Turn Your Eyes

“What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” This is one of my favorite rhetorical questions, posed by Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage. I believe the question really applies to most, if not all circumstances we go through in this life. What if the situations we are walking through today are not specifically happening to bring us joy or pain, but are a part of molding us, training us to look more and more like Jesus? As this transformation occurs, we increasingly shine an eternal light into a dark, unbelieving, anxiety-ridden world.

This life gives us opportunities and choices in how we respond: peaceful patience; a blow-up meltdown; faith-filled reliance on the Lord; love; hate; self-control; self-indulgence . . . The world is watching . . . Our children are watching to see what choices we make and if they line up with this Jesus we talk about. We are given these divine moments, no matter how uncomfortable, to fix our eyes on Jesus and respond to what life throws at us with an eternal mindset.

Today, as I am grappling with my own “difficult circumstances,” the Holy Spirit reminded me of this sweet, powerful hymn:

          Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
          Look full in His wonderful face.
          And the things of earth will
          Grow strangely dim,
          In the light of His glory and
          Grace.

 Jesus, this life is not easy. Help me to remember that You never promised easy, but You did promise You would never leave me alone. I want to keep my eyes locked on Yours and see this world as You see it—temporary. I praise You and thank You for the training course I am on, no matter how sore I may be at times. Please, Lord, allow those who are watching to see You in my actions and choices. In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.”

Phillipians 4:6-8 TPT

Seed Sized Faith

I have to confess, every-so-often I lay in bed, worried. What was once a small possibility of a negative outcome becomes a catastrophic event in my mind. My thoughts race. As concerns and made up conclusions snowball, I remember one thing I have learned over the years. I choose not to stay there, allowing things to overtake me. I retreat to the couch; cozy blanket, devotional, journal, and Bible in hand. I start with writing to “Papa,” talking to Him like a child would cry out to their Daddy, pouring out fears, concerns, worries, etc. Meanwhile, I begin to get a whisper, almost like an editor in my thoughts as I write. Truths begin to download, verses memorized as a child begin to surface and an undeniable peace begins to wash over me. I tend to stop writing at this point and dig into a devotional or open the Bible.
 
God’s Word does not fail! The Holy Spirit always highlights promise after promise, not that all will be comfortable or my plan/solution will be the one that prevails, but that HE IS IN CONTROL!
 
If this meets you in a place today, where you may be feeling overwhelmed, fearful, worrisome, I want to urge you, friend, to climb up in your Father’s lap and allow the love letter of God’s Word to speak into your current situation. Ask the Lord for peace, comfort, and clarity.
 
Heavenly Father, this life tends to throw many things at us that our minds and hearts just can’t fathom turning out ok. Help me Lord, to see with the eyes of a trusting child. Holy Spirit nudge me to turn to your Word before allowing my thoughts to become overwhelming, before texting a friend to vent, and before giving up. Help me to have faith that your promises are true, even if it’s mustard seed sized faith to begin with. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

A Snippet of our Story

The Holy Spirit had been prompting me, nudging me to be bold and brave, to face tucked-away secrets. I thought I had successfully skirted the situation, conning myself into believing I could sweep this monstrosity-of-a-secret under the rug and it wouldn’t affect my walk, my health, our marriage, or our kids.
 
Then one summer evening, my husband and I were seated two rows from the front, off to the left, when worship began. I stood, raised my hands and began worshiping. As I closed my eyes and sang loudly, I strongly felt my King magnified as the lyrics poured from my mouth. Suddenly, very clear words were spoken to me. They were somehow louder than the worship team but soft and gentle, right in my ear.
 

“No more. No more worshiping, pretending, faking ‘fine.’ It’s time to face the truth and confess.”
 
A good decade and a half has passed since that life-changing evening and what I know now is this: As I worshiped the Lord that night, my perspective began to change. The lies I had come to accept became blurry and His will became clear. I know for certain the Lord showed up in a huge way that night. I confessed unfaithfulness to my husband and chains broke. That night was the beginning of the healing and restoration process for us. Freedom, unity, and a passion-filled marriage were loosed; bound were wedges called shame and guilt that hell had used to keep our marriage cold and broken.
 
