To Do, or Not to Do

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 ESV

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As always, I have a big, long “to do” list today (hope it doesn’t turn into a “fry day” – lol). Actually, I have several of these lists, because I tend to compartmentalize all my “to dos” into categories or I get overwhelmed. And you know what? They aren’t going to all get done today. No way, man…no way.

You know, friends….I realize, that sometimes, we just have to truly, truly let go, don’t we? Just when I think in my little mind that I have done just that, the Lord gently reminds me – “no, not in that way, Annie…not in that way. You still aren’t understanding yet…you still aren’t hearing me.”

He knows I have “surrendered” to His will in regard to the employment problem/question/issue. He knows that I am willing to change what He wants for me to change if He asks me to. He knows that I am following after Him with all that I have, but the situations and circumstances in life are making that hard and causing me to lose my focus. He knows it all. But that still isn’t what He was calling me to do in regard to letting go. He put this on my heart and in my mind pretty firmly last night and this morning.

Teenage Girl on Swing

Here is what I heard over and over in my head when I prayed: “No, Annie…I mean, really let go! I know you are willing to leap, or jump, or stay put, but just want me to tell you which one to do. It’s not time yet for you to know which one. Annie, just let go of it completely right now. I will tell you when you need to know. Just move through life right now and trust me to guide you.”

Wow! Talk about a challenge for a control freak like myself. I thought I was being sufficiently challenged to have become willing to surrender and jump into what seemed like an abyss or wait in a situation that has become very difficult to wait in, but as always, I am awakened to the fact that I still have so very far to go when it comes to true surrender. I suppose I always will until I get to heaven.

Woman Running with Dog

Oh, guys…I feel so much better, it makes me tear up right now as I write to you before I start this day. I feel such a weight lifted. There is enough to juggle to keep me plenty busy while I wait and while I practice letting go. I have always said to people I work with or interact with that sometimes, what I need to work on is to not work on anything. Sometimes, what I need to do, is not do anything. I coached others in their development for years, and most of them wanted/needed to focus on something in order to grow. For me, and others like me, we often need to focus on having good goals, yes, but just “being.” Oh, this is hard!

My very grounded and spiritually mature daughter said something so very profound the other day when I was discussing all of this with her. Actually, she said several profound things, but one of them was “What I see, mama, is you wanting so badly to turn this all over to God….but you keep picking it back up again every morning. You need to leave it there. Just leave it there for Him and trust Him to give back to you what He decides to give back and when.”

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Does that not blow you right out of the water?

Know something else the Lord gave to her to share with me? Dig this little nugget of truth: “You know, if we aren’t careful, a trial can become an idol too.”

And, now standing by the side of the lake freezing in the wind with no towel.

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Whoa…I love truth! Even when it slaps me right upside the head. Actually, especially when it does that.

After that, I went through about 12 hours of I-don’t-know-what, about the fact that my daughter is more spiritually mature and in tune with the Lord than I am. Ha Ha. (not really funny, but true in many ways)

Below I share in pictures how  I think that the Lord means for us to let go when we  have reached a point with something where we are just at a loss as to what to do. And you know…..when I look at this myself before I send it out to share with all of you, I feel calm about the whole matter for the first time in a long time. You know why? Because I knew it all before – I knew that God has it under control  I knew that He has a plan – I knew He has our backs, He is in charge, and He will take care of all of us.

Woman by Ocean with Arms Outstretched

But I didn’t feel it. And we don’t always, do we? But today, He is giving me a break from that – exhale. Today, He is allowing my feelings to match up with what I know. We need those breaks, friends…don’t we? I am thankful.

Because, well…when I look at this below, I see clearly that this is enough, isn’t it friends? This is plenty to take with us throughout the day. If we can just think on these things…do, or don’t do the other things…God can guide us to do the rest. God is enough….God is enough.

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The verse I placed in the beginning of this post does say we need to run the race with endurance…this is true. We still have to go through this life and press on to the calling God has placed upon us. At the same time, it also says to lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely – if we really think about it, we aren’t going to be able to run very well if we skip that part, are we?

I hope that if any of you are feeling the same way about a specific situation in your life, that you see this today and find encouragement in here. And if I don’t know you, please know, that the Lord has put you on my heart – I am praying for you, really, I am. He knows your name – He knows who I am praying for. So…do, or don’t do my friends – go with what the Lord leads you to today – but while you do so, think on these things from Him…and carry them with you wherever you may be, and wherever you may go.

Love and Blessings…..

gopraise.com

gopraise.com

Waiting………..

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Resting……….

Praying……..

Living…….

Trusting…………

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Learning………..

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Thanking……….

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Following….

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Loving

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Rejocicing

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Looking

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Singing

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Praising…….

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Focusing.

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Remembering

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Knowing..

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The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

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Free Fallin’?

Copyright © davidniblack.com via ImageBase

Copyright © davidniblack.com via ImageBase

How many of you out there have taken a leap of faith when you were really uncertain as to what to do? Even after seeking guidance, asking God to open doors, asking what “leap” He wants you to take, you still didn’t quite know, so you just left it alone for a while. But then the nudging continued; the deep feeling you still needed to “just do it” stuck with you? And then…… you just had to decide. One way or the other, you had to decide.

Here is the kind of leap I am not talking about:

  • After seeking the Lord and His will diligently, He makes it clear you need to change something pretty significant – you have no idea what all the ramifications of the change will be, but He is asking you to trust in Him. After quite some time, He suddenly opens a door and you know it’s from Him. You run right through that door and just trust Him to take care of the rest of it.

