A Significant Speck

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When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

I am at a crucial stage right now, I think – in regard to how I perceive myself. For a while I was standing at the crossroad, but now I think that I have started down the path I am supposed to take. I think so, at least.

I don’t know this path well – I am a little fearful and trepidatious. But that’s because I am only human. I’m a small human with a big God in my life though, so I know it will be okay.

This path is vast. It’s a bit foggy and misty right now, and there are many trees along the dirt road. There are no other people walking it with me, although at times, I can see others out there in the distance. I can’t tell if they are on a different part of the path, yet far away, or if they are on a completely different one. But I know they are there.

So for the most part, I am alone on this part of my journey. But not really alone. God IS with me. And that’s part of why I’m here.

  • He is teaching me that He is always with me, no matter what.
  • He is teaching me that He is all I truly need.
  • He is teaching me that even good things can be used by us to form our identity and sense of significance.
  • He is teaching me and it doesn’t always feel good. But He is faithful and will NOT leave my side.

This long and winding, dirt-floored, tree filled, foggy and misty, not bright, but not totally dark path makes me feel tiny. I’m but a speck on the road. There are no signs, no landmarks, no hints whatsoever of where it leads or if there’s even a final earthly destination.

This path is all about the journey that God has set out before me. It’s about walking it with HIM.

I did see a flower on the side of the road the other day. One, lone, white flower growing up out of a log that I sat on for a bit of rest. I stayed for hours and gazed upon that beautiful thing. It smelled good and was a small, bright light in the middle of all the gray and mundane.

I believe it was a gift. But I also believe that God doesn’t want there to be too many distractions on this journey. I am meant to embrace what it is to be tiny. I am meant to feel alone, but know that I’m not. I am meant to venture into the unknown with the One who does know all. I am meant to learn about what it is to be small, but significant because of HIM.

Sometimes, I learn about how tiny I am because I can’t escape it – there’s a lot in my life to cause me to feel humiliation right now, if I allow that in. But then I remember not to stay in that place – because I can “boast in my weaknesses” with His permission – and His “power will then rest on me.”

It’s because of this that I have been given the gift of that in the face of my humiliation – HIS GRACE.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9

I am also learning about how important it is to embrace how very small we are and how tiny this earthly life is by gazing upon His creation and our speck of a spot we take up in it. That kind of stuff really used to make me feel….insignificant. But I am learning now that it makes us see, all the more, the MIRACLE it is that HE created little ol’ us.

  • My smallness and my speck of a life is a gift.
  • I get to hide underneath His mighty arms.
  • But He sees me and He LOVES me.

The more tiny I feel in the face of the big stuff all around me –

God’s creation ~ the mountains and the oceans and the stars and the heavens and the universe and then….just me.

A vast path in an unknown and sometimes scary wilderness, upon which there are few other people at all and I really am just a tiny little speck venturing into….I don’t know what.

A chronic disease that is SO BIG that it reminds me every single second of how very fragile my body (and even my mind) really is and threatens to smother my soul too and makes me feel at times like I’ve disappeared ~

All of that and more it has caused me to have nothing but one choice: Disappear completely, or embrace it and ask God if He has a purpose in all of it.

He has answered me, and I am so grateful. I found the answers in His word. I find out more about what the answer is meant to do in my earthly life as I walk with Him every day.

Me. The speck that seems insignificant, but isn’t – because of Him.

With Him. The Author of all Creation – and the One who is writing this story too.

I have found joy in the midst of the things that make me unhappy, and most of that is because instead of fighting against this disappearing act, I am actually finding out more about what it means to have almost my ENTIRE EXISTENCE be about my relationship with Jesus.

  • No, I haven’t lost my family – thank you Lord!
  • No, I haven’t lost my home – thank you Lord!
  • No, I am not living in poverty – thank you Lord!

I haven’t lost it all. But I did have to give up SO VERY MUCH of what was still (even when I didn’t realize it) forming a lot of my “identity.”