Over the years, I’ve learned that the enemy would like us to believe we are not worthy to raise our hands in worship because we are too guilty, too sinful. While those things are true, we must look to the Word as our truth, our guide. 1 Peter 4:8b says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” In Jesus’ love for us we see this very thing. Isaiah 53:5b speaks of the mighty love Jesus has for us and the salvation and healing He brings:
 
    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace
    was on him, and by his wounds we are
    healed.
 
Worship positions us to see clearly, to be made whole, and to align ourselves with His will. So, let’s praise Him! For all that He is, all that He has done, praise Him!
 
Father God, we thank You for worship and for all that goes on in the heavenly realm when we position our hearts to magnify You. Help us never to feel unworthy to bow before You or raise our hands in praise. You are so worthy for all that You are, all that You’ve done, and all You are doing. We love You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Why Celebrate Tomorrow?

Image result for valentines clip art

When I think back to the days where my husband and I were changing diapers, making bottles and schlepping around our huge double stroller, I can still hear the words “mama, dada” slipping out of those sweet, tiny lips. I can remember having friends with older children saying they couldn’t wait until their children were out on their own and my heart would break. I would listen and silently judge them, asking myself, “How could a parent not want to keep their babies home with them forever?”

Fast-forward about 20 years and quite often, my husband and I now find ourselves on our back patio, daydreaming together of what life will be like when we have an empty nest. Please hear our hearts, we LOVE our kids and enjoy all most, moments with them but, things have shifted. Over the years, our children have grown up, slowly maturing, exercising their free-will while finding themselves and working out their own salvation. This growth isn’t always enjoyable or comfortable; meanwhile my husband and I are growing more in love, we’re finding our “favorites” together and our relationship is maturing and growing into a life-giving ministry.

Why not dream in anticipation while we lead, guide, nurture and cover our children in prayer? Why not take every opportunity to celebrate this love; this daydreaming, purposeful, passionate union? He’s given us such a gift! Forget all the hoopla, ignore the protesters who chant “Valentine’s is materialism at it’s finest… don’t make Hallmark’s pockets fatter…” Let’s all take time, be intentional, praise God for our marriages (no matter what season you may be in), this life-long love is worth celebrating!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Who’s the Real Enemy Here?

Life seems unfair at times, doesn’t it? This year, in my own circle of influence, I’ve seen a couple close to us healing from the pain of infidelity; experienced many highs and lows in parenting, sometimes joy-filled, sometimes heart-breaking; and struggled through the ramifications of hurtful words and miscommunications with extended family. With so much hurt and brokenness, the enemy sneaks in too many temptations and opportunities for resentment, unforgiveness and revenge.

One early morning, praying with a heavy heart, I asked the Lord to intervene and bring reconciliation and restoration to every strained situation. The Holy Spirit reminded me, “You have an enemy and it is not your spouse . . . or child, in-laws, neighbor, cousin, etc.” As soon as I heard that word, I realized how it applies to every relationship, every hurt, injustice and wound we experience here on earth. I began to learn how to apply it when helping my kids through relationship struggles, when my husband and I have a disagreement, when having to confront tense family issues . . ..

Our pastor recently posed a question, “Are we devouring each other instead of loving each other?” We must not be so influenced by our culture that says, “Get even! You have rights! You don’t deserve this!” or by our courts that give us no fault divorces and allow unnecessary lawsuits, that we forget the bigger picture. Galatians 5 perfectly reminds us that we were not given freedom to satisfy human nature by holding grudges, getting even, or to avoid healing, but so we can serve one another in love.

Fill in the blank: I have an enemy and its not ___________!

Come on, just for a minute, stop and think, are you feeling less than enamored by your spouse, holding on to irritation by your children or staying bitter by hurtful words someone has said? Then think of how Satan must be having quite a heyday when he gets a chance to see the division he is creating. The enemy would love to see us stay wounded and isolate ourselves, rather than choosing healing and growth through difficult circumstances.

