Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Bigger Picture; A New Years Resolve

Isaiah 61:1-3
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
 instead of mourning
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor."   

Today I put pen to paper.  The old fashioned way....the way that allows my heart to speak through the illustration of cursive writing and scratched out sentences.  And as I do, the picture being painted mirrors the story of the year gone bye.

With the beauty of the connecting letters, I see how one leads to another and soon their togetherness has kept them going until a thought is complete or a sentence finished.  That is precisely the way we make it through life, isn't it?  One step leads to another and another, and soon we have walked a path that has lead us to where we are. And in the ugliness of the mess ups and the scratched out mistakes we see the beauty of the moments.

There have been moments in the past year that have been created by love and laughter, by trial and struggle, by support and friendship, by fear and uncertainty, all woven together to bring me to this day.  Often times on the first day of the new year I declare that the year ahead will be better than the one before, but in looking back through the glass of time, today I see things differently and I am looking ahead through a different lens.

While there were roads I would have rather not had to travel these last months...there are far more I am happy I have. This year I have seen the Goodness of God abound above the circumstances of life.  I have been witness to His Character of Light, in Him whom is no darkness.  I have been subject to His Grace and the Empowerment that it brings.  I have been humbled by His Mercy, and the Favor and Blessings that flow from it.  I am standing because His Love surrounded me.

The Sovereignty of God says that He has my life, your life, everything under His control.  He is the beginning and the end, There is nothing too difficult for Him, He is above and before all things, He knows all things, He created all things and holds them together. Today, I am choosing to focus more on the bigger picture than the scratches and mess ups on the path to getting there. The beauty of the outcome depends upon the lessons learned between the connecting of the letters. Today, I am declaring that this year be marked by things of ETERNAL VALUE, and influence for the Kingdom...things that bring Him Glory and bring more to Salvation.  After all....that truly is the Biggest Picture being painted....

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To Be Honest...

I remember the night I decided to jump 19 months ago. None of it made any sense to me as I drove in a sort of panic, listening to the words of my friend on the other end of the phone trying to calm me down.  I knew I was listening to God, but I was still completely scared to death of the future.  It was just a few days before Christmas, 2012. 

I remember thinking that I had certainly been through much more difficult things, and that since I clearly heard the Lord tell me it was ok to concede, things would be better than ever before in just a short time, because He was directing the leap.  After all, God knew I was trusting Him with everything, so things could not possibly get that bad.

I remember the first few months believing for every lead that came across the line….believing each one was deliverance from the trial.  An opportunity would come, only to be ridden out like a cresting wave, soon crashing when the shore line was just in reach.  I would go to bed at night in anticipation of what the next morning would hold, grasping to the verse in Lamentations with all my might “…His Mercies are New Every Morning…”  Soon, I realized this was not going to be the joyful ride I had anticipated a Faith jump would be.

I remember fighting with everything I had, to hold on to the dream I had in my heart.  As I slowly released the grip on what I thought my life was going to be, I began to lose my purpose.  I would say things out loud like, “I know God is in this”, and “He has provided”, and I meant it with every ounce of me.  I celebrated in the small things God was doing, all while feeling like I had been robbed of the blessed life I had finally been living.
Whoever says that being obedient to God is easy in this world we live in is absolutely crazy.  In fact, It is down right hard.  But God never promised us it would be easy, in fact, in the book of John, we are clearly told that in this world we WILL have trouble, and we are also clearly told to not have fear, because HE has overcome the world.  What a revelation, He has ALREADY OVERCOME.  I am guilty of having fear and worry on many days.  I have complained way more in the last 6 months than I have in years, and I have wavered in my faith more in the last 2 months than ever before in my life.  Getting honest before the Lord and those I trust has been quite literally, life saving to me.  And this is the reason I am writing today….because it is time...To Be Honest.

Growing up in a Christian family, I was taught all of the things about God that I have written.  My life from a very early age was not easy, and I learned very soon that depending on Christ was the only way to make it through the evil things of this world.  I have way too many life experiences that should have destroyed me...there but by the Grace of God go I.  Somewhere in the cloud of this journey, amid all the scripture I was reading and the prayers I was praying, my stability began to shift, and my footing slipped.  My focus was not to overcome, but to merely survive, and I forgot that I was a victor.  I lost my spirit and my smile, my drive and my purpose.  I began living on auto-pilot and not caring about what was going on around me. 