Here is the one I AM talking about:

  • After seeking the Lord and His will diligently, He makes it clear He wants you to do something different than the way you have been. He brings, after a lot of prayer, a change your way – you embrace it and don’t even hesitate, even though the outcome is still unknown as to how it will affect everything or what it may or may not lead to. But there’s still something else in there that you feel He wants you to change as well, yet you aren’t sure what the right thing is to do. You seek His answers, or guidance on this, and….nothing. You decide to wait because God’s timing is different than ours, and waiting and perseverance are a way to trust in the Lord as well. But the nudging turns into a knocking, and even borders on a pounding. It grows every single day. It’s starting to drive you crazy. You pray for help with that too – ha ha.
Zhappy via Stockvault

Zhappy via Stockvault

I would like to hear your stories, if you are willing to share. I would love to hear what bible verses you turn to for the Lord’s direction in these situations as well. I look upon this as a way of seeking wise counsel from others who walk with the Lord….those who have been there…..those who saw failures from not leaping, and those who saw great growth. Those who saw failures from going ahead and leaping, when it turned out to be a bad idea, and still saw God’s mighty hand at work in it all.

You know, I get the whole, “don’t go by what the world says to do” thing. I get that God will take care of me, my family, as long as I truly trust in Him. But there is something to be said too, isn’t there, for trying to obey Him by making wise choices? Seeking counsel is a part of that. This is what He has led me to do again today.

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

Friends, I have this nagging feeling I am supposed to step out even more in a particular area – one that is quite scary – one that may leave my family and myself in a situation financially that is not pretty at all. We have it good – we are not rich by any means, but we have it good. My primary job is a good job. The people are wonderful, the pay is beyond wonderful, and the insurance benefits are just….WOW. It is a dream come true in this economy to have the job I have outside of the church. It’s a good place to work. Most people would get teeth pulled without pain killers for a job like this one.

But…………….

I have done this for ten years, and I have no problem with the job itself – a job is a job, and we can do all kinds of work unto our Lord….doesn’t matter what it is. Unfortunately, this job entails me working at night. Although I am a night owl and always have been, working past midnight, every night for 10 years, well…it wreaks havoc on one physically, and even emotionally at times as well.

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

I am not complaining, but I am saying that in all reality, with the way life was when our children were smaller, this night job was a blessing that I know God provided to my husband, my family and myself. But I feel He is calling me (loudly) to something else. I feel He is calling me to stop the night job. I feel He is calling me to move back as deeply as I can into ministry – through this blog, through another online ministry I am a part of, through volunteer service at the church, and through my new part time job I was blessed with there too. Most of all, through being able to actually be a mom and wife again who actually makes dinnner sometimes, and gets into more of a regular sleep pattern. Through being able to have some fellowship time with other believers. Through a lot of stuff, my friends…a lot of stuff.

There is a TON more to this story, and God has had His hand upon us every step of the way. But, I still just don’t know if He is calling me out of that job now, or is wanting me to be still and wait. Ug!

Another little wrench I can throw in there for you: He opened the door for me to work at the church (very much only part time, for now at least) and I am so grateful for that – I ran through that door with the blessing of my husband and many others along with God’s! I know I am supposed to be there, I have no doubt. Although I would like to do that full time, right now that isn’t part of the plan, and that’s okay. So yes, this allows me to keep the part time night job, and this role at the church too – good news, right? But I don’t feel that way about that night time job. I am sooo conflicted…ug!

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

I feel like it would be irresponsible – but I know I am thinking in terms of the world’s standards in that. Sometimes, I feel like I am being ungrateful to even entertain the idea of still leaving the night job (high paying, awesome insurance benefits, good people) when  the Lord provided a way for me to keep it and step into the role with the church.  I mean, how much greener could the grass get?

But…………………………………

So…here is the burning question. If one has been in prayer for quite some time, is looking to Him for guidance, seeking His will, spending time in His word and spending time with Him, persevering, being open to change according to His leading…..well, what is one to do when there is not a clear cut answer as to whether to close a particular door? There is value in waiting upon the Lord. There also is value in stepping out in faith in the Lord. Which one does He want for us to do here?

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

As far as open doors? They are over the place, friends. And my husband and I are committed to walking right through them if God leads us that way. But, this one, the night job one? He hasn’t closed it….yet. Is He asking me to close it? Or, is it possible that this is one of those things where God is giving me the choice – either way. Maybe He doesn’t see it as me defying His will in any way, because He hasn’t told me otherwise. And either choice I make, will be a way to show Him obedience – trust in Him – have more faith in Him.

These are the things I grapple with today, and every day for the last year. It seems to be getting more difficult. And that is what makes me think that He is trying to tell me something very important – and maybe, just maybe, He isn’t going to tell until I make a choice. Because I think that I have been listening…..but maybe, I just don’t like the way the answer is coming out.

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

I know we are to look to God for our answers – to our faith in Him, in His word, and ultimately, that is who we are responsible to for all this. I know too that ultimately, I need to listen and go with what I feel He wants based upon what He is or isn’t telling me. Yet, He tells us to seek wise cousel -some of which, we have already sought and are grateful for. I am now reaching out to hear from others who walk in Christ. Please share, my friends.

Desire of my heart? Stop working at night part time at the other job- put my all into working at the church, serving at the church, and this ministry and community I have here with all of you. Write a book for Jesus. Trust God to provide and tell me what my part in that should be.  Take steps to make changes in our lives so we can make it financially. Stop worrying about insurance and letting it stop me from doing what I am pretty sure I am being led to do. Be the best follower of Christ I can be, the best mother and wife I can be, and put my all into what I am graced with being a part of in these other areas.

