Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tall Mocha With Whip

Oh how I love a good, strong cup of coffee with just the right amount of my "flavor of the month" creamer. Right now it's Cafe Mocha, with just a hint of chocolate but nothing that overpowers the strong brew of my as-close-to-Brazilian grinds that I can find in the states.

If I'm ordering a specialty espresso, by default it's usually a Tall Mocha with Whip, but it really depends on my mood and the season. I am usually one of the first to seek out Pumpkin Spice as soon as the weather turns cool in fall. I can't wait to get my hands on Peppermint Mocha as I am decking the halls. As soon as the chill of winter creeps in, I usually enjoy the combination of rich and sweet with White Chocolate Raspberry. With the blooms of spring I turn to an iced Caramel Macchiatto and with the heat of summer I go  Mocha Frap almost every time.

This morning I poured my usual cup of coffee and started my morning routine. Midway through getting ready, I got distracted by an email. I did a few other things that were out of my normal routine and then went back to my mug. A half an hour after being poured, I expected to take a sip of my once-steaming coffee only to be nearly shocked that it was now cool. As a singer, I've grown accustomed to drinking room temperature water but lukewarm coffee - it's nearly blasphemy!

You know where we're going....

So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

I didn't spit the coffee out but I did give an audible "blah" at my disgust of what I had expected to still be hot.

As with coffee, you've got to be one extreme or the other - either some version of frozen or iced, or steaming hot. We're called to be on fire for the Lord. To let our passion burn for God and our compassion spread like wildfire for people to know Him.

We are to be the hot jolt of java that wakes a soul up in the morning! The aroma should be as strong as when you pass by a coffee shop and the mere smell beckons you to come in. Imagine the disappointment if people take in a sip of lukewarm religion when they're expecting steaming passion for the Lord!

This isn't about heating up your relationship with the Lord in the microwave. No, that simply won't do. This is about pouring your supply of Him from the just-brewed pot into your life so that the overflow of His presence is like the steam that rises from a freshly poured cup.

Have you filled your cup this morning? I'm sipping in His goodness even as I type. Bible opened, Oswald Chambers close beside, and of course a steaming cup of dark roast with a hint of cafe mocha creamer. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Match.com

"It's a match made in heaven." No, I'm not talking about a dating service...(well, I could be, but that's not the point of this post)...

What I'm talking about is the most unlikely of friends, brought together by none other than the Sovereign Lord Himself. We simply could not have done this by our own hands. There is nothing on this planet that would have allowed our paths to cross had it not been for God's providential will.

In fact, knowing what I know now, I understand why the enemy made an effort to prevent our friendship from forming. It must make him absolutely disgusted to think how God has been glorified and each other's spirits encouraged in the Lord because of our friendship. Oh foolish fallen enemy of darkness, you can wreak havoc on life but when will you learn that you don't get the victory?? Praise the Lord!

I'm to the point in my life where a lot of friends or little-known acquaintances aren't what I seek. This is why I purged my Facebook friends of more than 500 people I barely knew. What I have come to value are the lasting relationships that provide and require a mutual investment. That's exactly the kind of friendship this has become.

We did the "dance." It was awkward at first. Stumbling over my own two feet, nervous I might step on her toes. We both had to figure each other out. Boundaries. Expectations. Fear. Trust.  We weren't yet aware of God's active presence in the circumstances that originally intersected our paths. Most of this relationship dance comes in step with each one's insecurities. The more layers peeled back, the more insecurities revealed. And one of the areas that quickly connected us was recognizing so many similarities. Despite one shared experience that initially brought us together, the testimonies of our lives are extremely different. But what we had in common were the feelings, responses, and even personalities that seemed to almost mirror each other.

We laid down our masks, revealed our insecurities, let our vulnerabilities become areas we were willing to trust each other with, and provided an opportunity for God to use each of us so that we could experience more of Him. We were able to find the rhythm and learn the steps. At times she leads the outpouring of encouragement and blessing. Other times it's my turn to take the lead as her support and prayer partner. What has resulted are "God Moments" where we are truly in sync. (You may have already read about the Wake Up Call we both received.)

For this season of life, God has directed our paths so that our steps are harmoniously matched...and I am thankful.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, sister, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:4-7

As I've recently learned, the more I'm willing to be real and share my experiences, the more people seemingly relate. It can be scary when the mask comes off. What if they don't like me? What if they reject me? What if I'm not accepted? What if the "real me" scares people away? Oh yes, it's a risk...but the reward is so worth it! The return is authentic friendship. Real encouragement where you need it. Genuine prayer over specific requests. As I learn to be this type of friend, I am challenged to seek the Lord and draw strength and encouragement from Him so that it may overflow to these relationships in my life.

Do you have this kind of relationship? Someone you can be absolutely real with? Someone who lets you take off the mask and loves and accepts you no matter what? Someone you can share your deepest darkest secrets and vulnerabilities with and doesn't cast judgement or stones? At the same time, someone who can recognize areas of weakness or sin and speak the truth in love?

We were made for companionship. We were made to share life. For exactly the purpose of what Philemon says - to grant one another joy and encouragement through our relationships. To refresh each other's hearts as we walk through life together. To deepen our understanding of and relationship with the Lord.

Seek this in your life and seek to be this as well.

If you have this person(s) in your life, thank the Lord! If not, make your request known to Him and be willing to give and receive this kind of relationship that may just be a match made in heaven (or the internet - sorry, I couldn't resist)!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I.D. Please

"Faithfulness, none can deny; through the storm and through the fire..."

We sang those words to the song "Stronger" on Sunday and the minute my eyes caught the word 'fire' on the screen, something inside me stirred. I was taken back to the memory of a blazing fire. I recalled walking through the ash, searching for salvageable belongings. I took it in context - He is faithful even through the fire. Yes, certainly I can attest to that being true. That phrase is something I can identify with because I have lived that experience.

The minute someone says the word "adoption" or "infertility" I can immediately recall my very own real and personal experience. My story may be different than another's but I can relate on some level because I've lived through it.

What word do you identify with? Cancer. Divorce. Abuse. Depression. Addiction. Death...  You may simply hear the word and it triggers a response. It evokes emotion. It brings up memories. You've lived it. You know...