  • The dream job that I loved.
  • Getting to be consistently involved in my church community (in person).
  • Jogging, hiking, going to fun get-togethers.
  • Shopping, doing lots of projects, being the life of the party.
  • Feeling GOOD IN MY OWN SKIN consistently – most of the time!
  • Having a sharp brain and a quick wit and never struggling to concentrate or focus.
  • Having choices – about which paths to take.

Many of those things are not bad things, friends. It’s okay if you are in a season in which the Lord has blessed you with them, and as long as you aren’t letting them take His place, it’s okay to embrace them and be thankful for them.

But for me, He is teaching me something right now and had to remove some stuff to cause that to happen. I’m a stubborn girl and I play tricks on myself sometimes. God knows that about me. I don’t think that I was trying to sin by any stretch of the imagination in loving it when I had those things in my life. I just know that the Lord wants to help me understand something that we can only understand as He allows certain things to be stripped away and takes away the crutches and distractions.

I’ll tell you now – it’s hard to realize that you really ARE just a speck, at first. It’s hard to embrace your smallness. It’s difficult beyond belief to make peace with how very tiny you are in the big God picture of things. But once we get to where we start to feel a peace about it – once we find that there is SIGNIFICANCE in being one of God’s tiny specks, and that HE is the One who is BIG, it is so freeing.

Chains have been broken. I knew that before, but I didn’t know  how to walk in it.

The battle has already been won, and God doesn’t need my help for that.

I am small, but the Lord still has plans for me. Even if no one ever sees them come to fruition but Him.

I still have so much to learn. As I said, I have only just fully realized what it’s like to move past just knowing what I know – that I am a small and tiny speck in the midst of God’s creation and the humiliating things in life that make us realize how small we are – to starting to LIVE it and walk it out with Him on the gray and vast path into the unknown.

But, He is with me. He is teaching me that my significance is not MINE. It is all about Him and how He loves me. It is all about the purpose HE has for ME to bring glory to HIM. It is about how He uses the smallest and most insignificant-seeming things to work out His will.

He doesn’t need me. But He still chooses me. I am a significant speck because Jesus truly loves me. He has numbered every hair on my head. (Luke 12:7) I matter to HIM.

I want for Him to matter to me more than I matter to myself. And that’s where I still have much to pray over and learn about.

  • That’s why I’m on this path.
  • That’s why God is teaching me about specks in the midst of His vast creation.
  • That’s why I am so grateful today, because at least I’m starting to feel a peace about it.

The smaller I get and the more the world around me starts to disappear, including my own mind and body, the more magnified He becomes in my view. And that is worth seeing and experiencing, even when it’s painful.

Because He is beyond lovely. He is vast and large, but not too Big to come down and walk by my side.

He is the whole point of it all. He came down for us – the significant specks that He created.

HE IS.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

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Sometimes You Gotta Stretch

I have always really liked giraffes. There’s just something so beautiful about their deep, dark eyes, and their graceful, long necks.

Me, personally? I have a pretty messed up neck. It’s a genetic thing I inherited from my father. It’s been this way since I can remember. It always feels compressed, needs to be stretched and cracked constantly, and sitting and working at a computer doesn’t do it any good either. But, it’s still a neck, and I am glad to have one that works – even though it’s not like a giraffe’s.

I supposed it’s easier for a giraffe to hear things – standing tall above all the noise and commotion of this world. I suppose it may be easier for them to see too. But I don’t think that we are as limited as we think we are sometimes in searching for glimpses of God. And we can hear Him from within if we quiet ourselves long enough to do so.

When I am struggling to hear His voice, or to look up to Jesus, I think of a giraffe. We may not have the physical advantages that they do, but we can be like them as we tune into Jesus.

We just may have to stretch a little.

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I say we ditch Facebook and make a Gracebook!!!!

Simon via Pixabay

Simon via Pixabay

This is a long story today, but if you use any kind of social media to communicate with others, including email, I think it will be worth your while to read it.

So….I have quite a few Facebook friends ~ Not 800 or anything like that, but about 200 or so. A few are friends by association, sure. But most of the people I have ‘friended” on Facebook are truly people I interact with frequently, or have known well over the years (good buddies from high school, some friends from college, and people I have worked with in the past or presently).