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Concern? That I might be following only the desires of my little heart without even knowing it, were I to make that choice. That we all have to do things we don’t feel led to do any longer. That there is a lot to be said for how the Lord asks us to be obedient, to do things that are hard for us, to persevere, to be patient. And there is even more to be said for being grateful.

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Really, Really Big Concern? That, like I often do, I am overthinking this whole stupid thing, and God is really displeased with me for that. Ha Ha. I know it’s no laughing matter when it comes to God, but I laugh at myself right now – I just can’t help it. He knows me.

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Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

Regardless of what we choose, my husband and myself –  I know this: God has us in His hand and under His wing. He knows we are simply seeking His will in this area. And I know my entire family – we will all be in this together with God’s help. I guess the worst thing that happens if we just make a decision to take the leap is that we go through some hardship that could have been avoided- and God works through that too, doesn’t He?

Yes, the nudging I was feeling has turned into a pulling, friends. I am realizing this as I write to you this very moment: That I  have been telling God I am willing to take some steps that seem like they don’t have a certainty about them – ’cause, hey, for me, that is a leap!  I have always been someone who played everything the wise and safe route in life, and a lot of that was due to a lack of faith. And I feel this pulling to leap into the unknown – I just don’t really trust where it’s coming from – God, Me, or the Devil. I’m going to go with God.

I guess, in a way, wondering if I am being deceived is still just  me not having enough trust in the Lord, isn’t it, friends? For if it were coming out of some selfish motivation and intention that I won’t be made aware of for a year or two down the road, can’t I trust Him enough that He will still carry us through even that? That He will teach me how I went wrong and grow me/us through that?

Brandi Wood via Copyright © 2013 CreationSwap

Brandi Wood via Copyright © 2013 CreationSwap

Oh well…I shall be still now and be quiet. Have I driven you utterly crazy yet?  I will be stepping away from the blog for the rest of the day. I hope some of you can share your stories with me.  I get to go do my first shift at the church tonight, so I am excited about that. Thank you, Jesus!

Please pray, my friends….I so appreciate you, your prayers, and I just know the Lord will speak to me through your stories. I also am feeling pretty strongly that He has already given me His answer.  🙂

Love, Annie B  🙂

Copyright © 2013 CreationSwap

Copyright © 2013 CreationSwap

I quote from Isaiah 43: 1-2 is an assurance from God – I think this is our answer:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you,

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you ;

And when you pass through the rivers,

They will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

You will not be burned;

The flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel , your Saviour.”

via imagebank.uk.net

via imagebank.uk.net

You’re Doing it Wrong

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

Photo Stockvault

Photo Stockvault

Hurry up, you cannot be late……Just chill out, you gotta wait.

Speak up man, what’s the word? Just be quiet, you don’t need to be heard.

Move on over and step aside…..Get up ahead, take a wild ride.

Get busy, you need to be quick….Just calm down, you’re gonna get sick.

Discipline those kids, quiet them down….aww, c’mon – let ’em run around.

Be the best, show your verve…will you stop it, you’re ruining the curve!

Lift heavy, run really fast, lighter and longer, those results last.

Go the extra mile, move on along….Better not own it, you’ll end up wrong.

Listen to me – carefully though…..I can’t tell you, only you really know.

Guaranteed, it’s the best….We don’t take returns, give it a rest.

Let her go first, it’s what’s right….Be assertive or be here all night.

Just be honest, just be you……Disagree with us, and we’re gonna sue.

I’m open minded, really hip….Talk about Jesus? Button your lip!

Be smart, good stuff in store….Better play dumb or they’ll ask for more.

You can trust me, here for ya, yo……I’m uncomfortable, too much info.

Let’s get real, we’re all awake………Just pretend for everyone’s sake.

It’s a free country, America is…..Pay up now, but none of it’s His.

Be a good person, don’t be mean…..Get on face book, start to scream.

Invest your money, save those dimes….Get this on credit, it’s the best time.

That dress is too short, get a grip….Are you too conservative? Lose the slip.

Be organized – watch your back……Conveniently lose it, they can’t do jack.

Man is everything, we’re the best….Life just stinks, give it a rest.

Accept everything; no white or black…..That’s a grey area, you’re talking smack.

The joy of me, I celebrate the self….Time to get busy and spread the wealth.

Be really careful, people take and take….Be a bit risky, we learn from mistakes.

Listen to me, I know it all…..I don’t have the answer, maybe the mall?

Seek to understand for your own good….You’d better listen, I don’t feel understood.

Jesus loves me, sing His song – You can’t talk about Him…..you’re doing it wrong!

I think I will listen to HIM.  🙂

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

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Photo Credit CreationSwap

He Has Undone, Comfortably Numb

Photo Credit-StockVault

Photo Credit-StockVault

When I was a young child, I accepted the gift of salvation that Jesus offers to all of us. I understood that He sacrificed Himself on the cross for my sin, that He rose again and now lives with His Father in heaven. I understood that He lived a sinless life on earth, that He was all man, and all God too. I understood a few very important things about my Lord Jesus. And I wanted to be saved by Him.

What I failed to grasp, was that I needed to make Him the Lord of my life. That by asking Him into my heart and life, I should not only have been asking to accept the gift of salvation, but for Him to help me, guide me, direct me, love me, BE with me….while I still roam this earth, and always. I accepted the salvation offer as far as my eternity was concerned, but I didn’t want to give everything up in order to follow after Him and His will in my life. I was sorry for my sins, but I didn’t really repent from them – as in, decide to completely turn away from them and ask Him to help me stay away from them as well.

