The Pull of Me

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

Sometimes I struggle listening to others when I think too much about my own concerns.
Sometimes I find myself replying to someone and relating what they just said to ME.

Sometimes I pray more for myself than for others. I take the good seat, take care of my own needs first, or pass someone else by because I am more concerned with my own agenda.

The pull is strong – to think of me.

It is a part of living on this earth – gravity.

I cannot wait to fly. But in the meantime, I am going to practice, practice, practice.

Practice pushing me away and drawing HIM closer. Practice changing what is in the Center.

Oh, Jesus. How do I avoid self-deprecation in the process of trying to think of myself less? How do I think less of myself when this is the mind, the body, the flesh that I live in? How do I turn it all over to You and think of YOU, YOU, YOU (not me), yet still put one foot in front of the other. Please show me. Show me every day. Every minute. Every second. Oh Jesus, as much as it hurts, cut the ties of me that pull at me.

Set me free from Me.

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Milk and Pickles

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My dear friend Heather and I have been discussing menopause a lot lately – the angst, the light through the hard stuff, the good, bad, and ooohhhh, the ugly of it! But most of all, we are trying (oh, so very hard with God’s help) to see the funny in it. There is a way to have a sense of humor about those things which can seem so serious and so pervasive to us, you know. They may indeed be just that as we walk this earth (serious and beyond difficult); but at the same time, we don’t live for this world – we look toward eternity.

Menopause, my friends? It makes it a whole lot easier to look toward eternity with anticipation!

Here’s a link to my Heather’s facebook page and you can read all about this wonderful and real woman of God. You really should check her out – she is amazing! https://www.facebook.com/#!/HeatherMertens.Author

Anyway, this morning she said to me: “And suddenly I find I am trying to put the milk in the cabinet. Argh.”

Dudes! Believe it or not, as hard as I was (and still am) laughing about that statement, the reason for that is that I have put the milk in the cabinet! I’ve done lots of other weird things too!

Yes. It’s because of menopause. (Ugly enemy)

So this little ditty is for my Heather and for all those women out there struggling with the crazy of menopause, hormonal ups and downs, or any kind of junk in general. Don’t ever lose your sense of humor, friends.

Kids are a’ hungerin’ this mornin’
Eatin yer breakfast’s a very good habit
After looking all around our kitchen
They found the milk was in the cabinet.

Oh, now it makes some sense
Cause mom had it last, are we right?
Don’t look for where it should be then,
Or you’ll be a’looking all day and night!

Our mom’s got a big booty again
And it jiggles, it shakes a lot!
She broke it doing a cartwheel
For about year, she didn’t feel so hot.

Sometimes she laughs and giggles
But eventually will come the tears.
Maybe a growl or two thrown in there,
God, will there be a lot more years?

She runs around all frantic-like,
“Oh God, where’s my brain, help me grab it!”
She smiles when He whispers kindly to her;
“It’s by the milk inside the cabinet.”

Sometimes she worries about it all
Wonders if it’s serving any kinda good cause…
This crazy thing we’re all living through,
This thing called menopause.  😦

She says it’s a daily reminder for her,
That she really needs her Savior..
To guide her and to lead her,
Ta put one foot in front of the other.

She tells us it helps her remember
That flesh and minds are fickle,
And sometimes she laughs out loud,
Finds her keys beneath da pickles.

Yah, sometimes we find her laughing too,
While other times she just wails and weeps.
Menopause may have it’s earthly hold,
But Jesus’ love, well, it runs deep.

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

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Super Cool Surprise!

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

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

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

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

So, back to the cool thing that happened.

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

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

Here is what I think made it easier:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is super DUPER cool!

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

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Happy Heaven Day, Mama

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What do I look forward to the most when it’s time to go to heaven?

Meeting Jesus and seeing His glorious face…
Basking in His presence and love forever…
Getting to live with Him for all eternity and know my family is there too…
And being reuinted with my mama.

My mama will always be my mama, even though she is no longer here physically. But more importantly, she is HIS child. Sometimes I forget to remember that. Sometimes I just miss her so badly that I feel like the little girl in the image above.

But then I remember to stop forgetting – I remember that I’m so glad that I can still celebrate the times I had with my mama while she was here with me on this earth.