However, you know how these things work, I am sure. You see all kinds of garbage out there, (mostly, from friends of your friends) no matter what you do. But for me, I believe, that as Christians, we are told to go where the people are – and, well…..the people are on Facebook – so it makes sense to use that method of communication to love other people as best we can. We are also told though, that when things get to a certain point, we are to “dust off our feet” and move on. Now, just hear me out on this one……

Here is NOT what my point is today in this post:

  • I am NOT going to bash Facebook. Like anything else, things can be used for good and they can be abused as well. It is not Facebook’s fault that nasty things happen on there. It is people who choose that.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21 (Um, and Yes! Speaking by letting your fingers do the talking counts)

BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

geralt via Pixabay

geralt via Pixabay

We can go on and on about how social media is a substitute for the real thing – it’s true. It’s not TRUE connectivity and relationship most of the time. But it is something.

Fact is, no one is connecting anymore in a real way a lot of the time. This is the way that it is in our “advanced” world, isn’t it? I avoided it as long as possible, hanging onto the hope that the few of us out there that wanted to stick to true relationship – (you know – the kind where you actually have to interact with the person AFTER you have opened your mouth?) could make that still be a core part of our world. But, alas – it just is not that way any longer. People are creatures of convenience – and that’s that. Not everybody, but you get the drift.

So, aside from my immediate world – my own family, our church, friends and co-workers, basically, our every-day circle, Facebook and social media is how I connect with people. I have accepted that, although it’s not my preference. Neither are a lot of things these days.

But, with the help of Jesus, and great friends like you, I have found that there is a way to connect on Facebook, this blog, and other types of social media. And a lot of it is very valuable. I can talk to people I might not get to see otherwise, share love and  edification with people I may never have the chance to meet in person, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ while making good friends all at the same time.

geralt via Pixabay

geralt via Pixabay

But today I want to share something with you about the down side of social media, and how the Lord is faithful to use even that to make us all the stronger!

I am disturbed by the fact that we don’t always do our best to make social media a place of goodness for one another. For me, “goodness” doesn’t always mean happy. It can be learning something new, sharing in others sorrows as well as their concerns or trials, or just plain staying somewhat connected with other people.

But there need to be boundaries in anything that we do, don’t there? I mean, things like respect, care, concern? Why do those things need to be tossed out the window so often?.

And why do we think it has to stay the way that it is? Why can’t we just decide that we are going to use it to build one another up and truly learn from one another, even when we have different opinions? Why does it have to be about tearing one another down so very often? Or about edificaton of the self, rather than others?

Sometimes, I just think it should be called “InyourFacebook” instead – what, with all the slings and arrows we find spewed out all  over the place there at times.

wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Badumching

wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Badumching

Last week was sooo hard for me on Facebook. I decided to jump into a thread to make an attempt at some love and positivity – a thread that had gotten really ugly by the time I prayerfully stepped into it. It was one of those debates about a controversial issue, which I almost always steer clear of – but I really felt the Lord telling me to try to share some love with these folks I found here.

Friends, I have seen some nasty threads on Facebook before, but this one took the cake. At the end of the day, honestly, I just provided them with more fuel to allow it to get uglier and uglier and uglier. It was an absolute HATE thread.

The irony in it all, was that I actually jumped in to try and say that maybe we are all missing the point – that just possibly, could it be, that instead of figuring out why this side or that side doesn’t agree, or bash one side versus the other side on the issue, maybe we should focus on what is really important here and love one another in spite of the fact that many of us are going to have differing opinions or hold to different values at times. And I really did say it in a very kind, soft, way! Whooo Weeee!

It did not go well. AT ALL. For a moment, I really had to wonder if I missed the virtual  memo announcing that this day was Hatebook day? THIS is how my attempt at throwing them some love was NOT received!

nicholas raymond via Stockvault

nicholas raymond via Stockvault

Let me tell you now….my suggestion to turn it to love was met back with the greatest level of hostility I think that I have ever experienced, or even witnesed online. It got so bad, friends, that I actually felt like I had to literally remove myself from the thread and delete my comments entirely, as I felt my security and privacy were starting to be threatened. I truly believe, that if I would have been face to face with these people, they may have harmed me physically. That was not my greatest concern, but it was one, for sure.

