Thursday, March 30, 2017

Comparrison




Comparison

 Not that long ago I had a personal conversation with the Holy Spirit. Just in case you are wondering who that is: I like to think of Him as my very best friend; He is the still small voice inside who corrects, instructs, leads and laughs at the inside jokes no one else seems to get. Sometimes we even argue but He always wins by showing me that love is always the best way.

That day we were talking about my intimacy issues. I had pretty much coined the phrase, "I'm not a touchy person". Its not even that I am not much of a hugger, it's just that touch is very intimate to me. If you were one of the few un-lucky guys in grade school, Jr.. High, High School or College that got too close to me or my bubble, you may have even seen me as hostile towards affectionate advances.

It was all touch, male or female that made me uncomfortable. I always related to the hilarious temperamental cat that would be purring and rubbing up against you and then out of no where would bite you. A unseen boundary had been crossed: me to a tee!

Anyway, I had said something to HS ( Holy Spirit) about wanting to be more affectionate to my children, and feeling like a total failure mom for not knowing when my kids need more physical love from me, and in fact feeling so completely suffocated at times that I wanted to cry. Then out of no where He (Holy Spirit really shoots it straight to the heart!! In a good way) He says... "Your believing a lie. You think you are not enough for them just the way you are. You think you are inadequate. But really I think you are a very intimate and loving mother."

 As tears streamed down my face, as they are again right now, I silently wept as He continued. "It isn't that you are not affectionate, it is simply that you do not waste nor do you under appreciate the power of simple touch. You see something as simple as hand holding to be the most beautiful gesture of physical love. And your Father God agrees. When you are afraid- He holds your hand, when you are lost- He takes your hand, when He is pleased- He takes your hand, when walking alone in the joy of His presence- you hold His hand. And what are the most special moments of intimacy with your husband? It is the first time you held hands in a dark movie theatre, your first walk together where you talked and laughed and all those hand holding moments in between that you remember. You are perhaps the best hand holder I have ever seen and especially with your children; you are constantly taking a hand to either comfort, direct, correct or to play. You say you are not a touchy person but Sweetie you are one of the most affectionate people I know, you just see simple touch as special as it ought to be."

So there I was with a choice: I could receive this beautiful truth from HS: that I am most secure when I embrace the very insecurities that once held me back and turn them upside down into something for His glory! Or: I could keep dwelling on the free loving girl I thought I wanted to become, the comparison to others could build to the point of something I could not bare to fake anymore, I could keep shaming myself, I could keep trying to be something I'm not or trying to hide the me that I am.

Don't get me wrong I'm not saying we should embrace harmful patterns that lead to being unhealthy but if we can not see us as the unique- one of a kind- beautiful people that we are, we may not ever realize that someone else (someone more important, someone like HS) sees what we think of as our flaws as the very beauty marks that set us apart.

 In His word He says "For we are Gods masterpiece, thoughtfully and creatively designed, to be a one-of-a-kind creation.

In case I haven't convinced you, did you know that not a single zebra is the same? A zebra's stripe pattern is as unique as fingerprints are to humans. In fact a baby zebra can find its mom in a heard because of it. You are the only you. Your stripes make you different, not deformed. And just for the record our baby zebras need our stripes to be just the way they are, that's how they find us, how they know us, how they follow us.

I thank God for the way that he made me, inside and out. And every day I want to spend a little more time with my Creator so I can find out what stripes He put there, and why! And also what stripes are just from the filth of this world trying to make me something I'm not, because those ones need washed off.

I hope all my gushing and vulnerability helps, it's one of my stripes I guess. With His help I'm learning how to appreciate those little nudges and whispers that say, the world needs to know how much I love them, how much I love those unique stripes. How much time I spend desiring that instead of hating your stripes you would learn how to wear them, how I designed them just for you and those who would see them, really see them, the way I do.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Three Days to a Better Way


Three Days to a Better Way


Day One. Equipped

 

Two farm hands were out in the fields planting not far from one another. One of them looked over at his neighbor and saw that the tools he was using were quite different from the ones in his hands. At first he tried to ignore it but pretty soon he found himself questioning the quality of the work. “If the tools were not the same perhaps the work would not get done? Not just that but what if it is easier to use those tools, what if they are better than my tools?”

Soon the owner of the field came out and noticed that one of his workers was not being productive. He came over to the man and asked, “Why have you stopped working when you know that there is such a small amount of time for planting and sowing?”