Photo Credit Stockvault

Photo Credit Stockvault

As I “grew up”, I definitely knew within myself that I needed to do this, and I chose not to. I had no excuses…I was no longer a small child, and I had been provided with ample opportunity to make this choice and refused to do so. I could hear God nudging me, but I wouldn’t listen. I was choosing to go my own way. Whether or not that means I was really saved is not why I am writing about this today. I do have to say though, that I am not so sure that if I would have taken my last breath in my mid 20’s, where I might have spent all eternity.

See, I didn’t want to admit that I need His help each and every day, each and every moment. I didn’t want to commit to developing a deep and personal relationship with Him. I didn’t choose to make that relationship two-way. And as a result, I cut Him off and out of my life. This brought about a lot of suffering in my world that I couldn’t withstand without help. I looked to the wrong things to assuage that pain.

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

I am writing to you tonight to share how very important it is to make Him the center of our lives – And I’d like to share some about how this played out for me……..

In college, as I was drifting further and further away from Jesus and all I knew to be true, my very favorite song was one that represented my deepest wish….to just be numb. It was called  “Comfortably Numb”, by the band Pink Floyd. Here are just a few of the lyrics you will find in the song:

  • “Hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?”
  • “Come on…Now. I hear you’re feeling down. I can ease your pain. Get you on your feet again.”
  • “There is no pain you are receding. A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon. You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying. I have become comfortably numb.”
  • “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse. Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown, the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.”

There is no question that this song sounded good, but what it represented for me in my life at the time was quite true, and not pretty at all. It was a perfect snapshot of how I was living my life, how I approached Jesus, and the darkness and sadness I was filled with and would carry around with me for a very, very long time.

Photo Credit Stockvault

Photo Credit Stockvault

I didn’t want to feel anything, my friends. I knew that I had to squash out the Holy Spirit to live my life the way that I thought I wanted to, and to do so, I would have to become numb. I went after that with all that I had.

Numb to the pain of depression, sadness and loss. Numb to the dissatisfaction caused by feelings of not being adequate, valuable, or worthy. Numb to the emptiness of not feeling loved, accepted, and a part of something the world adored. Numb to the reality of who I was, how I was living my life, and the fact that I was running from the truth of Jesus Christ.

I had to work hard to do this, yet not lift a finger either. Believe me when I say there were plenty of numbing agents available right at those very fingertips. I simply needed to sit around and wallow in mediocrity…in self-centered desires. But I also had to think every moment of just what I would do to forget about it all once my “responsibilities” of the day were taken care of and out of the way. The work came in to play through the fact that it became harder and harder to stay numb. I had to make achieving this the absolute center of my life –  And it ran me ragged.

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

In those days, I turned to lots of things for my necessary anesthetics. Sometimes I would party it up and drink myself into a stupor. Other times I would just stay in bed for a couple of days at a time. And then there were other things too. I don’t make it a practice to look back on those days too terribly often, because the Lord wants us to look forward and focus upon the present joy we have in Him now. But, it can be beneficial to share these things with others – others who may benefit from seeing how our Father can deliver us from so much darkness if we just allow Him in – if we choose not only to ask for salvation, but ask Him to be the Lord and King of our lives – If we stop running away from, and start running toward our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Later in life, I hid behind less ugly looking things in order to become numb, which now, I realize was just another form of sin that looked more acceptable to myself and to the world – I was “layered in goodness” as I like to say. In fact, a lot of these things were applauded. Things like being completely dialed in and having total control over everything I did…everything I touched. Striving to be the most dependable…the most caring….the most trustworthy, kind, compassionate, successful, self-driven, self-sufficient, and about a hundred other things I could list, person around. The deceitful web was being woven much more proficiently – it had to be in order to keep me in and drown Him out.

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to really understand that what was missing all along was my willingness to completely let go of all of that – that sense of control and being in charge of my own life. I had to give up my life to God completely, and choose to follow Him. See, I didn’t want there to be a cost to be a follower of Christ…. I wanted to enjoy the benefits of being “saved” but not take up my own cross and truly love Him and surrender to His will. Although salvation is offered out of grace, being a true follower, lover of, and child of God is something that definitely comes with a cost. It is not always comfortable – it can be really uncomfortable, in fact. But it is always rewarding.

Those sins we are saved from and that gift of eternal life? Well, it cost Jesus something. It didn’t just happen to come easily. Although I can never repay Him, or earn my way to heaven, (Jesus paid it all) I still owe Him everything I have. But this is not a drudgery to me at all….I want to give all of myself to Him now. Not because He needs me, but because He wants me, and because I truly love Him. I have my acceptance. I have my love. I have my success -and it’s all wrapped up in Him. That’s far better than a superficial layer of goodness…it’s down deep.

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

There is a lot more I could share about this, but maybe I will have to do that in the form of an entire book one day. And some things…well, some things there are just not enough words for.  I am not sure yet, but I am not convinced that this isn’t one of those things – the entirety of it all, I mean.

Now that I have made Him the core of my life…now that I am no longer drowning out the Holy Spirit, living for Jesus instead of for me, and am seeking to follow God’s will and spend every moment in His presence; I am getting a really good taste of both the blessings that come along with that as well as the hard stuff. Just because we finally decide to commit our entire lives to Jesus, it doesn’t mean that we have “arrived” to a point of perfection in our daily lives and walk with the Lord. Ha Ha. This will be a journey that does not end until we go home to live with Him for all eternity – and then…. well….then, the greatest journey of all begins! And it shall never end. I venture to guess there will not be discomfort involved.