“The farmer who sows the pure seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the pure seeds are subjects of the kingdom, the thistles are subjects of the Devil, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.” Matthew 13:37-39 <– The enemy sows the thistles!

Dear Lord, forgive me when I have allowed our culture and selfishness to be my compass and guide. Today, I recommit to seeking a life led by love, first given by you, merciful Father, by sacrificing your son so I could spend eternity with you. I love you, Abba Father, thank you for loving me with an unfathomable, unconditional love. Amen.

 

 

Watch your Mouth

Since our kids were just babies, uninvited advice would come, and it almost always involved some kind of warning about enjoying the moment, because the difficult times were coming. “Oh, the terrible twos–they are coming!” they’d say. Then there was looming doom of the pubescent preteen years and (gasp) the rebellious, torturous teen monster would be the death of us! I can’t lie, my husband and I were shaking in our boots, scared. Then we finally asked ourselves this: Why are we agreeing with certain calamity 10+ years before our children are even close to the “scary years”?

Proverbs 18:1 says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”; and since we believe that Scripture is God-breathed and infallibly true, we decided one day, we must come into alignment with Scripture. From that moment on, we have chosen to encourage other parents and not accept status quo statements spoken about our children’s generation. When negative talk comes, we squelch it with a simple, “Nope, we are not going to agree with hell this far in advance and say we are going to struggle with rebellion.” We know tough times come–Jesus warned us of that–but we choose to speak life over those kids ahead of time!

Today we have two young adults and a teenager. While we do not agree with every decision they make, we look back and are so glad we were careful with our words. Today we speak life over all young people in our influence. We declare this generation is full of world changers, history makers, Jesus lovers, who will continue to spread joy, peace and positive change in this world-gone-crazy. Won’t you join us?

Take some time today to lift up the young people in your life; whether it is your own children, the young barista crafting your latte, or the young man bagging your groceries. Know that you may be the only truth and light being spoken over these precious lives.

Lord, we come together to lift up infants, all the way up to college-aged young adults. We speak destiny and purpose over their lives. When tough choices come their way, may they choose life. Holy Spirit, nudge these kids to stay on their number. We know that ultimately you are writing their testimonies through the highs and lows we all experience from living on earth, so have your way, Lord. We lift these precious ones up to you. Amen.

Able

This month, I’ve experienced many days where I felt unsure I am able to do what I’ve been called to do. This afternoon, I sit here sharing my heart with you, in a raw, vulnerable place. A place where I come to realize, this life is not about what I can do but what I allow Him to do through me. I’m not able, He’s more than able.

If you are in need of a reminder today, like I am, I want to encourage you to stop what you are doing and slowly read the scriptures and quotes that calmed my frantic heart today. I pray the Holy Spirit touches you deeply.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 MSG

“Failure is just part of the process, and it’s not just okay; it’s better than okay. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.”  -Bob Goff

…“My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 GNT

 

 

 

He Speaks

I love how God will speak to me through whoever or whatever will get my attention, last week it was through a conversation between Kiefer Sutherland, playing the part of President of the United States, and a former POTUS. Designated Surviver is a new favorite show for my family, little did I know God would grab hold of my heart and speak wisdom into a place that I haven’t been all that wise. Kiefer asked the former president, “how am I doing?” His response is what got me, “not great, you are reacting, not leading…” just then, the father nudged me to listen past the show script and hear his heart for me, for all of us.

At times, I let life happen to me and I react, we all do this. As a wife and homeschool mom, with 1 college kid, 1 high schooler and 1 preteen, I can’t lead with a lack of confidence. I wake up some mornings assuming it’ll be a good one but kinda scared that it won’t. We don’t know how to parent these kids in this crazy world, but who does? Our Father does, he’s got this, every last detail, he’s got it!  I’ll never be able to see around the corner, what’s ahead, but the one who leads me, holds my hand and carries me when need be, he knows.