I am not writing a pity me story today, I am writing an “I have been there” testimony to encourage anyone and everyone who has gotten caught up in the circumstances of life, to shine the light on the dark places.  The enemy is a liar and he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  His goal is to take us all out.  He will not stop raging war against the Spirit of the living God until He feels he has won that battle.  Often times, we do not even realize he is the one at work until it is too late….I am writing to tell you it is never too late.  You can never outrun the long arm of the Lord.  There is no darkness of this world that can stand in the Light of His presence.  When we accept Christ as our Savior, we have IN US, the power of the Holy Spirit, active and ready to overcome all the powers of this evil world. 
I am an overcomer.  You are an overcomer.  Christ lives IN us, and His power is strong in our weakness.  Live on purpose today.  Live intentionally.  Love on purpose today.  Love intentionally.  Your co-worker may be consumed by darkness you do not understand.  Your closest friend may be slipping away into cruise control.  Your spouse, your children, may be secretly battling something they thought they could handle, only to have found themselves more vulnerable in the war.  Share your story, be honest, take off the mask and spread hope for the world around you. 
I am by far not perfect, and I stumble as much as anyone, but I refuse to stay down, as prey for the enemy.  I declare a be Set Set a Standard of the Power of God at work in my life.  Join Me.  It is time....To Be Honest...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I Have Seen Him

Then John gave the testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.'  I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One." John 1:32-34

There are mornings when I read my Bible that I hear God's voice so clearly speaking to me.  Tuesday was one of those mornings.  My mind was spinning a bit, thinking about my day ahead, going over and over in  my mind the conversations I was about to have with some of the most precious people I have ever known, and how it would be received.  I was emotional to say the least.  As I sat down, coffee in one hand, the Bible app in the other, I began to pray that I could calm down and just think of the words that God would best have me say.  As I read through the first chapter of John, these verses struck me...And I knew that God was confirming, once again, that I was walking where He was leading.  

There are so many circumstances in our lives where we are met with a cross road, and sometimes, making the decision of which direction to take can be almost impossible.  As I walked through the last couple of weeks, I have had such mixed emotions and thoughts, often wondering if I was doing the right thing.  With all of my heart, I knew that logically, it made such great sense, but I have learned not to follow my brain and my emotions on things, but to challenge them with the litmus test of God's truth and the words He speaks.  Sometimes, I will admit, my choices have not always been the right ones, and as I have gotten older, I have realized that living for myself is a demise, and living for Christ is the reward.  All I want to do is what God has planned to further his message through me.

The decisions we have made as a family over the last 18 months has not been received well by everyone.  Some of the dearest people to us do not understand why we have chosen the path we have.  It does not make sense to them, and I understand, they love us, and they want the best for us.  What I have said since day one is that we are following God's desire for us.  We have not understood every obstacle in the course, but with everything that I am, I have trusted that God has already gone before us.  This does not mean I have had 100% perfect days, I have not, ask my friends who have listened to me countless hours, they will tell you that I have gotten weary and wanted to retreat, but I have made it through every one of those days because of God, and His mercy and grace when I want to scream that I HATE THIS! All I want to do is exemplify Christ to those we love.

The words of John, "...I did not know him,....I have seen and I testify that this is God's Chosen One." He had faith in the words he had been told, and when he saw Jesus, he told everyone who He was, the Messiah.  Can you imagine the excitement John felt when He saw the fulfillment and the confirmation that the one who He served was standing right in front of him? That is how I feel.  As I walk into this next chapter of my life, I want everyone to know that I recognize God, the one I have had faith in, the one I have trusted, the one I have clung to.  He has fulfilled His promises to us that He would never leave us or forsake us, and that His plans for us were for our good and not our harm.  He has been Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, and Jehovah Shalom, our Prince of Peace.  He has been our Strong Tower and our Hiding Place, our Comforter and our Deliverer.  He has been our Faithful guide, and our loving Father.  He has held us in His hand and kept the enemy from plucking us.  He has been all of those things and so much more.  All I want to do is bring the Glory back to Him, so that His gospel reaches beyond me.

