It’s Okay to Open the Present…

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I don’t know about you, but being faced with too many choices doesn’t always seem like a luxury to me. Now please understand: I don’t mean to complain, because I am well aware that many folks in our world don’t have choices at all. I am grateful for choices, believe me. At the same time, I can get overwhelmed by them too. This is because I tend to over think things (big surprise, I know).

This over-thinking thing I have? It serves me well in many ways and I could even venture to say that a lot of the time it does help me to live out my faith in really cool and creative ways that actually glorify God. At the same time, it can be a very bad, bad thing. Discerning when it crosses over into “bad” from good is a whole other story.

So for now, think of a child on Christmas morning. All of the presents are neatly wrapped in colorful paper under the beautiful, lit up tree. You, the parent, have taken the time to choose just the right gifts to bring a smile to your child’s face and capture those moments in which you get the gift back of hearing them squeal with excitement and delight as they tear through the wrapping and hug their gift close to their little chest. Then, if you are really fortunate, they hug YOU – even tighter than the gift.

What joy!

We know it’s not about the presents and the materialism when our hearts are in the right place, don’t we? We know it’s about those moments….the exchange of joy….the gift of giving and that of watching the receiver enjoy what you have freely given to them.

We know.

But so often I find myself getting caught up in thinking about the sacrifice of self, taking up our own cross to follow after Jesus, humbling ourselves and giving it all away, day in and day out; that I fail to accept the grace that just plain “feels good” along with the grace that is there no matter what the emotions are surrounding any particular situation, or issue, or day, or circumstance. Sheeesh!

Grace is BIG when it comes to Christ Jesus.

And yes, some of it is just the plain old feel good kind of grace too.

A wonderful new friend was sharing with me last week that sometimes, we are just given the blessing by God to make choices that don’t necessarily entail doing the hardest thing. Sometimes, we get to make an easier choice. He is our Father after all. He is going to do what is best for us, and even what is hard for us when it is time to learn tough lessons. But sometimes, He just wants to give us a gift and sit back and watch us enjoy it.

She is so right. Honestly, if we are truly following after Jesus with all our “heart, mind and soul,” no matter what choices we make, we will probably endure some growing and suffering in the process of living it out. But who are we to deny our Father the blessing of giving us His unmerited grace and favor? Who are we to say, “No, I don’t deserve that present”?

Sometimes He wants us to choose the fun gift.

If no one is in need of the better present, or if that great gift isn’t intended for someone else, or better yet – for you to give over to someone else, then why not take it if we have sought after God and what He wants for us? My pastor shares all the time that “sometimes, it’s like Baskin Robbins, and we get to choose what we want.” (Eric Cartier, Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel).

Sometimes we get to choose.

I so often forget the other side of humility, friends. Yes, it’s true. I am so focused sometimes upon not taking too much pride in myself (which I definitely need to stay focused in on for the rest of my ever-loving earthly life!) that I occasionally veer into the abyss of condemnation, which is still just another way the enemy prevents us from exemplifying Christ-like humility.

Humility is knowing who you are in Christ – nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, if I have to err on one side or another, you can bet I will err on the side of surrender or giving something up or taking the hard road if and when I have any doubts about what the right thing is to do. But sometimes, we just flat-out aren’t being asked to do it!

Here is my little test I put myself through:

Go to God in prayer and stay there. Ask questions like “is there something You want me to give up here?” “Is there a hard road you want for me to go down first?” “Is there a sacrifice you want made in this situation that in all reality is probably not a sacrifice at all, but a way in which you wish to grow me further?” “Do I need to rely not upon my own understanding and go in blindfolded with this one?”

Then it’s time to listen for a while. Really listen. Listen for however long He leads you to listen.

Take action if moved to do so after listening and praying – even and especially if you don’t fully understand it at first. Then WATCH, with your eyes wide open to see how He is working His will out through the actions you took (or didn’t take). How is His plan now coming to fruition? Do you see that you had to take that action (move out of the way, surrender, back your words up with behaviors or choices) in order for that to be shown to you?

After all of that, if choices still are ahead of you and the Lord doesn’t tell you otherwise, go ahead and choose what you want.

Then ENJOY it.

There will be plenty of time for it to become tainted somehow later once the enemy is onto it. But for now, it’s okay to open the present and enjoy it for the gift tha it is. (I know that sounds negative, but it is true – the enemy is always crouching and waiting to destroy). For me, this yields positivity, believe it or not. Knowing to keep my eyes open helps me to enjoy the moment, because I hate being taken off guard by the enemy. He will still try, and sometimes he succeeds, but at least I am watching.

Finally, and most importantly, after you open your present, don’t forget to hug the One who gave it all to you!!!!

It’s just one small way we get to bring joy to the One who brings so very much to us.

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

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Flippin’ It – How do you like your Eggs?

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I always liked my eggs better sunny side up when I was a kid. Not gooey, or anything, but with enough yolk to dip my fun, buttery toast in. Yum!

Side Note: This was written about a few weeks ago when I was preparing for a medical test/procedure for which I had to fast and I had not eaten for about 18 hours. Spoiled as we are in this country of abundance, suffice it to say I was really, really hungry!

As I grew older and became primarily responsible to make my own eggs, I found it was just easier to either scramble them or cook them yolk facing down. I don’t know the fancy-schmancy word for that, so whatevs – hee hee.

used with permission from microsoft office images

This change in plan was mainly due to my own laziness – I was either just in too much of a hurry to make the eggs the other way, or didn’t want to deal with the mess. (The control issues, remember, friends?)