Until then though, the two ends of the spectrum actually co-exist for me right now in a couple of different areas in my life: The blessings, and the hard and uncomfortable stuff.  I have had seasons in which it was mostly peace and happiness, and the absence of stress to embrace and enjoy. There have been other times in which I have been in dark and granite-hard places with very little sign of physical or emotional peace on the horizon any time soon. But Jesus has been there with me the entire time and His true joy and true peace have been there under it all the whole way through. Thanks be to God!

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

Yes, right now, I am in a very strange season – it’s all mixed together like I mentioned. I am experiencing a deepening of my relationship with Him, am starting to really feel love for others grow and grow by the day, am wanting to reach out to people in need, make more close friends at my church, and my family is really flourishing. At the same time, I am frustrated and feel kind of in limbo about where I am supposed to be, as far as what I do outside of my home – in service to others, in relation to my employment, and a few other things too.

And again, there is that duality at work here of waiting upon the Lord and listening to His voice, and taking steps on my own to determine what doorknobs to turn right now. I was thinking tonight about the following verse and how it keeps coming back to me over and over again….

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let  your requests be made known to God.”  Phillippians 4:6

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

Tonight at church as this verse came to mind while I was immersed in worship of my King, and I thought to myself…”I wonder if a particular verse in God’s word can ever just get ‘used up’?”  You know, get old, lose it’s freshness, not be applicable any longer? And the Lord whispered to me that His word shall never pass away…..that it will always be applicable in my life….that He put it in my mind, yet again this evening for His divine reasons…which are always good.

Unlike the verse says, I am feeling anxious right now – but I don’t want to be. I do feel lost in this particular area of my life, yet I don’t want to feel that way. I felt so discouraged Friday night at work and came home in the wee hours of the morning so very upset with myself for being that way. I feel unrest in my heart about where I am supposed to be, where I am supposed to go. I am not comfortable at all in this area or circumstance, yet the Lord has helped me to persevere. I don’t feel at peace about it, but I have HIS peace. I don’t feel happy all the time, but I have HIS joy. And I know….I know with absolute certainty, that He has my back. He has His plans for me! I am no longer rolling the dice about what direction I will be going. And regardless of this one area being less-than-fulfilling, I don’t look to that area for contentment…so there it is!

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

No matter what happens – no matter how things work out – through the waiting, the feelings, the discomfort and the raw of it all – He is with me. I am no longer numb. Sometimes I don’t like how that feels. But I see the greater purpose for it now – at least. I see as much of it as the Lord wishes to reveal to me for where I am currently at. He has undone my numbness, and for that, I am so very grateful. And I can hear His voice now – I am no longer choosing to drown it out. I can be grateful for what I have, seek His will right where I am at, while simultaneously staying open to what He may have in store for me tomorrow. It’s all good! We get to feel the uncomfortable things this way, yes we do…but we get to feel God and the good things He has for us as well. Numb is numb all the way around. And un-numb…..it’s un-numb through and through also.

The light of Jesus is no longer a “distant ship’s smoke on the horizon” for me. And that “fleeting glimpse”? Well, it’s no longer fleeting or just coming in from the corner of my eye – HE is dead center. And the child? The child is back….she has been reborn. She is growing more and more child-like as God “grows her up” by the moment. And because of HIM, she has become un-numb.

Photo Credit StockVault

Photo Credit StockVault

Comfortable or not, she’s glad to feel again. She’s glad to hear again. She’s glad to see again…to look full in His wonderful face. She is glad, she has His joy and peace, His salvation for all eternity and His daily saving grace…and in the most un-numb way that could possibly be..she is  forever-grateful to Him….forever grateful that He has undone the comfortably numb.

Photo Credit Microsoft Office

Photo Credit Microsoft Office

Keep the Sticky

Photo used with Permission from Microsoft Office

Photo used with Permission from Microsoft Office

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

This morning I was having my toast and the Lord made me laugh – I just love it when He does that! I received a whole new outlook from Him on just how much of His joy He wants to fill me up with each day. He wants it to burst from the seams, spill out all over the place, and spread like wildfire. He does not want me to try to contain it…not one little bit of it.

This all came to me as I was eating my breakfast. I like to put peanut butter on my toast and occasionally, I put some honey on top of it. Yum! Although I spread the honey onto the toast nice and evenly, it always drips every single time, without fail. So I was eating and enjoying my yummy honey-toast, and here it came…the inevitable drip down my fingers. Oh no!

via Microsoft Office

Photo Used with Permission from  Microsoft Office

And the Lord got me thinking: Why do I always try to make sure it doesn’t drip in the first place? I mean, what’s the big deal here? When we were little kids we just reveled in that kind of ooey icky-ness – we just simply licked our fingers and proceeded to enjoy some more! In fact, that drippy sticky stuff was often the fun part of it all. We didn’t care if it made a mess, we didn’t care if it made us look gross, and we certainly didn’t mind the taste of it all and the fun of getting to lick up every last little drop before we ran out and had to move on. If we left some droplets behind for someone else to clean up, who would care about that anyway, right? I mean, it would probably be a privilege for mom to come behind me and see what fun I just had, wouldn’t it?