The worker replied, “But what of my neighbor? Look at the tools you have given him, look at the way he is using them?”

 The owner of the field replied, “You ask me the wrong questions.  I have not given you his field to tend to. Do you see how the rocks in that field are large and stubborn? Your tools would not work in that soil. And you see how productive he has been all this time while you unproductively observe? Your work has suffered because you chose to compare something that can- not be compared. Can you justly compare a flower to a rock? Yet you compare yourself, your tools and your field with something that is anything but similar. And even if I put others in your field with similar tools and the same objective, how much time would you spend tending to your work and how much time would you compare the way you work with the individuality of how they work?”

The worker sat silent and ashamed. He knew that the master all this while had been watching him. Instead of doing his best with what he had been given he had judged others and himself and even his master for having made everyone so different.

The master resumed, “I have equipped you with everything you need for this season, everything you need for this field, and everything you need for deep and satisfying contentment. Do not look to the right or to the left, but look ahead to what it is I have placed in your hands.”

Just then the worker became excited, “My great and wise Lord, will you help me discover this field and the tools you have given me, will you teach me how to master them so that I may be productive and bring in this season with joy?”

The master smiled, “That is the right question. And yes I will walk with you every day in order to bring in a great harvest.”

How are we like the worker who compares? Have we asked too many questions about what other people are doing and too little about what it is God is wanting for us?

We all are equipped differently and beautifully for a glorious plan and purpose. It is a waste of time to be jealous over others giftedness and a monumental mistake to judge the way others are bringing in the harvest. We must always fight the urge to look to the right or to the left but to look to God alone for all our needs and understanding of what his individual plan for our lives is.

 

Day Two.   Together

 
The Owner of the field came into a new season where the harvest was so great that He had to bring in extra help.

Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire

workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

This parable is a meant not only to teach but to provide us with a perspective shift. If you read it from the perspective of the early morning workers, you may see it one way but then read it as though you were the workers that started later in the day; it shifts your perspective. Jesus wants us to take it even further and see it from a higher perspective, from the perspective of the foreman, from the Father heart.

Have you ever seen a child get a gift at a sibling’s birthday party? Or better yet, it is a child’s birthday but party favors or gifts are given to the guests. How about this train of thought: a birthday is a celebration of the child and yet it was the parents that gave life to the child (painfully and at a great cost), so the ones who should be honored are the parents. And yet it is a recognized celebration to honor not the one who labored but the one who came out of that labor. It is interesting that God honors us at all, when it is Him who gives so generously all things.

We often throw out words like fare or un-fare into situations where we have become entitled. Something as simple as honoring people can become complicated if pride is allowed to shift the reality of who is really worthy of all praise and honor. Jesus had to teach about position a great deal because he was trying to create a perspective shift. One so significant that when He died a un-fare death to pay for our sins we could finally understand those words, “The last will be first and the first will be last.”

We can look at it a lot of different ways and coming to the conclusion of what is fare can be dangerous. What is fare is almost always that we deserve judgement and not praise.

It is very interesting that in this parable the workers are calling into question the foreman’s goodness. Which is the very thing that paid them a good wage.

How do we find ourselves in the situation of envy, offense and entitlement? It is when we forget our place, and our Father’s goodness that we can slip into yet another dangerous trap of comparison and entitlement or more specific the trap of pride.

So back to the farm that we talked about yesterday and the warning of comparison that we must heed. The owner sees a great harvest and needs to bring it in. He gathers together his workers through his foreman (Jesus Christ).  The foreman shows how generous the owner is by inviting in EVERYONE to be a part of the work. A point to remember in the parable is that he went to a public place and invited… ANYONE who wanted to work, not specialists, in fact I don’t remember him saying that there were any qualification to work for him.

  In order to serve with humility we need to understand that God accepted us through grace and not our own merit. He will accept others that same way he accepted us, because of HIS goodness. It is His goodness that compels us to serve him with diligence. The worker who forgets this will become prideful but the one that remembers, “I don’t even deserve to be in this family, it is all because of Christ and the Goodness of our God” will find the humility to welcome others into the family.

At this point welcoming in others to become a part of the team becomes a lot easier. We must not fall into the trap that it is all about “us” (singular) but that the “us” (plural) can only come together if we focus on the good and perfect plans of our foreman. The plans for us to work together as one team. Pride is always a perspective problem.

When we work with others do we struggle to see them as God does? Do our thoughts often drift to the correction or criticism of others and the fare or un-fare things we see, or do we focus on our great and generous God?