But sunny side up is just way better if you ask me. I just didn’t want to make the investment required to have them that way when it came right down to it. It seemed at the time – just, not worth it.  The work of it all!

For me, I find myself of late gravitating back out of the controlled, yet easy, face down version to the more-chance-to-screw-this-up-by-taking-a-risk version of egg frying. And my path in my entire life approach seems to be the same way right now, thanks be to Jesus!

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Friends, instead of just going through the motions, I have embraced the “Son-eee” Side Up in life – the one that means following after Him even when there’s risk involved (and work, I might add). I guess that’s what it means to truly be a follower after Christ, right? We actually follow Him any and everywhere He might lead. Sometimes He makes it easy, and sometimes, not so much. But it’s always worth it. Even if it were always difficult, it would be worth it. Because Jesus – well, HE is worth everything. Because of Him, we are blessed even in our trials.

Face up leaves room for vulnerability, doesn’t it? If we try to be in charge of cracking the egg and cooking it ourselves, we risk breaking that yolk. Then what?

Maybe we should let God be in charge of directing our cooking efforts. Maybe we should risk the mess. Is it possible that it is worth taking the extra time and care necessary in order to live life the way Christ intended and be nourished by the results regardless of the outcome?

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Could it be that we could actually embrace……………

  • Having to re-do some things some times?
  • Not always playing it “safe”?
  • Being at risk of exposure to harm, hurt, persecution?
  • Living a life with “messy” in it?

But then there’s this too……………….

  • Getting to dip our toast in the good stuff.
  • Working at and enjoying spiritual cooking.
  • Facing up instead of just…..down.
  • Being privileged to work under the Master of all Chefs.
  • In reality, He is the only One who really knows how to do it all. All other “chefs” are just fancy knock-offs of the real thing.

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I’m flippin’ back to sunny side up, friends. Because the Son of God IS up.

He knows how to mix ’em, and He knows how to stir ’em. And He definitely knows just when to flip ’em.

He lets us help, too. Sometimes we do well, while other times, we might crack a little. But then He puts it all back together and makes it better than it was when it all started.

And sometimes, He lets us dip our toast in it all and have some fun.

Two Fried Eggs Served with Steak and Toast

Won’t we take some risks for Jesus in order to allow Him to work in our lives? Isn’t “Son-ee” Side Up always the better way, even in the face of the unknown? After all, He always takes care of us – even when the risks we take don’t always turn out the way we’d like for them to – we are guaranteed the best eternal outcome imaginable if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.

He’s the Bread of life, man….the Bread of life!

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11: 4-6

Straight Up!

Gus Batistuzzi via CreationSwap

Gus Batistuzzi via CreationSwap

What does it really mean to be “straight up” about something?

I took the liberty of checking out some definitions we mere mortals have assigned to this little saying…….

Straight Up:

  • Like the straight arrow, flying towards its target….
  • Straight up gets right to the point…..
  • Tellin’ it straight up, means saying exactly what you mean – tellin’ it like it is….
  • Imminency – right away (“we are going to the movie straight up, yo”)…….
  • To be right or for real, man (“dude, straight up, let’s do this thing!”)…..
  • A way to emphasize the truth of something someone just said (“Dude, we should do this”, and then the reply, “”straight up.”)……
  • Absolutely, Totally……..

I don’t know about you, but for me, all of this resonates, but it is important to remember the ultimate truth in what “straight up” really means – and that means to view it  from a biblical perspective.

For me, friends, it comes down to two things:

  • Look straight up to Jesus for truth – then let Him fill you with it and carry it around with you always. Keep looking up (Straight up)!
  • Walk straight with Jesus – and do it absolutely and totally.

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Sometimes, we feel like we are in the wilderness in a particular area of our lives. And God has His reasons for that. Yet more often than not, I find that in reality, I am never really alone – what I am going through may simply seem unknown. Walking by faith, not by sight doesn’t fit the “absolutely” or “totally” criteria of this crazy world.

Yet living out our faith, true and real faith in Christ is really not so unknown as we at times tend to try to make it. I mean, we can still always look up and then move straight ahead – with Jesus right by our side – down the path He intends for us. And nothing can take that from us – not ever! How real and unchanging is that? Even when we feel alone, or uncertain about what may lurk ahead – even when the world tries to make us think there is too much we are in the dark about – He is there – always right there with us. Absolutely and totally.

I can get ahead of myself at times (surprised?) – it is actually a blessing and a major area in which I can cross the line into disobedience. Discerning the difference is not usually too difficult, but I admit, it does get muddy at times – sometimes I am ironically “behind” in realizing it when I have started to run ahead when I shouldn’t have.

I have to always look up, literally, moment by moment, or I can risk getting too far ahead – too focused on the “destination” in  an area of life, rather than the peace that comes in the journey. I know this about myself, yet I still fall into it. It happens.

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At other times, the Lord has used that desire to forge ahead at a rapid speed to bring about more glory to Himself, His kingdom, and help me to spread the gospel to others.

So, it’s not all good and it’s not all bad.

The important thing though, is to embrace the Lord and His will for us in all that we do, isn’t it? If He says to slow down and walk alone a while, we do so. If He says to run the race faster, harder, or reach a specific finish line in one certain area, we do so. And if we mess up and get too far ahead, we trust in Him that He will show that to us and help us to slow down, change, or press into Him instead of getting our game on.