Ha – the mind of a child….I love that too. So does Jesus.  🙂

via Microsoft Office

Photo used with Permission from Microsoft Office

We even kind of enjoyed it when we could leave our faces a little dirty too, didn’t we? I can recall being a young girl and kind of just “wanting” to carry that leftover sweetness around with me for a while before cleaning up. Of course, mom would always get to me right away with a warm washcloth and wipe it squeaky clean. I never liked that part. I don’t know why it is…. if kids are just busy moving onto the next fun thing to do and don’t want to be bothered….or if it’s for some other reason, but have you noticed that most kids are that way? They want to sit in the mess for a while. They want to carry it around with them for a bit. They are more than ready to move on to the next thing Jesus has in store for them in life and they don’t think twice about lugging around the past reminder of the fun they just had messing up the kitchen right along with them. They like to keep the sticky.

We all know what it looks like when a baby eats cake, right? Most of us think it’s cute and really get a kick out of not only watching them enjoy this little sweet fest and rite of passage, but we allow them to smash it, squish it between their fingers, run it through their hair, into their ears, and just plain PLAY. But then when we’re done being entertained by it all, we are right there to clean it up – again. We’re right there to say, “OK, we’re done now.” Cranky adults!

Photo Credit cincity via Flikr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cinkev/

Photo Credit cincity via Flikr http://www.flickr.com/photos/cinkev/

And why do you think that is it like a rite of passage for a baby to get to make a mess out of their birthday cake? I think it’s because we know that it’s only when they are a baby they will be “allowed” to do something like this by the rest of us….we laugh at it and think it’s cute not only because they make such a mess of it all, but because we secretly wish WE could still eat our cake that way too. And we know all too well that the world is going to take this fun away first chance it gets. So sad – sniff!   😦

The world wants to steal our Jesus joy too, you know. But I don’t think that Jesus wants us to ever be done taking our fill of Him and carrying Him around with us wherever we go, even when it may look like a “mess” to others. That honey of mine is like Jesus and the joy He gives me in my life. He fills me up with so much that there is just no way it’s not going to drip outside of the little box I tend to try to keep it in sometimes. Even when I have a down day, I have that joy of Jesus sticking with me whatever I do, wherever I go.

I got to thinking about how that might really be His intent….to fill us with such joy, peace, abundance, and love that we can’t help but walk around enjoying that sticky all day long. Aside from blessing us, why else might that be?

Photo Used with Permission from StockVault

Photo Used with Permission from StockVault

I can think of a few good reasons why right this very moment……..

  • Sticky is a pretty good reminder: it makes us ask ourselves why we are all sticky and uncomfortable, and then we can look back to that moment we experienced with Jesus earlier – how He was equipping us to carry Him with us throughout the day, lest we forget.
  • Sticky attracts: And we need to be able to be magnets for Jesus in this world – we need to be able to draw people in so they can find out what they are missing.
  • Sticky is contagious: It’s hard to mistake that child walking around with the cake all over their face and fingers, isn’t it? Sticky joy makes it pretty clear that they have been busy enjoying that sweetness – taking a bath in it – covering themselves in it completely.
  • Sticky shows we love Jesus: People are curious about that – they want to be like that baby covered in cake too. OR they want to go help them get “cleaned up”, which then gives us an opportunity to share just why we don’t want them to come to us with their washcloths of the world. Instead, we can say “Here, want some? It’s reeeeallllly good”.
  • Sticky just screams AWESOME! In a way, it gives us the opportunity to show the world that acceptable or not, being filled with the love of Jesus is awesome and it’s messy – in a great, sticky, honey-dripping-like kind of way! It’s going to spread – it’s going to ooze and drip – it’s going to taste great, and it’s going to be an adventure!
via gopraise

via gopraise

Of course, there are always those who don’t want to see the mess at all, who have a phobia about sticky, even when it’s sweet, cute, tasty, or alluring in any other way. As I said, it’s just not “acceptable” to walk around all messy like that in today’s world – kid or no kid. Some just can’t stand not to have that total sense of order and control at all times, to have anything affect them that is outside the realm of perfection and good protocol – I’ve been there, and I still find myself in that place at times. That’s when I know it’s time to make a mess – as long as it’s a good kind of mess.

We know that many people in our world definitely don’t want to see Jesus written all over our faces, our hearts, our lives, our fingers, our….ANYthing.  They don’t want it to get on them either. It’s kind of how I would imagine a leper used to feel. Nowadays, we don’t have to be covered in ugly to be shunned….being covered in the sweetness of the Lord is just as, if not more so, scary to some folks.

But if we decide to all walk around sticky with Jesus, after a while, will there be much choice left for others when they have to interact with us? They will need to come to grips with it somehow, someway…even if they don’t like it much. Are we going to clean ourselves up to be more palatable to those folks who need Jesus and His love, or are we going to let Him in, put Him on, and let Him show? We need to stay sticky for Jesus…we need to stay sticky for all those who don’t know Him yet…because He loves them too, and He asks us to stick with it and spread the good news no matter what it costs us. We gotta keep the sticky.

I recall too, that as I was driving my son to school this morning, still carrying with me a good dose of fresh honey on and in-between several of my fingers, I realized:  I am a bit uncomfortable with this residual stickiness here – even though it is nothing but a mark of the abundance and joy the Lord has placed into my life. I thought about how strange it is that this great thing can still be uncomfortable to walk around with…and….why is that? Isn’t it funny how even the great stuff of Jesus, the blessings of abundance, joy, peace, comfort – even they can be hard to carry around with us? Even that is difficult to embrace when it’s spilling out, messy…just all over the place. We, who are already followers and lovers of Christ….all too often, we try to contain Him and keep ourselves out of the mess….the mess of the bad, and the mess of the good. We are so weird, don’t you think?