If you have given your life to Christ, then the mention of His name should also create the same identification. Speak the name "Jesus" and know you are His. Hear about His suffering and know He can identify with you. Recall His death and know you are forgiven. Rejoice in His resurrection and know you have the promise of eternal life with Him!

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... Phil. 3:10

Identifying with His sufferings may be difficult for you. Maybe your word isn't packaged with what you feel to be the faithfulness of God. It may be a struggle for you to truly identify your experience with God's infinitely good plan. You may be presently living the situation right now - daily walking through the trial you've been given and not yet knowing how it will all turn out.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

Experiences associated with your life are opportunities to receive His mercy and grace in your time of need. The uncertainty of His plan may have left you unsure of the future. But you can identify with Him because He's already identified with you and what you're facing. Your I.D. says "Christ's." Bought. Redeemed. Forgiven. His.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

May Baby

I just saw the movie "October Baby." A girl finds out she's adopted and goes on a journey to find out who she is. It's a story of forgiveness. It's a story of life. It's a story of broken dreams and shattered realities turned into beautiful miracles of God's abundant love and grace. I don't want to blow it, but at the end she turns to her dad and says "Thank you for wanting me."

Before I held Elijah in my arms, I began to pray for him. All I knew was a little 4 lb 11 oz baby boy had entered the world prematurely on May 9, 2008, and his birthmother had not only chosen life, she had chosen adoption. She named him Riley and soon we'd travel to Ohio where she would place him in our arms. She may have made some poor choices before that point, but the only choice that mattered at that moment was this 15 year old birthmother was going to make me a mother.

On May 31, 2008, at 3 weeks old and just over 5 lbs, Elijah Riley became a forever part of our hearts and our family. He is my May baby.

Elijah will always know he's adopted. It's been infiltrated into his vocabulary since he was an infant. But I'm preparing for the day when he'll ask questions. Even now, news of his birthmother having another baby that she's now parenting and Elijah having a 'half-sister' brings up questions of my own. I don't know how I'll answer things like why she placed him for adoption but parented her daughter. I don't know what I'll say when he asks about his birthfather, whom we know nothing about. I come up short responding to doctors who ask about the genetic history of illnesses and diseases and allergies. So the best I can do is share this with him the day he asks...

You need to hear your Creator's words: 

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of hte earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

I'm preparing myself even now for what I will say to you - how I will explain. All I know to say is this:

Elijah, He knit you together in Sara's womb.
He created you to be a masterpiece - but also a miracle.
When He formed you, He knew full well you were being created to bless our family - 
to bless lives with the story of His own faithfulness.
We praise Him because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
His works ARE wonderful - and YOU, Elijah Riley, are a wondeful miraculous work He has made.
You were not hidden from Him even as He formed you - 
your tiny hands and feet, your sweet little mouth and little button nose.
Each and every part of you He fashioned together knowing full-well, He would place your in our lives.
His eyes saw your unformed body as He created His masterpiece.
He knew - before you even took your first breath - the plan He had for each and every day of your life.
He knew that just 22 days after you entered this world, you would be placed in our arms.
You, my son, were not created by us but for us - and for Him...for His glory.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Wake Up Call

I guess a week of late nights and sleeplessness had caught up to me because I was falling asleep as I read and it was just after 10 p.m. I figured if sleep was coming easily I wouldn't fight it.

And then it happened. From a deep and dreamless slumber, my eyes flew open. There was no sound. No alarm. Nothing startled me. But I was wide awake. I checked the time: 2:17 a.m.

I laid still for a few minutes and very quickly realized I wasn't just awake - I was UP. Fully aware, alert, not feeling a bit tired. I recalled the words of a wise and godly woman who often experienced wide-awake moments in the middle of the night; "I pray. I assume if I am awake, then it is my call to pray."

"Okay, Lord. I'm up. Let's chat."

"I'm right here," He answered.

"God, I have two things on my mind. To pray for a very specific person and a very specific situation."

(Silence.)

"Lord, is everything okay?"

He didn't answer. Why was He silent? Was this one of those wake up calls where you're called to pray because something is happening?

In a fleeting moment, I grabbed my phone and sent a text message to the specific person I felt lead to pray for: "I just woke up. I don't know what's going on but I am praying. I hope you're ok."

It was 2:20 a.m. Why on earth had I sent a text at 2:20 in the morning?!

"Lord, I really do hope everything is okay. I'm praying for healing. For strength. For wisdom. For peace. I pray Your presence is felt in such an overwhelming way. I ask for You to do a supernatural work - God, I'm praying for a miracle! I know You are Jehovah Rapha..."

Buzzzzzz. The vibration of my phone interrupted my prayer. It was a response to my text.

"Weird. I am ok but just woke up as well. Praying for everything."

A sigh of relief to know everything was okay, followed by an audible "Wow!" at my realization that God was so present and involved. I was in awe at the wake up call we'd both received. The distance separating us and the variance in our circumstances didn't matter. This was a call to pray.

I don't know how the prayers went up from my friend. I don't know what she was praying for exactly or what she said to God. I just knew we were both praying and on my end I was lifting her up very specifically about her circumstance and what she's facing.

And then I called to mind the other situation still heavy on my heart.

"Lord, I'm not even sure how to pray for this one..."

This time He answered. "I know, child. But I want you to bring it to me."

And so I left it there. "Lord, this is beyond me. I give it to You."

This 2 a.m. wake up call wasn't a rude awakening but rather an eye opening opportunity for me to experience His presence.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Collision

There's an estimated 18" between your brain and your heart. Maybe the longest distance you have to travel for your worlds to collide. This is the place where what you know intersects with what you feel. When these two work harmoniously together, logic and emotion help provide the framework for beliefs. When this drives actions, a healthy balance exists in everything from daily decision making to life-changing processes.

Point blank: Does your theology match your reality? Has your logic intersected your feeling?

Our theology says we are more than conquerers...but do we live as conquerers?

Are we overcoming sin, addiction, pain, struggles, trials?

Do we live in victory and triumph, or surrender and defeat?