One thing that has been hard for me to accept and surrender is the true, utter and complete realization that we are truly never finished while we walk this earth. Never finished. But the Lord, in His grace and mercy, gives us certain things in life that we can finish with. He enables us to move on to new things. We just have to remember the entire journey will not end until He comes back for us.

And yes, this whole thing can be confusing – “Straight Up, Dude!” That is exactly why, as much as I understand it, I still fall prey to not walking it sometimes. Proof again, that understanding (the human  kind) is totally limited, man.

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If you find yourself in the midst of something similar right now, call upon the Lord. What I am finding in my particular area that seems to teeter totter between “ok, run now,” and “be still now,” is that the Lord is using that roller coaster to draw me closer and closer to Him. He is reminding me that we will not ever get into a groove and just stay there forever if we are truly seeking to be more like Jesus. Sometimes, He gives us that groove, that awesome “in the zone” feeling that one gets when they have hit their stride and just are enjoying the run, the walk, the process, but are meeting benchmarks (small, little goals) along the way to the “finish line”. Other times, it is just a struggle of a journey….filled with stops and starts, confusing, and full of mixed up signals.

We can thank the Lord for those times in which the signals are getting all mixed up, just as we can be grateful to Him for the “in the zone” moments in life. When it’s in the mixed up mode, just like emotions, those crossed signals or distractions in life can serve as indicators and markers that send up the red flag to tell us that something is wrong, off, or needs some serious adjustment.

Boy with Pinwheel

Typically, for me at least, it means I am getting ahead of myself. Ug.

And if you’re feel unsettled and all windy and curvy – if something inside of you is screaming, “stop,” you’d better believe that voice is there for a reason.

Like me, I encourage you to remember that it’s okay to slow down. He will let us know when it’s time to run again. And no matter what, we will one day – when this earthly life passes away – reach the finish line of all finish lines, friends. And then, this “race” will be over – this muddy, messed up, and illogical-at-times race.

But in the most divine way that defies the irony of all ironies that we could ever conjure up or liken it to here on earth….. that glorious finish line will not be an ending – rather the beginning of an eternal life with Him – and as children of God, our “ultimate” destination. Straight up with Jesus. Party time, friends!

Friends, let’s look straight up today as we walk with Him and let our steps go straight ahead – one foot after the other. And while we do that, with our heads held high, let’s bask in the beauty that as Jesus’ children, we have the most glorious privilege of doing so.

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What does Love Sound Like?

What does love sound like?

I think it can be heard in many ways, but what is most important is the heart through which it is delivered.

When we sing out with joy to the Lord, what do you think it feels like to Him?

Probably pretty awesome.

Today, whether we are sad, happy, frustrated, energized – no matter what we are, where we are, or how we feel, we can shout out with joy to the Lord.

Do you know why? It’s because His love for us is unending and utterly constant through all of our life experiences, feelings, situations, or circumstances. And we can always praise Him.

Isn’t it wonderful that nothing can take that privilege away from us? He never changes and neither does His love for us. He loves to hear from us any time – and really, as much as possible. We don’t have to come to Him only when we feel awesome.

If today you can’t muster up the energy to audibly shout out with joy to the Lord, you can still do so in your heart. And it will do your own heart good and bring great joy to the Lord, our Father.

He can read our hearts, you know.

And if you can do it with an audible shout of glee, then do it! Maybe you can even help someone else to do so along with you. I bet that really makes Him happy.  🙂

Imagine the sweet sound it will be to His mighty ears.

All the earth. All His children. All to Him.

It’s all a part of what real and true love sounds like – and it speaks volumes as to the fullness of joy and the fullness of life that we have because of Him.

Thank you, Jesus. We love you.

1 Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops; 2 Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors, 3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; 4 Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds; 5 Praise, oh let them praise the name of God –  he spoke the word, and there they were! 6 He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave his orders, and that’s it! 7 Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps; 8 Fire and hail, snow and ice, hurricanes obeying his orders; 9 Mountains and all hills, apple orchards and cedar forests; 10 Wild beasts and herds of cattle, snakes, and birds in flight; 11 Earth’s kings and all races, leaders and important people, 12 Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children. 13 Let them praise the name of God –  it’s the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; 14 he’s built a monument – his very own people! Praise from all who love God! Israel’s children, intimate friends of God. Hallelujah!  Psalm 148  The Message

One, Two, Three…Check

hotblack via Morguefile

hotblack via Morguefile

Today I am especially thankful for the fact that we have an advocate in the Holy Spirit.

As my mission of celebrating the daily rhythm of gratitude continues, today He led me to do a safety check. I find I am needing to do these often – pretty much daily, really.

I like to call them “heart checks.”

deegolden via morguefile

deegolden via morguefile

I am grateful for that prompting today – coming from the inner voice of the Holy Spirit….. provided to help us, to guide us, and to lead us.

The voice that either spurs us onward, or whispers, “not yet.”

The One who has spared me so much pain when I have listened well.

carlson via Morguefile

carlson via Morguefile

The One who is always there to bail me out or teach me something when I haven’t done such a good job of listening.

It is He….the One who teaches me, cautions me, consoles me, and celebrates with me.

And thankfully, the One who has taken up permanent residence within me.