Photo used with Permission from Microsoft Office

Photo used with Permission from Microsoft Office

We like to be cleaned up and move on when we are done filling our little bellies, don’t we? But I challenge you today, as I am doing for myself, to allow that messy joy to stick with you for a while. We need to allow ourselves to experience in full the layers of honey left behind on our skin…sticking between our fingers…even when we are tempted to just wash the sticky right off.

Will we pick up some dirt along the way too? Will that make all the more tempting to clean ourselves up and get rid of sticky? Are we at risk of being stung as we are walking around covered in all that honey? All of this and more will happen, I am sure. But God will heal our stings, and at the very least, the party doing the stinging is going to get a pretty good taste of Jesus in that process, right? Let’s help them to enjoy it as much as we do.  🙂

Courtesy of Microsoft Images

Courtesy of Microsoft Images

Let Jesus fill you today with Himself – let Him seep into you, fill you up and spill out from within, allowing you draw others near. Invite them to partake of the honey – there’s clearly enough to go around! Enjoy it, bathe in it, and walk around for a while wearing it. I think we’ll find that being uncomfortable in the messiness of a life lived like this is rewarding beyond belief and will bring glory to His name.

via uponthisrock.com

via uponthisrock.com

God is good and He wants everyone to know they are invited to be sticky with His joy, His love, and that His offer of salvation. Once accepted, it sticks forever! I think we should get this party started. Let’s get busy, and let’s get messy! May you enjoy being sticky for Jesus today and every day. Keep the Faith, and Keep the Sticky!

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15-16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16

UponthisRock.com

                UponthisRock.com

**All images used in this blog post are used with permission from royalty stock photo sites and personal sites created by their original authors/photographers-permission has been granted by site administrators and no copyright information other than that which is already contained herein is required.

Cookie K

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

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A sweet little visit from a gal bearing treats,

Let’s just call her, our dear “Cookie K”.

She spent so much time mixing and baking…

Brought with her, bright light to our day.

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The treats were so yummy and hit the right spot…

When we gobbled them up straight away…

What a beautiful soul to think of us so;

Our dear, wonderful…sweet Cookie K.

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Friends bring us joy with their care and their love,

Acts of service where God shines right through.

If you don’t have someone dear like our own Cookie K..

May God bring one your way to bless you.

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Today might you be a special blessing to others,

Whether you bake, or you clean, or just say….

Say, “Here, have a cookie, you really deserve it”,

Be somebody else’s sweet Cookie K!

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A smile is enough if that’s what you can offer….

A good one of those goes quite far.

So please don’t forget what all you can do…

Show love to others, from right where you are.

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“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:2-4

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Dear You

“Then  they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their  distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then  they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired  haven.”Psalm 107:28-30

Dear You…………..

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To that person that is crying today, feeling lost, and utterly devastated? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who is caught in the darkness of depression or loss today? I am praying for you….you know who you are

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To that person who has huge, emotionally-impacting, life-changing decisions to make in the face of the unknown today? I am praying for you…you know who you are.

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To that person who is waiting, hoping, not sure how it is going to work out today? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who is shattered, lonely, sad, crying out today? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who doesn’t know why they are suffering, whose life seems to have no meaning, who is begging to be brought back to who they are and where they were before? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who lost their job and is seeking God’s direction and guidance and doesn’t know which door to open or try to go through? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

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To that person who is praying for their loved one who doesn’t know Jesus to accept His gift of salvation and whose heart breaks because their loved one is refusing? I am praying for you…you know who you are.

To that person who is afraid because they have been judged by “religious” people in the past and are scared and afraid? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person that seeks a companion, who is tired of living alone, who is lonely and sad and unsure of how to meet people? I am praying for you, you know who you are.

To that person who is reaching out boldly, but no one is listening? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To that person who senses something is missing and doesn’t know where to look or who to turn to? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

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To that person who doesn’t think that they know who they are and doesn’t know me and doesn’t know God and just doesn’t know what to know or think or do or wonder? I am praying for you….you know who you are.

To the One, the Almighty, the Savior, our Redeemer, our Friend, Our Shepherd, our Comfort, Our Joy? I am praying to You….You hear my prayers….And we know who You are.

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Dear You….

Dear, Dear, Dear, Dear YOU.

Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for  Satan. ~ John Bunyan

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**All images included in this post are not my own and have been shared from royalty free websites no restrictions applied – attribution not desired or required.

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Visine for the Heart

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Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Don’t get me wrong. I want 2013 to be a good year for all of us too. But I feel a bit bummed tonight.

As I checked facebook, emails, the news, and interacted with friends and family at church, work, and home throughout the day, I found myself feeling “odd”, so to speak – for pretty much the entire day of the 31st. Everyone was sending out “Happy New Year” wishes, and conveying joy and happiness all around me…about a new calendar year….about the hope that the chance for a new year holds for them….and to me, well, I just felt.. NOTHING.

If you know me at all, that’s a very strange thing. I tend to feel things quite deeply most of the time. But I felt absolutely empty in relation to celebrating another “New Year.” And for a few hours, that made me feel pretty sad about myself and what that says about me as a person.

With Permissions Microsoft Office

With Permissions Microsoft Office

I have just arrived back home after work tonight, and as I was driving here, I used that time to search my heart and pray about it. Clearly, God has something that He wishes for me to learn about through this, right? As always, He does. I thank Him for that.

