-allin_logo_header_2Click Here to Join Us! http://goingallin.org/

Let’s live ALLIN for Him.

Let’s live, learn and love ~ together.