I love the music of His voice.

Karpati Gabor via Morguefile

Karpati Gabor via Morguefile

This morning, like most mornings, I am grateful for the melody of the still, small, yet very powerful voice of the Holy and Awesome One.

The One who said, “breathe.”

The One who told me “you aren’t doing it wrong, love.”

Roxanneh via Morguefile

Roxanneh via Morguefile

The Spirit of the Lord guided me this morning to set the day off right – starting with my heart and then moving outward from there.

Priority Check – Am I putting God first in my life? Am I spending time with Him in prayer and the Word? Is there anything, big or small that I am starting to rely upon or love more than Him today?

Self-Reliance Check – Did I pause to pray before that interview? How about after? Am I done praying for the day now? He wants to talk to me some more, you know. He wants me to remember to ask for guidance, comfort and love. And then He wants me to trust Him…in all things. Today and every day. Remember?

Alvimann via Morguefile

Alvimann via Morguefile

Balance Check – Am I letting go of the things that will draw me away from Him and the priorities He has set forth before me? What will I let go of in order to approach the things right now that I need to pour myself into? Am I remembering to think about behaviors, intentions, motivations, and most of all, love and grace? Am I going to seek Him to help me with that today, and then am I going to surrender?

Love Check – Do I remember that this is the most important thing of all? Is loving Him first going to be my mission for the day? How about showing love to others? If it gets difficult, am I going to rely upon my own strength or turn to Him – the One who knows it all?

cohdra via MorgueFile

cohdra via MorgueFile

Yes, today, I am so grateful that the Spirit of the Lord always has us covered. He tells us what to check and when. He tells us what needs tweaking. And He gives us the tools to be able to take off, and complete His mission for the day. We need to seek. We need to listen. This is our gift of help from the Lord.

I am grateful He has made it clear that I can perform as many safety checks as one can possibly carry out, but that the truest sense of safety is only going to come from Him. I can trust Him, through the Spirit that lives inside of me to talk to me…to nudge me….to whisper, and knock, and knock, and knock until I hear and listen if I am having another one of my “dense” days.

I am thankful for the Spirit – the One we can hear – the One who is unmistakably there with us all the time.

dee37 via Morguefile

dee37 via Morguefile

I don’t need to see with my eyes.

He speaks to me in ways a mere human eye cannot possibly take in.

He’s always checking on me – my heart is safe with Him.

I just need to remember who the engineer really is.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will
teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

 

Never thought Blogging could do that!

But then again – it isn’t blogging that creates fellowship amongst believers, is it? It is God Almighty, Himself.

Hello Friends ~

I must admit, I had no idea how much fellowship existed amongst bloggers – Jesus continues to surprise me every single day. In the spirit of that, I want to take a moment to celebrate something with you and invite you to consider doing the same thing if you have a heart for continuing to spread the love of Jesus to others.

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This blog is now officially a member of the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers and can also be found in their member directory on their site. Please check their wonderful site out, as there are some truly AWESOME Christian blogs featured there. There’s something for everyone, whether you are looking for bible studies, stories about family, grief, friendship, or love, or witty and humorous blogs too. More importantly, it provides just another avenue through which we can edify one another as fellow believers in Christ and help to spread His message of love and salvation around the world!

Check them out here:  http://www.focbonline.com/

If you have a Christian blog, consider submitting your information to become a member too.  Let’s follow after their own words and help to “share the love of Jesus Christ, one blog at a time.”

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 NKJV

And remember who loves you the most!

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Monkey Business

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Do you feel uncertain today as you look out toward all that is ahead of you? Do you feel like you may not be equipped to reach out with the love of Christ to others all by yourself? Feeling a bit alone in the matter – like you could really use some help?

Then stop being a funky monkey! You don’t have to do it alone.

robgross via creationswap.com

robgross via creationswap.com

Why not go to other believers in Christ and remember we are here to build one another up? We make each other stronger, friends.

God is always with us, but He shows up big time when two or more gather in His name. He put us together for a reason!

Stay linked as you go about His business today. Find a way to another believer in Christ, no matter what it takes. Then watch God show up – big time.

This is not monkey business – it’s God’s business. And God is serious about His business. He intends to be there.

Don’t go solo, friend. Get your wheels on and roll on down the road to stand with others in the name of Christ.

And keep looking up.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

Focal Point

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

Today was weird, friends.

Until today, I haven’t really felt sad about the fact that I will be departing from the job I have held for over ten years now. Most of you who read this blog know by now that I talk a lot about feelings; how they are fickle; how they should not be what we rely upon; and how they can also just be a pain in the rear sometimes.

Yet, feelings can be good if they help us grow even more in our personal relationship with Christ. Even the not-so-feel-good kind of feelings can bring this glorious result about. It’s about keeping our eyes fixed upon Christ.

Today I have some of those less-than-pleasant feelings going on and rolling around inside of my head and heart. As I write this, My Lord is helping me to give them over to Him. I have been fighting against that all day long. Of course, like so very often happens with me, I didn’t realize I was even struggling to fully surrender until now.

See, I have found that quite frequently, we can experience great joy and great peace in the Lord even when we have the icky feelings floating around in there. It’s part of what we contend with as followers after Christ. If we didn’t experience such things, we’d just be a bunch of robots – heartless, and incapable of having a relationship with Him or anyone else for that matter.