I have seen Him and I testify that this is God's Chosen One.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

When It's Too Big

"Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give to you.  Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.  Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it." Jonah 3:2-3

I have probably said it more than 1000 times in the last year, both out loud and silently.  It comes out in many different ways, but the meaning behind it is always the same; This Is Too Big.

It is one thing to hear the voice of God, it is quite another to obey it.  Jonah heard God's voice and he completely disobeyed and went the other way.  This got him in a huge bit of trouble with the people doing life with him, and ultimately, he ended up in the belly of a whale crying out to God to deliver him.  What did God do? He heard Jonah's cry, rescued him from the belly of the whale and sent him back on that same assignment to Nineveh.  Nineveh, a city so big it took three days to go through.  Ever been in an assignment from God that felt like it was too big? 

When I look around at where God has placed me, I often feel like it's too big.  I have a go to statement for days when I feel particularly too small for the assignment, "This is a big girl's job...I'm not a big girl."  It is always on those days when I have to step out of my comfort zone and do something required of the task, something that is going to make me stretch a little farther than I feel is comfortable. I spend way too long in my little pity-party, saying things like, "God, this is not what I thought it was going to look like" or "God, can you just help me out here and make this path straight so I don't have to do so much moving?" and even, "God, this is not fair, this is not what I signed up for"....Yep, I say that sometimes.  

Over the last several weeks, God has been revealing His reply to those statements. Very clearly, in many different venues, God has spoken "You were born for this" to my spirit. And with those words, I have been reminded that I did not "sign up" for anything, I was CREATED by DESIGN to do exactly what it is He has me doing in this moment.  It may not be comfortable, but it probably is not comfortable for the first sprout of a seed to pop it's head out of the soil.  It may make me hurt just a little bit, but it does hurt when we're stretching to the place we are growing into.  It may make me cry out for help, but that is exactly what He is there for, to direct my sight back to His purpose for all of it.  Right in the middle of me expressing "THIS IS TOO BIG!!!" He answers, "YOU'RE RIGHT!!! IT'S TOO BIG FOR YOU, THAT IS WHY YOU MUST DEPEND ON ME!"  

I have not yet arrived at the place where I can say, "I've got this", and I am beginning to think that is exactly where God wants me.  Too many times I have grown so comfortable that I have gone on auto-pilot, allowing myself to navigate; I am convinced God does not ever want me to get to that place again in the calling He has on my life. 

What are you facing that shouts "THIS IS TOO BIG"? Perhaps it's time to hand the wheel back over to the one who created you...for such a time as this......

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


"Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new.  Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it?  I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19

The year 2013 has found its way to the top of the list of years I am happy to say goodbye to.  There are so many reasons, none that are worthy of putting into written words, but never the less, reasons that justify its placement there.  It has been a difficult year for us, and yet, I am completely reminded also of the beauty it has brought to my life. Whatever I write will not be expression enough of the gratitude I have to God for smiling on me and my family this year, it is a simple attempt to share the faithfulness of He who began a good work....

I have watched my children grow through adversity.  So many times, through so many things, I have wondered how they would cope, how they would rise above the seemingly unfair situations that they were forced to be in the middle of.  And time after time, I have observed them turning to their faith in Jesus.  Michaela quietly writes a memory verse on the board in her room....Josiah verbally seeks answers to "why" God allows things.  They truly do inspire me to do this right, to exemplify, even in the weak moments, that God is always actively at work around us and through us.  My kids, they have truly been the Joy of my heart, in 2013.

I have been blessed with a job that has challenged me and chiseled me.  The strategic moves of God I may never understand, but I take comfort in believing it is all for His glory.  Being involved in ministry has not looked the way I thought it would look.  In fact, it is absolutely the opposite.  In that, I have learned so much about myself, the people I work with, the lives we are chosen to touch, and the God who's sovereignty reigns in it all. Working in a 'Life Center' has brought me to my knees; It has also often made me want to put on my running shoes and flee.  My job, it has been one of the scariest and best things that has happened to me, in 2013.