It doesn't seem like a long way to go, but I can assure you this is a nearly neverending journey for me. I recently shared portions of the story of Joseph. I'd like to refer back to him but a different part of the story. Go with me to Genesis 41:34-37:

"...during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain...This food should be held in reserve...to be used during the seven years of famine..."

Joseph knew the famine was coming. But they would first have 7 years of plenty. He had a plan to store up all they could to last throughout the dry years.

You may be wondering how I'm going to tie all these jumbled thoughts together. Here we go. Hold onto your hats. It may be a bumpy ride...

I've experienced the "plenty." I've stored up reservoirs of God's goodness from sweet times with the Lord and showers of blessings from His hands. These are the times and places where everything works simultaneously together connecting what I believe and how I feel so that my actions and responses are a direct reflection of my faith.

I've also experienced the desert when I came up so dry I had no tears to cry and so empty there were no words to pray.
Becoming a conquerer and living victoriously does not mean perfection, but these were the times when there was nothing at all to draw from.

Then it hits me. BAM! My worlds collide.

When I'm empty and dry, when I'm lost and confused, when I have nothing to pray and no source of strength - I must tap into the storehouses of my soul where I've put away the plenty. These are the reservoirs of my heart when I experienced faith in action. These are the harvests when I've reaped the bounty of God-breathed scripture speaking directly to me. These are the fruit of my labor when I've witnessed answers to prayer.

If I draw from the times of plenty, even in my times of famine, I am still drawing upon Him as my Source. I told you this is still a neverending journey for me. I want to live AND walk by faith. I need my heart and my head to agree and work together. If you hear a collision, praise God! It just means my theology and reality are finally in agreement. Whether we're walking in famine or feast, we can always experience times of plenty You just have to be ready for the collision.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Get to God

Oh how perfect! It's just so beautiful when He does this. To reveal Himself in such real ways - I can hardly contain the joy in my spirit! Of course I have to share this...

I no sooner had my argument with the Lord about where we were going when He gave me such clear direction.

"Think of the last thing you prayed about - were you devoted to your desire or to God? Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God?" - Oswald Chambers, March 20

That's it! That's the answer I seek. He told me to keep going. I don't know where the journey is leading...I just know I am on this path to get to Him.

If I am waiting for God to reveal His will to me before I move then I will never take the next step. Where I'm headed is not where I want to go. What I'm doing is not what I hope to accomplish. My aim and mission is to get to God.

As I ran, I sensed His presence and I knew He was with me. But now I am challenged to seek intimacy with my Savior.

"This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will." - Chambers

ZING! When these lessons come, they hit square between the eyes. (He knows me too well - I've always been hard-headed!)

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

I don't pray to ask Him for things I want. I pray to get to know Him better. I don't seek Him for what He can give me. I seek Him to become like Him. I delight in Him and I desire Him. I desire Him which leads me to get to God.

I still don't have a roadmap. I don't know the final destination. God hasn't revealed His great and mighty plan to me. But He has called me to an intimate walk with Him so that even though the way may be hidden, He is not.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Keep Going

I just ran a mile in the pitch black. The sounds of the night were keeping in time with my feet pounding the pavement. I could feel my heart racing to keep up with the pace.

I thought the hill would nearly kill me. I could hear myself wheezing (thanks to this case of asthma I've developed since the fire and pneumonia). "Keep going. Keep going. Don't stop." I literally cheered myself on. I'm glad I listened.

I was all alone with my thoughts as I took each stride. "God, what do I do? Speak to me. Let me hear Your voice. Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see. Help me."

It wasn't the answer I was looking for but I shouldn't have been surprised.

"Keep going."

"Wait. Come again? I thought You said keep going."

His reply was simple. "I did."

Perplexed I thought I might remind Him, "But Lord, I'm not sure where I'm going. I..."

"Keep going," He interrupted.

I knew I needed to argue my case. Certainly we hadn't come all this way and gone through all this mess for me to get lost now.

"But God I know what we've gone through has helped get me to this point and I want to use it for Your glory...but I don't want to mess up again. I don't want to go the wrong way."

"Child, keep going."

Starting to get frustrated that He wasn't really listening I thought one more attempt might help.

"Lord, am I to waste the pain? Didn't you say you wanted to bring me through this and mold me so you could use me for your plan? I can't be used if I don't know the plan," I pleaded.

"I promised to never leave you or forsake you. Do you trust me?"

I could hardly believe He'd ask such a question. Surely He knew my answer.

"God you see my heart. You know I do."

"Then trust me...and keep going."

Humph.

This is not how I expected our time together to go.

I hadn't stopped running; I had been so busy pleading my case before God I hadn't noticed I went another mile. My pace had slowed some and I was now aware of a cramp that had developed in my side. Somehow I hadn't realized that during the earlier conversation. I couldn't stop now. I had to keep going to finish my second lap.

I stopped my run, and my arguing, and became keenly aware of His presence surrounding me. I slowed down to  enjoy the coolness of the night, letting my heartbeat get back to normal and catching my breath. Thunder was rolling in the distance. A flash of lightning tried to break through the mostly cloudy sky. And one very determined cricket was chirping his own symphony.

"Okay, Lord, I'll keep going. But Your presence must go with me...or how will they know?"

"My presence will go with you and I will give you rest."

I was ready to rest. I could barely breathe at this point. I was done with my run. Good thing the mile is a complete circle. All I have to do is keep making left turns and I find my way home. I know the journey ahead won't provide such clear directions, but rest assured I will keep going.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rise And Shine

Confession: I'm a snoozer. I purposefully set my alarm 15-20 minutes ahead so I can continue to hit snooze. I drift off for just 5 more minutes...almost to the point of slipping back into a deep sleep...and then...BEEP BEEP BEEP...A rude awakening all over again.

It's Monday, and a rainy day at that. I've been sick all weekend, zapped of most of my strength and energy, and got very little accomplished. My medicine makes me wired at night and I can't seem to sleep. Needless to say, I wasn't prepared to rise and shine as the alarm so abruptly told me it was time to get up. (Not to mention, daylight savings time now means it's still dark when I open my eyes.) Circumstances today didn't greet me with a welcome wake up either. If ever there was a day to pull the covers over my head and ignore the beckoning of my alarm and a day full of responsibilities...it was today.

"Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory...Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory..."

As a slumbering teen my mom would come into my room to wake me up for school usually singing some loud and "annoying" version of the above tune.

Despite my inclination to delay my wake-up call, despite my circumstances, despite my lack of strength, despite the weariness I feel, I want to rise and shine and sing a new song to Him.

"Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun."
Psalm 37:5-6

I want to commit my way to Him, even when I don't know what the day may hold. I'm praying for His strength and righteousness to be in me so whatever I face and whoever I encounter may see Him shining through me. (Trust me, today would require a lot of effort for me to shine on my own! Extra concealer and anti-frizz for the hair are a MUST!)

Today is a call to rise - rise above my circumstances. Rise above how I feel. Rise beyond what I in my own strength am capable of doing.

Today is a call to shine - shine like the dawn. Shine with His love showing through me. Shine as His chosen one, whom He has called according to His purpose.

And in all things, it's a call to give Him the glory.

Maybe you don't feel like it, but it's time to rise and shine. Let's sing together..."Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory...Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory..."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Your Lucky Day

Luck. It's defined as "the force that operates for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities."

Let's pay particular attention to the word "force." What "force" is bringing good or bad into your life? 

It's not a random luck of the draw. For a person with faith in Christ, God's Sovereignty gives Him divine power over our lives and the circumstances and happenings we encounter. 

So then, you may ask, why do you (or someone you know) seem to be facing daunting trials or unexplainable events that feel like a lot of bad luck? Or, maybe you (or someone you know) seem to encounter blessing after undeserved blessing. 

It's not necessarily your lucky day. Or your unlucky day. God isn't raining on your parade and your search for a leprechaun with a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow may turn up empty. 

If you're in the midst of a trial - or a series of them - you can find comfort knowing He's holding you as you weather the storm. Once the sun starts to break through the clouds, you may find your rainbow - the glorious promise that He will never let the storm consume you. The reminder that He is faithful despite what you may be facing.

The "force" that drives YOU is His holy spirit in you. Even when you face storms and trials. It is His strength in your weakness and His peace in your uncertainty.

The "force" that controls the good and bad in your life is ultimately a part of the plan He has for you. 

So whether or not you're wearing your green today (rest assured I have my green striped shirt, emerald earrings and, of course, complimentary smokey green eyeshadow!) I pray today you'll not have just a lucky or unlucky day. Rather my prayer is that you'll get to know the Sovereign and Supernatural force of God's presence in your life, no matter what you face! Just remember...the rainbow comes after the storm!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Grace for the Course

Twists and turns are a part of life. Trials and obstacles are par for the course. We're human so these circumstances are always accompanied by feelings ranging from hurt and confusion, to disappointment and frustration, even anger and bitterness. One of my very first blogs was about what to do with these emotions that result from the disappointments we face. (Click here to read "Where Do You Pitch Your Tent?") And while we're still processing the feelings, we're also left with the very real issue of having to take the next step on an unknown course.

"I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course." Jeremiah 10:23

Even today I'm reminded how quickly and drastically our best laid plans for the course can come to a screeching halt. One phone call, one text message, one email, one diagnosis, one person, one decision...in one life-changing moment, everything can change. The roadblocks and detours are inevitable. This may cause a temporary rest stop. It may result in a complete change of direction. This isn't just a quick reprogramming of the GPS. This is a course-altering change and you've not been given the final destination.

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

We can pray for His strength in our weakness, but have you ever prayed for an outpouring of His grace in your heart? We must first understand what this "grace" is; literally translated "the divine influence upon the heart." His abounding grace to you is an act of graciousness or gifting. And from this definition we can understand that even when circumstances AROUND us may be less than ideal, the condition of the heart INSIDE can be abounding in grace because of what He gives. This, then, is how we can have all that we need, in all things, at all times. Oh, someone needs to shout with me "Yes, Lord, Your grace in me"!

His grace is abounding in you even now - even amidst the pain, anger, frustration, confusion & hurt. It may seem a contradiction to experience such feelings but have His grace divinely influencing your heart. He was human once, too, so He knows the feelings and frustrations because he felt them too. All the more, He knows what you need to face "all things at all times." Even this. Even pain. Even sickness. Even trials. Even family. Even...whatever else it is.

The plan you have made for your life isn't necessarily a bad plan. He may not be saying that direction is wrong. He's not preventing you from success or a glorious outcome. On the contrary, He's sending you through a process of refinement where you can receive His grace so that whatever you do, you will abound, excel and exceed. In this, whether pain or trial, disappointment or diagnosis, you will have all that you need to get back on course. You may be headed in a new direction, maybe with different passengers on board, or maybe not even in the driver's seat (that's a scary thought for this control freak!). But you WILL have grace divinely influencing your heart and directing your course, no matter what roadblocks or detours lie ahead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breaking the Silence: Not Guilty

It's the story of the "sinful woman" in Luke 7.

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (vs. 38)

I heard a pastor say of her story, "She loved much because she was forgiven much." With all my heart, I understand this.

In The Living Cross last year, I depicted the woman who was nearly stoned to death for her crime, save for Jesus asking those without sin to cast the first stone. This role wasn't just a character I played. It was a public display of the salvation and mercy I had personally received. (You can read more of my story with my post entitled The Scarlet Letter.)

As I stood below the cross that held the character representing my lifeless Savior, I sang the words:

 
 
Oh truly, I have contributed more than my share of sin to put on Christ's shoulders the day He carried His cross to Calvary. And as He breathed His last breath, as the veil was torn and creation mourned, a verdict of "Not Guilty" was issued for the debt I owed. It is beyond my comprehension.
 
As this year's Living Cross approaches, I'm preparing to sing the finale that represents Christ resurrected and ascended into heaven. The words I'll sing are truly my declaration to the mercy and grace He's shown me:
 
 
Convicted of sin. Sentenced to die. Redeemed by His life. Declared not guilty.
 