So we get to have the feelings. And that means dealing with the whole spectrum of them too. We don’t get to choose to never feel the stuff that is less-than fun, and just keep the happy stuff locked up in a nice little box. Having feelings means we have them all. And then when we turn to the Lord to help us with the ones that are difficult, He grows us – He loves us – He teaches us, blesses us, and equips us to understand others and have more and more compassion for them. Most of all, His strength shines right through our weaknesses – bringing all the more glory to Him.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made
perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Today, I felt a bit cold, a little lonely, and a lot sad – like a little lost puppy. Although my last day at this job is not until Friday, today I felt like I was starting the process of walking away from relationships, friendships, and in some ways, what has been my second family for over ten years. I know I will remain friends with some of these wonderful people I have met over those years – but we all know all too well that it will not be the same. It’s part of life.

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

And despite the feelings, I know I am not alone – I know God is with me – so is my real family….the ones who matter most. I am entrenched in my wonderful church family, and those relationships are growing more and more each day. Yet I still felt that way today – that weird way. Not through and through, but it was there.

I felt like I was beginning to experience the sensation of being on the outside of it all, looking in. Like I was in the hallway outside of the door that I asked the Lord to help me close, yet I could still hear the party going on behind it. It is a party I was still invited to attend – so many of my friends there – celebrating, nurturing their relationships, and having a good time.

And I chose not to attend. Weird.

That’s a hard pill to swallow, feelings-wise. Yet I don’t regret it at all. It’s just still a little sad. I will miss my dear friends there. This made me feel momentarily alone. But then I remembered – like the wallpaper post that’s going around on facebook says right now – I have Jesus is in the hallway with me – I am praising Him….worshipping Him….loving Him. I am relying upon Him.

PLUS, I have a place to go, friends. I have my wonderful family to care for, and a beautiful role to play within my church. How much better does it get than that?

I think often of Paul when he spent time in prison – how often he was alone by earthly standards. But he never was. He always carried Jesus with him. I think that sometimes we need to experience such things to remember who will be the One and Only that will be with us forever and ever more, don’t you?

Have you ever felt the way that I felt today? Where you made a choice to move away from something that wasn’t necessarily “bad” to embark upon a new adventure that the Lord is starting for you in life? Have you ever been in that circumstance in which you know it is the right thing to do, yet you feel a bit lost and disoriented because you are leaving all that is known for something that doesn’t seem certain? Yet you know – you know you are supposed to do it – you even want to and feel privileged to do it – you no longer have reservation about doing it – but you still feel a bit sad. Sad through even the blessing of it all.

If so, please take heart, just as I am doing in the Lord right now. Because He has promised to never leave us. He has promised that He wants to use us to bring about glory to Him. If we have accepted the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, He promises that no matter what, we will be with Him in all eternity – never alone. And if you haven’t accepted this awesome gift, do so today! He loves you dearly. He is waiting.

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For those of us who have chosen Christ as our Savior, these times like I experienced today remind us that great things are brought about when we choose to focus upon Him as we follow after what He is calling us to do.  We get to know with no doubt that He is with us even in the momentary periods of cold or sad or loss. It’s about whether we decide to let the sad outweigh the joy – the real and true joy that He fills us with that is not contingent on our fickle feelings of the day. We can focus on all that still seems blurry, or keep our eyes fixed upon the clarity that we have in Christ.

Today I accept that I feel a bit sad. I trust that the Lord has a reason for allowing me to have those silly and pesky feelings from time to time. I have seen Him do wonders with such things before – many, many times.

And I realize this: He can handle even that for me. He can keep my vision straight even in the midst of the confusion and blurriness as well. He can do it in the midst of my sad. He can do it in the midst of my excitement. He can do it in anything at all. He can do it for me, and He will do it for you.

We don’t have to understand it. But we do need to believe it. And that gives us peace, friends…. just like Paul talked about. It’s the kind of peace that only comes from God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NIV

Yes, it was a weird day. But God is not confused. And we are not alone if we have invited Him into our life and accepted the gift that He offers us through Jesus Christ, His son. Not ever.

wallpapers4God.com

wallpapers4God.com

He’s with us in the weird. He’s with us in the sad. He’s with us in the blurry, the confusing, and the cold. He’s with us in the joy. He’s with us in the new. He’s with us in the unknown, the excitement, and the mixed up muddy mess of it all. And He makes it beautiful. He puts it all into focus – in His perfect timing.

Our God? Our Mighty God? He can do all things! Let’s trust Him to do so. And then, let’s move out of the way and just walk where He tells us to – whether He tells us to take one step at a time, or take it in leaps and bounds.

It may sometimes feel like we are on the outside of the party – lost, left out, whether by choice or not. But at the end of the day, who is the One who will be with us no matter what? Who is the One who has the ultimate party planned for us in heaven – one that will last for all eternity – one that we cannot even begin to imagine in relation to how awesome and great it shall be?  I’m up for that party. Are you?

He is the One who has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. That is Jesus Christ, our Lord.

And HE…..HE is our focal point. In everything. Even the not-so-feel-good feelings.

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the
joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV

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

 

Whatz the Word?

via stockxchg

via stockxchg

“Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalms 119:105

***

One thing that helps me is to constantly ask myself, “What’s the Word say about that?” This world we live in is utterly confusing – so many conflicting messages are sent our way, even by those who may be well-intentioned. But the Word of the Lord is always true. It contains everything that He has deemed necessary or good for us to know. And it is written by the Almighty God – the One who is never confusing or fickle.