FOR SAYING WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Of course, through the process, I was point blank asked where I stood on the issue (of course).  I did tell them “No, I don’t agree, but that’s not why I stepped into this thread today”. Over and over again, I tried to go RIGHT back to my point – that the issue here was to be loving of one another in spite of the fact that they may think one way, while others think another. It was not to be accepted. It was not even to be considered!

THAT, is where, by the world’s standards, I went wrong. To even suggest to these folks that I didn’t share the same opinion, even though I tried to share love ~ well, it didn’t matter. I was virtually slaughtered at that point. Because they weren’t looking for love. They were looking for someone else to agree and join the hate club.

Word were put in my mouth. EVEN with my comments right there, for everyone to see, several people were saying that “so you are saying ______” when I didn’t even come close to that at all!

merelize via Stockvault

merelize via Stockvault

I was told that I should **&!! off and “toddle my little Christian ___” off. They only knew I was Christian, because I said, when asked point blank to share where I stood on the “issue” that “No, I don’t agree, because I am a Christian, but I think we should still love one another.”

That was IT! I said nothing about sin,  judgement, condemnation – quite the opposite. But knowing I was a Christian? Well, that was just too much for these folks.

The rest, I won’t even share with you. But it was U-G-L-Y. So ugly that I actually felt sick to my stomach. I may be a nice girl, but I do have a pretty thick skin. It was bad. But mostly, I was deeply disturbed because I was beyond flabbergasted. And then I felt soooo truly and deeply sorry for these folks that I actually started weeping.

At one point, I even asked “how can you make this a bad thing, what I am saying?”

No answer. Just hate coming back 10 fold. Even when the Lord told me to sit and just read, remain quiet, I still kept receiving the zingers of hate. It was surreal.

Zhappy via Stockvault

Zhappy via Stockvault

So, why do I share all of this? I want to share what all came out of this for me in my spiritual growth. I hope to encourage you, especially if you are a Christian who is finding it more and more difficult to love others who hate you.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the
end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22 NIV

I believe we are to stand firm not only for what we believe as Christian, but even more so in love. When I look to the cross, that is what I see in Jesus. He spoke the truth, but at a certain point, stopped talking. But He kept on loving. Through every slash, every punch, every thorn, every whip, every nail, every mockery, through death. To the end. And then, He rose up again and now lives with His father in heaven for all eternity. Just as we shall get to do one day, if we are Christians. With the King!

Friends, the honest truth is, as my brother shared – many people don’t really care about our “love”. They translate “love” into whether or not we are on their “side”. And that is flawed thinking. That is sad thinking. That is the thought process that a world without Christ in the center of it operates under.

geralt via Pixabay

geralt via Pixabay

And I cried a river of tears over that.

I agonized over this situation, while it was happening and after for several days. In all reality, I am still somewhat upset (emotionally) about it. I am sad for them, not for me. This blog post is the last I am going to be talking about this. Because it’s time for me to completely leave it behind me. But the Lord has placed it upon  my heart to share with you first, so I am doing just that.

I couldn’t dust off my heart, friends. I kept going to the Lord in prayer, and asking Him to take it from me. Then, I realized, He is trying to grow my heart for those who are lost and desolate. He wants to soften my heart even more.

Maybe we are to physically dust off our feet at times, but our hearts are still to be broken. Maybe it is because, after something like this happens, when we next encounter a lost or hateful group of people, we will be able to try again – to love them like Christ does. And His strength is made so very perfect  in our weakness – in what can sometimes look like our “failures.” Our failures are His successes – one way or another, He will reign supreme!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so
that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

ianL via Stockvault

ianL via Stockvault

You know, if Christ IS love, then it makes sense that Christians would be hated for speaking, or even trying to show some love. Even before these people on Facebook knew I was a Christian, when I first commented, “hey, maybe we should love one another, it seems like that would do some good here”, I was attacked. I was told I was “hiding behind  love”.

