Making the Time

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First things first: Anyone new to this blog or anyone who hasn’t read from here lately needs to know one super important thing before reading on – everything the Lord lays on my heart to write about and share is stuff He’s working on in ME. If it resonates with you and you take it to prayer and benefit from it – awesome. But you should know that I am not sharing anything with you that I do not already feel convicted about myself. So there’s that. All righty then!¬† ūüôā

You’ve heard this before, right?

One of the greatest and most precious gifts we can give to a person is the gift of our TIME.

Time is something that once given, we don’t ever get back. It’s one of our most precious little things that we hoard ~ often held so very close and even greedily to ourselves (you can admit it, right?). It is often used as our excuse for what we can’t or don’t do, and can even be a false idol, if we really stop and think about it.

We like to say that we DON’T HAVE enough time. But it seems to me that we sure do waste a lot of it.

Television –

Surfing the Internet –

Emails –

Selfies –

Instagram –

Facebook –

Event after Event after Event (including the good stuff)

Magazines –

YouTubeVideos

And so on and so on and so on!

And don’t even get me started on all the scattered (many) things we run to that aren’t necessary.

These aren’t all bad things, but they can be time suckers. Even serving at every church or charitable event, signing up for every last possible activity ever offered for our kids or at their schools, or always working overtime when it really may not be necessary, can whittle away at this very valuable time-thing. And guess what? That can take away from what God values- yah – the people-thing.

Ever heard the phrase “too much of a good thing can be bad?” It’s true. I used to be involved in just about ever extra activity you could count up to – and they were GOOD things. It was too much. I was ignoring what was MOST important, man. And God found His wonderful way to make it abundantly clear to me. He’s good that way.

We can fill our time very easily and before we know it, there’s nothing left for some of the things God may be calling us to invest in – like HURTING PEOPLE.

Are there people out there within our reach that could really benefit if we invested real time in them?

What about those who are hurting or reeling right about now?

How about the folks you know who need more than a quick check-in to see how they are here and there?

Someone in mourning? Going through a serious challenge in their life? Struggling with a new chronic illness, a divorce, or the loss of a child? Anyone out there you know that is feeling totally alone and needs a friend?

What about them?

I also see a lot of the division that is increasing in relationships lately – ALL kinds of relationships – And some of it is happening because of two things that could be avoided, or at the very least, diminished greatly: Miscommunication and Differences in Perception.

Guess what a root solution is for a lot of that kind of junk?

Invest. The. Time.

  • Invest the time to discuss things – not sweep them under the rug. I always like to say – if you sweep the crap under the rug the room will start to STINK even WORSE than it did in the first place! The rug may look pretty on the top side, but something beneath it is starting to FERMENT. (graphic, but true).
  • Invest the time to allow everyone to be¬† heard and WORK THROUGH solutions – together.
  • Invest the time to follow up and follow through and do it for the long term, man.
  • Invest the time to be a REAL friend. Not with everyone – just with that person God is placing right in front of you and that the Holy Spirit is nudging you about. #justdoit

Hit and miss is not gonna cut it when people are hurting deeply or are facing insurmountable obstacles. This is what Jesus did and still does in and through us if we follow His example. He INVESTED in those disciples of His, man. He caused them, commanded them, and inspired and equipped them to invest in one another. Yes – they reached out to the masses here and there and then had to move on to the next crowd, and every person that Jesus touched was blessed in some way, even if they didn’t get to be as close to him long-term as the disciples did. But Jesus modeled what it is to truly invest in those immediately around us – for the long haul. And then they invested, and they invested, and they invested.

Not gonna happen without giving up that precious time.

Jesus often stopped right in His tracks to deal with a situation at hand even when He was already on the way to go somewhere else! He didn’t wait to deal with that person in need – he stopped and helped that person right in front of Him.

True discipleship and real help and support cannot really happen without a commitment of our time. It won’t happen if we aren’t willing to slow down and stop for someone. It takes a true desire to see how we can MAKE the time. And it takes true compassion, and an intense drive to keep our eyes open and LOOK FOR THOSE who God may be placing in our path.

It takes being present. It takes a commitment. It takes a desire, drive and dedication. It takes seeing it – the need for it. And no one person can do it all. That’s not what Jesus modeled for us anyway.

That’s why it takes a village, man. A village to invest in others. A village to communicate one with another so all the pieces fit together. A village to look under every rug that the crud is getting swept under and GET. IT. OUTTA. THERE.

It takes more than one or two warm bodies.

It takes more than a passing “hope you’re doing okay.”

It takes TIME and a whole lot of it.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Not in most cases, at least. But at the same time, not much will change when folks are facing serious struggles and we aren’t willing to come alongside them and invest in them. All the way.

Yes – we have to have some quiet time with the Lord – we can NOT sacrifice that, and are NOT called to do so!

Yes, we have our own spouses and our families. They are the people (disciples, anyone?) that we live with and do life with all the time and come right next in line to our time spent with Jesus.

Yes, we have jobs, church commitments, and extra-curricular activities. I personally have found that even those things can’t always come in line first before people though. How about you? We are called to be good stewards of such things, but we sometimes¬† have to make tough decisions there when weighing priorities in life.

For me, I just found that I came to a point where I truly had to ask myself – “what am I doing with the rest of my time, really? Am I investing in what GOD would have me do? Or what I think is most important?” These questions don’t just get asked once – I find I have to do it every week, seriously! Because that wasting time thing or not having my priorities straight thing starts to sneak right back up on me. #stealthy

I can help another even while I am resting with my crazy-messed-up Fibro Body from my bed and with my computer or my phone and at least spend TIME talking with them in that way. That’s something!

I can meet them for lunch or at church or have them over to the house whenever possible to have some face to face time as well. And that’s even better.

I can think of them, pray specifically for them, and TELL THEM I AM DOING SO every single day through a quick text, (this is how facebook messenger can be a VERY good thing), sharing of a specific prayer, and a wonderful scripture verse the Lord lays on my heart that just very well may comfort them.

All these little things really do add up to a lot of time – and once we realize our time is really not OURS anyway – we can embrace giving it away.

Not at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. Not at the expense of our spouse, children or families who need us and live right next to us.

But in addition to that. And it can happen.

I wish I could make the time to be able to be intensive with my time with everyone that I feel called to invest in. I wish sometimes we could all just live together – say 12 or 13 of us – like Jesus and the disciples did. But asking Jesus to help us make every extra moment count for something (even for rest or quiet time – we gotta be filled too, or we start to run on empty), really does make a difference.

God will make the way if we simply ask Him to do so.

Let’s make the time and give of ourselves in this way freely. And let’s realize it isn’t really ours to keep all to ourselves anyway. Jesus does. And if the Savior of the World could “make the time” maybe we could stand to do so as well.

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Who Ya Gonna Call?

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¬†‚ÄúWhoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise‚ÄĚ
Proverbs 15:31

Wow!!!

I can remember when I was younger and I thought that “wise counsel” meant nothing but “support”. Support of what my desires, dreams and feelings were. Total loyalty to ME and what I wanted. I thought it meant finding people in my community that would always be on my side, no matter what.

Truth is, it was still all about ME. I wasn’t seeking wise and godly counsel – I was seeking friendship. We need BOTH.

So I came to realize, as I learned more and more about God’s character and sought what the Lord says on this matter throughout scripture, that truly wise and godly counsel is not always “just the fun parts” that come along with having “support.”¬† It ain’t all about having a bunch of friends who will just tell me what I want to hear.

Nope.

Wise counsel must be delivered with the heart, motivation and intention of God’s¬†real¬†love and real truth behind it. These two things lie at the core of truly wise and godly counsel.¬† It should be constructive not DESTRUCTIVE. It should align with scripture – the whole of it, not just the bits and pieces that fit OUR particular “feeling of the moment”. It should point us to God and what the Lord might have us do in that situation. It should come from a place of humility, yet confidence in the LORD and what He is equipping us to be able to speak into another person’s life.