 
 
Day Three. Digging Deeper

 

So the workers gathered again and in the middle of the field was a large sycamine tree. The owner said to his workers, “This tree must be removed, I cannot allow the work to continue while this tree remains. It is in the way not only on the surface but its roots are destructive.”

Some of the workers were sad for they had grown to know this tree as a place where they would rest and dwell on things.

Luke 17:1-6 (KJV)

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.

And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

 

This verse is about offense and how we are to deal with it. It is interesting that toward the end of the verse we see the famous mustard seed verse but how often it is taken out of context with the above verses. The mustard seed is always the highlight of the sermons and studies but what of this sycamine tree? 

The sycamine tree in bible times was a tree that could grow thirty feet or more in the air even in drought conditions because it root system was so deep. Even when you tried to cut it down the roots continued to draw strength from the deep wells and the tree could resurrect itself. This tree’s wood was used for coffins and it was known for its terribly bitter and un-edible fruit.

So back to the parable, Jesus is talking about offense and how to forgive, the disciples are finding it hard to have the faith to be able to forgive a repeated offense and here we see our Lord then use the mustard seed faith passage but in relationship to a tree known for its resilience and cruelty. He says that if our faith is as small as the grain of a mustard seed, (which this tree is known for its small seed but massive size in power) that we can overcome the power of offense.

Mark 6:14

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

 

Knowing this verse it becomes imperative that we take the growing roots of bitterness and offense very seriously. If you think you are free from offense and unforgiveness take a quick check for anything that causes you annoyance. Annoyance is the fruit of a seed called unforgiveness. If you find yourself being annoyed then unforgiveness is hiding in your heart.

The sycamine tree is what Christ uses as his analogy for bitterness, offense and unforgiveness, how fitting for a tree that even once it is chopped down it can grow back, how fitting that the tree has bitter fruit, how fitting for a tree that even unattended will live and grow, how fitting for a tree that is used to house death as a coffin in the ground.

God is warning us in this parable that we must take affirmative action and continue to forgive as many times as needed and that we have a seed inside of us that although small like a mustard seed is more powerful and can uproot and throw our offense into the sea.

Yesterday we talked about perspective and how Jesus was using the parables to shift our perspective from a world view to a God view. This parable is in line with what we learned yesterday about pride. To forgive means to be able to take a humble posture.

Luke 7:36-50New King James Version (NKJV)

A Sinful Woman Forgiven

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

  

Two things of note that I see right away are the words of Jesus not only humbling the Pharisee but then accepting and forgiving the woman. Note the words at the very end of the story, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The faith that Jesus is talking about in the parable of the mustard seed is this same faith that he is speaking of that has saved this woman. And then the words “Go in peace.”

When we think of faith are we seeing it in this perspective? Are we thinking of it in the perspective of God’s great mercy and forgiveness that He has poured out over us. When he says to the man who knows all the laws and keeps all the commands that this sinful woman has done more for Jesus than the Pharisee are we remembering that because we have been forgiven much we can LOVE much?

Oh what a great burden was lifted off of us as Christ forgave us of our sins and so it is not hard to understand that if we cannot see forgiveness the way that God above treasures it then we cannot receive it either.

Are we willing to use our faith for the purpose it was designed and to forgive others as many times as we are offended? Or when our master comes into the field and says that we must remove this tree of unforgiveness will we be sad that we cannot rely on its shade for our own comfort?

We can only have one tree in our lives, the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. Eve made a choice in the garden to eat from a bitter fruit, to question God’s goodness to be led astray by pride. Now we must choose to kill this tree if we want the tree of life once again, if we want forgiveness, if we want Jesus. One tree, which will it be? Our rights and wrongs, our fare and un-fare is fruit from the tree of knowledge. But to forgive is to choose the mustard seed faith, the tree of life, the tree planted by streams of living water.

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Bound


Bound

 

 

When bound by something very strong, something that has held you for a long time, freeing yourself is only part of the problem, it is what comes next that is difficult.

 

I have identified that I am often held captive by three very persistent strongholds.

I am learning that according to the great and glorious gifting that God has blessed each of us with, there is always a counter force of that blessing, a curse if you will. And the Devil lays traps accordingly. He doesn’t just lay a random trap hoping to catch something in it, he is a hunter and he knows us, our weakness and our strength. He knows what bait to put out, but when he fell he took a legion of demons with him. The devil is like a lion according to the bible where it says to watch out for him… A lion Villon that I was always very curious about is Scar from the lion king. Notice that he plays the part of a friend, he has plans to dethrone the prince but then when it comes to taking the prince out he knows that he can’t really kill him himself so he uses manipulation, lies and then uses his henchmen the hyenas.