I speak the truth, as I am sure many of you do, in love, and when the Spirit leads me to, regarding where I stand on certain issues. But I also do so in His timing as He so leads me! We are to be salt and light in this world. That means the platter of stuff we are to serve up is to be made up primarily of grace and sprinkled with salt, not covered in it.

I think the Spirit does a perfect  job of telling me when to speak my thoughts about sin, or where I stand on issues as a Christian, and when to hold that back, and just love on people. But last week showed me clearly, that we are escalating into a time in which that will no longer be enough for many folks – showing love and care and concern, I mean. In fact, it may be enough for one thing and one thing only: to, at the very least, “virtually” crucify us.

But remember………….

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds
of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11

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And sometimes, others will be blessed out of what God does through us too.

God IS love. Anything to do with God will be hated, so love will be hated. So will we for speaking it, showing it, being it, or even hinting at it. Anything to do with it will eventually be hated. At least, the real kind of love, that is.

I know this sounds like a bummer of a post and maybe it is. These are dark times, friends. But it is the reality of this world and the times in which we are living.

However, our ultimate destiny really is not here if we are followers after Christ. We have to live here right now, true. We endure many difficulties, trials, sufferings and blessings here, yes. But we are blessed beyond measure. Now, and for all eternity! If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord.

If you have not accepted the gift of salvation through Christ Jesus, won’t you do so today? He is the only light in this world that is real and true, friends. He can wash away all sin! And what we have in Him goes way beyond this world! (See John 3:16)

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For most of you that subscribe to this blog, you are already a fellow Christian, so I do want to share one last thing.

The most difficult thing for me last week in reference to myself (my own selfish feelings for me, not for them) was the fact that when all was said and done, I felt the Spirit of the Lord telling me clearly that I would have to literally remove my comments from that venomous thread. I knew with no question, that if I did so, that my friend who started the thread (who had gone to bed while her other friends were slaughtering away) would come in the next morning and see these people’s comments and assume I was preaching sin and condemnation.

THAT was very hard for me.

And exactly what I predicted did happen. I had sent my friend a message explaining what I said, and what I was trying to make a point about and why I had to remove my comments. She, of course, told me she felt I removed them because “I knew my arguement was invalid.” She then posted her own comments on the thread, directed at me, and put words into my mouth that were nowhere near to what I had said.

So be it.

Pixabay

Pixabay

There was never any “arguement”. None whatsoever. I hadn’t even stated my case for how my beliefs should be held as true or right in their eyes.  I hadn’t condemned them for their thoughts, views, or feelings either.  In fact, I had gone way out of the way to make sure they knew it wasn’t for me to judge, and that my whole point was about being loving.

But the Lord asked me to turn that over to Him – utterly and completely. I still don’t fully understand why, but He did. And I am still working on that.

I actually had sat right here that night, at this very computer, tears streaming down my face, along with my wise and mature daughter as we agonized over whether or not to remove my comments from that ugly thread. It took me an hour, just staring at it to make the decison. Nothing I said brought me any shame – but even being associated with it made my stomach turn.

Friends, please understand I share none of this to be some  kind of martyr in your eyes – it is quite the opposite, actually. I stand in awe today of my own inadequacy as a soldier in Christ, shielded in love; because I got utterly slaughtered – ha ha!

But the Holy Spirit did not fail me, and with this, I wish to encourage you!

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It came down to this:

  • Remove my comments and allow her to think (assume), upon reading all the trash, words that were put into my mouth, false accusations, cuss outs, trashing of Christ and the bible, and threats toward me, (in all of her other friends’ comments that had surrounded mine) that I was  preaching judgment and  condemnation.
  • Leave my comments and hope that she sees that I was trying to be loving, yet risk being unable to dust off my feet, which the Lord was clearly urging me to do at this point.

Then I heard the whisper:

Anne, did anyone else care about your loving message in that thread? Did they still falsely accuse you for speaking love in my name? Did they still threaten you, trash me, and not only refuse to accept that maybe you had a good point, but virtually kill you with their words? WITH your comments in there, for all to read and see, did they still do so?  This is part of following after me with all your heart, mind, body, soul. I will take care of you and the rest. You need to leave these people behind for now.

nicolas raymond via Stockvault

nicolas raymond via Stockvault

I realized right then that it was about being so sad for these people, but also about my own surrender and obedience. It was about leaving these people behind me completely and dusting off my feet. It was about allowing God to soften my heart, while thickening up my skin. And I have to let my old “friend” think what she is going to think. Not only that, I had to remove her from my Facebook entirely.