Wise counsel is honest. Wise counsel is loving. Even when it’s hard.

It takes COURAGE to do this Рon both sides. It takes submission and surrender and courage to love like Jesus does. It is NOT EASY. But this is what church really is. Walking it out in the ugly and the messy Рthat is true SUPPORT in the body of Christ.  Being willing to confront all of it ~  together. Not running or cutting out when it starts feeling uncomfortable.

We don’t get to deliver truth without love. We don’t get to provide REAL and true love without being willing to be truthful, either. Not if we are really walking through life with someone else. And unfortunately, because we often don’t walk through all of it together, we often find ourselves only doing one or the other. Truth OR Love. And it’s gotta be both. I have yet to see this be able to happen if we try to come along side someone halfway.

That’s what Jesus did in His ministry here on earth. He dealt with the hard stuff, man.¬† He continued to love in the process as well. And if people refused to listen, He allowed that and moved on to help those who were truly open and willing to confront their need.

He doesn’t force us to submit or surrender to Him – but He is there and will show up if we are truly willing. If He places people in our lives that are willing to go all the way and do the hard stuff along with us, it is WISE not to shun that or scoff at that.¬† If and when we do, we will have to then walk in that. That walk is often one in which we will eventually find ourselves feeling very alone. We may have a few friends out there who are there for us part of the time (I mean – they have lives too, no?) – but they won’t really be doing life with us. Not all the way.

It won’t stay pretty for very long. #guaranteed

So, recognizing who the Lord places in our lives to do this with us means we have to really be discerning and ask ourselves – am I seeking only those who will tell me what I always easy to hear, or the parts that aren’t TOO UNCOMFORTABLE or easy for me to digest – or am I willing to allow those who truly want to be there for me in this and go the distance in my life be there for me?

Gotta be open to it, or it ain’t gonna happen.

Just like with what the Lord wants to do in our lives – We get to choose. Then we gotta walk in what we choose. We get to own it. The good side and the bad side of our choices. It just seems kind of dumb to me when we choose to go our own way. But it’s what we do a lot of the time, isn’t it?

The truth AND love thing? It’s a difficult balance for the one offering help to strike. First, because we are not perfect – not a one! Second,¬† because real help sometimes has to come in the form of being willing to deliver some bad news.¬† And NOBODY LIKES THAT!

BUT – sometimes, as we wrap our minds around the hard stuff, we can face it – together! We can bring into the light all the junk that’s in the dark. And THEN real stuff starts to happen!

Or we can run.

The halfway stuff just isn’t gonna help us. It may make us feel better for a while, though. That’s for sure. Hence, the difficulty – the temptation to think we truly are open and willing to confront things with others God places in our lives –¬† the deceit we operate under and the things we tell ourselves about truly seeking wise counsel – well, it simply then remains and continues to weave a web all around our minds and our¬† hearts. And that is from the enemy. #truth

Sometimes, God can get downright firm with us. So godly counsel is willing to do the same thing if needed. If the desire is to BUILD US UP (that includes character, not just feel good stuff) and help us truly get through things in our lives that are causing DESTRUCTION AND DIVISION, a loving friend, counselor or mentor WILL put themselves on the line to not just tell us what our “itching ears want to hear.”

They may screw it up (probably will sometimes)- but if all we do is push it away, in reality, we are pushing away those who maybe – just MAYBE – the Lord placed in our lives to TRULY HELP US. Something to think about and take to the Lord in prayer, at the very least!

Jesus displayed that firmness AND love at the same time, over and over again (minus any screw ups) as He walked this earth. He still displays it in our lives today if we allow Him to.

Choose. Choose life. Choose truth. Choose love. Choose all of God’s character to speak into your life. Choose the real deal.

Choose REAL.

No – God doesn’t always tell us what we WANNA hear. That is NOT God’s character. He also doesn’t forget about the compassion and love piece, either. It is BOTH/AND.

We can come to Him freely (as we are – while we are still sinners) for salvation. But when it comes to sanctification, we must be open to hear even the hard stuff. Otherwise, we will start to make our own plans, man. We will go with what OUR heart wants. WE will continue to walk our OWN way. #noteasy

Support and encouragement matter, that’s for sure! BUT….if we REALLY seek true wisdom, real truth, and REAL LOVE, we go first to God in prayer, and then we surround ourselves with WISE counsel. Not just the people who can quote scripture left and right (and often out of context) to make us feel better. Not just people who pride themselves on SPEAKING THE TRUTH and throw love and compassion out the window every time. Not just the people who tell us how to get around things or make others yield to our desires. And not people who don’t understand that we need to take responsibility in order to walk out the counsel of the Lord and TRULY GROW.

Do you find yourself pushing away anyone who wants to come along side you simply because you don’t like some of what they are speaking into your life because it is uncomfortable? I’ve been there, friend. Many times in my life, I have BEEN THERE! If you do see yourself doing something like this and your heart realizes it now, it is not too late to return.¬† Return to what scripture says – the WHOLE OF IT- when it comes to wise counsel. Take a look at who you have chosen to truly surround yourself with. Got anyone in there that’s willing to share the hard stuff too? Are they willing to be in – ALL THE WAY IN this with you? If so, you are truly blessed. That’s not a gift I would think we might want to simply toss.

Here’s some stuff from a GREAT Christian article (one of many) that I read – all of it resonates with so many parts of what scripture admonishes us to do when seeking truly wise counsel in our lives. Just some food for thought. I know I can always use it.
Wise counsel will come from individuals who know the difference between…

  • what is ultimately good and what is just currently popular,
  • what is really valuable and what is just cheap,
  • what is achieved by hard work and what is just lucky,
  • being happy and just having fun,
  • a sincere apology and a weak excuse,
  • what is true and what is just a matter of opinion,
  • what is to be hard sought and what is to be tolerated,
  • when help is appropriate and when it should be withheld to encourage one to struggle,
  • love and lust,
  • what is really dangerous and what may just be somewhat risky,
  • what is worth fighting against and what one should run from,
  • what is a legitimate source of hope and what is just what we want to hear,
  • what is wise and what is foolish,
  • what can last forever and what is only temporary,
  • humble worship that glorifies God and pride-filled religious rituals that offend God,
  • what is from God and what is from the world.
  • from http://www.christianityetc.org/wise-counsel.php

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Out of the Brown Box

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Sometimes ( a lot) the enemy attacks me inside for being completely honest with you, dear readers. I have things run through my head that I know are from the ugly enemy all the time – things like “no one wants to hear that stuff, you need to talk about the more beautiful things of life and help uplift others, Annie. You’re doing it wrong.”

And I know what that is: It’s the master of deceit’s¬†attempt to get me to think of this little blog as something I do only for others and that I should tailor it to the things people might want to hear. The enemy tries to whisper that I should write only about that which makes me come across as strong and together and that I got it all going on just perfectly because I got Jesus. He says¬†that something like this should not be¬†something I do to bring about my own personal growth (spiritually) as I work through things with God –¬†because that is….Just.So.Selfish.

The enemy tries to tell lots of pretty little lies, friends.

But I do write in order to work things out with the Lord, friends. I do, because He is the ONE and ONLY who can make¬†us whole through the messy stuff in life. Writing this stuff out actually makes it more real and takes away the foothold the enemy likes to take advantage of when we keep it all inside. But he just keeps on whispering – that ugly minion. The enemy whispers that I should portray¬†things as only being all glittery and shiny – like a beautiful treasure chest full of jewels – you can’t wait to open it to see what you will be rewarded with next.

But in so doing, I know that I would create a false prison of sorts. I know that I would be lying. The fact is that the Christian life is messy and ugly and beautiful and intentional all at the same time. So I write the way that I write for that reason. I share the way that I share for that reason. I share it ALL because it’s the TRUTH.