***

 God does not send us mixed messages. God does not tell lies. His message to us will stand up against everything – even time.

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures  forever. Psalm 119:160

***

It has always been there for us; the Word – Just like God Himself.

It will always be – Just like God Himself.

It is a gift the Lord has given to us.

***

It is hard for me to understand why we don’t go to it frequently, enjoy it, and look to it to find the comfort, conviction, and utter truth that He provides to us within it. For in it, we find HIM.

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments….if you seek it like silver  aearch for it as for hidden treasures; then you will find the knowledge of God.” Proverbs 2:1-5

*** 

In God’s Word, we find many, many things – it is our treasure chest! It always dazzles, constantly fills us with wonder, awe, and inspiration, and being that it comes from Him, it shall never run dry.

 Here are just a few of the wonderful gems we find within it:

~ What does Jesus say about how we should view and live out our lives?
~What would God want us to know about this particular situation, feeling, behavior?
~ What would the Lord have us think upon, focus on, ponder, and act upon?
~ What does He want us to always be reminded of; hold close to our hearts?

And Most of All:

~ What does He wish to reveal to us about Him, who He is, and all that He has done for us? How very much does He love us?

***

For it is HE who is found in the Word. It’s His love letter to us. It is the key to helping us to look up in all that we do – it contains the essence of how we can live the Christian life to the fullest, just as He intended all along: A life focused upon worship and adoration of our Lord and Savior – here – now – while we wait to be reuinited with Him in full in our forever and eternal home.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Psalm 119:18

***

Maybe we should open it? Maybe we should read it? Maybe we should do so over and over again.

Could it be that we can live it out – Every last thing that He tells us? I want to have my eyes opened to as much that the Lord wishes to reveal to me as possible, don’t you? I want to partake of God’s treasure chest each and every day.

And we can.

Another thing of beauty about the Word of the Lord is that we can carry it with us in our hearts at all times. This is a source of great joy for the Christian.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

***

I admit, that I used to really struggle with being in God’s Word. I didn’t understand it, and failed to be uplifted, guided, and enlightened by it. This was due to the fact that I wasn’t surrendered to the Lord yet. I was trying to grasp the Word based upon my own understanding of things.

Epic Fail!

But once we ask the Lord to help us to understand what He would have us to, and we dedicate ourselves to spending time in it, we will come to find we love the Word of God. We will find that we cannot get enough of it – that we continue to crave it more and more with each passing moment. He will feed us through it. He will open our eyes through it. He will love us through it. And He will equip us to love Him in a deeper way. It is the same way with prayer: as long as we remember to listen too.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

***

Most importantly, we will find that it helps us to develop an even deeper, richer, more personal love relationship with Him the more time we spend in it. Because by doing so, we are spending more time with HIM.

He in us. Us in Him.

***

Today I challenge you, just as I do myself: If you are lost, confused, sad, lonely, hurt, happy, joyful, looking to praise, learn, seek, draw near, ANY thing…simply ask yourself:

“Whatz the Word?”

What does the Lord share with me about this in His love letter to me? What would He want me to know, feel, understand today? His Word is power – and He wants us to tap into that power. He would not have given it to us otherwise.

“For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

***

Let’s go there. Let’s spend our time there. Let’s live there -in Him.  For in so doing, we draw ever closer to Him. Our Mighty, Our Wondrous, and Our Loving God.

Romans 15:4 ~ “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

***

via Jessica Birkelo

via Jessica Birkelo

I

The Name Above All Names

via 123RF.com

via 123RF.com

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

I have been trying something new lately, and it is making a big difference in my life. You might wish to try it too.  🙂

It sets the tone for my day just as it should.

Because after all, what should be the first thing I think of when I wake up?

What should be that thing that I carry with me every waking moment?

What should it be?

I say the name of Jesus.

I wake up, and I say His name.

“Jesus”

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Most of the time, I still only say it in my mind, but I am trying to remember to actually say it out loud.

This shouldn’t be difficult to remember, should it? But I have 46 years of not doing it to reverse out of my groggy morning routined behavior.

But He will help me – my wonderful Jesus. He already has.

“JESUS! JESUS! JESUS!”

via FCI.com

via FCI.com

Guess what else?

Every time I say His name, I smile. From the inside out.

“Jesus.”

The Scripture says of the name:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

via FCI.com

via FCI.com

Say it loud – “JESUS”

Say it clear – “JESUS”

Say it now – “JESUS”

Say it here – “JESUS”

via FCI

via FCI

Believe

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

Wake up

Look up

Drink some coffee

Love a child

Hug readily

Blow a Kiss

Press Closer

Pray

Sing to the Lord

Cheesy Smile

Smell a Flower

Bible Time

Go to the Store

Share

Stranger Love

Heart

Be willing

Be dedicated

Be love

Be

Look Up

Pray

Sing

Smile Again

Take a Walk

Read a Book

Run a while

Nap

Sing in the Car

Be a dork

Listen well

Pray

Embrace Joy

See Jesus

Visit someone

Live today

Wear flip flops

Build a snowman

Breathe

And Pray

Look at babies

Laugh a bunch

Do some kissing

Sky

Be light

Be real

Be true

Be His vessel

Trust

Pray

Believe

Love

Live

Laugh

Joy

Peace

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“If you can Believe, all things are possible to him who Believes.” Mark 9:23

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Even HE

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When He was here, living in flesh amongst us, even Jesus – the Savior of all – even He looked up. He made communion with His Father of the utmost and primary importance in life.That causes me to wonder something in relation to what we should do ourselves:

Maybe that’d be a good idea for us…..to look up….all the time.