The tears are welling up as I type. THIS is my life. THIS is my testimony. THIS is who I am - who He says I am. Oh praise You, precious Savior. Yes, I will give You all the praise. I know I will still fail You. I know I will stumble. I know I will not always make the right decision. But I pray I will always bear the mark of the price You paid. My life has been bought with Your blood and You alone are worthy of my praise! I sing a song of deliverance to You, my great deliverer. I sing about Your power and dominion, King of my life. I sing to give you the honor and praise, my Lord and my God.
 
I love much because I've been forgiven much. I sing these words with meaning because I've experienced that court hearing. I stood before the Judge, waiting for my sentence. I waited for my fate to be sealed. And I, yes a wretched sinner saved by grace, was given the verdict "Not Guilty."

My story doesn't end there because one day I will stand (or maybe bow in reverance) and sing with the saints, "All praise unto the Lamb."
 
 
(I invite you to join us for "The Living Cross."  Tickets can be purchased for $5/each for any one of the 8 presentations of this powerful story of the life of Christ.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spilled Lemonade

My life happens as a running monologue in my head. It's not that I'm expecting anyone to read my random thoughts. But I see life in the stories that can be written. This is one of those such stories.

I came home from a quick trip to the store to find the neighborhood kids had set up a lemonade stand. E was more than eager to cross the street and pay a quarter for a cup of pink lemonade. But walking wouldn't suffice. No, he was going to ride his scooter over. Okay. Fine by me.

He proudly buzzed across the street (looking both ways and with mom by his side, of course) and we purchased our .25 cup of lemonade. But instead of buzzing back home with our cup, he decided to take off in the other direction.

I kindly asked him to obey. Direct disobedience. I sternly asked. Nothing. I was nearly yelling. The louder and firmer I got, the faster he scooted in the wrong direction. Yes, I quickly realized this would require a chase. I had my wallet in hand and a bag of groceries I wasn't smart enough to leave behind. Now that I've caught up to my defiant preschooler, he was more than willing to throw a full-blown tantrum in the middle of the neighbor's driveway. Oh how I prayed no adults were watching but in our neighborhood on a 60 degree day I knew the likelihood of that was slim.

Picture it. I've got my wallet under my arm, the random bag of groceries on my arm, and the scooter in my hand. Under the other arm is my kicking and screaming son. I don't know exactly where or how I was balancing the cup of lemonade but somehow that was part of my loot that I had to carry too. And now I must make the trek back across the street without losing my cool - and not dropping anything - all the while planning the pure punishment that would ensue upon entering the house.

We made it home. Tears were falling. Groceries were flying. And then it happened. In all the chaos, the red plastic cup that once held the contents of .25cent pink lemonade was now all over the counter, dripping down the cabinets and puddling on the floor. Oh yes, I now had spilled lemonade.

I don't need to repeat the lesson we've all heard about turning lemons into lemonade...but what happens when that lemonade gets spilled?! Sure, we can all seek to find the good in the "stuff" we're handed but what do you do when even your positive outlook gets a negative charge?

This was the place I found myself in. Frustrated because of my son's disobedience, angry at myself for nearly losing my cool, on my hands and knees cleaning up what I'd intended to be a kind neighborly gesture to give a kid a quarter for her entrepreneurial efforts. How did my good intentions turn into a sopping mess?

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21

You're far more intelligent than needing me to spell out the lesson here. Even the best laid plans can fall apart. Sometimes we take lemons and make lemonade...only to spill it everywhere, left with an even bigger mess to clean up.

I may be on my hands and knees cleaning up the mess, but I'm not going to cry over spilled lemonade. And you know what? It's not going to stop me from making more lemonade in the future (or continuing to do my neighborly duty and purchasing a cup). I just hope next time I'm able to drink it up rather than having to clean it up!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catch Me If You Can

The move is 10 years old but eerily similar to what I've seen play out in real life. It's the story of a professional con who bounces from town to town, lying, stealing, cheating, and deceiving. His identity changes with each city. His profession is becoming whatever he needs to be to survive. He is "all things to all people."

Even the power of falling in love isn't strong enough to drive him to change. He tries to stop, but the conditions and even his family continue to enable his life of lies. His identity is so skewed by the false world he's created, he has no idea who he is. And so he runs. He flees. He tries to escape the messes he's made.

We may not have constructed such an extreme world of deception as the character in this movie (although more than once in my life I've seen people go to extensive lengths to lie and hide from the false identities they've created), but there may be circumstances or mistakes we want to run and hide from.


"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?" Psalm 139:7

Nowhere. There's nowhere you can run; nowhere you can hide. You cannot flee from your Creator. He hemmed you inside and out and He planned every day of your life before you even took your first breath.

Whatever it is you're running from, you don't have to fear being caught.

Run if you must; but run straight into the embrace of a loving Father ready to rescue you from whatever trouble you face.

Flee if you must; but flee the sin that so easily entangles and escape the deception that seeks to entrap you.

Fall if you must; but fall hard into the arms of your Savior who promises to catch you. 

Tempt Him if you dare; but only with the plea from a heart begging Him, "Catch me if You can." 

Be ready...He will.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Betrayal

We hurt people. We fail. We make choices that ultimately affect the lives of others. Sometimes we are oblivious of the impact on another's life. Other times we're fully aware of the damage we've done, sometimes even intentionally.

The scarring from the wounds of betrayal are deep, permanent and life-changing.

The Mask of Betrayal - Fantasy versus Reality

"When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe - the richly ornamented robe he was wearing - and they took him and threw him into the cistern." Genesis 37:23-24

You know the story. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, stripped of his identity and sold into slavery.

What I believe may be one of the most painful encounters with betrayal is the head on collision of fantasy and reality. This is when what you thought to be true is exposed, only to reveal an alternate reality. This discovery is so contrary to what you perceived - or maybe even the lies you were told - that convincing yourself to believe this new idea of "reality" becomes a battle between truth and perception - or dare I say, deception.

The mask of betrayal comes off. You're face to face with a familiar person that you now recognize as a complete stranger. The pain cuts to the core at the harsh reality of trying to convince yourself they're not who they say they are - or who you believed and trusted them to be.

Attached to this false reality are deep wounds of hurt and anger because of what you were lead to believe. Making sense of the situation seems nearly impossible because, after all, how could you possibly know what or who to trust after such deception?