This blog was started as a form of worship of the Lord. Some people worship through music, or art. Some do it by serving in person at the church and expressing their love for Jesus in that way. I write. I write out my feelings and struggles and joy and everything I go through as a Christian far better than I speak it. I am a pretty sensitive person when it comes to things like the body language of others, tone of voice, etc. And I screw up all the time when it comes to my own peripheral forms of communication, so I know that by writing things out, the LORD knows my heart and He reveals things to me in that process. I know that by writing things out that He is working on within me, it takes power away from the enemy and enables me to have more clarity to see things that I need to turn over to the One who holds me tightly, in His mighty hands.

Not everyone who may read it does understand where I’m coming from. And that’s okay. Because another reason I share this stuff out here in cyber space is because I know that there are others who feel alone in their messy stuff right now. There are others who DO feel sort of the same way at times, and need to know they have company. There are many of you, dear friends who read this stuff from time to time who are isolated, and the only form of “fellowship” you may be able to have with other believers is through things like this.

So, I don’t have to share only the happy and shiny stuff here, friends. Because¬†I truly believe that if the Lord would have something I write about help another person, He is God, and He will convey to that person what they might need from it. He will make it work together for our good. He will make it beautiful, in the midst of the messy. If He wants to use anything that I write in someone else’s life, then so be it. Whether it be to encourage, uplift, or just shine light on the fact that sometimes our less than pretty junk is part of the Christian life.

We are NOT perfect. Far from it.  But HE is.

So….I will continue to write the way that He has led me to. As mucky and weird as it may seem at times, I will continue. And it can be unpleasant stuff sometimes, I know.

I write a lot about angst – I write a lot about struggle – the struggles that come from sin, iniquities, and walking as imperfect beings who may have accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord, yet still sin. I am tempted at times not to write about such things. Yes, I am tempted beyond belief.

I am tempted at times to share only the joy-filled, awesome and feel-good stuff that convinces others that I am filled with the joy of Jesus Christ. There is always that pull, no matter who we are or where we are at in life as a Christian, to pretend that everything’s¬†okay. There’s something in there that the enemy has lodged quite deeply – waaaay deep down – that whispers…

“but you must be a good example of how GREAT it is to be a Christian, you little complainer! You are leading people astray by sharing all this hard stuff. You are coming across as a martyr or something. You are __________, __________, and _____.”

But I know. I know what led me to start this blog and I know that Jesus only gave me the ability to express the things He is doing inside of my own heart and mind as a form of worship, and a way of speaking His truth AND love.

Love doesn’t always look pretty. Neither does truth. But the result of Jesus’ love and truth is always B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

So I hold firm to the promise I made to the Lord РI will not cover up (as I write and I share) the ugly stuff.  We are still  imperfect humans Р And we still struggle Рsometimes even more than we did before we were true followers of Christ. But HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I write about such things because they are the reality that most of us (we Christians) truly do grapple with, but are afraid to admit at times, for whatever reason. I write about such things because I feel the Lord calls me to do so РHe calls me and it is loud and clear.

Share it, Annie. Share it. Share the stuff that everyone thinks or goes through but maybe feel they can’t say. Share the stuff that is ugly and twisted and messed up, so others may see that they are not the only Christian out there still struggling. Share the stuff Annie, so that through it all, others will be comforted and know that I, Your Mighty King, have the power to help you all overcome these struggles.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Yet He also whispers that I am to share the good stuff too. He tells me through my prayer and devotion time that what He really wants is to have others see that truly, beyond truly, He works all things together for our good.

  • He brings correction when there has been disobedience.
  • He brings restoration when everything seems to have been shattered.
  • He gives us peace during the most angst-riddled of circumstances or situation.
  • He grows our love when we feel like we’ve lost every last ounce of that loving feeling.

So as contradictory as it may seem, these things of beauty do come out of the ugly if we allow Christ to work in us. He is the Creator, the Great Physician, The Almighty and All-Powerful Lord and King. He can and does do it all.

So I shall also write about peace Рpeace that comes only from Jesus in the midst of these struggles, trials and temptations we face sometimes. And I shall write of love. The love of Jesus that is always there for us, trying to dominate our own hearts and spill forth in spite of the ugly stuff that tries to infiltrate. Most of all, I will share how God works through my own personal struggles and the lack of such things as joy, love and peace in my own little heart to draw me closer to Him and help me be more and more like Jesus through it all.

So often, the reason I can even see the need for greater love in my heart Рthe reason I see the need for more patience to be developed in my character- the reason I see the need to allow Him to correct me and grow me and help me change direction and take my hands BACK OFF THE WHEEL, is due to the absence of them. He shows me through writing things down that my heart and at times, my mind still need much work. He shows me how very much I struggle putting into practice what I know to be true under duress. He shows me that I am His child and that He loves me too much to leave me the way that I am.

He shows me my need for Him. More of Him.

He must become greater; I must become less.” 1 John 3:18

I hate how much of ME there still is. I want to be nailed to the cross once and for all, like Jesus was. But I struggle with signing up for stuff that’s painful. I don’t have the same kind of love that Jesus does, friends. I care about my own comfort too much. And that pains me in its own way….because I know this so well about myself. And it is hard not to walk in condemnation in the face of that.

That mirror is one I want to shatter sometimes.

But there’s good news in the face of all of that! It’s wonderful how the Lord knows each one of His children so well. He’s aware of every little nuance and quirk about me as a person. He knows what works with me and what doesn’t. He knows just how to get through to me.

He tailors His approach to me in a way that will work to pierce my ungrateful little heart. But He never changes His truth in order to do so.

He never stops loving me while administering the exact and perfect dose of truth that I need in order to stop being sick and return to good health.

One of the ways that He does this with me, in particular, is He has made me very aware when there is some form of toxic darkness in my own heart. I may hold on to it for a while, or I may try to trick myself into thinking it’s not there or denying its existence, and sometimes I have to regroup for a while to discern where it’s coming from, but after sitting still for a time, if I search after Him to reveal it to me, He does.

Every. Single. Time.

This is never a fun process, and I wonder ~ does the Lord ever get sick and tired of ¬†having to discipline me for the same repeat offenses? Does He ever wonder, “will she ever learn?”

But He is my Father, and He knows this is how I operate. He knows that I try to continue moving forward in spite of the weed that is starting to grow in the garden of my heart. I get tired of pulling weeds, so sometimes I just pretend they aren’t there. Or I try to pull them, but if it proves too difficult for me, I just get exasperated and give up after a while.

I do this because I hate conflict that can’t seem to be resolved within reason. I do this because when things seem unreasonable or insurmountable, sometimes I want to flee. I do this because I still put how I think hard stuff should be handled in a little box of my own making.

And Jesus wants to blow out the box. Time for an explosion. The solace and protection we find under the Mighty wing of Jesus is far greater than a fake brown box of our own making. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. We like the cocoon-like feeling of our own boxes and like our security blankets of our own choosing. But God knows.

So at¬†the same time that I hate that I finally go and try to hide from the thorns in life, or can’t tell the difference between surrender and resignation, the Lord uses that escape artist tendency for good. He uses that time that I retreat from the ugly to shine a light on the part of the ugly that is in my own heart. He helps me to purge that crud right out of there. But oh, is it a process.

And here it comes – the need for yet another fruit of the spirit to grow stronger in my life….

Patience.

I struggle with patience, but the lack of it manifests itself inside of me in such deceptive ways. I believe there are times we must walk away and regroup with the Lord, but at the same time, I want the work He does during those times to move at MY PACE.

I realize now how very much I do the either/or thing in my own life. This holds true especially in regard to conflict. I get so worked up emotionally in the face of conflict that stretches out over a period of time, that I lose all clarity – to the point that I have to retreat completely and let God bring about some sense to it all.

Do you do any of this, friends? Let me give you a short list of examples of what I am talking about here.