That sucked rocks, by the way. Dirty, dirty rocks!

I think the most important thing I wish to share today, is that sometimes, although we are called to love one another as Christ loves us, people are not always going to accept that love. We are still to try, and still to forgive, but He does tell us to move on if this happens. We can do both – we can move on and still have pure hearts – as long as we forgive and stay in prayer, and continue to seek after the Lord and those who are lost, we are living as He asks us to live!

And that’s where I want to be. I pray that you do too.

“And when you go into a household, greet it.  13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city! Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:12-16

I have moved on physically and literally, but my heart is still a little dusty. I am sad, because I may be the only Chrisitan that was in her world, for all I know. I struggled and struggled with this decision, because that “friend” of mine – well, she really needs Jesus. See, she says she “believes in God”, but if she is a Christian, she is being seriously attacked right now. And honestly, I seriously have my doubts. All I can do, is pray for her now. And God knows her heart. I will probably never get to know this side of heaven. And that’s okay, because the One who matters? He knows. Will you pray for my friend?

geralt via Pixabay

geralt via Pixabay

Another flash: I did what the Lord led me to do and now the rest is up to Him!

Oh yah. (Why do we do this sometimes?) D.U.H.

It has taken  me a while to get to the point of my title, but here it is: I don’t know about you guys, but I really work very hard to use my Facebook to glorify God and build others up. But through all this, He showed me that I can show grace through Facebook in new and innovative ways I hadn’t even thought of before this. Honestly, I thought I had tapped all the options out. I share edifying messages, ask for prayer requests, comment on things that are important to my friends. I thought that was about it as far as options for edification through social media was concerned.

But it’s not. We, as a community of believers, can edify one another through Facebook too, just as we do on this blog. And people will watch – intently. It may make them sick sometimes – but they will watch.

geralt via Pixabay

geralt via Pixabay

I think we should make Facebook become a Gracebook. Specifically, personally, relationally. Sure, it’s great to share verses, and messages and  images of Christ on there, we need to keep doing that! But we need to step up and show folks that Christians are actually real people who can be NICE to each OTHER.

On my Facebook page the other day, I actually suggested we have a Gracebook day on Monday. Hardly anyone responded.

So…if you wish to, please find me on Facebook and “friend” me. Maybe, eventually, we can try to have at least one “Gracebook” day if enough of us join in. On this blog site, you can find the blog’s facebook page, but please look me up (just Anne) and friend me personally too. I would be honored and privileged to have you as my friend on Facebook as well as through our blogging community.

You can find me under Anne Basile Birkelo – here’s a shortcut to my page where you can see my name in the upper left corner – https://www.facebook.com/#!/

brankin62 via Pixabay

brankin62 via Pixabay

Keep loving one another, friends. And keep searching for ways to speak the truth, show the love, and pour on the grace (with just a bit of salt here and there as the Lord so leads).

Be Blessed today, and remember: Christ is Alive – as much today as He was the day He left that tomb! And He is coming back – hopefully soon.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

“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

DFnatureawed via Stockvault

DFnatureawed via Stockvault

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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3 Years Down…An Eternity to Go

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

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

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

Oh my Dearie, Mama Dear….

Do you know what time is like anymore?

With your Perfect Savior, always near?

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Is it bright and shining, always there?

More than we here might ever think?

Do all the colors look much different now?

Deeper hues of blue, green, and pink?

????????

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

My Mama, I’ll bet you feel free…

Do you get updates from time to time..

About our lives, much… do you see?

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Does He let you help to ready the places –

In His mansions, where we too, shall live?

We look for the day we will see your faces –

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

????????

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

Was to let you help the little children come home…

You always loved them all so much –

Just as if they were all your very own.

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Dear Mama, what a gift to enjoy!