The Power of Betrayal - A Vicious Cycle
I referenced the "intentional" hurt that can be inflicted by someone who knows the power they hold over you. There is an irony that occurs when we look to someone else to desperately get what we need.  We put them in the power seat, giving them control over us.

When someone figures out what we are expecting from them and then willingly chooses to withhold it, our neediness becomes their fuel. The more we need, the more we seek, the more we seek, the more they withhold, the more they withhold, the more we crave... The cycle is so toxic to our relationships, not to mention comlpetely destructive to our identity.

The codependency is so unhealthy that it can leave a path of destruction that may never be fully restored.

The Effects of Betrayal - Long After They're Gone
"Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man...The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more." Genesis 42:13

While Joseph was a slave, wrongfully accused, rotting in jail, forgotten and abandoned, then ultimately elevated and honored, his family had gone on without him. Yet all the while, he grieved the life and family he once knew. His father mourned, but the family went on. I'm sure there were moments of guilt, thoughts of remorse and maybe they even wondered whatever happened to Joseph... But as they so bluntly stated, his presence and place in their lives was "no more."

With intentional disdain they rid themselves of their brother. He was gone from their lives, maybe without a second thought, but now their oblivion to his life and circumstances was all the more reason Joseph was betrayed.

If you've experienced the pain of betrayal, you understand the lasting effects long after the person is gone. You're left picking up the pieces they shattered while they seemingly have moved on with no hint of remorse or shame for the havoc they've caused. The intentional act of betrayal creates an even deeper wound while you desparately try to rebuild. No longer do you seek what you need because it's no longer an option.

The Aftermath of Betrayal - A Victim's Response

"When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground." Genesis 43:26

No doubt, the brothers' act of worship could have given Joseph the sense of satisfaction he needed to repay the pain of betrayal he felt. But he wasn't interested in payment or revenge. Instead he offered reunion and reconciliation. 

"After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food." Genesis 43:31

The pain is real and will take a long time to recover from. The act of trusting again may be even more difficult. But there is freedom in realizing that you don't seek or require what others can give you. Instead of giving someone else this power and position over you, you get everything you need from God. In turn, you are empowered to give.This becomes your motivation instead of what you seek to gain. When we look to Him for what we need emotionally, we can experience victory walking away from someone knowing we don't need anything from them.

The Lesson of Betrayal - Finding Healing

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20

Are you the victim of betrayal? You can rest assured long after the culprit has disappeared and moved on, when you've become nothing more than a distant memory, if you've been wiped out and remain "no more," when the reality you once knew becomes your worst nightmare, when your world has been shattered by the depth of deception, God can turn the deep wound of betrayal into an altered plan that He will use for your good and His glory.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Perfect Concern

What are you facing today?

A spiritual problem? An emotional concern? A physical ailment? A wounded heart? A broken relationship? An uncertain future? An unconfessed sin? The bondage of addiction?

It may be your own insecurity. A fear of failure. Maybe you're a victim to the result of someone else's choices. It could be a diagnosis that has rocked your world. It might be a decision that has changed everything. You may not be sure how you're going to face the day and the concern that is staring you square in the eyes... So today let's take His Words to Him in prayer:

"Thank You, God, that You will bring to perfection everything that concerns me." (Psalm 138:8a, Praying God's Word)

You aren't going through anything that God Himself doesn't want to and can't heal, fix, restore and bring to perfection.

Other versions say it like this:

The LORD will work out his plans for my life - NIV
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me - English Standard
The LORD will do everything for me - God's Word Translation

Oh someone needs to know He's going to do everything for you! Claim His word and this promise for your life!

And here's the rest of this verse:

"Your love, O LORD, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands." (Psalm 138:8b)

Things may not be resolved yet. It may take time to heal and recover. You may be forced to "walk through" this. Your world may be falling a part and that may be a part of His plan. Even as He's working things out to fulfill His purpose for your life, He's holding you together during this process. You can trust Him to bring to perfection whatever it is that concerns you, and you can rest in His enduring embrace, the hands that created you, while you wait!

Hold Me Together - Royal Tailor
 
Can You hold me together?
Can Your love reach down this far?
Can You hold me together?
'Cause without You holding my heart
I'm fallin' apart

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Oil of Joy

Last night I was giddy to the point of out loud laughter at a Facebook post on a friend's wall that turned into a heart-felt, fun-filled "conversation" between three of us who were just enjoying friendship. These are people who God has just recently brought into my life on a deeper level. Not that I didn't know them before, but through recent events and opportunities I've come to truly know them and, more importantly, call them friends. These are people who say "I'm praying for you" and I know and FEEL the genuineness in that sentiment.

As we bantered back and forth with our silly Facebook comments, having fun and teasing one another, a few posts were related to joy. At one point, one was even "singing" the Joy, Joy, Joy down in her heart with her post. It made me realize that through these friendships I am experiencing the tangible joy of the Lord.

"You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." Psalm 45:7

It literally translates as being covered or consumed with joy and gladness.

Even as this banter was taking place, I was reminded of a chat I'd had earlier in the day that was quite the opposite. A dear soul sat and shared the harsh reality of always being a friend but not having a friend. Oh, how I know this feeling. Yet another conversation and someone shared "I'm just lonely." I know that feeling, too.

Knowing what I know now I can confidently say that the true relationships in life are those that bring the oil of joy as an anointing to my soul. I'm also aware these are rare and priceless. What I also know is no one person can be "all things" to me. No one can be all things to you, either. People are put in our lives to bring us joy, happiness, laughter, companionship, even to learn the hard lessons of life together and sometimes from each other. While it's true these relationships are the tangible expressions of God to me, it's also true that only HE can fill my every need. Because He is my Creator, He knows every part of me. Including the places I never reveal to even the closest of friends.