For a while I have known two of my hyenas very well and after a while of them persistently showing up, you just kind of get used to them, but this morning I realized that my entire mindset has become one of defeat because if every two seconds you are distracted by something you start to wear down.  I also discovered there is a hyena that has been lurking in the dark unnoticed and waiting for an opportunity for my weakness to finally get me tired enough that I become too injured and weak to fight back.

 

A couple things that I might mention is that we have everything we need in our relationship with Christ to be strong, to be brave, bold, fierce and to keep ourselves nourished by the streams of living water. He has given us our daily bread and our living water, but if we get lazy and think we do not need it we may be setting up the perfect ambush for those hyenas.

I will share with you three of my hyenas but encourage you to pray and ask God what your enemies look like.  An easy place to start is with the ones you can see. Look for areas where you feel defeated the most often.

My first two are sisters:

The first hyena is so obese. She is hungry all the time, selfish, greedy, and just completely self indulgent.  She is the craving that cannot be satisfied, she is hunger. She is one half of my struggle with food addiction. She is addiction.  Sometimes I try to run away but just like Edmund in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” I find myself craving that Turkish Delight. I sell myself out and if I’m being honest my husband and my children will pay for my indulgence as much as I do because if I keep on ignoring that she is slowly killing me, eventually she might. She lies to me by flattery and coercion, by setting up a series of half- truths that I am just fine the way I am and that I should reward myself with food. She tells me what I deserve, she tells me what I need to hear to tickle my ear with her split tongue. Before I know it I am primed and ready for her sister to come and do her work on me.

Her Sister is the second half of my struggle cycle. She is skinny and you can see every bone every rib stuck to her skin, emaciated, she is the obvious opposite to her sister in that she is deprivation and self- punishment, she is starvation and shame, she is also good with half -truths but her lies prey on my faults rather than on my pride. She waits until I am sick with disappointment and then she attacks with her plans of stripping me of health by punishing me with few calories and painful exercise.  When overworking me doesn’t work because I am too weak to go on, she temps me with short cuts, pills and plans. She also makes a deal with her sister for partial custody. I can spend the morning with her but the evening belongs to indulgence.

My demons wait for me to go crazy from the battle, a battle that could be avoided entirely if I could only rest and live in the protection my king has offered me.  You see sticking with the Lion King analogy, the hyena doesn’t live in the pride lands, they are scavengers that trespass but live on the outskirts waiting for weakness to come to them. They are waiting for the prince to be alone. The enemy lives in darkness and Simba went where his King had said was off limits.  In real life, predatory animals look for either a weak animal or one that is isolated, keep this in mind when you hear the lies of the enemy pulling you away from the pack.

But let me tell you of a third enemy that waits for the first two to tear me apart or for me to get away long enough for it to have me all to itself.

The enemy sets up a series of traps for me and just as I think I am getting free from one trap I find myself in perfect condition for the bait of another. I am weak from the struggle, I am hungry, I am feeling many things but one of those things that primes me for my next trap is that I am tired of serving those two masters of suffering. So I seek freedom and end up making a deal with pride.  It’s the voice that says I can do it, I can beat it, I am a goddess and I will rise up. Problem is… I can’t do any of those things in my state and I can’t do it on my own. 

I try to be my own master but as soon as I grow tired of carrying the world on my shoulders I tell myself that I was better off with gluttony, at least drowning my sorrows tasted good. And the cycle begins again.

We will always need a master, the question is “who is it?”  The word then becomes… Surrendered. Who are we surrendered to.  Christ gives us several verses, to the woman at the well He tells her that she can have water that will quench her thirst forever. To the disciples he says He is the bread of life. To the followers of the law He says I am the rest you are looking for.  He promises His yoke is light and He promises He is a shelter, a strong tower, a rock…  What are we doing? Why can’t we see that our problems are really just a misplaced moment of surrender, we can be surrendered to Christ, Slaves of Christ (the one who died for us, or slaves to masters that kill us with every cruel moment of our surrender to them! We can have a perfect master who loves and takes care of us and that is an amazing thing, Lordship begins the moment we surrender our ways to His, so when we find ourselves in the dark we must reach out to God and ask him to bring us into the light.

By the way the hyenas will come and they remember how weak we once were but they will be devoured by our king because we serve in His pride, we are a part of His flock!!!! Isn’t that amazing news?

