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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wait for It

Waiting. UGH! Totally not one of my strong suits. I am a woman of action. I am a doer. I had a former boss who used to say, "It's not going to happen by itself. You have to make it happen." Now, that is a plan I could get with. One that makes sense to me. One that I LIVE!

But there is another voice that tells me to "wait". That the best is coming. That there are some things I won't or can't do on my own. It is something more than I can ask or imagine. And it is worth waiting for. Love. Real love. Perfect love. 

It is given freely. Available to all. Waiting. Expectant. Until it becomes irresistible. Until HE becomes irresistible. 

He initiates. Pursues. Woos. Captivates the heart. Who would think it possible? In this world? Right where we are? Hoping. Wanting. Needing. Expecting, even. And then, there it is. An answer. A revelation. A heart broken into. Walls broken through. The lies repealed. The Truth revealed. All is as it was supposed to be. I am His. 

His bride. 

He is mine.

My forever.

Learning this. Knowing Him. Being known by Him. It was all worth the wait. 

His love is patient. His love is kind. It always protects. Always trusts and can be trusted. It always hopes and gives hope beyond what we could ask or imagine. It perseveres even when we or our love fall short. His love never fails. His love, a Perfect Love, will be the only thing that remains when this world passes away. When He brings heaven down to earth and makes all things new. 

He is doing new things in me. For me. It is a time that I didn't get ahead. It is a time that I waited to see what He was doing. Where He was leading me. I saw my former ways and where I had gone in my own will and determination. I see all that He has given me and how He has even used the bad choices and my willful ways to bring about good things. 

It is not easy for me to lay things down. To lay ME down. To choose His way. His perfect way which remolds me as He sees best, but even through the fire, the storm, and the difficulties...He is always the same. Never failing. Constant. 

He is worth waiting for and I trust that His way, His purpose, His plan, and His time are right and best. Sometimes, I forget this. And I know that I will continue to have days or seasons where I wrestle with His way over my own, but today I continue to choose to follow and to live this: "Wait on the LORD. Be courageous, and he will strengthen your heart. Wait on the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14, ISV).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lesson 1

Have you ever just known that you have to do something, but not sure why? You can see lots of reasons for it, but nothing is exact as to why? Well, I had that happen just recently. I felt like God wanted me to take care of the things around my house that annoy me, but not enough to do anything about. What started as a feeling that I needed to do some cleaning turned into a project: touch up some paint, fill some holes, wash walls, deep clean in places that are hidden. I hung pictures and wall decor and made my house a home again. It felt so good to live here again; to accept the gift that had been given and treasure it for as long as it is mine to have.

When my friends came over for our study after I had done most of the work, I thought for sure they would notice. No one did. I brought it up and then they commented on it. Still, I had more work to do and I called attention to the places they don't see that have yet to be cleaned (my room, walk-in closet and the loft bedroom which is my son's room). Funny how my outward life is so much like my inward struggle. I wanted them to see the work I had done, but I wanted to hide the stuff that was still a work in progress. Unclean. Not ready for public consumption.

Today, as I was admiring the walls that were clean and the lack of hand prints and smudged walls, I realized how God was using this. As I scrubbed the wall above the sink in the kitchen, I realized that God wants to clean up my thoughts and the broken down places inside of me just like He was having me do in my house. He wanted me to pay special attention to how it was FOR ME and not for others. Not so they would see me differently or remark at my changes, but so I would be happy with the work and want to LIVE right where I was. Happy as I am and not focused on what work still needs to be done. There will always be work to be done. Changes to be made. Messes to clean up. Taking what is complete and reveling in it and enjoying all He has made in me, around me, through me...that was Lesson 1 for this new journey.




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Eyes

I am not perfect by any means. I make snap judgments about people regardless if I know them. Even if I know them, does it mean I know their experiences? Their hurts? Their hopes? Their dreams and disappointments? Do I know their mind or their hearts? Only as much as they choose to let me. And then there is God. The all-knowing God. Who knows our hearts, our minds, our choices, our thoughts, and loves us in spite of them. I want to be more like Him. 

