Mission Possible: Grace

via Pixabay

via Pixabay

I’m on a mission.

A mission that the Lord has laid upon my heart pretty strongly.

I am going to share something I am deeply thankful for out loud on the blog for a while, friends.

The Word tells us to be thankful in all things. And lately, the Lord is asking me to find my thankful “rhythm” in each and every day.

Today, I am most grateful for grace.

Receiving of grace is not new for me by any means.

But I saw more grace today than I have seen in an entire day in a very long while.

Grace from people – God seeping through them.

Grace from people filled with the love of Jesus.

Grace from people who are still flawed, still sinners in need of a Savior, like me…..but who understand how much of a manifestation of Jesus and His love that grace actually is.

You know, it’s never too late. When we mess something up, but don’t see it until it seems like the moment has passed, we can always do our best to turn it around.

I saw that kind of grace today too. It’s in the heart. The heart that is filled with Him and His grace.

I saw grace through laughter today.

I saw grace through tears.

I saw grace through prayers, hands, work, voice, singing, and typing on a computer.

I saw grace in sharing about shortcomings, and things we all are thinking about, praying about, and wondering about.

I saw grace through mistakes.

But grace doesn’t go wrong.

I saw grace in the eyes of the children of Jesus today.

And I even got to see Him give some grace to me that I could share with others.

Even me….the recipient of far more grace than I ever show or give.

Even me….the one who knows how much room there still is for grace to flow out of her towards others.

Even me. And there’s grace in that.

I am thankful for grace today. Grace given, and grace received.

There’s even grace in that all by itself…..

Grace in the gift of gratitude.

Grace layered upon grace.

It’s not impossible.

It’s a divine mission.

Because it’s from HIM. The One through whom all things are possible.

The One who turns our “missions” into reality.

Jomayra Soto via Creationswap

Jomayra Soto via Creationswap

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,  glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Monday Might

Today, as you begin another week, are you tormented by anything?

Do you feel like you might drown underneath some really crazy waves?

Do you feel full or empty this Monday morning?

Do you know your value or are you feeling like you need to prove it?

Starting out tired already?

Feel like temptation is lurking around every corner?

Something rough happen over the weekend that has you wondering….(“will we be able to combat this thing, or is the devil going to win this one?”)

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, take a moment to meditate on these verses from the scriptures…..that’s what I’m doing today….that’s what we can do every.single.day!

And if you haven’t asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, won’t you consider doing just that? Right now?

Christians are the children of God, and as such, are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and HE will stand with us!

Be bold and believe.

After all, He is mighty to save!

So He’s certainly mighty enough to help us fight these battles too.

We have been granted permission to be bold in fighting against evil and wickedness…..

“The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 NIV

The power of Christ lives in us and His Spirit is made manifest through us. If He is the Lord of our lives, nothing can change that!

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is liv­ing in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mor­tal bod­ies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11 NIV

And when it’s time to resist all that is dark in this world and embrace the light, we do well to remember……

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

He is on our side………..

He is Mighty to Save…….

His power and might live within us…..

On Mondays…….

And every second of every day!

Call upon Him.

Tap into His power.

Let Him show His might.

And then show His love.

The enemy likes to attack us and then backtalk us when we fight against Him in our own power. But when we answer in God’s power, things start to change.

Got a little message to relay to the enemy today……

Just two words:

JESUS!

And………………..

Crush.

www,jtbarts.com

www,jtbarts.com

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be
against us?” Romans 8:31 NIV

You’re Crampin’ My Style, Bro!

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'” Genesis 2:18 NIV

I haven’t discussed much about my marriage on the blog and there’s a reason for that: I hold it pretty close to my heart. And, although I like to share those things which are near and dear to me with others, the sanctity of marriage, well, it’s just that – pretty darn sacred. However, the Lord is now telling me that He is okay with it, and that it may be beneficial to share some things about my own marriage with others. So I’m listening, and obeying.

My husband is aware of this and is behind it and supportive of it all the way; me sharing what the Lord lays on my heart or his through this blog adventure. I think that is MAJOR, friends! Having a husband who has no fear about his wife sharing it all with anyone who wishes to read about it? Whoa. He’s a cool dude.

Hubby’s Name? Mark.
Kind of Dude He is? Rad – and a true man of God! (It couldn’t get any better than that!)

I met Mark when I was 12 years old, but it’s not what you think. We didn’t grow up together, stay just with each other, and then get married, only to live happily ever after. A LOT of stuff happened between the age of 15 and 25 before we actually got married. Stuff that didn’t include Anne and Mark in the picture as a couple, much less one committed to the Lord together. THAT story, is a miracle in and of itself, and I shall share it another time.  But we did have a good puppy love kind of foundation from a very young age. We just weren’t yet “One.”

via stockvault.com

via stockvault.com

But we did reunite by the grace of God after I graduated from college, and we were married within six months after that. The Lord did a lot in that time. We spent a TON of time on the phone (Kansas to Colorado and vice versa) talking, crying, and laughing. We essentially “phone dated”, friends. I always say that was as good as any other kind of dating foundation before an engagement. We talked more in those phone conversations than we may have over the first ten years of our marriage. The hours of talking add up to be quite extensive that way. No interruptions, no physical distractions getting in the way, and the phone bill we had between us added up too! It was worth it.

I remember when we were newly married, we went to the store and ran into one of our old bible teachers that we knew in junior high. He pulled Mark aside and said “Guard your marriage with your life.” I will never forget that. Those words have stuck with me all through this 21 year awesome union that we have been blessed with, for sure.

But what I want to share today, is how Satan used those words, and that concept to twist things up in my own little mind – and we still came out all the better and all the stronger for it.