I remember – I can do this in my mind – I can do this in my memories – I can do it with my heart, my soul, and every time I see her in the faces, gestures, and behaviors, laughter, and love shown through my own children…her grand babies.

And then I’m astounded, elated, comforted, and inspired that I can remember that every day now is Happy Heaven Day for my mama.

She’s my mama….and yes, I miss her…

And she’s HIS child.

He is the Father to whom both of us belongs.

One is with Him in heaven right now, while the other is living day by day drawing as near to Him as she possibly can until it’s time to join them.

I hope He’s giving her a flower for me today…

I hope He’s showering her in flowers.

I hope they dance and laugh and sing together every single day.

And save a spot for me when it’s my turn to come and join the party.

I know the party there is far more awesome than what I could have for her here.

Happy Heaven Day Mama….

Happy Heaven Day.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a  time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time  to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time  to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

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Keep your eye on the Ball

Photo Credit 123RF.com

Photo Credit 123RF.com

Sometimes things happen that seem right, perfect even…. and then, in a very short time, it becomes clear that it’s not.Then, we have to adjust accordingly, prayerfully, and try to be balanced as we adjust (i.e. don’t act totally impulsively, yet don’t wait to long to obey if you feel the Lord calling you to action).

This can be so very, very hard to do. And it can be painful too.

Yes, God is unchanging, but we are finite little creatures. We have our strengths, as well as our certain human limitations.

And yes, God can do anything through us that He chooses to do, as He is also unlimited. But sometimes, we can get so caught up in the attribute of perseverance (after all, that’s a good thing, right?) that we end up moving over into disobedience if we are being asked to do something that seems like “giving up.”

When this happens to us, and it becomes pretty clear after searching the Word and praying a lot, I feel it means that He is asking for us to submit even further -to let go of the “perseverance” mentaility – to surrender, folks.

Then He can work within what seems like a limitation, and cause us to go down a different path entirely. Funny thing is, this happens in His timing, not ours. And at first, it can seem illogical, or like an attack from the enemy. It can be utterly confusing at times.

Photo Credit 123RF.com

Photo Credit 123RF.com

This is where I am at today…..

Over the last 72 hours, I have been squished and prodded to the point that my heart literally feels like it’s been twisted through a meat grinder. Didn’t this same thing just happen a couple of months ago, God? Did I make a mistake? Was I disobedient?

The answer is no. God showed me that He is going to give me choices sometimes that aren’t limited to one good choice, and one “bad” choice. Sometimes, there will be several options that are all good – but one might be better than the other.

The hard comes into play in the fact that I feel Him wanting to bring me into the best choice –  the hard comes into play in that we often don’t know what that best choice is until we get our feet wet and then realize “nope, this isn’t it.”

I don’t like that feeling much, do you? I don’t like letting others down when I find that a choice I made that involves them too, ends up not being right for me. It impacts them too.

God showed me this weekend that He is big enough to take care of them too – oh yah!

Duh.

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Guess what? I have clarity now about moving out of the one choice and not knowing which thing to do next (again – sheesh). I have His peace, His joy, and His constant and reassuring presence – it’s been there underneath the tears that have been shed, and shed, and shed. It’s been there under and through the struggling, the prayer, the exposing of my inadequacies, vulnerabilities, the list goes on and on.

Part of what the Lord helped me to do these last couple of days is the following:

  • Get the junk out – I had to compartmentalize the part of this that was an attack from the enemy so I could then deal with what was left. That was my blog post yesterday – the enemy and his stupid lies.
  • Once that was done, I had the other part left. At first, I honestly didn’t know if the big blob of junk was all from the enemy or only in part. Once I took out what was from Satan, I was at first a bit disappointed to see there was, indeed, still a ball of stuff leftover to contend with. (I was secretly holding out the hope that it all was just a stupid attack that I could then stand up against and persevere against with the help of the Lord and others)
  • That remaining ball of stuff is some hard truth, but it is from the Lord…I know this without question. Today and last night I have been dealing with that along with Him. After all, He is the One in charge here.
  • I had help today too – and some of the other days. My dear husband helped me immensely. Also, we sought some good solid counsel at the church from our Assistant Pastor. He confirmed what I thought the “divine ball” of stuff was indeed in line with God’s will for where my priorities should be from here. We know this because a few of the things I had shared with my husband actually came out of his mouth when we talked and we hadn’t told him any of it yet.