  • Suck it up and let it go. You just have to worry about your own actions here. (this breeds bitterness over time).
  • Attack the ugly stuff¬†with kindness in spite of the fact that you know there is still a big thorn growing larger all the time that you have to pluck out. Just ignore it since all of your attempts in the past to eradicate it failed. (not gonna work – it’s still growing)
  • Work on yourself and ignore the stuff that is wrong with others involved. You’re only responsible for you. (not loving – real love confronts)
  • Give up – you have been defeated. There’s nothing more that you can do. Build a wall. Build a TALL wall! (still giving the power away to the enemy – still a fake brown box)

For now, I am in a place of being still, even though it may have come about because of my “flee and withdraw” tendency. And God is using it for His glory.

I  have confidence that He will show me what He needs for me to see, and shatter the box. He is already doing it and it has only been a short while now.

I am struggling in these days of remaining still and allowing myself to face the reality (look in the ugly mirror) of what He wants to have me discard out of my heart and mind. I am going through turmoil as to what is to be surrendered, and what is to be held on to tightly.

But our God reveals.

Our God refines.

Our God restores.

And I trust in Him.

If you are struggling today because you are in a place in which you know God is working to help you tear down a wall or shatter a cocoon you have created for peace and comfort, will you let Him bring about the heart work and move you closer toward Him? If, on the other hand, God has asked you to surrender something and retreat for a while to spend time with Him alone, will you obey and let things move in His timing? If you realize you are inside of one, will you allow the Lord to help you venture out of the brown box when He says it is time and move underneath His protective wing instead? If you are having a hard time stepping, ask Him to carry you for a while, because He will. You may even be called to quite a treacherous journey, similar to the walk Christ made to calvary….bloody, even. But He will be with you every step of the way.

He is a loving parent, and our mighty protector. He will help us to walk in what seems like exposed vulnerability, with His protective hand around us the whole time. He knows you, His child. He knows how to make us better. 

We have only to open our mouths and allow the medicine to do its work. We have only to turn the burden over to Him. And we must listen when He tells us to pick up the cross. He will give us the ability and the power to carry it.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

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Just Enter In ~ Even when You are Limping!

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And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

Tonight I got to attend church for the first time in several weeks. Friends, it was a blessing that I find hard to put into words.

You see, my family and I attend the Saturday night service, and for whatever crazy reason, Colorado has been having rainy weather ~ storms brewing on the last few weekends especially. ¬†Well, those storms and that back and forth “weather” is something that wreaks havoc with regard to my pain level. And quite frankly, I haven’t been able to muster up the strength to show up until tonight.

Pain. Deeper than the “normal” Fibromyalgia pain I have and walk around with every day.

Pain. The kind that goes to a whole new level – making my joints feel like they are being squeezed in a vice – restriction of range of motion.

Pain. The sticky, slashing layers of it – striking me over and over again.

Underneath is the all-over tightness and dull ache I always have. But layer upon layer of acute and sharp stuff starts to ensue ~ tacking on to the one beneath it and compounding and building something….awful.¬†Until¬†~ well,¬†you guessed it: I am¬†down for the count or full on struggling and even limping.

But today I was able to do it, friends. Today, I was able to get to church (and even able to somewhat disguise that limping for a while).

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fluffy and feel-good stuff. No way, no how! But I wasn’t agonizing to the point that I couldn’t smile. I wasn’t so completely focused on my pain that I couldn’t pause to worship my Lord and Savior. I wasn’t disabled to the level of not being able to talk a bit with a couple of lovies of mine, hug a few sweet peeps, and let someone know how very proud of them I am.

I was laughing through the limping. I was loving through the limping. I was able to enter in and engage, broken body and all.

And this was good.

I even got to see a double rainbow driving home with my daughter while we laughed and listened to the Spanish radio station (that always makes you happy by the way- you must try it sometime).

My point is this: If you can scrape yourself together enough to just show up and hang with some fellow believers – even if only for a short time – it’s a good thing.

It’s good to get there and be there – to just enter in – even if our bodies are falling apart.

It’s good to rest too if we just can’t do it ~ but when we can, we¬†almost never regret it.

It’s good because there’s no better place to be while limping than with others who can lift you up and just need to see your smile. Yes. Even your wincing-type smiles.

I’m thankful today friends – I’m so very grateful that I got to enter in to my church home. I am glad I got to see those fellow lovers of Jesus who are hurting in their own individual ways, yet seeking Him through fellowship with one another.

Some of us may be limping ~ it’s true. But the best kind of ¬†healing comes when two or more gather in His name.¬†Because when that happens? Well, HE is there.

And HE is never limping. HE conquered the grave. HE saves us from everything, friends and gives us eternal life and fellowship with HIM and those who are part of HIS family.

That is cause for constant celebration. That is the most good of all!

Limping or not ~ I’m up for that kind of party. I shall sing His praises. And yes ~ I shall dance.

Even if only in my heart.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.‚ÄĚ Matthew 18:20

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Hour by Hour

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God delivers. God saves. God makes all things new.

The residue from our family conflict is being replaced by new seeds ~ seeds of beauty to replace the ugly gunk. Seeds of growth that God plants, even in what seems to be a lifeless mass of junk that this girl would have chosen to discard ~ thinking it’s worthless.

They’re going to become beautiful flowers.

Because He makes all things new.

Healing has begun, but God doesn’t stop there. He uses every situation ~ every circumstance to make things new and better than before. He’s growing a garden ~ a divine one that surpasses what we can even imagine right now.

It’s hard though ~ hard when we are hot in the middle of the messy part. It’s hard to see what He is doing. We can believe (we have to or we are DEAD)…..but we want to see the results faster sometimes than they come. We get tired of just believing, and want the prize right away.

Seeds have to grow.

Today I am thankful that talking and heart sharing has been done. I am grateful that I know that the seeds of the newness of God have been planted. I see the flowers in my mind’s eye. I see them already.

Yet I find myself wondering ~ when will He plant those seeds regarding my health? I find myself wondering if there will ever be pretty flowers to smell in this part of the garden.

Chances are He already has planted them. I think maybe I have stopped fully believing.

  • I believe He is working all things together for my good.
  • I believe His strength is being made perfect through my weakness.
  • I believe He will make something new out of the old in my body.

I just don’t know what it’s going to look like yet. I don’t know that I will get to ever see and smell the pretty flowers.

And that makes me SAD.

Please don’t pity me, friends. I am not asking for that at all. I am simply a weary woman who is sharing what is in my heart and mind today.

I don’t know anything special or wise to share about all of this at this point….it hasn’t been given to me. No nugget of wisdom ~ no secret sauce ~ no enlightening answer as to how God gets us through such things.

It surpasses my knowledge ~ it surpasses my understanding.

I only know that He is not forsaking me. At this point, I only know that there’s something more He wants to grow in me regarding my belief.

It may not look pretty or smell good, but He is growing it. My faith is not strong in the way or area that He wants for it to be. I don’t know how I know this ~ I just do.

So for now, it’s truly hour by hour. For now, I cannot make plans that I know are likely to come to fruition.

For now, I don’t know what the next day holds, or even the next hour.

I only know I have to take it hour by hour ~ with Him.

What will the Lord help you to accomplish this hour? What if we stop worrying about whether we will meet all of our responsibilities in the hours to come and take it one hour at a time? What if we ask Him to meet us anew as we trudge, hope, pray to make it through just this hour? And when the hour arrives in which we don’t “make it” through? Is it really true that we didn’t make it? If He is with us, and we are seeking Him, is that not triumph?

I am so focused on my failures that I fail to see the triumph in what He is doing in and through me in those times. I fail to see that I am already walking through the garden with Him.

Hour by hour, He meets me and is making something new, friends. Some hours I am able to move, accomplish, finish, follow through. And some are filled with disappointment and fear of what may result as a consequence starts to threaten me.