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

Picture This:

  • I move to Colorado to marry the man that I know the Lord had planned for me all along – no question about it.
  • He loves me and I love Him – we do all the “right” things: Premarital biblical counseling, making sure God was the core of our marriage, and making our plans accordingly.
  • Mark has a highly demanding job. He works hard, sometimes into the night, because the job simply requires that.
  • Anne starts to feel really sad – really lonely – really lost- pretty angry. No friends of her own, her family back in Kansas, and the few friends we had that were mutual, well, it just didn’t work out for us to spend much time with them.
  • Mark feels unsupported as Anne is always complaining. He is working hard, has the best of intentions, and doesn’t fully understand why she is being so unsupportive.
  • Anne decides to try to embrace it rather than fight it as a way to protect her feelings toward Mark – she wants to support him, and she seeks a job of her own.
  • Mark and Anne decide to do their best to live in peace and accept the circumstances. It doesn’t really work out too well.
  • Mark and Anne begin to live somewhat separate lives.

So there’s the beginning. I found a great job at a Christian ministry, and Mark and I found a way to make things work so we would fight less. We still had arguements sometimes, make no mistake, but this seemed to help in that arena. But the enemy had gotten in – we didn’t even realize just how far in he actually was.

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

Kids came into our life and we were (still are!) blessed. At a certain point, I had to give up my awesome job at the Christian organization. This was hard for me. It probably shouldn’t have been, but it was. I see now what caused that to be so difficult, which I will explain.

After a couple of years, we felt I needed to go back to work. We made changes in regard to Mark’s worklife, and one of the consequences of making that good change was that I strongly felt I needed to bring in some income and get a job with relatively inexpensive insurance benefits to help Mark feel he could make this change. This change was definitely for the better for our family, friends. Mark would still be working a LOT, but have a life. What he had been doing before was just sucking the life out of him, our marriage, and our relationship with God. So, we didn’t take this lightly – me going back to work.

The Lord blessed us and allowed me to find a job in which I could work at night, when everyone else in the family was sleeping. We felt this was good, because it enabled me to still be with the kids in the mornings, keep them out of full time daycare, get them to school, their activities, run the household, all that good stuff. It also removed some pressure in regard to the change at work Mark needed to make. (I think we were still relying far too much on ourselves for our sense of “security” at this point, yet we learned from it all)

As I write this, I truly wonder how we pulled this off. But then I have to remember: I was ten years younger when this started. It really wasn’t hard until I started to go through this middle-age, hormonal stuff a few years ago. Then the hammer came down. Anne could no longer handle this kind of schedule. We struggled for about three years in regard to this and, as you know, finally made the decision for me to stop. Tonight is my last night there. We are starting a new chapter – it’s taken a while to turn the page, but we’re there.

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

As you know, even more than that, the Lord has called us back to having me being with my family at night now – and to spending the time that I work in ministry – that is as big of a factor in this as the physical stuff. Honestly, it’s the main factor, friends.

But what I really and truly want to share with you the most is this……….

We are so blessed that this is happening, friends. We are looking forward to getting to spend time together in the evenings again, having sit down dinners as a family again a few times each week, having time to actually have discussions, lay in bed and read our bibles together, pray without rushing, all that good stuff. Many people don’t realize just how a schedule like we were operating on really, really looks. Let me describe it:

Mark gets up at 5 am, just right after or right around when Anne lays down for an hour or two before taking kids to school. Mark and Anne don’t see each other’s faces at that point. Anne sleeps after taking kids to school, gets ready, and goes to work without seeing Mark the majority of the time. We would go three days or more sometimes without even seeing each other’s face.

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

So, to cope with that and not have it completely tear your marriage apart, what do you do? You can continue to blame one another and fight, or you make the best of it. We decided to make the best of it and pray about making the very change we are making as of today.

During those three years from when we started praying until now, I realized something. We had started to actually make this work too well. I won’t speak for Mark, but for Anne, she found a way to embrace it rather than fight it, because fighting it sends Anne to a very, very bad place. See, I think we got tunnel vision and thought that we had only two options: work at night, or quit and have no insurance or income.

There were actually more than two all along – God is not that limited. We just weren’t looking up and looking to Him for what He wanted for us. We weren’t all the way in – and in a sense, we were approaching it all wearing our little smarty pants! It’s been quite humbling.

I started to make my little love list of reasons why this was actually good for us – me working at night. I’d tell myself things like “That’s probably why we are still married” (joking, but kind of not) – “if we were around each other too much, we’d start to fight.” Or, “this is good, because it’s kind of like dating and makes us appreciate one another.” Or, if I was really being honest, “I don’t want to risk not liking him much by getting in each other’s  hair and space too much after all these years of doing it this way – ug, what if it makes us fight to be around each other too much.”

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

Uh-huh. See how the enemy did that in my mind? He took the “guarding your marriage” thing and twisted it up. He took the good intention of not wanting to look at the glass half empty, make the best of something that just no longer seemed right and in line with God’s will for us, and turned it into selfishness, fear, and no matter how you cut it, bondage. It became “guard Anne’s heart” more than “honor and guard your marriage.”

So, we are excited, friends. But if I am really honest with myself, I am nervous about it too, and that is why the Lord is nudging me to share today. I have work to do with the Lord in that area, for sure. I want to guard my marriage, and I know the decision we are making will do just that. But I also know we are going  to cramp each other’s style now that we will be around each other more. We are going to get in each other’s “space”, yo! And that, sadly, after almost 22 years of marriage, is something we don’t quite know how to do yet: how to live with each other and actually be around each other a LOT, but still get along. It’s never happened. We’ve never been in that position.  And that’s kind of scary.

But guess what?  God can handle scary. (poof!) He will teach us. And I have great peace about that. Mark and I talked about this last night. He was doing the dishes, something he has taken over for the last several years. That dude has a serious system worked out, man! I will be the first to tell you that I am not as methodical as he is about how to properly load a dishwasher. My goal is just to shove them in there and run it and then put them away. Mark is utterly gifted when it comes to maximizing the use of space, something I have always been terrible about! He can get more into one trashbag or suitcase than I could ever even think to imagine! I love this about him, as it doesn’t cause waste. I don’t mean to waste, but I just have never been good about learning how to do stuff like that. I like lots of room to move.

via stockvault.com

via stockvault.com

So as he was doing those dishes last night, I mentioned it: “You know, we are going to need to be on guard about how we speak to one another now that we will be around each other more.” He looked at me and I could see it in his eyes: he’d been thinking the same thing.