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Today, if you feel like the enemy is juggling you around, go ahead and allow the Lord to help you to call his little bluff. Grab the mighty hand of the Lord and stick it right smack in the middle of all the jiggly juggly balls  and cause the enemy to falter in his pristine and seemingly-faultless ability to continue juggling  and juggling away.

His games need to end – because he’s not only playing with you (that enemy), but with God, if you are one of God’s children!

I never really liked clowns and circuses much……..did you?

Think about keeping your eye on the right ball today – you should find it right inside of the One true Savior’s hand:  Jesus Christ. Master of All.

He isn’t clowning around, either.

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

Snow, Snow

Photo Credit:Xcentric DX Winter Snow

                                       Photo Credit:Xcentric DX Winter Snow

The snow gently falling this morning reminds me of something I don’t think about often enough: And that is that Jesus really can, and really does, make all things new.

Let’s dwell upon that today and praise Him with all we have.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 ESV

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5 ESV

You Know You’re Getting Old When…

…You can’t WAIT to get to Friday night so that you can clean your house and organize your tasks for the upcoming week!

photo credit 123RF.com

photo credit 123RF.com

Yes, friends, that is me. Strange, alien, old me. And I kid you not – I truly AM excited about this! (If this sounds like you too, then we can be strange, old, aliens together – smile).

I have been “picking up” the clutter in the house every night in the short hour I have before going to bed, but I have been unable to clean this week with the schedule I have been keeping. And I don’t really like that. At all.

Next week will be far worse, as I have the full time training schedule M-F, then the entire weekend is packed with conferences/training, and work at the church. So I must make the most of the time I do have this weekend. And I’m a’gonna do it!

Although I could write another blog post regarding a different aspect or perspective on this – such as the need to “let go” because I have deep-seated control issues – this one will not be that way. Because I did let go! (Of that, at least – ha ha)

And, yes – we can talk later about how I have been still “working on” letting go with joy too, because although I let go of the cleaning, I truly did not “let go and like it.”

But today’s post is going to be about the fact that I get to celebrate “getting to do” these things this weekend. I get to celebrate that I did let go, with God’s help, and that He is using that to change my perspective and I get to feel like it’s even more of a treat to be given the time to clean and organize stuff. I guess that’s how it always should be, right? We should always appreciate being able to do our tasks with joy unto the Lord.

(Rubbing my little hands together right now, folks!)

Photo Credit 123RF.com

Photo Credit 123RF.com

I shall appreciate the things that sometimes, we can feel are a drudgery, a “have to” in life, or a what at other times seems like-a what-a-boring-way-to-spend-the-weekend kind of outlook.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” Colossians 3:23

Here is just a partial list of what I cannot wait to start doing tomorrow night when I get off work and complete my workout at the gym!

  • Vacuum the entire house
    Clean and polish the appliances
    Clean all the counters!
    Dust with good smelling stuff!
    Do ALL the laundry – whoo hoo!
    Teach my kids(if they are around) how to do some laundry stuff
    Organize all the mail, bills, and my appointment calendar
    Purge emails I didn’t get to read
    Catch up on emails I need to write
    Watch some of the funny you tube videos my kids like with them
    Work out at the gym with husband all three days of the weekend!
    Create a few blog post ideas and save them
    Read some in the books I have going right now.
    Read through all the training material I received this week
    Go through the women’s counseling training materials for the church
    Watch a funny show or movie with the family
    Clean the bathrooms until they sparkle
    Check facebook
    Plan out my daily devotions for next week!

There is an upside to getting “old” I guess, isn’t there? We are better able, in some ways, to find joy in the little things such as this. I love a clean house and organized stuff. I love the feel of being able to have our surroundings nice so we can de-clutter our minds, thoughts, hearts, and distractions. Let’s face it – some of us are just not those types who can fully press in to the things that are most important when all this other stuff is piling up around us.

It is true we need to let go and let God. This is especially true when we are truly pressed for time for things that take precedence over a clean house, or organized bills, and daytimers. But it is also true that we have tasks and responsiblities in our lives and things to get done outside of our lives at work. And the Lord calls us to complete those tasks as long as they don’t get in the way of our time with Him, time spent loving others, and our priorities are aligned with His will.