So, with that confidence, this morning my eyes opened, the sun rose and I breathed a full breath of fresh, new day air, I can say Lord lead me, speak and love through me today, this life is not mine, these kids are not mine, nor this beautiful marriage. You gave it all to me, have your way. I want to look like you Jesus and the only way I can is if I take me off and put you on.

We must take the time to sit at his feet and recieve a fresh filling of strength, hope and all that he wants to download into us to prepare us to lead those put in our care. We all face the Mary/Martha dilemma but listen to Jesus’ wise, gentle words, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Abba Father, we come to you this morning and recieve it all, every good and perfect gift you have for us today. We love to be in your presence, we relish the simple fact that you love us and call us your children. Help us Holy Spirit to walk and act boldly as children of the most high today. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Morning Song

I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist, but I would say that I haven’t fully grasped the understanding of The Fathers perfect love and grace. I struggle hard with the fact that He doesn’t need me to perform, He just wants my heart. 

The Bible says to be joyful in all things and I’m just not. This past year has brought a number of changes and I’ve cried, grumbled and complained. I’ve definitely dipped a toe in the pool of depression every so often and when I’ve finally realized what I allowed to happen I thank God for pulling me out but in the back of my head I wonder, “why? Why save me from the pit of despair when I’ve been so onery, fearfilled and faithless?” 

This morning, in a most beautiful way, Abba Father answered the question that I didn’t audibly ask, the question I’ve mulled over for, probably, most of my life. 

As I made the drive home from taking my sweet husband to the train station, the sun began to rise over the hills and an immediate warmth came over me. It was like He was whispering, “listen, I’m here and I have much to say”. The words of the song playing in the car suddenly stuck out, it wasn’t background music anymore but a direct, sweet whisper into my heart (and into yours too).  

Every breath

Every moment life beats in my chest

Springs up from your hand

Creation resounds

With every color and every sound

Here I am Lord

All I am Lord

Here I am Lord

I am yours…

Not a Beggar

Image result for beggar

“Glorify God today in prayer, not asking for anything, trusting that as you seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, everything else you need will be provided for you…” this was the prayer prompt in my morning devotional that I mulled over quite a bit before heading out the door to take my son to school. On my drive home, in the quiet alone-ness of my car, I whispered to my Father, “thank you for this breath you’ve placed in my lungs, thank you Papa for this car, our home and city. Lord, give me wisdom…..” wait, I stopped myself. I’m not supposed to be asking for anything. So, I began to re-word my prayer (as if God isn’t listening and most likely giggling), “thank you Papa for the wisdom you will give me today, thank you for every wise, comforting, life giving word you will speak through me today…”

All at once, I could hear what the Father was reminding of, I am not a beggar, I am his child and as usual, he used a practical illustration, he clearly asked how it would feel if one of my own children felt they needed to beg when they had a need. I could visualize it, one of my sons or daughter, hungry and asking if I would please provide a meal. Instead of feeling a sense of condemnation, where I was being shown my flaw, I felt overwhelming hope and joy, I couldn’t wait to get home and share what I’d come to understand with my husband and kids. I turned up the music that was streaming quietly and these were the lyrics that so pointedly confirmed today’s lesson in love:

“Try to stop your love
And you would wage a war
Try and take the very thing
You gave your life for

And you would come running
Tear down every wall
All the while you shouting
My love your worth it all

God you pursue me
With power and glory
Unstoppable love that never ends
You’re unrelenting
With passion and mercy
Unstoppable love that never ends

You broke into the silence
And sing a song of hope
A melody resounding
In the deep of my soul

And you would come running
Tear down every wall
All the while your shouting
My love your worth it all

God you pursue me
With power and glory
Unstoppable love that never ends
You’re unrelenting
With passion and mercy
Unstoppable love that never ends

No sin, No shame
No past, No pain
Can separate me from your love
No height, No depth
No fear, No death
Can separate me from your love”

-Jesus Culture, “Unstoppable Love”