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Showing posts from March, 2012

Tall Mocha With Whip

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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.…

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 pur…

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 me…

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…

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 s…

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:

"...durin…

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

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. Ce…

Rise And Shine

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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…

Your Lucky Day

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Luck. It's defined as "theforce thatoperates forgoodorillinaperson'slife,asinshapingcircumstances,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 y…

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…

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:

How can it be, I can't begin to comprehend
What kind of Grace would take the place for all my sins
I stand in awe, now that I have been set free
And the tears well up,…

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&…

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.


&q…

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…

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 LO…

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 abo…

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...

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"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 code…

True Life

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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 figh…

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 t…

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 emotion…

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-consumin…