So today when I struggle to find my way, I realize it isn’t my way I need at all… It is His way! Lead me oh Lord onto the paths of righteousness for your glory and your names sake. So when people ask me, “how did you do it?” I will say the question is: “How does God do it? How does He love us so much that He sets our feet on solid ground?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Safe Place... A letter to Mommies from God's Heart. Part One.



A Safe Place… A Letter for Mommies from God’s Heart.          Part One.

 To my beautiful new mommy, mommy to be, mommy who has been, and the mommy of promise (The one who waits upon my promise of motherhood): this letter is for you.

I have seen you.

I have seen the tears that only your pillow and I know about.

I have heard the silent aches and whispers of an anxious heart that needs my voice to slow its rapid beating.

You have a few concerns. In fact so many concerns flood your thoughts that you don’t think I see them all.

Perhaps you are afraid because they often out number and out-weigh the good thoughts. Maybe you feel shame that you have lost hope in me through this difficult time.

But I am here to remind you that I am not angry with you.

 I am well pleased with you my daughter.

 I will not leave you during this time. But until we get my perfect love where it belongs, the unwanted fear will stay, and that is not my plan for you.

Psalm 23

…”Do not be afraid for I am with you, my rod and my staff they comfort you.”

You already know that I am with you, and yet the comfort of that has not reached your heart. It is as though a thousand miles is between that which you know and that which you believe. Somewhere between head knowledge and heart knowledge the message gets lost and the comfort doesn’t come through.

So how can I calm your beating heart? -  I will reach you with my rod and my staff and I will comfort you. I will take the hook of my staff and pull you close to me. I will use the length of my rod to push you into the right direction even when the chaos of this world tries to convince you I have left.  You will feel me.

My Word says: “Perfect Loves casts out fear”

Fear is crippling, it destroys hope, peace and joy because it is at opposition to Love; Love creates, hope joy and peace. So when you are missing one of those important gifts of love, look for a thief. Fear is a thief and you and I are going to get back all that was stolen.

Fears are created when small truths have been fattened by fantasy to become lies that appear true and relevant over a period of time.

Like a rock that tumbles down a snowy hill and gathers so much snow; its momentum turns it into a giant snowball. It started with a tiny rock of truth and with time it took something as harmless as snow and turned itself into a boulder with powerful destruction. But when we remember the rock itself is just the tiny core, my warming truth can melt it back down to the size it actually is.

I see many fears that I want to melt away but this one is for today:

Fear 1.) You are afraid of losing who you are /of never knowing who that is.

The fear looks a little different on everyone because the snowball goes down different hills with each of you but at the core there is an identity issue that troubles you and has for a very long time.

You ask me, “Who am I?” and I ask back, “When did you start asking that question?” Do you remember when you were little and you knew who you were? You never stopped to ask me who you were, you just ran wild with the wind in you pig tails wanting me to chase you, yelling out, “catch me if you can.” You would swing on the swings, play with the animals, and skip your rope. You were a basketball star, a movie star, a princess, a singer, an artist, a doctor, a hair dresser, a dancer, a makeup artist, a veterinarian, a hero, a musician, a comedian, a mommy, a teacher, and more importantly a dreamer.  You never asked me who you were, you only asked me to watch as you tried on your pretty dresses and cowboy boots. “Look at me Daddy!” And I would laugh.

Oh how my heart is engulfed with rage in how the enemy is stealing the dreams of my babies. It is as though this world gives my children a time limit to be dreamers and then says, "time is up". I will determine when your time is up, and until you breathe your last breath, will you please keep dreaming dreams. The time for dreaming to be over is when all your dreams have come true. And if your dreaming in me that wont happen until we are together in my everlasting kingdom. I have infinite dreams for those who will dream with me, I am an infinite God who dreamed of you, and you are made in my image. I want you to dream many dreams like you did as a child. You are my Child.

I don’t get angry when you try on a new outfit and say, "I want to be a doctor today." In fact by being a mom I am allowing you to play dress up every single day! You will get to be a nurse, a therapist, a musician, a cowgirl, a farmer, a chef, and bus driver, you will get to be a tour guide and an animal trainer, you will get to be a swim instructor and a story teller, an art teacher, an interior designer, a maid, a public speaker and the president of the United States of “Because I Told You So”. You are going to love this game of house because I remember your whole childhood, and when you were playing you were really dreaming of today.