When the Lord does provide an opportunity for us to maximize the rest of our time by spending a bit of it on getting things into place so that we aren’t distracted by it all, I think we should jump on that and do it with joy in our hearts.

So this old gal is going to go down the list this weekend and love every minute of it. At least I’m not so old that I can’t work the vacuum any longer, right?

If you are in a similar situation this weekend, I pray that you can find joy in taking care of the little things that have piled up during the week, minimize distractions for the upcoming week, and use it as time to celebrate in Him, communicate with Him, and spend time praising Him.

We can praise the Lord in all circumstances, even while cleaning or organzing things, can’t we? And we can rest assured that to Him, that never gets “old.”

Hallelujah! Praise God from heaven, praise him from the mountaintops;  Praise him, all you his angels, praise him, all you his warriors,  Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, you morning stars; Praise him, high heaven, praise him, heavenly rain clouds;  Praise, oh let them praise the name of God –  he spoke the word, and there they were!  He set them in place from all time to eternity; He gave his orders, and that’s it! Praise God from earth, you sea dragons, you fathomless ocean deeps;  Fire and hail, snow and ice, hurricanes obeying his orders;  Mountains and all hills, apple orchards and cedar forests;  Wild beasts and herds of cattle, snakes, and birds in flight;  Earth’s kings and all races, leaders and important people,  Robust men and women in their prime, and yes, graybeards and little children.  Let them praise the name of God –  it’s the only Name worth praising. His radiance exceeds anything in earth and sky; 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

In, With, and Through

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To love completely, we need God’s help, because, by nature, we are not love. But He most definitely is.

“With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

As this week gets kicked off, let’s try to remember the importance of abiding in Christ as we seek to do everything in love, with love, and through love.

This (abiding) comes through prayer, time spent in the Word, fellowship with other believers, and daily surrender, trust, and exercising of our faith in HIM.

As we abide in Christ, we then know Him more, and we will become more like Him. And this enables us to love the way that He does.

“Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

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Loving In, Loving With, and Loving Through

Abide in Love
Bless with Love
Commiserate through Love

Deliver in Love
Empathize with Love
Faith-Build through Love

Give in Love
Help with Love
Influence through Love

Journey in Love
Kindness with Love
Learn through Love

Meek in Love
Nudge with Love
Obey through Love

Peace in Love
Quietly with Love
Redeemed through Love

Sacrifice in Love
Teach with Love
Understand through Love

Victorious in Love
Willing with Love
X-treme through Love

Yearning in Love
Zealous with Love…..

In, With, and Through – He is Love

This week, may we continue to abide in Him, and look to Him, and in turn, love like Him.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:1-10, ESV)

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Thanks for Nothing?

Gratitude Mission Continues: Be thankful in all things.

I don’t have “nothing” to do today (although that little red hammock looks really good right about now).  Instead, I have lots of little somethings to do. And friends, I am actually really looking forward to getting to take care of this stuff! I am grateful I have been given a day in which to do so.

Today, I get to run around and take care of lots of odds and ends, organize my bills and “to do” list, and I have the privilege of doing it while not under a ton of pressure.

Haaaaaaa. Breathing day. I kinda like those.

For someone like me, this kind of thing really is a breath of fresh air! When I have several days in a row in which I can’t attend to the small details in life, they start to pile up. It is good for me to be able to let that go for a while, but God always knows when I start to feel buried underneath it all and need to be able to dig in and clear out the rubble.

Jesus certainly does love me. I am so glad He understands.

I am grateful for not having “nothing” to do today. I appreciate having lots to do that I can find joy in as I go about the day. It makes me appreciate the time to take care of these things all the more when I don’t get the chance to do it for a while. Then they aren’t a drudgery, but an actual release.

Isn’t God awesome how He can make chores and errands seem like fun?

I enjoy my God time best that way, too. When I can speak to Him all day long and praise Him for all the small stuff without so many distractions and pressures coming my way – it is so mood lifting! I need some of that today too.

We need those reprieves like that, don’t we? And the Lord knows just when to provide them.

And, by the way: I love, love, love the ability to have a day in which I get totally focused on plugging away through my list of things to do and cross them off, one by one. God rewards us, just because of who He is, doesn’t He? He knows I am a control freak who is working on a daily basis to surrender to Him, learn to let things go, remember to rely upon Him and Him alone for security, identity, and peace, yet part of me is just built that way too – that way of needing to know what is going on, and be able to approach life with some sense of order to it at times. At least, once in a while. And He grants that to me. After all, He is the One who made me.