E.G.White said, "If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit does not cease until the soul is conformed to God's image." (The Desire of Ages, pg 302). Make in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10) has become my constant request. Teach me to take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to the person  He is making me to be (2 Cor 10:5). Give me your eyes, Lord, so I may see people as you do. Not as the person I think they are or have made them out to be.



Jesus reminds us to judge not lest we be judged (Matt 7:1). That starts with us seeing ourselves with His eyes and heart, too. To do that, we need to realize who we are. How He made us. How He loves us. And may the truth set you free! (John 8:32).


Lysa TerKeurst wrote the following on Day 20 of her 21 Day Made to Crave Challenge:
One day I read a list of Bible verses that describe who God says I am, no matter the circumstances in my life, both good and bad. I took that list of Scriptures and started to redefine my identity. It was a stark contrast to the way I defined myself by circumstances or others’ opinions of me. I finally realized that these issues don’t define me. Instead, I could tie my happiness to the reality of who my heavenly Father says I am [insert your name below]:
  • _______, the forgiven child of God. (Romans 3:24)
  • _______, the set-free child of God. (Romans 8:1–2)
  • _______, the accepted child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  • _______, the holy child of God. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • _______, the made-new child of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • _______, the loved child of God. (Ephesians 1:4)
  • _______, the close child of God. (Ephesians 2:13)
  • _______, the confident child of God. (Ephesians 3:12)
  • _______, the victorious child of God. (Romans 8:37)
We were made to be set free, holy, new, loved, and confident. Because of this truth, we can’t allow our minds to partake in anything that negates our real identity. Tying our happiness to food, skinny jeans, relationships, or anything else will only set us up for failure. But tying our security, joy, and identity to God’s love is an anchor that we can cling to no matter what the circumstances.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Figuring Life Out - One Thousand Gifts



I love tenor of Ann Voskamp's shared thoughts. The lilt of her voice and the cadence of her words coming together to paint a picture of her mind's heart. Her love of Jesus and relationship with Him pour out and pour into my own. She makes me think differently about Him. She makes me see Him differently and look back at times past with new eyes. New insights.

Every other week, I am blessed to be with these little ones. My heart longs for this time. They have no words, but speak with their eyes, their smiles, their snuggles, their hearts. It blesses me BIG! Last night, I fell asleep wondering which of my loveys would be there today. I dreamed wonderful, happy dreams with a handsome man in his Naval summer whites, wore a pretty frock in a creamy white, danced and laughed. This morning, I woke and prepared myself for my day thinking about the happy sentiment of the dream I had had and the babies who I would soon get to snuggle.

I am usually the early one, but today I was running late--too wrapped up in my happy, dreamy state. When I got to the nursery, a father was there with his baby girl, Josie. She is six months old, has feathery baby hair that is thick and wispy and auburn hued. She has blue eyes and long eyelashes that seem to touch her eyebrows when her little eyes are open. She is a petite little thing who is dressed in her  embellished jeans, long-sleeved shirt with scalloped sleeves and a creamy, cable-knit cocoon cardigan. She looks like a little person. She has the sweetest disposition. As our time together passes the hour, she is getting sleepy. I place the silk-trimmed, emerald colored blanket her mom gave me on the floor and place her on it. She smiles and kicks. I lie down on the floor beside her and play. I think for a moment about my black pants and that I have to greet people in the next hour, but I don't care. I am being given an opportunity to have blessing poured on me from a little girl's heart.

She grabs the edging of her blanket and rolls toward me. She looks like a sweet pea wrapped in that emerald blanket. She puts her knuckle in her mouth to suck and we just look at each other. I smile at her and tell her she is such a sweetie. She smiles around the knuckle in her mouth and I see her eyes move as she stares into mine. Maybe she is wondering what I am thinking just as I wonder what she is thinking. She blesses me with her innocence, her smile without pretenses, her freeness of spirit. This morning is a reminder to me why I am there every other Sunday. As much as I do it for these little children, I also do it for me. These little ones are a balm on my heart. All they know is trust and love. I hope each of them will hold onto that and those that lose it find their way back to it again someday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When Words Escape Us

Below is an email from the Senior Pastor at our church, Garnett Slatton. I wanted to share it because it's filled with Truth, with Hope, and with Love. May it be a blessing to you today!