Today I am thankful for the oil of joy being poured out in tangible expressions through people who seek to share His love in my life. And today I'm looking to Him for an outpouring of His love and joy so that I can return the anointing to those in my life!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Breaking the Silence: Codependent

I asked for some suggestions on blog topics and have received a number of various ideas. While the topics themselves are unique, I noticed a common "theme" and that is most of these issues are never really addressed or talked about. (I'm not sure if I should be flattered that you all trust me to discuss such sensitive topics or offended that I am the one pegged to take the heat!) Either way, I'm going to do my best to tackle a few of these rarely discussed ideas in what I will call "Breaking the Silence." Disclaimer: While I do hold a master's in counseling, I am not a licensed practicing counselor, nor am I an expert. I am simply a willing vessel with an outlet called a blog and a lot of friends who trust me to seek God first and then write about it. So here goes...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Why did the codependent person cross the road? .............
To help the chicken make a decision!"

"If you leave me, can I come too?" says the codependent person.

"Good morning, dear, how am I doing today?" 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know. Bad humor. I'll stick to blogging and not quit my job to become a comedian. (However, these are recycled jokes.)

All kidding aside, there's some truth to the above humor. Codependent can actually be defined as an unhealthy addiction to a person or relationship.

Consider this definition by Dr. Edmund Bourne:
"Co-dependency can be defined as the tendency to put others needs before your own. You accommodate to others to such a degree that you tend to discount or ignore your own feelings, desires and basic needs. Your self-esteem depends largely on how well you please, take care of and/or solve problems for someone else (or many others)."
There are two types of codependent people. The needy person who requires fixing - this is the person who cannot make a decision without someone else's advice or assistance. (The one who asks, "How am I today?") The other type is the fixer - and this is the person who runs to the rescue of the "needy" person. (The one who helps the chicken.)

You can see how these two "naturally" go together. Without even trying, they find each other. The very essence of their codependency exists because of one another. Despite what may even come as an awareness of unhealthy behaviors and patterns in their relationship, they become so comfortable in the "uncomfortable" and they either can't, or choose not to, depart from the perpetuating cycle.

Needy verses being needed. "I need you to help me," versus "You can't survive without me." I've seen and experienced both sides. What I've also witnessed is the role reversal that a truly codependent team can play, meaning there are times when one takes on the role of being needed and other times when the same person becomes the needy party.

Much of this develops from family and environmental patterns that are established and learned early in life. Typically, this results from never discovering "Who I am" and developing their own individual identity.

This "Breaking the Silence" series will also come with practical steps. We can't simply address the problems - we must work to overcome them.

Consider Dr. Bourne's conclusion if this goes unaddressed:
"The consequences of maintaining a co-dependent approach to life is a lot of resentment, frustration and unmet personal needs. When these feelings and needs remain unconscious, they often resurface as anxiety -- especially chronic, generalized anxiety. The long-term effects of co-dependency are enduring stress, fatigue, burnout and eventually serious physical illness."
(Other research suggests diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder all the way to sociopathic behavior. This is another topic for another day, but this solidifies my firm belief that along with real chemical and biological imbalances, environmental and circumstantial factors can be just as monumental in contributing to mental and emotional disorders.)

The fixer must stop trying to fix and control. Ah. I said it. Control. Underneath this pattern is a need to control. Recognize the inability to make people's choices for them and turn the desire to take care of people toward self-discovery. It becomes a regular act of surrender. "Lord, I give you ______ (person's name, situation, relationship, whatever is out of my control). Each and every time I am prompted to act, even when I know I should be still, I have to ask the Lord to intervene and stop me.

The needy person must also go through a journey of self discovery, and it may be harder for them to identify ways to overcome without gaining confidence in their own ability to make decisions. Working through fear and shame and calling on wisdom and direction from the Lord will help this person be mobilized out of their paralyzed state of indecision.

There's a shift in thinking that must occur. Rather than gaining self-esteem from being productive and helping others, I should strive to be productive which will bring about self-esteem. When I identify my abilities as part of my contribution, it affirms who I am and what I am capable of - instead of looking to people for approval or affirmation to tell me who I am and what I'm worth.

As always, I don't ask you to trust MY words but to hear HIS words:

"My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge."
Psalm 62:7


Your worth and your identity depend on GOD alone. You need not look to others to define or determine who you are. (Read Psalm 139)

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."
Colossians 2:6-8

Oh here it is. Releasing yourself from the deception that can hold you captive - the false belief that you are who PEOPLE say you are. Being rooted in Christ and looking to Him to replace and break any chain that binds you to unhealthy relationships or cycles that seek to strip you of YOU.

"Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."
I Thessalonians 4:9-12

Here's my take away from this passage: If you are codependent, you know you care about people - to an unhealthy extent. So your love for others isn't questioned. And while it may seem this verse is asking you to do "more," what I'd like to offer instead is to do more by doing less. I know it seems like a contradiction but just as verse 12 says to "mind your own business" this is the idea I was discussing above to be productive which will lead to gaining respect from others which ultimately builds self-esteem. AND - don't miss the end - where you are dependent on NO ONE. Get it?! I know. It's tough to swallow. But remember, I'm learning with you.

Today I'm praying for those who are seeking to break free of codependent tendencies and unhealthy relationships. As always, I invite you to share.

Monday, March 5, 2012

True Life


I had a long conversation tonight about "Boundaries." This book has taught me so much about myself and my relationships. I've had to learn to walk away from some serious drama. Sometimes having to face a harsh reality and the painful steps of walking away completely. Other times having to set boundaries and maintain healthy distances in order to preserve the relationship.

I admit that I've also been guilty of creating the drama and most recently I've realized that those who've chosen to stick around me throughout my ups & downs deserve extra crowns in heaven! (Thank you, my dear friends!)

What I've come to understand in the past few weeks is every single time I have the urge to "act" or "do" I am learning to turn it over to the Lord in prayer. Praying every single time I want to try to fix the situation asking for God to move instead. Whether it's a friend or enemy, my best defense has been that of Exodus 14:14, letting Him fight for me and remaining still. I've found freeing power in this truth!