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will
darken their faces. Psalm 34:5 NLT

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Jesus Has a Sense of Humor!

via C28 Christian Images

via C28 Christian Images

This following after Jesus with reckless abandon deal is a lot of things, friends….

It is trial producing
It is a blessing
It is backbone strengthening
It is spirit testing
It is mind blowing
It is peace
It is joy fulling
It is deep
It is exciting
It can be “scary”
It is faith deepening
It can get hairy
It is awe inspiring
It is full of toil
It is sprinkled with waiting
It produces new soil
It is full of growth
It’s all that it’s rumored
Today I’m reminded most
That Jesus has a sense of humor!

Dudes! I have so much to share with you…but today I won’t share it all. I shall do it incrementally….and yes…it may seem random and out of order. That’s what its all about these days when it comes to what’s going on around here!
No, but seriously…it really is because I always share what God puts on my heart in the order He leads me to share it. And sometimes that seems random, but our God is a God of order, isn’t He? And His order is far different from ours. If you really think about it, ours is in all reality, a bunch of chaos. It’s just another one of those little lies the enemy likes to tell us.

So, I gave my notice at my night job last night…that is another story I will post about another time. But suffice it to say that there are some truly wonderful people I work with there, and although my husband and I have no question this is what needs to happen, already, we have seen some interesting things emerge about where we may be going from here.

Today, there are two things that happened out of the blue as the morning dawned. Ha Ha…I have to pause to laugh at myself right now, sorry.

via Christart.com

via Christart.com

Actually, one of the things is not something I had “planned”, but looks like a possible blessing, for sure. I’ll talk about that in a minute. The other thing, made me literally laugh out loud – I will get to that as well. But first, I must digress…..

You know, when the peace about what to do in this part of the puzzle came about for us (to quit the night job), we felt a sense of relief (I guess that’s what God’s peace is all about, right? Duh.) God had finally given us a little thing we could actually “do” in this process. Whew! We are digging God’s peace, bro.

Christart.com

Christart.com

We embrace the waiting aspect of everything else, but as you know from last week’s posts, I was indeed getting weary….weary about having no direction at all….weary from waiting. I grew from that, and I expect God will continue to have me wait upon Him forever in many different ways. I am sure husband man is growing from that as well.

I am now open to that – an area I needed growth in, for sure – waiting. But lest ye need reminding: I have a loooonnnnnggggg way to go with that. Yes, a very long way. He, the Almighty….He knows it too.

Christart.com

Christart.com

Anyway, I can’t possibly put everything down I’d like to say today – no way. But I do want to tell you something interesting. The desire of my heart (as far as the work I do outside of the home) is to put my whole self into the church, but there is the financial aspect of things and the timing aspect of things that may not make that be able to happen – at least, not in Annie’s special little idea of great timing (which is flawed, my friends…very, very flawed sometimes).

Another great thing about God! Because He has His own plans. We don’t know what they are.

Christart.com

Christart.com

But to be truly obedient, I have to be “open” to whatever He may want for us…for me, and my role now as far as what, if anything, I do outside of the home…whether for service, for employment, you name it.

So….true to my nature, I am hopeful that He will open more doors for me to get to work even more at the church – if that is what He wants. But it may not be what He wants. Sigh….So I went ahead and decided to complicate matters (dontcha love that?) and  look into (be open to) other things, and just trust Him. Hopefully, these other things will be able to work along with what the part time job at the church involves – but we don’t know yet, do we?

It wasn’t a part of my “plan” at all, but He led me to go ahead and apply for some other jobs. I was reluctant because of what I said – I would rather leave myself wide open for the church and what it may grow into (it still might, who knows?). What if I am offered things that might intervene with that? What if something else comes up that totally thwarts that little desire of my heart? What if I get more and more confused again? What if…what if….what if?

Yep…I’m doing it again, and God is letting me laugh at myself right now. He can manage it all. He may have plans for me in one of these areas I never even considered. I am thinking in that limited way again – that way that says…ummm….”why in the world would you ever leave a sweet job like you had to even think about doing something else that wasn’t in the “plans”? Give yourself a break…enjoy being a stay at home person and just work at the church part time…stop confusing the matter.”

Ha Ha Ha!!!!

Get this: I had applied, (just because this job came up on my site I look at from time to time) for a job that looks pretty sweet, yo. I only did it because it almost felt irresponsible not to apply. This is a hard job, but daytime hours. It is right up my alley. It is also a job that everyone and their dog and kitty cat along with all their imaginary friends wants in this city. I am not worried about it at all. Honestly, I don’t care that much about this right now. I just opened myself up to it in case the Lord would want me to. Guess what? I was “selected” for the next step in the process – 48 hours after applying. They aren’t even done accepting applicants yet. It doesn’t mean anything, and I still don’t care much about it either way, but I found it interesting. So I shall start that next step. And then I will put it back down.

That’s not the funny one though. The funny one is this: I keep getting alerts about this one job out there in my city. The title of it seemed like such a turn off, that I kept just “deleting” it when the alert came up, you know? It has been starting to really bother me though, because it keeps on coming up! So this morning, I wake up and it’s there….again! “Fine! I will read the job description, God!” Ug.