December 18, 2012

Just a few thoughts...


Community Gathering
For Prayer and Remembrance of the Newtown Tragedy
Bay Presbyterian Church Sanctuary
Wednesday, Dec. 19 7:00 PM


Dear Friends,

By now you've heard a lot from the media about the shootings in Newtown this past Friday. I know that you must be struggling to process such a horrific event; I certainly am. After hearing about it on Saturday, the shock was so recent and awful that I honestly did not know what to say or even how to pray on Sunday.

After talking to people, most are feeling a need just to be together, to get some reassurance from one another and from Scripture, and to pray for the folks in Newtown. So we are planning a gathering of the congregation and community tomorrow (Wednesday) evening at 7:00 PM in the Sanctuary. It will be that time of coming together under God's wings. Please feel free to invite friends or neighbors to come as well. In the meantime, let me offer some suggestions for processing these events.

First, allow yourself to weep and express your grief over this horrible tragedy. "Weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). God will be with you to comfort and console you, as He is with the families and friends of those who perished in Newtown. Pray for them and for all whose hearts have been broken by the murders. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18). "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Second, know that we have a Savior and Friend who has experienced the worst of human evil Himself, and can therefore sympathize with those who are suffering and grieving. He is the King who endured the cross, the Conqueror who was crushed, the Savior who suffered. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). In our times of greatest need, a sympathetic Christ is there to offer us grace and mercy so that we can endure. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Finally, try to take a godly perspective on the shootings. Remember the God whose mercy never fails: "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). Be reassured that God is in control of the sweep of all human events, and despite the evil acts of man, God's plan for good cannot be undone: "Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'" (Isaiah 46:9-10). Confess your own sinfulness and need for a Savior (Romans 3:23), and thank God for His forgiveness and His salvation (Ephesians 1:1-14). In the end, this tragedy emphasizes both the truth of the Gospel and our need for it: that we are more sinful and broken than we ever dared to imagine, but in Christ we are also more loved and accepted than we ever dared to dream (Romans 5:8).

If you'd like some perspective from a more theological and philosophical point of view, check out my blog just posted at baypresblogs.com.

Father, we cannot imagine the depth of brokenness and sin that would lead someone to commit these unspeakable acts. Yet we too are sinful and depraved, and in desperate need of a Savior to cure our own sinfulness and brokenness. Thank you for sending Christ, whose love and grace can overwhelm even the deep evil played out in Newtown, and who is ever the Conqueror, even when Satan believes he has prevailed. Thank you for the knowledge that your wisdom is unsearchable, your sovereign plan inevitable, and your mercy unfailing. Be with us as we weep along with the people of Newtown. Bring them comfort, bind up their wounded hearts, and rain your grace and mercy down upon them in their time of need. Restrain those who would imitate the violence of Adam Lanza. Guard our hearts from the corrosion of unforgiveness and the crush of despair. Renew the hope of your people and our nation in your goodness and your transcendent greatness. May even this tragedy be used for good in your Kingdom. In Jesus' name, amen.

Grateful for His mercy,
Garnett
  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teach Me to Fly


Stepping off the edge is hard for me. It's that unknown. The fear of what happens when I do. I remember being in Aircrew school down in Pensacola, FL and standing at the top of the platform we'd have to jump from, in full gear, and swim underwater 75 m. The point of the exercise is that if our aircraft went down, we may have to swim out of the wreckage, under fuel spills and possibly fire. All I could think as I stood there is that if I didn't make it this first time, I would have to do it again. I hate do-overs! As these thoughts ran through my head and I was telling my instructor some kind of reason why I wasn't jumping, he pushed me. 

That was the first of 3 times that he would push me into the water during training exercises because I was afraid to jump.I don't know if he did that to everyone or if it was just a special pleasure of his to do to me. The second time was a mock shipboard jump from a pier and the water was infested with jellyfish. I was SO not jumping and told him as much. He pushed me. I got stung and when I removed the tentacle from my arm, I ended up throwing it on a fellow crewman. The instructor said we both died due to our injuries. Nothing like taking people down with you. The third time was during our final exercise where we had to jump from a Zodiac in the middle of the Gulf and be rescued by the Coast Guard Dolphin that would hoist us up and dump us off again. As I stood on the side of the Zodiac waiting for my turn, this HUGE manta ray was swimming by. As I explained to my instructor I would jump after the ray as I had no desire to get impaled...yeah, he pushed me in...again. I came flying up out of the water searching for where that ray had gone, but in seeing me coming, it was outta there. 

