Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My one word for 2017: DECLARE

To declare literally means to acknowledge possession – to recognize what is already ours and walk in that truth, affirming to ourselves and coming into agreement with God what He has already said about us and about Himself. This is how the Jesus follower is meant to function.

This spoke to me on so many levels as I am going into this year with great joy and anticipation as to where the LORD is leading me!

I am so excited to be on Lisa Whittle's launch team for her new 10 day bible study DECLARE...it's free and we can do it together from the comfort of our own homes!! #Declarestudy

Click on link more info: http://lisawhittle.com/declare

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Matters of the Heart

I have been walking in circles of late. Wish I could say that the circles were ones of praise and thanksgiving, the ones walked by Joshua and his army in Jericho, as mentioned in my last post (a year ago), but alas, they are not. These circles are trenches of mud. Mud made by fears, anxious thoughts and sadness.

I knew I was stuck in the mud, I had even said those exact words to two different people. However, I did not know how caked the mud has gotten on my heart. That was until I lashed out at a stranger with my dragon's tail of a tongue!! Seriously, what kind of person does that?? I was completely unaware of my darkened heart, until I saw their eyes and the shock that was there. It truly felt as if someone had used a defibrillator on me...suddenly my true heart starting beating again and I immediately tried my best to apologize, but the damage had clearly been done.

I spent the next 3 days in complete remorse. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and, truthfully, scared out of mind at how dark my heart had gotten. This is not the type of person I want to be nor would have ever thought I could be. Three days of crying out for forgiveness and restoring of my heart. I even questioned if I truly believed that I was forgiven...the mud was thick.

I am sure there are some of you who think I am getting a little carried away here. You might even say, "You just spoke words out of impatience and anger...people do that all the time. What's the big deal? You really need to get a grip, they probably have already moved on..."

But here's the deal, all throughout the Bible, we are told that God looks upon man's heart.

 In Mark, we are told, "For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile you" Mark 7:21-23

 Again, in Luke, "Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks!" Luke 6:45

If we ignore the despair and sadness, anger and negativity, then we are making ourselves vulnerable for the enemy to set up camp. Even if there are legitimate reasons for our state of mind, we need to be attentive to our hearts.  I, personally, just sat down and kinda gave up in the mud that I had been circling in. It's easy to do, life gets hard and we get tired. (And a side note, we might start out in circles of praise and thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean it won't rain while we are marching around...mud eventually happens.) That is exactly when the enemy sees his chance to set up camp and wreck havoc.

Hannah More describes this in Religion of the Heart. In chapter 11, she discusses the topic of Comparatively Small Faults and Virtues. Here she describes a fishing net looking to catch the big sins, but allowing the littler ones to escape only to grow bigger. Her point is that we need to pay attention to the little vices in our hearts, lest "the infant becomes a giant!"

So, it is a big deal. With all that is going on in the world, our hearts HAVE to be set on things above!

Lent is the perfect time and I am more than grateful and not surprised that this happened at the beginning of this season of repentance. May we all be shocked with the defibrillator of the HOLY SPIRIT this season.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10-12

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Crossing over the Jordon

It is good to be back writing, thanks to Bonnie for giving the prompt "Journey"

I haven't written in over a year.

After this post, my heart was laid bare and a deep healing began. I was able to connect words to page only a few times...and then so much swirling of emotions, truths, lies and upheavals just bogged me down. I prayed that God would honor my thoughts and keep them safe for me. And He has.

Over the next few weeks, I will be processing and reliving the past year. Simply, I  hope to bring my journey to it's next destination.

It was through Bonnie's prompts that I was able to speak and it is through those same ones that I am trusting my voice again.  So, here goes...

No matter where you look in the Bible there is someone going on a journey.

And we are no different. 

"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River in to the land I am about to give them." Joshua 1:2

Four years, four long winters, we spent in Minnesota. And by the Grace of God alone, He lead us back to Texas. It maybe a stretch, but I felt like we were finally coming out of the wilderness and getting to cross the Jordan River into the promised land!! I could the almost feel the excitement of the Israelites..the Promised Land! Expect I totally forgot about the inhabitants and the battles that needed to be fought! Make no mistake, our lives, today, parallel those in the Bible...it is one of the reasons it is called the LIVING WORD!

The day my husband left Minnesota to drive to Texas to start his new job, it snowed. It was May. I still had six weeks with the kids as they finished up the school year. I had already had my fill of this winter. But...

I had starting thinking and reading about the journey across the Jordan AND how the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh got to stay and find rest. REST would be good. Can I be honest and say that I was actually wondering if it was a good idea to be leaving Minnesota?!

We were just starting to make connections, did I mention it had been four years, and I was sure that I could have started working at the church we had begun attending. Was I up for more battling and pulling and shedding of old habits...more wilderness work? I started imagining what the wives of the various tribes of Israel were feeling.

The ones that got to "find rest" were excited, at first, to finally stay put and make a home. Then the realization that their men still had to go into battle came over them. It was a difficult time. The other wives were probably jealous at first, then realized they got to stay with their men, even though there was battling ahead. It was a difficult time.