He will, for example, share an idea with me about how to load the dishwasher better. And sometimes, I get upset if he doesn’t say it just the right way. This is because I am a thoughts-driven person – what goes on in my head is the following….”wow, I took the kids to school, filled out 18 forms, turned  them all in, made 10 phone calls and appointments,  managed the family calendar,  cleaned the whole house, spent sometime getting the blog done, answered prayer requests, went to the doctor’s office, stopped by the store, did three loads of laundry, still have an entire shift to do at work tonight, and you are talking to me right now about one dish I didn’t load properly into the dishwasher? Really?”

Ha Ha!

And here’s what I do to him: He tells me about a situation and  I say, “when you talk to him, you might say _____ so that he doesn’t feel bad.” To Mark, if I am not careful, it comes across as me telling him what to do or as thought I don’t think he is smart enough to think of that himself.  This is a tough one for me, because I am just trying to help, him, just as he is only trying to help me about the dishwasher.  But a lot of times, I realize that the way I can help him best is to ask some questions after listening, instead of just sharing my thoughts on what might help him. He is an intelligent man and I don’t make sure he knows that I know and appreciate that enough!  Then I realize just how dumb I actually still am sometimes when it comes to how to share thoughts and ideas with men. Dufus!

Not so Ha Ha!

via stockvault.com

via stockvault.com

Anyway, friends, we can go the wrong direction as far as “guarding our marriage” goes in the sense that we can start to fear letting anything in that may make things uncomfortable, can’t we? And that is based in fear, not honor and love. It’s also rooted in self-sufficiency.

Just like everything else, we need to trust the Lord about all of this – yes, we need to put on the armor of God every single day and guard what is holy, pure, and true. But ultimately, we must trust Him and remember it is He who has the power, not us. He gives it to us as we seek it. He will guard our marriage and help us to take the steps we need to carry that out. If we try to do it, we will screw it up just like Mark and I did.

And “cramping” can be good, you know. It makes us a bit uncomfortable, and causes us to take a look at why that discomfort is there. I want Mark to “cramp my style” a little and take some of “my space”, because I want it to be “our style” and “our space” now. It’s just not going to be an easy change. I am so blessed and thankful that we get to do it together though, with God right there in the center of it all!

via stockvault.com

via stockvault.com

The giving up of self never ends, does it? And I thank my Lord, my God every single day for making it clear to me that I still have a lot to learn from Him, as well as many blessings to reap and share with others. We know there will be snow. We know there will be sunshine. There will be rain, and clouds, flowers and warmth. We don’t really care what the weather is – we are just glad we will be together. Actually, it feels a lot like Christmas; the Lord giving us gifts and blessings to celebrate all He can do in us because of Jesus Christ.

Here’s to all God can do as He helps us turn the pages and start new chapters in love and in life!

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV

DSCN0544

Getting Our Hands Dirty Keeps the Flowers Purty!

Man Holding Sprout

If we want to grow, we are going to have to be willing to get our hands dirty, there’s no question about it. And it IS the will of God that we grow in Him and draw closer to Him. In fact, He wants for us to utterly flourish!

“Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will
produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to
know God better and better.” Colossians 1:10 NLT

MP900182664[1]

What is something that stunts growth quite rapidly? Sin we don’t bother to confess. The stuff we just leave alone – avoid bringing to God, friends. Yah…that sin.

It’s so crucial for me to be constantly watchful of how sin tends to slink it’s way right into my heart and life. I try to remain ever-vigilant about the obvious temptations –  watching my mouth, trying to take an approach of service towards others (versus selfishness) , being honest about my intentions and motivations with myself and with God, avoiding laziness and coveting, focusing on being loving to others, and lots of other things. And I fail sometimes – too often, in fact.

But then there are also the less-than-obvious things in life that allow sin to creep up on us, aren’t there? As always, there are new weeds of sin just ready and lingering- waiting in the shadows for just the right time to plant themselves firmly in the garden of our hearts, prevent new growth, and attempt to overtake that which is already blooming there.

Nemo via Pixabay

Nemo via Pixabay

Weeds are mean. They are ugly. They breed and spread their baby seeds everywhere with the sole intention of smothering any and every thing that might be in the way. They like to choke, cut off, and squash out love and life, while they take on  far-reaching lives of their own. They are resistant, resilient, and just plain stubborn!

And leaving them alone is not an option either. Very little will stop weeds in their tracks if they are left to their own devices.

Weeds are savvy too – they are survivors by nature. We have to outwit them and work hard at killing them. More often than not we can’t do this on our own and we have to call upon experts to help us. Then we end up wishing we had just done that in the first place.

So it is with God and the temptations we struggle with in life – we may be saved by grace, but we still sin and have to be on guard with Him as our lead commander in the war against the flesh. To do so, we need to rely upon Him to expel the weeds of sin in our lives; and we need to partner actively with Him in that endeavor.

A big reason for this is that no matter how intently we seek to stay away from sin, if we try to do so apart from God and in our own ability, sin weeds will eventually win out. Weeds are driven by the motivation of prevailing as top dogs, and in all honestly, in the fleshly realm, the physical realm, they often do “win.” They tend to be stronger than all the rest. Their goal is to utterly dominate – seek and destroy –  KILL anything in their path; and to have no mercy in the process whatsoever.

I told you…weeds are mean. And they are ugly. Especially sin weeds.

But the truth is, that those suckers are fallible. They want us to think that they have already won once they rear their ugly little heads, but that is a lie. They CAN be conquered!

weeds

I found a new weed in the garden a few months ago. I realized that even though I don’t have any outwardly visible barriers between myself and a particular person for the world to see right now, that there was still a nice-sized weed creeping into my heart in relation to that certain someone. And I hadn’t even really noticed it. Actually, I guess that I had noticed it, but I didn’t recognize it for the weed of sin that it was. I justified it not as “sin” in my life because it had come through something that the other person did to me.

See what I mean? Weeds are creepy.

This person had hurt my feelings – more than once, but probably not even intentionally. They aren’t someone that I interact a lot with in my world, so why give it a whole lot of energy? I just decided when I first started feeling bitter towards them that I should set it aside -just let it go.