Mercy and Grace. Mercy and Grace.

I am grateful for the days this week in which I didn’t get to touch the little things that were piling up, because they taught me that there are times for surrender, times to be patient and wait upon the Lord, and times to let go. But I am thankful today for a break from the big stuff and the distractions of the world – soooo very thankful!

Gratitude in having small things to do – and getting a break from the big things for a day. I’m thankful for that “not nothing” kind of a day I will have today. And I think that’s really “something.” Something pretty wonderful. Something that He is giving me as a gift.

I plan to appreciate it for all it’s worth! Thank you, Jesus!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to
Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Is there a U Turn Sign on your Forehead?

Do we show others in our actions, attitudes, facial expressions, tone, and overall demeanor that we are even remotely approachable?

Do we make it look like we want for people to come to us for support, care, concern, guidance, love, or even just a kind gesture?

Or is it more like this?

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Unfortunately, too often, I fear too many of us display one or more of the above. I know I am guilty of it – far too often.

We either act like we are too busy to be approached, or we aren’t exactly giving off the vibe that we really care. The sad part is, sometimes it is actually true. We are busy. And we don’t quite care enough. But God can help us to change that. It starts with our hearts.

Jesus didn’t let His busy life get in the way of ministering to the people when He walked amongst us. God is not too busy for us now, either. And believe me, the Lord has far more on His plate than all of the rest of us, past, present, and future, combined. And then some.

As followers of Christ, we are called not only to be approachable, but to go way beyond that: We are to actually reach out! Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when we are in the right mood. Not when we feel up to it, don’t have too much on our plate for the day, or think whoever we might be helping will be receptive and kind. We are to reach out to anyone we possibly can with the love of Christ. Period.

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This is a tall order, and believe you me, I know it! I share this with you today, because I struggle sometimes with this. I am a people person, so it may be easier for me than for others, but I find myself still putting certain boundaries up in situations where I really need to reach out – stretching to the tips of my fingers – and instead, I just curl them into tight little fists. I withhold. And that is simply not good.

As we go about living today, let’s think about how approachable we are, friends. I need others to do this with me, because I truly believe God wants unity in this area from His children. Maybe we could even go so far as to make worshipping our Savior and out of that, then loving people our main concern today? If we ask God to remind us, I would bet my life on it that He will help us.

Who knows? We may even just move from being merely “approachable” on a really good day, to actually reaching out without it hurting too much.

God’s light is made to actually shine from within us. Why do we sometimes try so hard to hide them? After all….if the Savior of the world isn’t too busy to love the people, so I am inclined to think that we aren’t really either.

Or are we?

If you have been in hiding lately, won’t you step out with me today? I would love to know that I have some company as we see just how bright those lights can actually get!

Glory to God!

marian trinidad via creationswap.com

marian trinidad via creationswap.com

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

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You’re Crampin’ My Style, Bro!

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via Stockvault.com

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

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

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

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

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

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via stockvault.com

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

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

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

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via Stockvault.com

Picture This:

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

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

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via Stockvault.com

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

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

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

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

via Stockvault.com

via Stockvault.com

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

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

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

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

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via Stockvault.com

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

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

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

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

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via Stockvault.com

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

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

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

via stockvault.com

via stockvault.com

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

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

Ha Ha!

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

Not so Ha Ha!

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via stockvault.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Plan A – The Only Way

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

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

My typical approach:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Plan A – The Best Way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatz the Word?

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

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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.

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 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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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

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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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.

Gettin’ M’Gear On!

Recently (as in the last two days) my family and I have had a triumph in Christ – the details of which I plan to share in full as soon as I am able. It’s time to rejoice about this special thing, and we are doing just that.

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So as always, this morning I am going to begin it all by asking the Lord to direct my steps and the path He has set before me, because enjoying the fruits that come out of this triumph does not come without some action steps on my part – things the Lord would have me do to do in relation to all of the things involved. But I need to do it along with the help of my Lord – I realize I cannot do it alone. I will rejoice in that as well, but I am pausing each morning to set the day that lies ahead right into His hands…

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As I have much to do, I must remember that the Lord is the one who will choose the plans and how to go about achieving the goals He has in store. So I shall proceed, most prayerfully, with what I think I am supposed to do, but always remember, that HE, the Almighty and most Sovereign Lord, has the full power….He owns all my “rights”…..He is the Mighty Director. And He can change things any time He sees fit.