The ultimate decision to move back to Texas was a difficult one and it has been a difficult time with some restful times thrown in. The battles are real. For each one, God has been cutting the size of the troops down. We are currently at our Jericho.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. I will never leave you or forsake you. Only be strong and courageous. Joshua 1

This is our promise, no matter where your journey leads you...He will never leave us or forsake us! If only, we would remember that more often...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

When Winter is your Spring

Bonnie wants us to write about "spring".

Honestly, when I read the prompt, I had nothing to say, at least nothing good to say.

We are still in the throws of winter here, well my definition of winter anyway, temps in the 20-30's, blizzard warnings and 3-6 inches of snow!

And as I was sitting next the fire drinking my morning coffee, the snow started to let up and the room brightened just a bit. What happened next nearly sent me to my knees, literally. I spoke these words aloud: "I won't be fooled by this light, I know there is still more darkness coming!" And with that my spirit wailed within me, because this is how my heart has been for a while now.

The few rays of light that have entered, I have refused to believe and to trust. Instead of enjoying the break in the storm, I have called it false hope and have sunk deeper in my pity. I have said I wanted to live full of joy and excitement for Christ, but really only if it is on my terms...happy feel good comfortable living.

These verses from Matthew have been rolling around in me since August and God has been digging up roots and exposing Truth.

Matthew 6:22-24

New International Version (NIV)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.(A)

It has been the second part of verse 23 that has slayed me time and time again. 

At first, fear gripped me and I truly was afraid, that all this time, my life in Christ had been a charade. (The enemy loves to wield fear to keep us trapped in bondage.) As the Holy Spirit worked in me and showed me Truth, the fear subsided and true repentance started as God revealed where my heart needed change.

I no longer fear when the Spirit calls me out, like on Monday morning. I know God is good and gracious. I know He wants me to draw closer to Him. I am still surprised, however, by my own lack of faith and trust.

Funny how that we are surprised but God is not. Ridiculous that He still chases after us when we are so blind. Transforming that HE loves us still.

Verse 24 has not been lost on me either, considering our financial mess. (my wanting a happy feel good comfortable life...)

God is good. Always. He wants only the best for me. He wants a bright light in me to shine for HIM and HIM alone.

Sunday is Palm Sunday, and there is no false hope in Jesus.
I am so glad that God does not leave me in the dark, but that He shines HIS light into my dark places that are parading around as light.

Winter may be hijacking my spring, but Jesus is transforming my heart.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Messy Days

The calendar has turned five pages since the last time I placed words on a screen.

It seems like forever ago, and at the same time, only yesterday.

Life gets messy when we get honest with ourselves and God. Hours turn to days, days into weeks, and weeks into months.

Winter darkness lends a hand with the slipping of days, being stingy with the sun light and more than generous with the biting cold wind.

My year named "strength", ended with me using every bit of strength I had to admit that I needed medical help. Depression's equally sinister sister, Anxiety, decided to take over. What I presumed to be depression was actually anxiety...very tricky thing...they go hand in hand and mirror each other well!

My new year, I call "endurance". The old language would call it "long suffering". My favorite definition is "patient power"...we could all use that!! When God gave me this word, I first thought it was just me going with the next common thing after strength. But HE was faithful and revealed it three different times, using three different avenues, each one louder than the previous one. I love how HE is so patient with us when we keep asking, "Are you sure?"

The medicine is helping. I am grateful...my husband is grateful...my children are thankful I am not so angry all the time.

Life is still hard.

Ailing parents a thousand miles away, a dog with cancer, a husband who is bored and still trying to maneuver our way through the financial/housing mess.

Just the other day, my husband tells me that the attorney we have been working with, for over a year, can no longer help us because he doesn't handle cases like ours. We have to start over. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  I have just reached to heaven and yelled "LORD!", and as I am falling back onto the couch a sound like a cynical/manic laugh comes out of my mouth. Instantly I am reminded what this year is called and I smile weakly. God has his ways and they are not my ways.

Each day I choose...choose to let Anxiety win or choose to TRUST in HIM who knows my days for he has made each one. Some days I don't choose well. Some moments I don't choose well. Most days I ask for more faith to choose HIM. This is messy but honest. The enemy has used this against me and will try again in the form of shame and guilt. Each day. Patient Power. Endurance.

This is how I follow Jesus. Each day, sometimes messy, sometimes the sun shines so bright and I laugh so hard...it is wonderful!!

He gives me the promise of spring and of a new life...I am counting on that promise! So I continue to follow, messy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I am still here...

The last post about did me in. Emotionally I mean. I ended up in a place that I thought was long forgotten, at least buried deep enough to not be found. But the hole opened up and I fell right in. It has taken me some time to climb back out...burying it again was not an option.