I have been given the gift of True Friendship.  A quote by Paul Tripp sticks in my mind as I try to define what this has looked like... "True Friendship calls you out of the darkness of personal privacy into the loving candor of mutual concern.  It moves you from being a sealed envelope to being an open letter."  I have been the recipient of exactly this from the girls who walk beside me.  Never once have I felt like whatever was going on in my head would not be heard by them, and not just heard, but felt.  In God's very awesome way, He has given to me friendships that are so different, and yet, so exactly the same; bringing perspective filled with love in the midst of chaos.  My Best Friends, they have been one of the most valuable gifts I could ever receive, in 2013.

I have been touched by the love of my family.  Though far away and defined differently than it had been in years past, I have felt the support and care from all those who love us and call us "theirs".  They may not clearly understand why we have such crazy faith in God, they may not always agree with how we may be doing certain things, but that has not stopped them from being there for us, helping us, praying for us, and loving us.  My Ohio family, they have demonstrated their love, in 2013.

And so, with so much Thankfulness and Praise to God for His provision, graciousness, and love, I say goodbye to 2013.  Goodbye to the struggle, goodbye to the scary, goodbye to the uncertainty.  And I say Hello to 2014.  Hello to the struggle, hello to the scary, hello to the uncertainty....because in it, lies the Greatest Gifts God could ever give...Roadways in the wilderness and Springs in the desert....

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Here I am. Send Me.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am.  Send me." Isaiah 6:8

I grew up in a little country Baptist church.  From the time I was a very little girl, I sang, and in the 4th grade, I had my first solo.  I still remember that song, every single word; 

" Here am I Lord, send me.  Here am I Lord, send me. 
 I will serve you faithfully, Here am I Lord, send me.

 Lord I give my life to you, take control each day, 
I will follow anywhere, near or far away.  

Here am I Lord, send me.  Here am I Lord, send me.  
I will serve you faithfully, Here am I Lord, send me.  

Lord I want your perfect will, be my faithful guide, 
I will never be afraid, you are close  beside.  

Here am I Lord, send me.  Here am I Lord, send me.  
I will serve you faithfully, Here am I Lord, send me.  

Let me see my mission field, all around each day.  
Fill my heart with Jesus' love.  Use me Lord, I pray.  

Here am I Lord, send me.  Here am I Lord, send me.  
I will serve you faithfully, Here am I Lord, send me.  
Here am I Lord, send me.  Here am I Lord, send me.  
I will serve you faithfully, Here am I Lord, send me."

There is always a song in my head..but the song began in my heart.  God used music to imprint His will on my life; the words above are the first to ever touch so deep that they became a part of me.  And tonight, I am not just reminded of this song, but of the faithfulness of God.  

I did not fully understand at 10 years old how God would craft the calling He had destined for me...but today, I see it full well.  I am ever willing to do my part to bring Him glory by walking in that plan He had for me...long before I ever noticed His light in the very dark places.   In the words of my dear friend, "If I went through it all just to help one, it was worth it." 

I will follow anywhere, near or far away.
I will never be afraid, you are close beside.
Fill my heart with Jesus' love. Use me Lord, I pray.
Here am I Lord, send me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Sound

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

It was too dark to see it, but I could hear it.  Its rhythm was calming, its presence called for quiet.  As I closed my eyes, I knew God was saying it once again, and this time, I was listening.  I awoke many times, but never without gently being lulled backed to sleep by the sound.  The waves crashed and receded, and as they did, I heard Him speak...peace.

I wrestled with the sound of peace because peace has no sound.  Within the chaos of life, there seemed no place for silence, no room for nothing.  Circumstances built chaos, and chaos produced confusion.  In the midst of confusion, finding my footing seemed the best way to overcome, and victory always seemed to come quicker with a loud battle cry. The warrior I had become was not of kindness and gentleness, but of quick tongue and brassy edges.  And yet....He was calling me to peace....

In John 14, Jesus is comforting his disciples after telling them of his immanent death; in verse 27 he says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid."  This is the kind of peace that God wants us to have.  In the face of uncertain circumstances, He offers to us something the world cannot give.  The world can give us chaos, confusion and instability, but it cannot give to us the peace that transcends our own understanding...but Jesus can.  

The sound of the Ocean became something more to me... it has been written on my heart in a new way, straight from Heaven.  It's view is magical, it's world a mystery, and it's's sound is peace.  When I wrestle with falling back to brassy, may I remember the music of the waves dancing to a rhythm written by God...calling me back to being still....calling me back to peace.