But I forgot one very important thing: To confess my own sin in the matter to the Lord. How can I continue to forget this stuff? It just blows me away how dense and deceived I am sometimes.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and
purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV

Friends, I hadn’t let it go. I hadn’t repented of all the ugliness that I had allowed to invade my heart in relation to this person. I hadn’t even seen it, yet somehow, I knew it was there – no excuses! I had swept it under the rug under the guise of “letting it go.”

Then, when I knew without question that it was there, I chose to ignore it. And not only did I choose not to confess or open my eyes to my own role in the matter, I certainly hadn’t even thought about forgiveness!

weeds

And so it grew………………….

“I can’t believe that ___________ would do that to me. I have never asked them for anything before. Why can’t I get some support from them for once? Don’t they even care?”

And it spread…………………………

“__________ must just be absorbed with themselves right now. I should be okay with that, but if I really look deep down inside, I just can’t move past thinking that they really do come across as selfish, self-centered, and non-caring. How hypocritical of them! They are so all about just themselves!”

moreweeds

And it choked…………………..

“I don’t want to be nice to ___________ the next time I see them. But I have to. I wish I could show love to them, but isn’t that kind of hypocritical of ME? I mean, they are the one who caused ME to feel bad. It is due to their selfishness that I feel this way, not mine.”

And it snuffs out beauty. Smashes love………………..

“Yah…I still feel bitter, but I am working on forgiving. It’s a process. I think I just won’t be mean, but I won’t be overly nice either the next time I interact with them. Should I think twice about being overly supportive and investing any time and energy into them the next time they need me? No, that’s the flesh talking. But I still feel bitter and resentful toward them in my heart. I hope I can get better about this. This is really bad. Gosh, I am a really bad person – this is not very Christ-like of me………..”

And on and on and on the enemy goes in the feeble mind and heart of Annie B.

coffee

Ug. I greatly abhor the enemy.

But I love my Lord and Savior!!!!!!!! He saves me from the enemy, and He saves me from myself. He saves me from the weeds, and He yanks them outta there roots and all! Then He fills me up with this wonderful thing….this thing called love. And this other thing….this thing called forgiveness.

The fact is, we are called to forgive as Christ forgives us. We are commanded to love others the way that He loves us. We are asked directly by the Lord Himself to come to Him to help us to purge sin out of our lives (through HIS power, and our willingness to obey), repent of it, and keep the garden healthy and growing. We have to ask Him to do it in us – He is the weed expert! He is the exterminator, the weed killer, the gardener, the gate keeper, the powerful one who knows what it is to conquer, and knows just how to do it!

Waiting to forgive until I feel like it or because it’s a “process” is a bunch of trash! Working through feelings may be a process, working through repairing damage may be one too, but we can forgive right away with God’s help – and He asks us to.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Our pastor shared with us not too long ago that he thinks truly being able to forgive as Christ forgave us will sometimes involve the commitment to cry out to the Lord for His power along with a realization that sometimes forgiveness is on a kind-of daily continuum on our part. This is especially true when someone continues to do something over and over again, or something has happened that continues to have lasting ramifications that renew and show up day to day.

New bitter weeds can spring up even when the primary offender seems to have been yanked out of the ground (uh-hem…..heart).

I have asked the Lord to forgive me, but to also help me to forgive this person….completely. But I realize that I will have to go to my Savior in prayer every day – over and over again to ask for Him to help me remove any residual bitter seeds that remain. Why? Because the sin weed in relation to this situation may have already sprouted little babies into the air that just haven’t landed on the dirt and taken root quite yet.

And because my heart is not as it should be.

I wake up every day and there is a new chance for sin to enter or re-enter my life. But Gods grace, mercy and His compassion….. they are new every day – and we must remember to turn to Him for it.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

I have no excuse. I am guilty of not watching for the weeds in this area with this person. I am also guilty of excusing myself when I did see them show up. And finally, I am guilty of turning to myself instead of to my Savior for help.

I took for granted the fact that the flowers are still flourishing and looking beautiful and smelling good. I decided to do other things since they didn’t seem to need any water or attention for the moment. I didn’t neglect them completely, no not at all. I still enjoyed their beautiful colors and took time to gaze upon them. But I did forget to pay attention to the ugly invaders that were starting to grow. And that is my responsibility – to bring my sin to the Lord day by day.

We have to ask the Lord to give us clear vision to kick the enemy out of our hearts the moment a new growth of ugliness starts to appear. We then, by beseeching Him to equip us with HIS power, need to yank it out by the roots, burn it, and relegate it to the trash can that resides far, far away from the garden of growth in the Lord. And we need to take care of the garden every single day.

trash

It is not my garden anyway, it is my Savior’s. It is not meant to be the playground of the devil, it is the realm of the Lord! The enemy will always try to sneak in and vandalize or destroy it, but he doesn’t belong there. And the true owner of this domain is quite territorial – as He should be!

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is
in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

God’s message to me is quite clear: Put on the reinforced gloves, keep your shovel handy, and get to work. Stop and smell the flowers along the way, enjoy the beauty of all that He has created, but never forget to treat that which is the Lord’s with tender loving care. And although we have been redeemed by Christ Jesus, we still live in this world – which is just filthy, any way you cut it. We may not live for it any longer, but we still reside within it – hence, the need to take care.

I shall dig down until my fingers bleed, if necessary. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Besides, I have the mighty hand of the Lord upon me – and He isn’t afraid to get HIS dirty either.

In fact, He still has the scars to prove it. And those scars mean something: OWNERSHIP.

“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…..” Isaiah 49:16

I’m sure grateful that my Savior wasn’t afraid to get HIS hands dirty for me – He certainly went FAR beyond that for us, friends. And amazingly, His are the most pure, holy and lovely hands that we shall ever see!

Thanks be to God, we don’t have to relay any messages to the enemy to make sure that he knows who is the Ruler of All and Who will reign in power and glory for all eternity.

The message has already been sent  for us…….

via C28 Christian Graphics

via C28 Christian Graphics

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.” Matthew 6:13

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo?

Bondage?