Falling down is a part of life. There are times when you need to be picked up and carried. Those are the relationships who stand with you during the best of times and carry you during the worst of times. You can't prevent pain and trouble from entering your life. And would you really want to? These are the times you find yourself focused on living. You survive the pain. You perservere through the trial. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, look to your left and your right and pay close attention to those who are still by your side, and you press on.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Moving

I took some time today to read a few journal entries and previous blogs. January 1, starting out my new year in church, bathing myself in scriptures and worship songs, more aware than ever of a new beginning, a new start, a new perspective - seeking and searching for God to remove the burden of the past and claiming a fresh future. I recalled that moment wrestling with God as I left it on the altar, knowing it wasn't the end but just the beginning of my journey.

The next journal entry I reflected on was a month later as I sat on a plane headed to California, overcome with emotions marked by that day. As I headed out west, once again I offered the Lord my willingness to lay it down, move forward and let go, yet blogging about knowing I was exactly where God needed me. I couldn't move yet because I was still paralyzed by pain, fear and a host of other emotions that held me down.

I had no idea what journey I'd be on during the next few weeks where God would take me through the exact answer to my prayer in those journals. Where He would see fit to strip me of "me" and release me from the chains that bound. Where He would offer grace and peace and even direction to move forward, despite not knowing what the next step would be. Where He would come in and provide healing and wholeness to what the locusts surely sought to destroy. I wasn't prepared for the way He would choose to answer my prayers and how I would find Him in my seeking, but now I see Him more clearly even though I'm still not completely clear of where I'm going.

What has happened as I reflect over my words documenting and journaling the past few months is a realization of God's very active presence, even in the midst of all that I have faced and felt. I can recall the pain and the absolute agony that I've experienced - to the point of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. And yet I can also testify of His love, grace, mercy and peace in my life - even in the midst of the most tumultuous times. I discussed searching for this peace the other day. But above all these "emotions" what I've sensed more than feelings is His presence.

One of my favorite verses and one I claimed for my life just a few years ago is found in Exodus 33:14, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

I've come to know the truth of that verse having now experienced it firsthand. As if feeling His presence wasn't enough, receiving His rest is an added reward. As I look back and recall the prayers from a seeking heart, the prayers from a broken heart, the prayers from a remorseful heart, I can now wholeheartedly say I can move forward knowing His presence is going with me. Though the future may be uncertain, though my heart may still not be healed, I am certain He is with me and right now that's all I need to know.

I'm thankful for the ability to look back and see His faithfulness, realizing how He has been at work even when I have been unable to move. I'm grateful for the opportunity to recognize His presence, even when I couldn't make sense of my own self. I don't have all the answers and I haven't arrived but I can confidently say I will continue documenting my hurts, my needs, and my prayers so I can further see Him moving in each and every circumstance.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Enough

Have you seen the movie "The Holiday"?  I'm not condoning any themes or plots, but the part I am referring to specifically is when Cameron Diaz's character can't cry. Try as she might, she can't get the tears to come. In yet another vulnerable moment I confess to you how similar this is to me. There have even been recent situations that should have evoked tears, and others that should have brought on a cry-fest. Yet, even though I can't deny having teared up at times, I rarely experience this release of emotions through crying.

All of that leads me to the fact that having downloaded Kari Jobe's new album "Where I Find You" I was getting ready as the songs played through. Yesterday I shared the title song in my blog, literally having it on repeat all day, so I neglected to get through the rest of the album.

And then it happened. "What Love Is This" started to play and without so much as a warning, I find myself overcome with emotions, tears immediately streaming, and I can barely stand. (So much for having just applied my eye makeup...) This was the point of no return and I figured since it rarely comes, I would embrace whatever expression of tears needed to fall.

The song is beautiful in and of itself, but the line that so gripped my heart - and I suppose what brought the onslaught of this sudden emotional train wreck - was "I confess you're always enough for me, You're all I need."

This has been my prayer over and over "God, be enough. Be all I need." And now the words of this song were echoing the cry of my heart. To confess with your mouth and believe in your heart - that is the prayer of Salvation. But to bring Him my broken heart and confess that He's enough for me, that's the place I've been striving to reach.

I don't even know what that looks or feels like. I just know that "enough" is all I need. Some days it's more than others. Some days I need tangible demonstrations of His love and presence in my life. Other days I'm satisfied with simply resting in the knowledge of who He is to me. Either way, I want Him to always be enough - all that I need.

(Chorus)
What love is this, that you gave your life for me 
And made a way for me to know you 
And I confess you're always enough for me 
You're all I need

Friday, March 2, 2012

Searching

It's a new month and I couldn't be more thrilled. I was more than transparent about all that February brought my way. So imagine my sheer joy at the thought that this is a new beginning. I'm keenly aware that a new month doesn't erase anything from it's predecessor, but it does bring a certain hope of a fresh start.

Within the first 24 hours of this new beginning, I've had 3 different conversations with friends that all went something like, "I know God has me going through this for a reason but I just don't know if I am strong enough to face this."  (I'm paraphrasing 3 different conversations but the theme is the same.)

Then today one of the strongest and most admired prayer warriors and women of faith in my life said of a situation she's facing, "Everything is okay - God has given me peace."

Peace. Wow. When was the last time I felt PEACE?! I mean true and complete SHALOM - the kind HE brings that is permanent and all-consuming that takes away and replaces every care, concern, fear and worry? Not the falty and fallible temporal peace from the world that fades as quickly as it comes.

If I had that kind of peace...

When my hope is gone
When the fear is strong
When the pain is real
When it's hard to heal
When my faith is shaken
And my heart is broken
And my joy is stolen

Then surely I would be able to say...

God, I know that You lift me up
You never leave me searching

(Lyrics from Kari Jobe's "Find You On My Knees" - video below. You simply MUST hear this song!)

I've found myself in a place where I'm searching - but instead of searching for answers and explanations, or trying to find the plan or uncover the mystery, I'm searching for GOD. This isn't about finding myself or my purpose. This is about finding my Savior. This isn't my quest to know who I am. This is my heart's desire to know HIM and HIS heart. This isn't my time to be healed - this is my chance to rest in the arms of my Healer. This isn't even my journey to discover peace. This is accepting the Prince of Peace as King of my life and all my circumstances.

Maybe you're searching, too. If so, you can join me on my knees as we search for Him. And what I know to be true is His promise in Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."

Let's find Him together, friend. I'll be waiting on my knees...

Find You On My Knees - Kari Jobe