This is when He meets me and tells me that He’s got this covered. I just don’t see it yet.

Seeds are being planted round the clock, friends. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt sometimes. I can’t say I am not impatient to see them grow. I can’t say I get tired of all the planting and want to see the end result more than focus upon the utter KNOWING that God’s work is being accomplished!

But I know that He is planting.

This hour, I know that He delivers ~ He plants ~ and He can grow beauty out of what seems worthless or even dead.

My prayer for us today is that we all forget, even if just for a while, about all that is old, broken or just not working right any more. May we forget it long enough to see that inside, we are being renewed. He is in the process of planting new seeds all the time.

Every hour He is making us new.

Let Him meet you today, friends. Let Him meet you this hour and the next one and the next.

And know that He is God.

Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Praying for Others: Let us not become Immune

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First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

I am so thankful this morning as I realize that I find myself privileged to pray for others. It didn’t used to be that way for me ~ I used to be “that Christian” that would say I would pray, and then I would either forget about it or decide within my own little dark heart that the prayer request was simply not as important as some of the others I’d heard.

That’s the heart of a Pharisee ~ and it was there….SO there for me for many, many years.

Now, I find myself coming back to a heart of compassion and empathy for others, whether their need is big or small; what may seem to be common place or rare and shocking.

I was thinking about something else too this morning: things that are no longer rare that people go through every single day. Things that we become immune to when it comes to the heart and feeling for others because the world tells us it is normal.

Is normal what it’s really about, or is it the heart that is important to Jesus? We are living with things that may seem normal, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t cause pain.

  • What is right and good¬†about hatred and violence?
  • What is right and good¬†about divorce, and relationship issues?
  • What is right and good¬†about stress in the workplace?
  • What is right and good about heartache in your family, relationships, or in the church?

Have we forgotten that just because people go through stuff that is no longer infrequent, that it still hurts?

Have we become numb to the pain and the heartache, that comes from things such as divorce, breakups, separation from loved ones and family, conflict within our family and circle of friends, struggles within the church, job woes, friendship junk ~ all that stuff?

Let us not become immune.

Sometimes the enemy uses that which has become what we perceive as just “part of life” now in our world, to trick us into believing that it’s no big deal any longer. It’s part of the plan ~ the evil and ugly plan to numb us up or make us have to hide.

People feel they must hide sometimes from the fact that something that may have become accepted or commonplace in our culture still hurts them.

Hurts are hurts ~ whether it’s due to some disease you have been diagnosed with that had nothing to do with you, or a consequence of circumstances or choices that just went bad.

Yes, Christian friends ~ hurts are still hurts even if they came as a result of our own sin. They are all worthy of our prayers.

All of it is important. All of it is painful, whether we see that or not as a culture, or as a race. All of it is worthy of being prayed over and laid in the lap of Jesus.

Because God cares.

Jesus clearly shows that all things that cause us stress, pain, emotional turbulence, temptation, or lack of joy matter to Him. As he walked among us, He took care of many different needs that people had ~ big and small, rare and common-seeming.

  • He healed people in miraculous ways.
  • He touched their hearts and lives in intimate and personal ways.
  • He healed lepers, raised the dead, brought sight to the blind.
  • He also brought rest for those who were weary or tired, and fed people that were hungry.
  • He spent time talking with people about their feelings and the things they were going through ~ even when they seemed like small things compared to all the sick that needed healing around them.
  • He helped and interceded for (wait for it!)…..SINNERS.

It all matters. We all matter to Jesus.

Let us not be immune.

Jesus……Savior of the World….. is never immune to our needs. He asks that we love others as we love ourselves. That means it all should matter and matter BIG to us, just as it does to Him.

The big, the small, the common, the rare, the stuff they may have had nothing to do with, the things that are consequences of previous choices that were made, the seemingly no-way-out kind of stuff folks contend with ~ ALL of it.

Let our hearts remain tender for others in Jesus, friends. Let us not become immune to the pain others go through just because it seems like something we may hear about many going through around us. Sometimes, it seems easier to pray for others when we are shocked by their situation or condition. That is feelings-oriented. We must check our hearts.

Let us not become immune.

We have to dig, friends. We have to dig deep down in our hearts sometimes to find love, mercy, compassion or empathy for people and their situations that don’t shock our senses any longer. We have to kill that which is making us immune to caring for others in all that they are contending with that causes them hurt and pain.

Won’t you dig down with Jesus today, friend? Won’t you look around and hear the hearts of those who are all around you and commit to pray for them? Let Him decide what is worthy of healing. Let Him decide what to do with that situation you are lifting up to Him on behalf of another. Bring it to Him.

If you find yourself starting to really feel you are privileged to pray for others, won’t you commit to finding things others contend with that you have possibly stopped feeling is big enough to pray about and put those people right on the top of your list?

We can’t¬†allow the enemy to isolate them from our prayers.¬†We can’t¬†let him make the multitudes fall by the wayside.

It’s not about which things we must choose to pray over ~ it’s not about discerning who has the worst and hardest situation to bring before the Lord. Sometimes, it is about the very opposite of that.

Sometimes, it’s about finding that which we have become accustomed to and remembering that it is NOT normal, is NOT what God’s intention and plans were for mankind, and is NOT unworthy of attention, empathy, and deeply committed prayer.

Let us not become immune.

Let us not close our eyes to how others are hurting all around us. In the shocking and in the day-to-day.

It ALL matters to Him.

In every place. From every man. Every single prayer.

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray; lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” 1 Timothy 2:8

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When Wonder Becomes Wonderful!

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I wonder what it’s like?
To see all of us fight
After all He’s done for us
Walking in darkness versus light?

I wonder what it’s like?
Remaining patient for so long
Giving time for hearts to change
Hoping to Him, we’ll sing our song.

I wonder what it’s like?
Just longing to talk and meet
With His children who are stubborn
Running away, not toward his feet.

I wonder what it’s like?
To know some will not come home
Longing for them to choose Him
Waiting for all, and not just some.

I wonder what it will be like?
That glorious day He comes
To take us to his bosom
Because of Christ and all he’s done.

I wonder what it will be like?
To bow down right at His throne
Able to gaze upon His face
In our real and forever home?

I wonder what it will be like?
Forever light and no more sin
Basking in His love and glory
No longer mortal, flesh-bound men.

He tells us what it’s like
We don’t have to be scared
For there is plenty of room for us
The mansions He has prepared.

John 14:2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

I’m so excited for that day
When I’ll no longer have to wonder
Just when He’s coming for us.
What a marvelous hope! Such awe and wonder!

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It’s Not About What I CAN See, Anyway!

 

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For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

The other day I shared how shattered my heart gets at times ~ especially lately. The way it twists and turns and then sinks to the pit of my stomach is becoming all-too-familiar of a feeling when I look upon the headlines, immerse myself (rather than glaze over) in the agony others in our world are facing, and continue to watch things as they seem to keep unraveling in this world we live in.

I shared with you my feelings about the bubbles we find ourselves nesting in at times – the ones that provide a false sense of comfort, peace, love, and even joy. I shared my hatred of the bubble, yet the equal disdain I feel when I am faced with the discomfort our present reality offers upon popping it and moving to the outside of the falsity of that womb-like environment.

But a friend reminded me of something extremely important, that I don’t think I emphasized enough in my last post.

Here it is:

It’s easy to find ourselves ~ in the endeavor not to live in the bubble ~ in the commitment to keep our eyes wide open to seeing and discerning the truth rather than operating under the illusions offered by “feelings” ~ to start looking at the world and what’s going on (the evil, the ugly, the dark) for what it is, but forget that our focus needs to be on Jesus and the way that HE looks upon the world.

Jesus and His victory.

The victory we already have in Jesus.

JESUS.

HIS power. HIS grace.

HIS comfort, peace and joy.

And yes….seeing sin and evil for what it is comes with that as well. But we always need to emphasize that He’s already won the battle ~ many just don’t realize it yet.