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Freedom?

via jtbarts.com

              via jtbarts.com

No Brainer.

via FCI

              via FCI

“He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their
chains.” Psalm 107:14 NIV

 

Plan A – The Only Way

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Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. James 4:13-17

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When I look at the majority of my life, I see quite clearly that backup plans have always been a thing for me. I am an organized and pretty planned out person by nature, so I am pretty good at coming up with plans and the action steps required to get them accomplished.

My typical approach:

A: The ideal plan: but the hard one to make work-hard to get buy-in for it to work
B: The practical plan: takes some effort but may not fulfill all original goals
C: The “Good ‘Nuf” plan: The one I don’t really like, but will do if no one else buys into the first two and if I just get utterly exhausted trying any more

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When it comes to tasks, on the job and such, I think planning can be a good thing, as long as it doesn’t cause us to become inflexible and hard to work with. I think it is part of what we are called to do at work- to be good stewards, to be responsible to our employers and co-workers, and to make the most out of our role within the organization.

But in life, I am finding that my plans aren’t always the Lord’s plans. Actually, it goes even deeper than that. In life, having backup plans for practically everything has been… well….. let’s just call it what it is, shall we? An idol.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 NKJV

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It’s time to let go of the “need” to plan. It’s time to embrace the fact that our security is in the Lord and what He wants us to do. It’s time to surrender all of our preconceived notions and hopes and “plans” to God Almighty when He calls us to do so. And if we listen, He will tell us the steps to take. He will also tell us just how many “plans” to make to carry those plans of His out. This is so hard to do, friends. Sooooo very hard.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He
will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell
you what is yet to come.” John 16:13 NIV

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Yes, we should be wise about what we have and the choices that we make – (i.e. use the wisdom and discernment HE has given to us). Yet at the same time, we cannot be ruled and overtaken by playing it safe as we make our choices if the Lord is calling us to step out and trust in Him in faith. After all, who is smarter? Who is the better planner? He is, after all the Creator of the entire universe!

Sometimes it can seem confusing – that we are called to do both things, right? To be wise and make some plans, yet to live our lives out in faith – sometimes to throw plans right out the window if we find out they are more OUR plans than HIS plans.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” NASB 2 Corinthians 5:7

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I don’t really see that Jesus is in favor having backup plans – I don’t see it in the Bible much, if any, and I don’t see it in His interactions with people. I believe that God has one plan, but He reserves the right (as He is completely entitled to) to go about making that plan come to fruition in a multitude of ways. I think sometimes He gives us the freedom to choose from several options too – but not always.

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Who am I to even think that my own little plans should have any weight when it comes to His sovereign plans for my life? It’s not my life anymore, it’s HIS. I gave it to Him. Because He owns it. He didn’t take it – He asked for it though. And I am blessed to say I finally gave it over – no more reluctance here! I just forget that sometimes…ha ha.

My plans stand on no foundation whatsoever if I don’t include God in my big picture of how life ought to be! Who am I to think I am even a microscopic co-planner with God? I am not in charge of the plan. But because He says so, I am privileged to be a part of how He wishes to bring those plans about. That, is an honor, dear friends of mine. One we would do well to take quite seriously.

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He is our way to salvation. Why shouldn’t He be our way when it comes to the path we follow while we are still here? I think when He says He is the Way, He means in all things. After all, isn’t our life here part of our journey towards eternity? He is using that time we have here to prepare us to come fully into His presence.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6

” I will  instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8 NASB

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The Jesus Plan? Plan A? It’s the only way. It’s where it’s all at!

If God has laid something strongly upon your heart, and your intentions and motivations are pure; made up of the stuff that entails drawing closer to Him, being more in His will, following after Him – then go after it while asking for His guidance every step of the way. But we simultaneously must be willing to change course at any time – He does that sometimes, you know. And this too, is haaaarrrrddddd.

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He will make it clear to us if what we are seeking is not a part of His plan for us – He will clear the way if He so desires, and He will thwart our efforts at some point if it is not a part of His will. I truly believe that – as long as we are seeking Him. If we make mistakes, that was part of the plan and we will learn from that. If we are successful and following the path He wanted for us all along, He lets us know. Sometimes, more often than not – for me, at least, it’s a nice stewy little mixture of the two. This breeds humility – and patience – and thankfulness – amongst other things.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”  1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything
according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 NIV

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He does tell us that it is good to ask for what we desire according to His will. Yet we don’t want to confuse that with trying to pave our own way. Those are two different things, and sometimes it is hard to discern that. If that is happening to you, ask the Lord to give you that discernment and wisdom – ask Him to reveal it to you. That is what becomes more important than which way to go at that point.

This is what I saw myself in the last couple of weeks. I was focusing so much on “do I go this way or do I wait” that I failed to see that what He actually wanted was for me to let go of that and ask for Him to just meet me where I was at. As soon as I did that, He met me – big time. All the rest is starting to fall into place – some things faster than I thought, while others are still not yet revealed. We learn from our mistakes. We learn too from our triumphs.

“For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul’ discretion will watch over your, understanding will guard you.” Proverbs 2:10-11

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This is what I am doing right now in relation to my future employment situation. I am obviously no expert, friends. But I can tell you that I feel free. I truly feel that by relinquishing control, God has taken over the reins of everything – and I feel safer than I really ever have. For now, it seems like His plan – part of it – entails me leaving the job I have had for over ten years, one in which I was doing quite well by the world’s standards. But He could change His mind any moment He so desires as to where I will be going from here. He may even do it just to test me: Really? Does Annie really mean it that she is willing to follow Me and what I have in store for her regardless of what direction she thought it might be going?”

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” Psalm 66:10

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But no matter what, God’s plan is always the ideal plan. There are always blooms of new life springing up and growing as we yield to Him and His way of doing things. He doesn’t see it as too lofty a goal to achieve, or too much work to do to get it done. He doesn’t have a backup plan or two in place, “just in case”. God’s kind of ideal plan is far greater than we could ever imagine. There are lots of things that can be done within that plan to fulfill it’s objectives. Again, sometimes He gives us choices as to which of those things He allows us to do. But all are part of His one and only ideal plan for us.