Things are finally as they were meant to be…

Three years without you has been hard –

Yet His comfort, He’s showered upon me.

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

Yet eternity still seems far away…

‘Cause here we do still know of time,

But we wait in joy for that blessed day.

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We join with you to sing His praises –

Even though here, there is left much sin…

Three years down, an eternity to go…

We can’t wait to embrace you again.

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

Oh my Dearie, Mama Dear?

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

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

hope

Take Deez 2

“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.” John 15:5

Photo © CreationSwap/Chris Kennedy

Photo © CreationSwap/Chris Kennedy

If we have these with us all the time….

Used with Permission Microsoft Office

Used with Permission Microsoft Office

And this…….

Teens Taking Self Portrait with Camera Phone

This…………………………

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This one too………………………….

Woman Drinking Coffee at a Sidewalk Cafe

Of course, this…………………

Young woman lying back on a couch talking on a mobile phone

Yep, this………………..

Young Man Listening to Music with Headphones

This……………

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And this………………..

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Hmmmm – This………..

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And…haaaaa…..this………….

And…sigh….this too…..

Then we outta take these with us too…….

Via StockXchg

Via StockXchg

And this…………..

Photo © CreationSwap/chrismanfre

Photo © CreationSwap/chrismanfre

This…….

Photo © CreationSwap/sarahbryant

Photo © CreationSwap/sarahbryant

This………..

Photo © CreationSwap/KendallConnor

Photo © CreationSwap/KendallConnor

This………..

Photo © CreationSwap/Jaret Benson

Photo © CreationSwap/Jaret Benson

This Too……….

Via Ripposters

Via Ripposters

This………..

Photo © CreationSwap/Alexander Adams

Photo © CreationSwap/Alexander Adams

For sure, this………

Photo © CreationSwap/Dawn Lamper

Photo © CreationSwap/Dawn Lamper

This…………

via creationswap

via creationswap

These……………

Photo © CreationSwap/Sam Hughes

Photo © CreationSwap/Sam Hughes

LOTS of this……….

Photo © CreationSwap/Luis Rivera

Photo © CreationSwap/Luis Rivera

And above ALL………………..

Photo © CreationSwap/Kyle Reed

Photo © CreationSwap/Kyle Reed

Take care of our hearts. Guard that relationship with our Savior. And take Him with us wherever we go.

Then………..SHARE!

via gopraise

via gopraise

  • But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 2 Corinthians 2:14
  • He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16:15
Photo Credit via Lostseed

Photo Credit via Lostseed

 

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

You say Leap and I say How Far?

It’s not that I don’t want to express my willingness to take a leap of faith… it’s a matter of not knowing how far I am supposed to jump that concerns me. This is where I allow my feet to get stuck in the sand…it’s always on the “how far” part of it all.

susan helmuth via creation swap

susan helmuth via creation swap

Friends, I don’t know if you ever do this, but I do –  I confuse myself sometimes. But I also realize that sometimes it’s just me, and other times it’s really because there is this dark and kniving evil one that likes to whisper in my ear in deceitful and just ugly ways. He likes to make me fear. He likes to erode away at trust and faith in the Holy One that I love. He likes to do mean and nasty things.

Doug E Fresh via Creation Swap

Doug E Fresh via Creation Swap

One thing that makes it easy for him to do is that (remember the control issues i mentioned?) I have a thoughts-driven mind. Yah…it can get in the way of surrender sometimes.  There are great benefits to thinking the way that I do, but I have to keep turning it all over to Jesus or it can turn against me in certain situations, cause me to be less of a risk-taker, and move me out of His will and into my own. I have to pray about this….a lot.

Courtesy of CreationSwap

Courtesy of CreationSwap

We all have changes that we need to make sometimes in our lives. Occassionally, it all lines up clearly for us, while other times, not so much. That’s when it’s time to trust in the Lord to either open a door, shut one, or give us the courage and the strength to start listening to the Holy Spirit and just start walking (or kicking, or diving, or jumping…depending on what He says to do).