We must emphasize that He has won!

You know, the death of my mother helps me….even today… to see that being grief-stricken and rocked to the core by all that seems wrong, unfair, or filled with sorrow can be met with a peace and a joy that surpasses all of that. Yes, we CAN feel terrible, be in agony, pain, at the end of all that seems even humane,¬†while SIMULTANEOUSLY knowing the joy and peace and comfort of a God who knows the end of the story.

Our God РHe has written the ending of the story already!

And He’s here with us through it all.

I walked around filled with a grief and a dark pain after mama died that I can’t fully express in words. At the very same time, I was filled with the love and hope and peace of Jesus. I had His joy to sustain me. I may not have been laughing – but I had his joy. Until you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to fully grasp it. But that’s the stuff of life, friends. THAT is the kind of stuff only Jesus can provide us with to sustain us and make us thrive. Regardless of circumstances, this is how “our rock” carries us, molds, us, teaches us, and conforms us into HIS likeness, not that of the world.

I’m all for laughter and happiness. But if I had to choose, I’d take that Jesus joy any day over all of that other stuff. Sometimes, we get to have both, and that’s a special blessing for a time. But these days ~ these recent days in which I find myself sad about the heartache out there…sad about the struggles and the pure evil – these days, the joy of Jesus is what sustains me.

He delivers us from darkness. How would we know that if we never experienced the cold and the black in the first place?
He comforts us when nothing else can – when we feel we can’t put one foot in front of the other or stand a minute longer of the torment.
He loves us in the midst of the truth – all of it – the good truth, the ugly and hard truth – the edges of utter despair.

And he lifts us up – on wings like eagles, friends.

He lifts us UP.

I haven’t found the secret yet, if there even is one, of how to stay out of the bubble and look at what is happening around me (and even in my own little dark crevices of my sinful heart) – as to how to do so without ever slipping into the abyss of gloom and doom. Sometimes my toe crosses over that line and God faithfully draws¬†me back in to Himself.

He knows just when to pull me back, and I learn something beautiful in that process every time.

This is the stuff we can’t see with our eyes.

Jesus. Faith in Him.

His divine intervention.

His love – His triumph over the grave. His grace and His mercy.

But I beg anyone to try to even think about convincing me that we can’t know it – that we can’t feel it in the most deep way (in the Spirit).

That goes beyond any feelings I could ever experience in this world. It goes beyond any knowledge my finite mind could ever grasp. It is the truth and love of God all permeating every aspect of my being that screams at me “Now you really have your eyes wide open!!!”

It’s when I close my eyes and look for HIM that I really get true sight. You could poke my eyes out, take away my sense of smell, feeling, even hearing. But nothing can take away my communion with Jesus Christ.

Not ever.

So as I find myself wanting to shut my eyes, I will remember. I will remember what my friends Heather and Chuck both reminded me not to forget:

That I am to speak the truth in love the way God leads me to do, and that we are meant to look for Jesus in everything (even if we have to close our eyes to see him better).

It’s Jesus who holds the power. The enemy will do his best to knock us down, but he will not prevail. It may seem that way at times, and yes, this will make us sad. But we are already conquerors in Christ.

This girl is continuing to open her eyes when she’s supposed to, and close them and look for Jesus when that’s what He calls her to do and she’s getting distracting or pulled off of His path.

I just pray for the wisdom to know the difference. I pray for none of us to be deceived, and even if we are, that the Lord will pull us back. He uses friends to help us with that, you know. He gave us the Holy Spirit to whisper and nudge us when we go astray.

May we all stand firm in the knowledge that He has us in the palm of His hand. If you really listen and really seek Him, you’ll know you’re there (and you won’t need to be able to “see” a single thing to know it).

Thanks Chuck. Thanks Heather. I love you both ~

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

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Gracefully So

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Oh gracefully so…

Of the mercy you bring my way, reminding me of your presence and never-ending goodness.

Amidst the clutching and the scratching and the times of distraction, your light is always here.

Oh gracefully so…

The magnetic light that you are; I carry it with me and you shine Рeven in the dark where the monsters lurk.

Yes, bugs and monsters, like moths they come – descending to take, destroy, and to blind- they wish to wipe me out.

Yet, oh gracefully so…

You dispel the swarms, permeate the darkness and illuminate the¬†dark and hidden¬†corners of the soul…

Creating another blessed black hole for the evil to be locked away in; and it burns, and yields to your magnificent power.

Oh gracefully so…

Mighty Father divine; you bring rest to the weary child that I am when I ask to stay awake but sleep is what is best.

As I listen for the lessons and the learnings, did I get something right that you said today? Did I hear you, Father?

Oh gracefully so!

You are patient as I pray and you read my heart, even when there are parts that are not submitted to you.

And gloriously instead, you help me sift through the clutter, bring clarity to my fuzzy ears, and whisper your answers in love.

Oh gracefully so…

You know the words of my soul, the longing that I cannot express with words or gestures; and I am your child!

As of late,¬†with all the stutters;¬†whilst I stammer, ears pounding, yearning, and heart and mind grasping for words that will do justice in my relationship with you…

You gracefully Рso very gracefully read my heart.

Without a¬† word…..you just know.

Oh gracefully so!

 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

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Can you hear me now?

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I know I have mentioned this before, but I cannot seem to stop thinking about this lately. I really think that the Lord wants for us, as believers to really encourage one another in regard to how very crucial it is that we become better listeners. And I don’t mean sharpening up our hearing in regard to what the world has to say, either.

All it takes to get started is offering up our hearts to the Lord and stepping out in faith by telling Him how we are struggling to hear and asking Him for some help.

So then, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

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Fact is, we are going to continue to be hard of hearing when it comes to God if we aren’t immersed in His word. Period.

I have to admit, this was something I resisted until about a year and a half ago – being in the scriptures daily. I had been counseled so many times by very wise Christians that if we are not spending time in the word, that we will not be able to discern the inner voice of the Holy Spirit very well at all. Especially in this confusing and jumbled up world that we live in which is full of lots of mixed messages that come at us ever-so loudly, but not very clearly!

It’s helped me to realize that the world and all the stuff we “hear” in it, is far more confusing that the scriptures are.

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I think the reason I was so hesitant, is that I apporached reading the scriptures as something I had to understand with my own human mind – in my own limited capacity. And of course, it yielded frustration, and an eventual “I give up” disposition. This is because relying upon our own strength is a recipe for guaranteed failure – after all, we need some divine help to understand something that was divinely inspired. We need some serious surrender to do so as well.

But once I really asked the Lord to help me with this, through prayer and supplication, (and yes, surrender) things started to change. I am hearing Him better now and I know it is a result of being in His word and remaining committed to prayer. Even when things are frustrating, stressful, and crazy, I still can hear Him. I still can get confused at times, but that just drives me even further into the scriptures and deeper into prayer. It’s where I hear best now. It’s the vantage point from where I was meant to be listening all along.

God wants this for us, friends!

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What did I do that changed things a couple of years ago? I just started reading – even when I failed to understand very much. And then I prayed some more. Then, this wonderful thing happened……..

I wanted to read more.

And more, and more, and more.

I wanted to pray more.

And more, and more, and more.

And I started to hear Him.

More, and more, and more.

Julio Pineda via CreationSwap

Julio Pineda via CreationSwap

I don’t know if everyone has a different experience or not, but I can tell you what mine was. I wanted more of God’s word just by being in it – even when I didn’t feel like I was fully grasping it at the time.

That evolved into more of a sense of His presence – a time spent with Him, talking and yes, listening. Exchanging.

That’s called relationship. And that, in and of itself, made me want for more.

More of Him.

As time went on, and I read more, shared more, and listened more, the Lord started to reveal a lot of things to me. I actually started to literally feel like there was a two-way conversation going on. It changed from inner self talk to something very different. This very different-ness is something I can’t fully explain with my own words, but you will know it when it happens.