His Plan A – The Best Way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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My focus is on following after Him and whatever that plan is that He has for me and my family is just fine with me (although it wouldn’t need to be, would it?) Instead of worrying about Plan B or Plan C, I am looking forward to digging deep within God’s plans and living there. Sometimes it may be hard, and other times, He may just decide to make it fun. We don’t know, do we? But any way you cut it, it will be Him, not us who decides. And it will be a blessing.

That makes me feel more secure than any plan I could ever have on my own.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

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Even when it seems hard, remember, we are more important to Him than anything else on this earth. He will take care of us. God wants His plans to come to fruition. He wants them to prosper us and grow us. He wants for us to be inspired, and by submitting, He can flow through us all the easier. Sometimes He allows suffering or trials to enter into the picture to grow us, or bring about something else He requires in His plans, but He always takes care of us. He values us – and He loves us. We are His children.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

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We don’t have to spend all of our time creating backup plans, friends. We are called to fly. We are called to trust. We are called to believe. And we are called to love.

I shall continue to make loose plans for what I think the Lord is leading me to accomplish in life, yes. Everything from how to get all my tasks done for the day, to managing my calendar, to taking steps to determine what direction He wants me to walk in for the day….the next week….the next month….year…..life. But they are loose plans because they need to be flexible – always bendable enough for Him to come in and re-mold the entire project if He so desires. Not conformed to the limited rigidity of this world.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV

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Flexibility is an aspect of surrender, isn’t it? To be a great implementor of God’s plans, we must listen, be willing to yield, and then go after what He tells us to with fierce-like force once we know. All the while knowing…..He may stop us mid-stream!

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

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I’m committing – In all in on Plan A, the Jesus Way.

Because my God – My Jesus? He IS the ONLY Way!

Anne’s Testimony in Pictures

Birth……..

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Held Safely…………………….

(Photo Credit-MorgueFile)

Steps………………………………………………………

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Exploration……………………………………………………

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Moving away………………………………………………….

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Running Away…………………………………

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My Way……………………………………………………..

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Stay away…………………………………………

Girl Leaning Against Brick Wall

It’s my life…………………………………………

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The Power of ME………………………..

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And Darkness Ensues…………………

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Sad Teenage Girl

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Couple Holding Hands at Bar

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Photo Credit – morgueFile

Holding Hands with Elderly Patient

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Stressed Businesswoman

Fallen Down…………………………………………………

Sick Young Woman Lying in Bed

Getting back up……………..

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Still Sad……………………….

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Still No……………….

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Down unending…………………………………….

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Nothing there………………

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Trapped………………………..

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Asking for Help………………

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Reaching Out….

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Indecision………………..

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I’m Done…

Surrendering with White Flag

Where are you?

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I don’t see you!

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Submission…………………….

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Repentance…………………

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Acceptance………………………………………..

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Forgiven……….

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Deliverance…………………………………

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Peace Filled………….

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Identity…………………

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The Power of HE………..

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His Way…………

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Steps………………

Held Safely…………………………..

Born Again

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In God’s Hands

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Growing Again…………………………..

The way that He always intended.

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

P.S…………………………………

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All images in this post from microsoft images, Pixabay and various Christian free image websites – no attribution required or desired.

Singing through the Sobs – Mama has to go now

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This is the longest post I have ever written, but like all my posts, it is a story, and I just cannot bear to break it up into pieces – not this one. So you may wish to save it for reading when you have some time. You may need tissues too, depending on what you have experienced in your own life. (I have gone through a box already just in writing this).

I have completed my goal to write to you, thirty stories in thirty days. The Lord really placed that upon my heart and He has been gracious to allow it to happen. I will continue to write to you, dear friends, of the wonders my Lord, my God is doing in my life. I will continue to pray that He blessses you as you press deeper into His bosom and praise His glorious and wonderful name. It is a blessing for me to be able to reach out to each of you and to share all that He is placing upon my heart.

Thank you for being a part of my continued journey in Christ. And thank you for inviting me to be a part of yours.

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People sing, even when they’re sad. And did you know that we can worship God any time? No matter how we feel, happy, or blue…Our God, we can sing to Him. And He hears us, our songs, our cries, and our praises. He hears us singing, even through the sobs.

We’re closing in on almost three years now, since my beautiful mama left this world to go home to live with her Savior. I can remember so clearly driving across Kansas to try to reach her in time.

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My brothers and I had been taking multiple trips to go out and spend time with dear mama as she slipped further and further out of our reach. We sometimes got to be there with her, all of us together, to listen to her, to talk and sit with her and read the Bible and pray. We were able to rub lotion on her hands, massage her arms, administer medication, cry, laugh, and eat chocolate. We got to talk to doctors, nurses, learn about controlled medications, and eat chocolate. And we wept with family, hosted friends and visitors, administered said medication, and ate chocolate.

Good thing that chocolate isn’t a controlled medication…..I’d be an addict AND a criminal if that were so!

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We got to also, for precious moments at a time – to, just be……… A family.

My brothers and myself, we really didn’t know exactly when mama would leave us. Honestly, the heightened awareness of the fact that it “could be any time” lasted over a period of several weeks. Every time all the hospice workers and grief counselors said, “any time now,” she would bounce back to us again. We loved the fact we got to have her with us all the longer, but that was seriously stressful! Wondering when exactly the hammer was going to drop upon our heads and the light in our hearts to momentarily be blown out. The not knowing….the not wanting to not be there when she needed us most…this aspect of it all, along with worrying about how much pain she might be in was probably the worst part for me.

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But we had jobs and families outside, (all three of us lived in different towns/states) so we unfortunately had to start taking shifts to come out to be with our dear one.

Mama battled cancer well. Not just with the most phenomenal example of grace that I have ever seen, but she was just strong as a horse physically. None of us could believe what all her poor cancer-filled little body could take. When she finally did leave us, it truly looked as though she were being ripped right out of her body….pulled up into the air, by the hand of God Himself (at least that’s what it looked like to me).