Add in the two full moons in August, school starting, and other various life happening...it took much longer than I expected to find my way back to the surface. There were moments when I thought I really needed to seek professional help, because I have before, and I know those moments are but a shadow away from reality. This time, though, the healing needed to go beyond symptoms and something new needed to fill the hole.

It was a Monday morning, kids were at school, the weather was changing soon...so I told my husband that I was going to spend the day at the Arboretum with God. There was laundry to be done, floors to clean, but I was empty and depressed. So that is what I did. And this is what HE had for me...

I stopped at a pond and prayed that HE would meet me there. Just let me know all of this "suffering" was not for nothing. I just needed, wanted to know that I was doing this the way HE wanted.

I left the pond with an open mind and open heart. No agenda, no ipod, nothing and started walking into the woods.
The views HE provided were breathtaking.

Why do we so easily forget what a great artist and creator HE is?
Then I came up a hill and was taken aback by the barrenness of this huge oak tree.
And as if on cue, I turned to by left and there was a maple in full glory.
I am almost ashamed to admit this, but I looked at the oak, then again at the maple and walked towards the maple. The oak mirrored what I was feeling already, and I wanted to escape that empty, dead filling. The maple was full of color and the sun was making the leaves sparkle...I needed color, life, sparkle! Almost instantly as I turned toward the sparkle of the maple, my heart sank. I was struck by the Spirit. I had chosen the "world" over God. Did I immediately run to the oak, no...I continued to walk the path past the maple..but the Spirit would not let me be...I did ask for HIM to join me...
I turned around and went back towards the oak. Its size caught my attention again. That mighty oak, though stripped of the majority of its leaves reminded of home. Its old, craved branches pulled me in to study the depths of its bark. I knew I had to take a picture.

As I was looking for a place to set down my bag, I noticed a bench in the bushes...and this is what I found when I went to place my bag...
I was stunned. Not only had HE met me there, HE saved me there, again.
 (if you can't make out the picture it says: Jesus said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to grant to those who mourn, garland instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, praises instead of a faint spirit. That they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.~Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18-19) 

Was I instantly not depressed or empty, no...but I knew I was healing and that brought me joy, the kind that only HE can give!

 And has the winter starts to show itself here, I am clinging to that joy!

 My friends, no matter how deep the hole is that you may have dug, HE is there and will provide the way out. For even in the coldest of winters, the rose will bloom in the spring!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Come Follow Me

This week, our prompt from Bonnie was.."God will make a way" Please pull up a chair and join us, because sometimes we all get a little lost and need a reminder that HE really will make a way...

 There is a saying, that within us there is a door waiting to be opened. A hidden place. Maybe a place that needs grace, love and healing. Or just a place where forgotten dreams have been stored.

Either one, there is still a door. And it is probably closed, maybe even locked and the key thrown away!

In the quite, there might be a knock. Is it you knocking to be let out, or is it someone else trying to get in? But there is most definitely a knocking sound. Sometimes, it is easy to ignore and get busy with life...but then, life gets hard and we end up back at the door.

There is a picture of Jesus knocking at a door waiting to be let in. If you have never let HIM into your heart, it is very possible that this your door. And I would so urge you to do so.

However, if you have already let HIM in, then the door maybe somewhere HE has led you.

This is the case for me. I have been wondering around in a room that I had forgotten about and had no desire to visit again. But here I am. And I am not alone. There is healing and grace and love...there is still sadness, but so much more gratefulness than I realized.

This room..do I dare share..this is the best description of this room:

 "Uh... I don't know. It was like... falling into a hole.
 It was like falling into a hole,and it keeps getting bigger and
 bigger, ..and you can't get out,and then, ...all of a sudden, it's
 inside...and you're the hole, and you're trapped, and it's all
 over. Something like that. And it's not really scary, except it
 is when you think back on it.'Cause you know what you were
 feeling strange and new..." ~ Conrad, Ordinary People
 I was a junior in high school. And sitting in the dark auditorium, the person on stage was describing me. I sat there and knew I could so easily end up where he did...attempted suicide. However, I didn't try, not then...it would be seven years later.

Nothing messy, or painful...you see I am a wimp and a scaredy cat!!

It was after my divorce, in a bubble bath and I thought...if I could just slip under the bubbles....and I did. Then, I will never forget it, my soul cried out and God pulled me out of the water.

I have NEVER shared this with anyone,  until 3 days ago when I told my husband. (and now you)

There are places, moments, that change your life forever. This is one of mine.

We like to travel as a family and I love taking pictures of paths we walk. Maybe it is because I know where I have been, and I like to have a reminder as to where HE has taken me.

Some of the paths are straight and lead into pure beauty and wonder.

Some are mysterious and not well lit.

Some are rocky and slippery.

But all of them, I have heard Jesus say...Come follow ME.

So, I am back in the auditorium, but this time I KNOW that I am not alone with my secret...and HE shows me love, grace and healing. HE holds out his hand and says...Come, this way, there is still so much to see. 

You will still have dark days, but I am here. I will be your light. I will be your hiding place. 

Come, follow Me.

And I do, even on my dark days...