You will recognize Him and His voice.

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But another really awesome thing was that at a certain point, this communication was no longerlimited to the time I was actually reading in the word anymore. Instead, the word carried with me throughout the day, into the next, and the following weeks and months. And the conversations continued to increase, until they just became a normal part (but no less an awesome part) of my entire life.

Faith was necessary to begin to be in the word – faith grew from being in the word – then hearing from Him further strengthened my faith, and it all started with reading and mediating on the word of God and spending time in prayer.

Just like the verse says.

If you are wishing that you could hear from God with more clarity, start by asking Him. You can truly just say a simple prayer similar to the one below….

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“Father, I admit that I avoid the scriptures because I feel like I don’t understand them, I get bored or distracted, or I just don’t know where to start. Sometimes I even procrastinate because I feel like I can’t offer it more of my time, so I don’t even bother at all. I know it is your will for me to be in your word and in relationship with you, and this is something I truly need your help with. Will you help me, Father? Will you give me  the desire to at least get started, and then grow it from there? Will you help me to have faith that you can help me to hear and understand what you so desire? And will you make it easier for me to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit you have placed inside of me? I want to do your will, Father, and I want to read your love letter to me over and over again. I don’t have to understand it all – I just ask that you would help me to hear and understand what you want for me to. I want to be in your presence, and I want to have a real and true relationship with you.”

If we just tell our Father the truth (that He already knows about us) in relation to this difficulty we have, and we come to Him with a heart that is “willing to be willing” – we will see Him show up in mighty ways! And we will hear Him. We won’t have to walk around blindly looking for a signal.

Then the willing to be willing turns into just plain willing. Then that evolves into want and desire. And that, turns into need and a new normal that is anything but the norm in this world.

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All the other junk is still going to be there and we will still struggle with distractions and the noise of this world. But, in a really awesome way, that inner voice starts to tell us when that is occurring – and that’s when we go deeper. He’ll take us there.

Be encouraged, friend, if you struggle in this area, as the Father can hear you.

And He wants to make it easier for you to hear Him.

Won’t you bend His ear a little bit today in prayer? Just ask Him to help you start to listen and ask Him to help you discern His voice. He has a mighty range. Let’s take advantage of that.

May His voice be a sweet, sweet sound…in your ear!

Wendy Aros Via CreationSwap

Wendy Aros Via CreationSwap

**All unmarked images in this post used with permission from Microsoft Office Images.com

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.

***

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

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

***

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

It will always be – Just like God Himself.

It is a gift the Lord has given to us.

***

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

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

*** 

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

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

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

And Most of All:

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

And we can.

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

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

***

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

Epic Fail!

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

But he answered, ‚ÄúIt is written, ‚Äú‚ÄėMan shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.‚Äô‚ÄĚ 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

He Gets It

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Any trials, pain, challenges, or suffering we go through in life; we don’t have to endure it all alone. If we lean to our Savior, our Jesus, we can always know that we have someone with us who will bring us through it all – someone who truly understands.

Jesus gets it.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death‚ÄĒthat is, the devil‚ÄĒand free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15

He gets all of us………

Used With Permission from Microsoft Office

Ever Get Stressed?

Used with permission from Microsoft

Or Sometimes Depressed?

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Are you feeling alone?

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Looking for a home?

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Hoping to Lose?

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Just need to snooze?

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How you might pay?

Smashed piggy bank

Can’t face the day?

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of Paper

Not sure what to do?

Woman Among Lit Votive Candles

Just feeling confused?

Man Scratching Head

Think you might lose it?

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Tempted to snooze it?

Woman Turning Off AlarmUsed with permission from Microsoft

Just needing some love?

Hans via Pixabay

Hans via Pixabay

Some help from above?

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News of the day?

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Nothing left to say….

Used with permission from Microsoft

Reeling in pain?

Stressed Businessman

Stuck in the Rain?

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Ran out of time?

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Just want to whine?

????????

He gets it all.

via Binlam

via Binlam

He bore it all.

AngelaFletcher via Binlam

AngelaFletcher via Binlam

Receive of His love –

Kommentare via Binlam

Kommentare via Binlam

Look to Him, up above –

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Yes, Jesus Gets It.

But He also gets us through it.

“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me  again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will  increase my greatness and comfort me again.” Psalms 71:20-21

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**Images used with Permission from Microsoft Office, Pixabay and Binlam – no attribution required or desired unless otherwise marked.

Jesus Didn’t Have a Cell Phone

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“In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6

Our¬†pastor once said that “Jesus didn’t have a cellphone” Those words were ringing and ringing through my head all morning! Although he shared that thought with us in church months and months ago, today, it suddenly popped into my head and I couldn’t get it out. And then I realized that it was because God wanted me to really think about that long and hard¬† today.

Although I appreciate the way that we can use technology and social media to proclaim the gospel of Christ, as well as to stay “connected” with one another, sometimes I have to¬†listen to the Lord as He reminds me where true connectivity really comes from. It’s far too easy to start to rely only upon our cellphones and the trappings of this world for a sense of companionship and comfort in life. My faith is not in my cellphone!

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I was one who was brought up in the generation where we didn’t have such things at our fingertips yet. I am usually behind the times and quite resistant to getting into the game every time there is something new out there to learn.

Case in Point: I set up a Twitter account some time ago because I felt I needed to in order to stay up-to-date with the times and all that the kids are up to, but I have still not set up my profile or started to use it. I am resisting that little blue bird!

via Pixabay

via Pixabay

But it is important to go where the people are, and the fact is…people use social media! We just have to be careful that it doesn’t take away from living for Christ.

I¬†only caved in and obtained a cell phone when I started to work nights….for safety reasons – yet I have now succumbed to relying upon it for multitudes of other things.¬†I find myself sometimes relying upon it way too much.¬†I’m in deep.

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There are some really good things about having this nice little luxury of communication that’s the size of an Uno¬†Deck of cards in my purse or in my pocket, no doubt. Yet it bothers me when, on that rare occassion, I leave the house without it and I feel somewhat lost, unsafe, or just plain weird. And the Lord is tugging on me about that, for sure – I am so very grateful. He always lets me know when it’s time to unplug a little from the stuff that is distracting me and plug in more to HIM!

Jesus makes it abundantly clear that solitude and time spent in quiet alone with our Father in prayer is of the highest priority! He modeled this time and time again for us when He walked the earth, and shows us not only that we need to do it, but that we should want to spend quiet time with God.

In the face of¬†being¬†constantly busy feeding the multitudes, seeking out sinners in need of a Savior, and healing and caring for people from all walks of life,¬† He still made time to go off alone and be in the presence of His Father – consistently, and without fail. He would often pray through the night, spent his final and darkest hours in prayer, went off into quiet and desolate places to do so, and didn’t rush it when He got there. The Father was first, and the rest is what He actually “made time” for.

Bernie via Fanpop

Bernie via Fanpop

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night
praying to God. Luke 6:12

“And when day came, He departed to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away¬† from them.”¬†¬† Luke 4:42

“But He Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”¬†¬† Luke 5:16

“Very early in the morning,¬† while it was still dark,¬† Jesus withdrew to a solitary place to be alone with God and pray.” Mark 1: 35

Gazel via Pixabay

Gazel via Pixabay

“He Himself.”

That really speaks to me! If it¬†is that high of a priority for Jesus Christ HIMSELF to put everything else aside in order to focus upon His relationship with His Father, shouldn’t it be for me?

And it certainly didn’t impact His ministry and ability to reach others and do His Father’s work! Jesus reached the multitudes over and over again¬†and He didn’t need a cell phone to do it. He still does today. Everyone on the planet may¬†have one by the year 2015 (is it?), but God transcends even that – He has a much further range – an infinite one, actually. He can reach us in places that no cell phone could ever go.