I think mama was so solid in her faith and her belief that God would always be there – waiting for her when the time was right, that she fought to stay with us, her children, as long as she possibly could. I really believe that SHE was ready to go, but she wasn’t sure if we were ready for it. She didn’t want to leave without her family. And God answered her prayer for that. He allowed her to stay until He saw fit to say that it was finished. Mama’s pain and affliction was used for OUR good and His purposes in our lives. Have you ever experienced the excruciating feeling of knowing a suffering loved one is staying around and continuing to endure unimaginable pain for YOU?

It wrenches my heart every time I think of it. Something is squeezing it very tightly right this very moment. But I know it to be true.

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God never allows pain  without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor  circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that  affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work  together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness  of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29). ~ Jerry  Bridges

I remember one day (when she could still speak a little) she kept saying that over and over….”I want ALL of my family to come with me to  heaven,” I want ALL of my family to come with me to heaven.” Once the statement started to take on a tone of distress, I told mama that the Bible says that Jesus was recognized after His resurrection. If Jesus was recognizable in His glorified body, wouldn’t we be recognizable in our own? And, we’d be right behind her – that it just wasn’t our turn yet. The passing of time in heaven is something we cannot fully understand.

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I told mama, that what we DO know, is that God is going to be there with her – waiting. She will be in His presence until we come to join her. And He will be with us too, here….while we wait. For we too, are his children. We too, are his sheep.

“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. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is  able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Jesus speaking) John 10:27-29

I had prayed quite a bit and asked the Lord to give me what I should say in the event this very thing should happen. I knew mom was so very concerned about leaving us behind, her three children. Grown as we are, we are still her babies. That has to be heart-wrenching in a way I cannot fully imagine. I thank My Father in heaven for giving me the words to say. Mama really did seem to be honestly relieved by this, and other things that my brothers were able to share with her. With me, she simply nodded with what seemed like a very peaceful look on her face. She just no longer seemed sad or worried about it. God had given her His peace.  And He had given it to me as well. We have an abundantly gracious Father.

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Things started to change after that, as I recall. Mama continued to share the things she was experiencing, seeing, and hearing with us. She told us of the people she was meeting, and the fact that “He is coming.” I will be writing about that another time.

So, we now will return to this clear memory I have of driving across Kansas.
It was my turn to get to go out and be with mama and I left Colorado again to make the 8 hour drive. Being a person who works at night, I decided to stay on my normal schedule and drive out this February night instead of battling the sunshine and the traffic. (It’s a bit easier to be in the dark when you are grief-stricken).

Honestly, I do not remember if this was the last and final trip that I made before she passed away, or just another one of the many I’d take over the last few weeks before she went to be with God.

I remember……………………………………………

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This trip, this drive, is the one I remember the most though. I had been running on adrenaline for quite some time, and had gotten used to coming back to my own sweet little family, my job, and my responsibilities for a week or so, then turning around to go out to Kansas again. I knew this trek across this stretch of deserted and boring concrete like the back of my hand. Dark or no dark.
As much as I dreaded these long and boring drives, I grappled with the guilt every time I thought that to myself, as I knew that when the drives out there ceased, what that would mean for all of us. So I tried to be grateful to have a reason to get to go yet another time. Music is what kept me company. There’s not much else to look at along that long road. Especially in the dark. And honestly, I needed to drown out the mutterings in my head – they really weren’t comforting ones….just me and my little mind talking to itself.

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Although this particular trek is so clear in my mind’s eye, it, ironically, was an extremely dark and foggy and VERY snowy night. Truly, I was in the midst of a blizzard at 1am in the morning…..moving at a pace of about 5-10 mph. Absolute and complete white knuckles all the way from Hays to Topeka. Not sure if I’d make it to there….to see my dear mama. Not sure if I might die before she did…in a ditch somewhere…freezing, in the dark…muttering to myself and praying for my Savior to drown out my own voice, until my heart would just…..stop. (“Maybe that’s as it should be?”, I thought).

Snap out of it!

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“I am really starting to lose my mind,” I thought to myself, laughing out loud quite hysterically.
I had made it a habit of listening to praise and worship music on these trips. I learned certain songs by heart, and listened to the same ones over and over and over again. I sang them when I didn’t want to. I sang them through the screams. I sang them through the hysterical laughter. I sang them through the fear of driving off the road.

And I sang them through the sobs…the rib cage cracking, heart being squeezed to the point of pain, my head is going to implode any moment, sobs.

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All of those songs hold a special place in my heart now. But the one I remember the most, is the one I sang over and over during that blizzard….three of the darkest and longest hours of my life. This little song….well it’s the one that came to mind when I finally turned off the radio as I was trying to conserve the little gas I had left (for some reason, I had the insane idea that the radio was going to suck all the heat out of the heater and the gas out of the tank – go figure).

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(5 miles per hour. Blizzard. Can’t see. Slower ‘ cross Kansas, poor old me.)
This little light of mine

(choking sobs-heaving chest, clinging to Jesus, He loves me the best)
Is mom still there? Are my brothers okay? Am I going to wreck? Will I see them today?)
I’m gonna let it shine.

(streaming and stinging, grief and pain, trying to see through the sleet and the snowy rain)
This little light of mine

(headlights fuzzy, dark and cold, wow this song, it’s getting old)
I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine (choke), let it shine

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(aaah….wailing cries, screaming loud, will my God ever lift this cloud?)
Won’t let Satan blow it out

(Screaming now, “I hate your guts, I hate you Satan, you’re making me nuts!)
I’m gonna let it shine

(ah, ha, ha, ha…sniff! I can’t breathe, better stop, cuz I may heave)
Won’t let Satan blow it out

(awful enemy, go back home, I can’t stand you, leave me alone!)
I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Whaaaaaa Haaaa Haaaaa AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

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The snow let up just as I pulled into Topeka. I had no more tears left for the time being. Oddly, I felt reenergized. There had been a couple of times before this in my life that I truly cried out to God. This time….I practically left my body doing it. I guess in a way, this was my moment for God to lift ME out of MY body and unto Him. It saved me. It helped me be able to face the day.

And then, mama left us.

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The day that mama went home to be with her Savior, we all got to be there with her, my brothers and me. She had told us in days previous to that one the wonderful things she got to see as she was waiting on the Lord. The most important thing she told us was that He says we are all invited.