Sometimes, I need a little encouragement to take that first step. A push. A friend told me that I am afraid that God won't catch me. That He's going to let me fall. That He is going to fail me like so many others have. That is not who HE is, though. He is a promise keeper. He is the One who lifts us up above the storm when we grow weary or faint. I am so afraid of what God can do to me, that I don't trust His way and I rely on my own way. Want to know how that has worked for me? Not well. Downright terrible at times. I saw this posted on Facebook earlier in the week and it was so poignant to me. I want Him to teach me to fly. I trust that He WILL catch me.



Then, in the Henry Blackaby study we're doing called, "Experiencing God:", I read this and it resonated with me:
       God’s commands are designed to guide you to life’s best. You will not obey Him, however, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You will not believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him. But if you really come to know God as He reveals Himself to you, you will love Him. If you love Him, you will believe and trust Him. If you believe and trust Him, you will obey Him. 
God is love. Because of His love, His will for you is always best. He is all-knowing, so His directions are always right. He has given His commands so you can prosper and live life to its fullest measure. If you love Him, you will obey Him!”
 Know Him-->Love Him-->Believe Him-->Trust Him-->Obey Him

Right now, I am learning/being taught to Trust Him so that I may Obey Him. Learning to step into my Jordan--whatever or wherever that may be, and trusting not only that He'll catch me, but that He'll teach me to FLY above whatever storms I may encounter. So, Daddy, teach me to soar on wings of eagles...your Beloved daughter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We All Fall Down


Jesus the High Priest. Huh. Hmm. Interesting. For me, that is a name that doesn't normally come to mind for Him. I related to Him in so many other ways: my Redeemer, my Deliverer, my Support, the Prince of Peace, my Comforter, my Rock and my Salvation, my Refuge and my Strength. My everything. He is the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, and, yes, the High Priest. None man can say that of himself for we all fall short of His glory.

Jesus became the High Priest, the Intercessor between man and God, when He became sin and died for us on the cross. He tore the veil that had separated us from God. Only the priests were allowed beyond the veil and inside the Holy of Holies. Jesus never sinned, yet He became sin for our salvation. He is Holy and set apart from the rest of us due to His sinless nature. His death was the one time in all His life--a life that spans to the beginning of all things--that He was removed from God. In that brief moment of being "forsaken" by God when He become our sin, He endured His greatest pain. He was removed from the Father. To me, that is what hell truly is. To be absent the love of the Lord. For His light for your way to be cut off. Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life we are called to live. How can we truly live without Him?

In Hebrews 4:14-16, though, Paul says this about Jesus:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We all fall short of His glory, yet by His grace and mercy we are still His. Paid for through the blood He shed on the cross. Nothing we do, no actions for our boasting, can connect us to Him. But in the simplicity of confessing that He is our Lord and Savior, we choose Him as the finisher of our story. His blood covers my sin. His love draws me to Him. His comfort and peace wrap around me. His armor covers me from the poison arrows of the enemy. How blessed I am that when I fall down, He is there to heal my wounds.

My flesh and my heart may fail,    but God is the strength of my heart    and my portion forever.Psalm 73:26
Sometimes, when we fall down, all we see is the ground. We forget to look up. It's for those times that I pray that He gives me faith to remember He is all I need. The words of this song say it all. All I am, I surrender. Give me faith to trust what you say.



The lyrics for Give Me Faith are written below. Sometimes the words don't come and we don't know what to say to the Lord in the midst of our circumstances. I find that it is in those times that music helps me to see beyond where I am in that moment and find my way back into His arms. To look up and know that He is there...just waiting for me to call out to Him... Jesus, I'm yours...

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life

All I am,
I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
Your spirit's strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will (repeat)