I know, we have a lot more people roaming around now than there were 2000 some years ago. I know that it is also a great way that we can spread the Good News across the continents, into the far-reaching deserts and jungles, and even to the isolated mountaintops of places such as Tibet. That’s not the point I wish to make at all; that we should lose the cell phones and social media so we can go back to the days in which Jesus walked the earth. But I do think we could stand to unattach¬†ourselves at times – in fact, I think if we really do want to live a life that edifies Christ, we have to do it.

InlovewithJesus via Fanpop

InlovewithJesus via Fanpop

Part of being still before the Lord is coming to him bare – vulnerable – and without distraction. It’s about approaching Him with reverence and awe and showing Him that He is what is most important to us! This stillness and complete focus upon Him enables us to carry Him with us throughout the rest of the busy day. It helps His voice to ring out loudly from within us in the midst of the ringing of the cell phone and incoming text messages, the daily calling of the email inbox, and the tweets and status updates on facebook that are constantly begging for attention.

No, Jesus didn’t have a cell phone. I don’t think He really wants for me to carry mine with me when I come to bow down before Him in my time that is meant for Him and Him alone. And I know that it isn’t that device that is going to help me to know that I am safe and not alone. Not in this world.

cinti19 via Fanpop

cinti19 via Fanpop

The world tries to tell us that we need to take that cellphone with us wherever we go and we have a better chance of being safe. In some ways, and in certain situations, it is a tool we can indeed¬†utilize for safety and direction. But don’t forget to remember who it is that truly offers us comfort if the lights go out or we lose signal and service. Even when we forget, He will always still be with us. He’s not just in our purses, and not just in our pockets. He is with us in our hearts.

Jesus didn’t hold a cellphone in His hand. And we don’t¬†merely want to¬†hold Him in ours, with our fists closed tightly to hide Him from the world. We want to show Him to everyone we encounter as He bursts from within us and out towards others! Not some of the time – not only when we think we have good “signal” – but all of the time. We never want to unplug from our Savior.

Thankfully, He¬†does hold¬†us in His strong and loving hands. And that’s the safest, most “connected” place we could ever be.

ibelieveinJesus via Fanpop

ibelieveinJesus via Fanpop

Dear You

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

Dear You…………..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear You….

Dear, Dear, Dear, Dear YOU.

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

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

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Privileged to Pray

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Prayer is powerful. But the power is found in He who hears and answers them according to His will.

“For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37 NKJV

(Another) one of the things that the Almighty Father has put on my heart lately is a desire to grow and develop in my prayer life. Prayer is yet another way we can draw closer to Him, know Him better, and it is an area I have often neglected.

I have been reading a lot in the Bible as to what¬†the Lord¬†says about how important prayer really is, and have been praying to “get better” at praying. (Ha Ha)

But it’s not really getting better that I seek; it’s more about getting real in my prayer time with my Heavenly Father.

It’s about¬†letting go of all of my preconceived notions of how my words should flow, and the order in which I should approach things, and¬†instead, allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and lead me. Oh yah…..the Holy Spirit is part of God, so there’s power there as well – ¬†(funny how I keep temporarily forgetting that!)

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Once again, I am called to let go of the perceived power I thought I had¬†of self, ¬†and asking the Lord to provide me with His supernatural power to see more of Him, who He is, and what He’d like for my prayer time to look like.

It’s about¬†asking Him see my heart and feel my heart – not just my words. The Holy Spirit lives in there – so who better to help me than that?

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as¬† we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 NKJV

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There are three specific things the Lord has placed on my heart lately about prayer. I am still only at the beginning stages of what He will show me through this,  but I am excited about it all and looking forward to seeing His truth.

First, He has continued to bring me back to the blessed reminder of the fact that we actually have a model for our prayer life in Jesus.  I was just reading this part of scripture last night in my devotions, (Matthew 6:9-13) and then tonight at church, it was this same area of scripture that we went over as a community of believers as our congregation focused on prayer together. (God has been doing that a lot in my life lately, and I think it is so cool!)

Rather than saying the exact prayer as it is in the Bible (which we can do if we want to), I see this passage as emphasizing the fact that there are certain characteristics that our prayer life and our specific prayers should display to the Lord:

  • We are to pray in reverence to our Father and His Holy Name….in praise of all that He is and all that we are in Him.
  • We are to pray that HIS will be done….here, and everywhere, just as it is in heaven. (This means sometimes we don’t get the answers we were hoping for, but He still will always answer – even if that answer is “no.”)
  • We are to pray for our needs and the needs of others for the day (according to HIS will)
  • We are to pray with the utmost of faith that He will answer us (again, according to HIS will).
  • We are to ask for forgiveness and be transparent with Him about what we need Him to help us to remove from our lives (sin = barriers), and ask for HIS power to help us forgive others that have hurt us.
  • We are to pray to be delivered from evil…..in our hearts, in our lives, in the world.

Bottom Line: We are to pray with faith, gratitude, and for HIS glory and HIS will to be done. We are to remember in whom the power of prayer lies.

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First order of business is always to get our hearts right – this means making sure they are right in relation to others so they can be right in relation to God. It also means approaching the Lord with a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. Keeping the Jesus model of prayer in mind is really helping me with this.

Second, (and this is related to the getting the heart right part of things) the Lord has really been nudging me to get rid of all the things that are hindering my prayer life and time spent with Him. All the distractions, the peripheral cares and worries of the day or the one that’s coming tomorrow, the noise around me and within my own mind, and the seeds of ugliness that I have been carrying around in my heart that impede me from total transparency – they all need to go.

This is probably my greatest challenge. I would ask that you pray for me in this, my friends. At this point, I have been just looking upon the verse I have been reading in the Bible, then stopping, opening up dialogue with the Lord, and then shutting my mouth and being as still as I possibly can. I am not doing a very good job, mind you, but it’s a process.

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This is something also that I truly need the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit in, for I struggle immensely with being still any where, any time. If I cannot be still before the Lord, who can I ever be still with? I am convinced that being still is key to being able to listen. And I need to listen in my prayer life much more than I need to talk or be listened to. One of the verses I say over and over in my head all the time is Psalm 46:10…

“Be still and know that I am God.”

I must need that one – A LOT. I thank God for giving it to me.

Finally, I truly have been moved to pray more effectively and more consistently for others. I have been asking for God to break my heart for other people in the world, to deepen my love for them – so that I can approach my prayer for them with a truly pleading and beseeching spirit. I want to be desperate for others out of love for them, and this too, I am not equipped to be of my own power. I need God’s love and an extra-large dose of it for this!

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This last thing isn’t only important to me because it is something I have prayed for in my own life – to want to pray for others – but it is important to God. He actually commands us to pray for others. That always tells me that he deems it to be quite a high priority.

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and right way.” ¬†1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV

It has helped me to realize that it is not only commanded that I come before the throne of the Lord on behalf of others, but that it is a privilege to do so also. I don’t have to be gifted with special “prayer warrior” abilities to have a heart for the people of the world and go to the Almighty regarding their lives, troubles, heartaches, and needs. I can have faith that the Holy Spirit will help me to pray for them, and that the Lord will be glorified as all will be done according to His will, His timing and His purpose. On top of it all, it’s yet another way we get to watch God’s will come to life outside of ourselves, and in the lives of others around us….that too, is so very awesome!

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So today, I¬†“share about prayer” and all that is on my heart about it because it¬†is yet another wonderful reminder of the wondrous sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross – which is what is most important in life. Because of the fact that¬†Jesus died for¬†our sins¬†and rose again, the gap that existed between ourselves and God has been closed if we have accepted Christ as our Savior.

Jesus Christ¬†is our ultimate mediator – and He is the reason that we have the privilege to pray. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5 NKJV

Prayer is powerful. But the power is found in He who hears and answers them according to His will.

Photo Credit  sinna_hime_chan via Fanpop

Photo Credit sinna_hime_chan via Fanpop