Jennifer Powell via Creation Swap

Jennifer Powell via Creation Swap

Sometimes the changes aren’t even because something “bad” is going on…in fact, the one I am considering would be going from good to better in most ways, and only scary because of worldly things that offer a sense of comfort and security for me in my little life. Hmmm….that one seems obvious, but our little minds get in the way and complicate it all, don’t they? God sometimes asks for a blank slate from us – a willingness to go in blind.

http://www.creationswap.com/jboriss

A big part of my problem is I am a planner (uh-hem, “control” again). I’m usually okay with a certain degree of the unknown, but I realize that the Lord may be trying to grow me in this area – you know, more of “let go and let God?” See, it’s time to be more trusting in Him for ALL of it – not just the stuff that doesn’t seem too terribly scary or ultra-risky. God’s plan for me is whatever He leads me to in the now. I’m ready to believe in the promise that He has good things in store, and that I don’t always need a backup plan to make me feel comfortable.

David Bierdebeck via CreationSwap

David Bierdebeck via CreationSwap

Have you heard the saying about the Israelites and their lack of faith in crossing the Red Sea back in the day?  “Step FIRST, and then He shall part the waters.” I don’t know who said it, but whoever it was seems to be onto something. Um hum. This kind of faith entails completely uprooting oneself from what seems safe and secure in this world and putting down new roots where Jesus wants us to be – and stay rooted in Him, no matter where this life takes us.

Jeff Boriss via CreationSwap

Jeff Boriss via CreationSwap

So when the enemy plays this confusing game with my mind, which is all too often cooperative with his malicious little efforts, I have to turn off that thought driven brain of mine and press in deeply to the voice of the Lord. I have to shut up and listen, seek Him and His guidance, and then move when I feel the little push on my back to venture onward.

Chris Kennedy via CreationSwap

Chris Kennedy via CreationSwap

And as I prayed this morning I heard God say to me that asking “how far” really would be just sort of the same thing those Israelites did. And, I had an ah-ha moment with the Lord. Bright, aren’t I? (sheesh)

Jeff Boris via Creation Swap

Jeff Boris via Creation Swap

Yep, asking  “how far” to qualify my “willingness” to leap is really only my effort at covering up the fact that I am not displaying enough trust and faith in the Lord. He may want for me to be uncertain as I step forward – he may want to do it for a multitude of reasons. Wouldn’t it be cool if He wants to do that so that I can stand in awe at what happens as I am stepping – one foot at a time, with only His light and inner voice to guide me?

Forest Cavale via CreationSwap

Forest Cavale via CreationSwap

And I am reassured today too as I think on this. Because even if my foot lands in some icky stuff, and I start to sink, God has a reason for that too – and we know He is good at pulling people out of those types of troublesome situations. He saved us from the worst already.

Krist Adams via CreationSwap

Krist Adams via CreationSwap

So, I am not scared any more. I never thought I could be this way about something as life changing as this little thing is going to be for my family and myself. And  you know why? In addition to knowing that God has me covered, I see that it really isn’t all that big of a deal in the face of it all. We have overcome obstacles together – rather, HE has delivered ME from challenges, torments, pain, past, sin, suffering, craziness, that makes this pale in comparison.

Marian Trinidad via Creationswap

Marian Trinidad via Creationswap

I’m not sure where I’m going yet…..is it here? or there?  I just know I am ready…ready to jump. I think I’ll even get a running start as soon as He says “Go”. I already hear the whispers now, saying…”get ready.” I can literally feel the green light of God about to turn on any moment.

Matt Gruber via CreationSwap

Matt Gruber via CreationSwap

I am actually kind of excited now. In fact, when He says leap, I am going to stretch out with everything I  have, ask Him to put His mighty and divine muscle and power behind me, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll even do a backflip

Sharolyn Newington via CreationSwap

Sharolyn Newington via CreationSwap

Do you need to take a leap of faith into the unknown or something that might seem a bit scary either today or sometime soon? If so, you are in good company if you trust Jesus as your Savior…. and you need not fear.

 “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”  Matthew 8:26        

Trust in HIM.

“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”  I Corinthians 2:5

Krystian Jaskula via CreationSwap

Krystian Jaskula via CreationSwap