“Tell EVERYONE they are invited. He says ‘Come All’.”

I guess in kind of a strange, yet glorious way, she did get to take some of us along with her to heaven – even if it was just to the edge of it and back. But the message He sent – THAT gets to stay with us forevermore. And He’s the light that won’t ever go out.

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I will hold that little mama light of mine close to my heart while I’m still here. But I won’t be needing it any longer once it’s my turn to join her and my Savior for eternity. He IS the light. And He is with me NOW. In a way, so is Mama.

Do you think He will choose for her to come with Him to the gates when it’s time to greet me? Will mama’s face be the one I see right after I get to see His?

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Mother Resting Head on Infant's Chest

I can almost hear her voice singing to me now….telling me…reminding me of what I can do in the meantime……while I wait…………………..

“You know Anne, you can worship God ANY time!”

“Yes I can, mama. Yes, I most certainly can.”

And yes………………………………..I WILL.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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“Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

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Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

Do you have someone whose little light still shines in your heart? I would love to hear about it! Please share below in the comments if you wish.

Down but not Out

Aside

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Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness the Lord will be my light.” Micah 7:8

Grief. Sickness. Fear. Pain. Spiritual Warfare.

Battles!

Confusion. Depression. Anxiety. Closed Doors. Sadness.

Battles!

Anger. Frustration. Sin. Malice. Persecution.

Battles!

Indecision. Missed opportunities. Busy-ness. Finances. Weariness.

All Battles!

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Battles have a way of knocking us off our feet. Do you ever get tired of fighting them? Is it hard for you, like it is for me, to get back up? It can be utterly exhausting if we try to wage war against them by ourselves.

As I really let this verse sink in, I think of something my mother once taught me: When you are down, or you have fallen, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that will happen?” By earthly standards, it is death.There are many dear souls I know that are grappling with that as a very real possibility in their world right now too. But the good news is that for those of us who trust in Christ as our Savior and Lord of our lives, what our world calls “death” is the ultimate “rise” we will ever experience. Thanks be to Jesus!

Most of the time though, we will fall down and then rise back up several times, before getting to leave this earth to join our Heavenly Father. In some ways, that can be even more daunting to think about. It can make the journey ahead and all the ups and downs that go along with it seem long, dark and tedious, to say the least.

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So what does that mean for us in the meantime – while we wait to “rise” for the final time; never to fall down again? Is there any light up ahead of what seems like a never-ending road? What shall we do with ourselves every time we fall down? Where is the light to help us face the day?

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

It’s hard to be still when we feel we have fallen down – when we are under attack. Everything within us screams, “Get back up!” and “Do it NOW!” But there are times for us to stop everything, take cover, and let God do the work He is best at: Faithful Restoration.

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Let’s return for a moment to what we are up against, which should firm up our resolve to move aside and ask the Lord to fight these battles for us:

There is an ongoing battle for all that we are and all we can be in Christ, and it’s a relentless one. Satan is not happy when he sees us moving toward the Lord and the Light that He is. He doesn’t want us to walk upright. He wants us to be down and to stay there. The faster we bounce back up, the more arrows he orders to come our way. That is just one of his strategies in this war. And make no mistake, he will never stop until the Lord puts an end to it once and for all (which He promises He will do – read Revelation!)

Marry that knowledge to our very real, sinful nature, along with the iniquities of this imperfect world, and we are bound to fall down throughout our lives – multiple times.

We can also fall down out of complete and utter exhaustion – from getting so busy we don’t stop to allow the Lord to restore our souls, fill us with energy, renew our minds, our bodies, and our spirits with the fullness of Him. Spending time just being still in His presence is vital to our health and well-being. Plus, it is something the Lord greatly desires from US. We shouldn’t wait until we fall down to do this. But sometimes we do. I know I am guilty of it – far too often.

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NOT SO!!!!.

But the smug and evil enemy likes to make us think that when we are down, we are out. But even in the dark times – even in the times that we fall down – whether it is our own fault or because some arrow has temporarily pierced us; no matter where we are – down or up – we are never out if we trust in the Lord with all our hearts as our one and only Savior. For He is our Protector. He is our Light in the darkness. And He has promised He will never leave us.

When we have fallen down, the Lord is there comfort us and to pick us back up when the time is right. He will shield us, He will rock us, and He will build us back up to what we need to be in order to continue our earthly journey.

But He wants for us to linger a while so he can heal us, cleanse us, and give us renewed strength to face the continuing days ahead. His wings are mighty enough to cover us in all times – the times in which we are strong and upright, and the times where we have nothing left within us and we have fallen down in despair.

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The Lord is faithful in all things, and we especially need to crawl beneath the shelter He offers to us in the times where we are under attack. This is the safest place to be by far. And we need to trust in Him and His perfect timing before we re-emerge into battle.

When we come to the Lord to take us in and offer refuge, we truly are not hiding at all. For there is light there in that darkness, and nothing can put out His glorious light. He tells us a lot in His word that His light shines all the brighter through the darkness and our weakness. If we remain calm and avoid panic, His strength can be made perfect.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 ESV

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Let the Lord be the place that you linger – when you are up and when you are down. Let him blanket you in His light, His strength, and His power. Don’t come out until you are ready, refreshed and fully restored.

Better yet, we could choose to bask in His presence every single day, and move aside for HIm fight our battles for us from the very beginning!

It’s hard not to want to be “let out” when we feel we are in the dark or in a place of rest. But we can revel in the fact that we will not be alone during troubling times and the Lord will not allow us to abide in the dark alone. We can rest in the assurance that He is preparing us to emerge all-the-stronger. He will not shut us out – not ever.

In our “down” we are still IN HIM.

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He asks us to accept the fact that there will be dark times, even to be content with that, for He is with us then, just as He is with us now. He also asks us to place our hope in Him and all that He wants to do for us when we remain tucked away in His presence.

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5

I am so glad to know that the Lord, our God will never leave us. My only concern is that if I crawl beneath those wings and get too comfortable, I shall never want to come out.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Maybe that’s what it is to be ALL the way in.

In HIM.

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