I found myself thinking….”what is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like others and be positive and cheerful…happy-go-lucky…excited about starting a new year?” Where is my “celebrate good times” attitude? If others could read my thoughts right now, they would think I am the darkest party pooper the world has ever known. Maybe I am.

So I searched and prayed. Here is what I have concluded:

I want to see God NOW. This is not because I am depressed. It is not because life stinks. It isn’t due to wanting to escape my responsibilities, or the joys that life with our family and friends can hold for us here on earth. But I have grasped….I have SEEN….that this world can never compare to what we will have if Jesus returns for us to rapture us out of here today. And I want to see Him NOW.

But, the time that Christ will come back to snatch us to His bosom so we can leave this world and enter into the most blissful existence imaginable, well, that is not for me to decide. CLEARLY, this is a very good thing too, because I am not a patient person! Beyond that, I obviously don’t have a deep enough love for all those who are still lost to Jesus at this point in time. If it were up to me, the rapture would have happened yesterday! 🙂 But seriously, that is very sad. I need to fervently beseech the Lord to fill me with HIS supernatural love for others, because this has shown me just how deficient I still am in this area. (Love is a VERY important thing to God, by the way – I find it almost comical that I continue to have to remember that very important fact).

Josiah Kopp via Creationswap

Josiah Kopp via Creationswap

I told my husband several months ago that I knew the challenge for me in this gift of anticipation…of actually looking forward to the end times…being excited and hopeful about Jesus’ return, would be learning how to do that while simultaneously living life here to the fullest. You see, I am pretty much an all or nothing type-person (Big surprise, I know – ha ha – it’s okay to laugh). And I knew this would be a huge obstacle for me to overcome. How do I keep that spirit of anticipating Christ’s return while still living life to the fullest, for the glory of God, here on earth? After all, not only is this life a gift, but God has chosen in His sovereignty and wisdom NOT to come back for us yet….and that means there is more to do while we are still here. That’s exciting, isn’t it? But not as exciting as the prospect of the rapture…at least, not to me.

And I realize it comes down to my heart. Again.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

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I need to pray for patience. I need to pray for God to not only help me to stay bold for Him, but to give me a selfless and pure heart. I need to be excited about His return one day, but focus just as intently on being happy that we have at least one more day to do all we can to proclaim His glory throughout this earth! There are multitudes of people out there who have not accepted Christ as their Savior yet….and there will still be many when He comes back to rapture the church before the tribulation begins. And so often these days, I find myself thinking selfishly….I think to myself….”now that I am actually looking forward to you coming back, Lord, why don’t you just get on with it already? I am ready!”

And once again, I realize….that’s pretty selfish of me. When will I ever learn? Ug!

So on that drive home, it hit me pretty hard that I may not get to literally “see” God this year….or I might get to – but only He knows, and He knows what is best. He knows it’s not all about ME. He knows He has to remind me of this fact all-too-often too. And He still loves me anyway.

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And as this wonderful verse in His Word tells us, our hearts need to be continually purified to see God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

I have a lot of heart work to do…I always have. If I am fully honest with myself, it isn’t hard to see that. It isn’t difficult to see that if my motives were always truly pure, I would be more excited about getting to be a vessel for Christ right here, right now, in this world. I would trust Him to keep me confident through that process that I will not go back to getting overly attached to this world. I would believe with all my “heart” that God is strong enough…that He is faithful enough….to keep even ME from going back to living for this world instead of for Him.

Courtesy of uponthisrock.com

Courtesy of uponthisrock.com

It IS possible to not live for this world, yet live to the fullest while we reside within it – I truly believe that. And by living to the fullest, I mean fulfilling the mission that the Lord has set before us to proclaim His name to the ends of the earth (at least as far as we are individually and collectively capable of doing).

I have been blessed to get to do that in many different ways in 2012, and 2013 just looks even more promising. I know these opportunities will continue to grow as the Lord has His mighty hand on it all. And it’s not for me….it’s for Him. It’s because He wants for everyone to have every last opportunity possible to choose Him, to choose eternal life with Him…before He comes back….because He loves us all…so very much. One day He will decide to come back, and there will be many who are still not saved. But for right now, He has not decided it’s time for that yet. Having more time to spread the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the earth needs to be seen as a blessing more than a chore.

Photo Credit uponthisrock.com

Photo Credit uponthisrock.com

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

I pray tonight that the Lord will purify my heart. I know that thankfully, when it comes to my salvation, I am seen that way by Him already…because the blood of Jesus covers all of my sin and impurity when it comes to where I will reside for eternity. Yet while I am here, still walking this walk, and living this life, I must seek daily cleansing…for it is all-too-easy for dark shadows to prevail and block our vision.

I trust the Lord to lift the fog out of my heart on a daily basis. I will not stop asking Him to do so. And if tears must come at times as that murky cloud is lifted out, so be it. Tears can be useful. They wash away pollutants and clear out the toxins. And then we can see far more clearly.

I realize I don’t need to feel sad about who I am as a person, because it is the LORD who will fill me up and take ME out of the picture in the process of purification. That is good news, my friends….that is good news.

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So, I will chime in with everyone else and say to you all…”Happy New Year, my Friends!!!” May 2013 fill you with the love of Jesus and make your hearts overflow with a love for Him and for one another that screams “CELEBRATE” over and over again!!!!!!

I want to see God -I want to see Him NOW. And His Word….well, it tells me that I CAN.

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

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**All images not attributed in this post used with permission from royalty free websites- no attribution or link required.