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I feel excited about this and a huge weight is taken off of me and my family, friends. New things are happening, and I have never really been one to look forward to change – not until it has come to fruition. In this, I am excited about what the Lord is doing right as it is happening. I see the new growth now…..and I know there is more to come. I can enjoy the journey of it all – the trip He is taking us on – instead of only looking forward to the destination. I kind of have a feeling that idea of destination is only partially true anyway when we are walking in the Lord’s will for us. We may land somewhere temporarily, get to hover a while…but He will continue to move us according to  His will.

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There is peace to be found in that…in Him. In the midst of all the unknown and the chaos. In the midst of the times in which things will run smoothly – like the well-oiled operation that the Lord is capable of making this part of our journey, and also in the midst of the parts that will be frustrating, chaotic, and just plain hard. It’s His kind of peace. That’s the kind that I am really into, friends. ‘Cause it’s the only kind that’s real.

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I have been warned….the enemy will try to attack, so I will be putting on the full armor of God each and every morning. I will be checking in with Him throughout the day to do the safety check that is always needed with one such as myself. The armor, if kept on, is impenetrable by the enemy. I have a tendency to take pieces of it off at times. So, I pray that the Lord will keep me geared up every step of the way, since I tend to be an undisciplined soldier. I realize to the full, that for me, this starts in the mind. So I am giving that to Him.

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This is not my darkest valley, but it does entail a lot of unknown. But I am not afraid. AT ALL. I am free from fear right now. I pray the Lord will remind me of this when I start to get a little scared, as I know it will happen. Sometimes it may be a test of faith. Other times it may be a full scale attack or sabotage carefully planned out by the enemy but that comes upon me when I wasn’t looking for it. We can be on guard for what we know to watch out for, and even try to anticipate the element of surprise, but we are not children of the enemy, friends. We don’t think like he does. But instead of this making me afraid, it makes me know all the more how very much I need to trust in the Lord. He has my back….even if or when we get a major or minor injury, He has our backs.

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And as much as I know that the Lord has our backs, there will be the need for courage. This kind of courage can only come through Him and reliance upon Him. I look forward to having my backbone tested. I also look forward to the times that I am standing strong and don’t have to undergo much of a test. All of these things are blessings from the Lord and part of His plan to make us the disciples that we need to be. All of it prepares us to be better soldiers for Christ. We don’t know what may be around the corner, friends. Actually, if you read Revelation and follow the news, the truth is that we do know. We just don’t know when. And we need to be prepared. Practicing courage is one way the Lord admonishes us to do just that. And he lets us practice through these small, little life changes that may seem like a big deal to us right now, but that will pale in comparison to some of what may come our way before we leave this earth.

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There is beauty in that – a kind of beauty I never really saw before. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord continues to open our eyes to things? His truth is not something that we can ever get enough of or fully tap out – it it eternal. And although the Lord is unchanging, we are creatures who are limited in what we can, or are willing to see. We can only take in so much at a time. But when we submit, and when He deems us ready, He reveals new truths to us to enrich us, embolden us, prepare us, and to bless us.

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In all of it, none of this really is what matters most anyway. Because there is only one truth that really is significant and lasting. And that is Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers us. That is Jesus Christ and the blessed hope that we will live with Him forever and reign with Him in a kingdom more glorious than we could ever truly imagine. That is Jesus…Jesus….Jesus, my friends. I love the truth of Jesus Christ.

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Always remember…even He looked up. He modeled that for us – how truly important it is. To look up and give the glory to God. To look up and ask for guidance. To look up and seek His will and direction. To look up and worship, praise, thank, and bask in awe. To look up for every single thing……big or small, when it’s easy and when it’s not. Because we CAN. If Jesus thought it important….and if HE thought it a privilege, shouldn’t we?

via davidbelcher creationswap

via davidbelcher creationswap

More than anything else, the Lord reminds me that the most important gear of all is love. Let’s get suited up, friends. There is a long day ahead. There’s a lot of love to show. Let’s do this thing!