So I read it. Friends, this might be something. On the surface, everything about it seems not Annie-like. But isn’t that the point? Aren’t we supposed to not make this about ourselves, but about God and what HE might want for us? Oh yah…..

But the things needed to do this job, well, they are Annie-like too. I have never seen a job description written quite like this one that is not a part of a church or Christian ministry. It says things like “must have a heart for this or that”, “must have a true passion for helping people in time of need.” Stuff like that. But at the same time, it is a firm and reputable company laden with benefits and things like that as well. You usually don’t see those two things go together. Doesn’t make a lot of sense. Just like me….ha ha. Aren’t we funny humans?

Guess what the title of the position is? Drum roll please…..

Funeral Director

I will leave it there. I am applying this morning. Ha Ha. This isn’t about embalming bodies, friends. Seems dark and weird still though, no? But if this is what the Lord might have in store for my role in bringing glory to Him, who am I to challenge it? It may not be….. He may just want to see that I am willing. But I have a funny feeling about this. I don’t know why. Ha Ha.

And I sit here and laugh at myself again because I am like a toddler, right? I am laughing, but screaming within myself…”But God!”

“But God…I want the church thing!” (in the whiniest voice I can muster up)
“But God….whaaaaa…I want to do this other thing, it would be way more fun!”
“But God….aren’t you going to let me have the desire of my heart?” Hee Hee Hee….whine whine whine.

And then the verse…the verse that continues to come back to me through this whole journey…the verse of His voice, assuaging my discomfort, reassuring me of His sovereignty and might….the verse of His voice that I imagine Jesus saying to me with a smile on His face if He were here right now….

There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 NKJV

Annie B? In a funeral director position? Are you kidding me right now?

Annie B? Surrounded by death and grieving people? You must be joking, right?

Annie B? Annie B? Annie B?

And a small whisper….one I need ever-so-frequently to hear, dear friends……

“No….not Annie B, dear child. Not just about Annie B. and her husband. Not just Annie B. and her family.”

“Jesus!”

Oh yaaaaahhhhhh………It’s not all about me and my role. It’s not all about me. It’s not about us. It’s not maybe even a little about me or us. It’s not me….It’s HE.

Jesus…..Jesus…..Jesus.

Aren’t you glad that He can teach us, humble us, but laugh with us as unto a two-year old throwing a little fit – one of those kinds that is kind of cute, but in which they still need a little bit of correction too?

Just another one of the reasons I love my Jesus, friends. Just another one.

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………..

www.heartlight.org

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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Keep Looking

“We live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV

Of course, this is true – it’s in the inspired word of God. Yet, as I prayed for God to lift the burden of all I discussed yesterday, and help me to get back to a focus on Him and others ( ug, such selfishness I was wallowing in yesterday!), I knew He wanted to lead me to something else in His word as well. So I kept looking. And I kept praying.

Here is one of the places He took me….

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

He’s waiting expectantly, this little boy. He knows He must live by faith, but that doesn’t mean He has to stop looking. As long as He looks because He believes, he is still living not just by sight, but by faith. AND….with joyful anticipation and delight in the hope of Jesus and His return!

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Today, I reflect on the fact that I believe in Him. I have faith in Him. I trust in Him. And I love Him.

This is my prayer for you as well: That you will keep looking – with joyful anticipaton and expectation. We can live by faith, not by sight and keep looking all at the same time. That is what He reassured me of last night. He is risen – and He is coming back one day!

Until then, we can look while we hold Him close and He lives through and within us – what an absolute blessing, indeed. Be blessed today. Bask in this along with me today.

Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

Copyright © davidniblack.com via Imagebase

:…….while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our
great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:13 NLT

Via FreeChristian Images.Net

Via FreeChristian Images.Net

3 Years Down…An Eternity to Go

02-21-2010 -Took the Hand of Her Savior and Went Home

02-21-2010 -Took the Hand of Her Savior and   Went Home

What’s it like to live three years in heaven?

Oh my Dearie, Mama Dear….

Do you know what time is like anymore?

With your Perfect Savior, always near?

????????

Is it bright and shining, always there?

More than we here might ever think?

Do all the colors look much different now?

Deeper hues of blue, green, and pink?

????????

What’s it feel like now for you in heaven?

My Mama, I’ll bet you feel free…

Do you get updates from time to time..

About our lives, much… do you see?

????????

Does He let you help to ready the places –

In His mansions, where we too, shall live?

We look for the day we will see your faces –

Yet here, there’s more time we must give.

????????

I’ll bet one of the things He did in heaven…

Was to let you help the little children come home…

You always loved them all so much –

Just as if they were all your very own.

????????

Dear Mama, what a gift to enjoy!

Things are finally as they were meant to be…

Three years without you has been hard –

Yet His comfort, He’s showered upon me.

????????

Through grief, and loss I’ve drawn much closer..

Yet eternity still seems far away…

‘Cause here we do still know of time,

But we wait in joy for that blessed day.

????????

We join with you to sing His praises –

Even though here, there is left much sin…

Three years down, an eternity to go…

We can’t wait to embrace you again.

????????

What’s it like to spend three years in heaven?

Oh my Dearie, Mama Dear?

You’ll have to share your stories with me..

I cannot wait, every one of them, to hear.

hope

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