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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He Says “Come All”

(c) werner22brigitte via Pixabay

(c) werner22brigitte via Pixabay

Mama’s Story.

No:  A story of mama’s cancer.

Nuh-Uh!:  A story of mama’s cancer seen through my eyes.

Nah….we’re gonna kill that lame title.

It’s a story about God. It’s about the Almighty Creator – the Father – the Redeemer- the Savior – the Comforter. The Shepherd. The Alpha and The Omega. The Great I Am.

It’s a story. Just one of His stories.

An amazing, miraculous, enlightening, saving, eye-opening, wonderful, and awesome story.

via Pixabay

via Pixabay

There’s a pond…or a lake of some kind in this story – There’s a glacier too. My mama is there and so is a little girl she called “Christy”. There is a song called Silver Wings in this story, and a lot of other saved souls who went before us to be with Jesus there.

There’s a magnificent woman of God, her three children, her sisters, brothers, parents, caretakers, pastors, friends, co-workers and all her family in this story. There are angels, doctors, visions and medications, laughter and tears, chocolate and morphine.  There are alarm clocks, funerals, phone calls, songs, decisions, notes, letters, popcorn and movies in this story. There are lots and lots of things in this story, friends.

And then……….there is Jesus…..there is God. There is the Father, the Holy Spirit in this story.

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There is God – God is in this story.

God is this story.

It’s His story, after all…just one of them.

And it’s a true story………….

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via Pixabay

via Pixabay

  • It’s a story of redemption – a story of pain…
  • A story of triumph, and a story of gain.
  • It’s a story of grief – a story of loss….
  • A story of love, regardless of cost.
  • A story of vision – seeing God through new eyes…
  • A story of heartache, saying goodbyes.
  • It’s a story of beauty, of joy and of grace.
  • A story of my mama, who saw Jesus’ face.
  • A story she told us, it wasn’t just hers –
  • Much that she shared, were not just mere words.
  • A story of death and a story of life –
  • Of true hope renewed, through turmoil and strife.
  • It’s the story of heaven, of gates open wide –
  • Of His hand reaching out, to take her inside.
  • Yes, this story she shared, bits of it we heard –
  • Now this story I share, please pray for the words.
  • Pray for the listening –
  • Pray for the heart.
  • Pray for my small, human heart to just listen.
Photo © CreationSwap/DougEFresh

Photo © CreationSwap/DougEFresh

Friends, I have a wonderful story that the Lord has impressed upon me to share with you. It is a true story – the story of my mama going home to live with her Savior forever and ever. It’s also the story of things God revealed to me in my own life as I watched it all happen, and really, ever since. I shall share with you, this story, in segments, because it is a lot to take in and I honestly believe I need to put it down it in the way that the Lord tells me to, as He tells me to do so.

You know, God is just so very amazing – I truly am awestruck by Him anew each and every day. My mama passed from this earth three years ago, and what we saw through her entire journey as she battled cancer, and especially through the “end” was truly just the beginning. This I know.

via FreeChristianImages

via FreeChristianImages

I ask for you to pray for me as I attempt to put into words what I saw – His story He told me through my mama.

Let’s name this story after Him….using the very words that He gave to her…..the ones He told her to tell  us………..

He said, “Come All” –

Jesus says, “Come All.”

Because we’re all invited.

Are you ready??????????????????

Hans via Pixabay

Hans via Pixabay

We have a glacier to climb.

werner22briggite via Pixabay

werner22briggite via Pixabay

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

* To Be Continued by the grace and leading of the Lord – in His timing – in His wisdom – in His grace. Love, Annie B.

Copyright © 2013 – AnnieB – Feel free to share this with anyone you wish! The copyright is solely on these particular writings as they may eventually be compiled into a book for publishing.

via gopraise

Singing through the Sobs – Mama has to go now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them  eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my  hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is  able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (Jesus speaking) John 10:27-29

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

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

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

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

I remember……………………………………………

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

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

Snap out of it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whaaaaaa Haaaa Haaaaa AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

baby

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

And then, mama left us.

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

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

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

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

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

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Mother Resting Head on Infant's Chest

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

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

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

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

Girl Making Snow Angel

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

Light Streaming Through the Crown of a Tree

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

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