But like I said before there is a little rock at the center of this snowball. I see it, I acknowledge it's presence and I value you enough to address it.

I understand that some of your dreams are unique and special to you, like some of your toys when you were young, you would put in a special place and didn’t want to share with the other kids.

There are dreams that you have, that are like little secrets between you and me. You may not remember them but I do. I have a special place that I keep them. They are only yours and not for the other children.

They are not lost, but just to be safe I put them on a very high shelf in my heart to keep them for when you are ready. You see when you mommy, you want to give your family every single thing you have and this secret special treasure is not for giving away. So I place it somewhere safe for a season.

But when you can’t find it, you get scared that it is lost, you are scared that your identity is changing into something that you will not recognize, you are afraid of losing you. I promise you that it is impossible because that treasure is something I am holding onto. And when the time comes I will give it back. And I always give back and with interest.

These changes are not to fear but to bring a season of hope for new dreams to emerge. Trust that I am a good place to store your secret dreams. Trust that I work all things in your favor when those dreams are from my heart to yours.

I will keep them safe. They are not lost. For now it is time to play house for a while. And when you are tired take a rest in me and teach your family to do the same. For those babies that I have given you to nurture and love will be watching you and learning how to dream. And I will keep their dreams in safe place too!

 Remember this: you are not losing who are, nor do you even have to wonder if you know who that is.

I know who you are and that is enough to give you rest.

 I will hold your identity safely and securely in my heart for safe keeping. And when you get a little discouraged that you might be losing yourself in the midst of life, remember me and I will fill your heart with dreams once again.

Mommies don’t need to stop dreaming so their children can dream, they keep dreaming every day, they live the dream and their children learn how to dream by example. It is tiring to know your being watched by so many little eyes. So not only do you example how to dream, but how to rest. Dreams don't happen without rest. Rest. Example how to rest in the calm of my promises.

I love you so much. Dream in me again. Take back your promises, one dream at a time. And Rest in the comfort that I will keep you safe.
 We can talk more about rest because I know you have more questions about that. We have so much more to talk about. But for now lets take it back a little at a time. You have a lot on your plate. I want to clear it and put my plate on top of yours so that you have enough room for all that you deserve. And you deserve all of my love for I created you to receive it.

I love you my daughter. I am keeping you (Who you are.) safe and secure. 

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Unwritten


I have written several stories. Each story is a little different but they all have the same principle elements. Each story has a little drama, romance, adventure and a little fantasy. But the two things that they never have are overwhelming conflict in the middle of the story and an ending (I rarely finish my stories). I don't like that part in the narrative where conflict erupts. That moment where it's all about to come crashing down. I can't bare to watch as the heroes struggle. Maybe its because in real life the struggle has already been going on from the beginning. It's out of place when conflict  appears halfway through a story. When I watch it play out before my very eyes I feel helpless in the hands of the destruction that is in front of me. Maybe I'm afraid that the hero will not be able to rise again if they fall even one more time.

I see plenty of people drowning every day in a sea of doubt, depression and hopelessness and there are not enough life preservers to go around. So then why haven't I drown, what makes my story so different?  I realize that not in spite of, but because of, these rough waters I learn how to swim for my survival, and I became strong. Strong enough in fact to be the life preserver for others. You see I may not like the sea of great conflict but in that conflict I develop a strength that is only produced by my determination to rise out of the waters. It is also the only way I could have found so many more like me, tossed and turned by each relentless wave. I found my shore. I found my refuge and I could let fear tell me not to go back in for the countless others drowning. I could try to flag them over or yell encouraging words. but they need a savior who will go in after them, someone who knows the waters. That is why my Savior allowed me to become so strong by my trials and by the treading of difficult water as I waited for my salvation. He didn't allow my circumstances to go on beyond my comfort so I could become hardened by struggle but so that I would become strong enough to fight for more than just myself. Now inside of me is a greater capacity for love. But also a greater responsibility to act on the behalf of those who will not make it to the shore without a hero.

The Olympics call the qualifying preliminaries to get to the games The Olympic Trials. The phrase that comes to mind in the world of sports and fitness is "No Pain, No Gain." if you want to be the best at something you need to go past the point of comfort and even past the point of what you think is possible. How differently could we be living if we saw our trials as a qualifier for greatness? We are created to be champions and overcomers and to use our trails not as stumbling blocks but as training tools on the way to victory.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

A hero is forged in the fire of adversity, a hero is someone who does not waste the trials of life on self pity and shame but on an awareness that each of us was made for something so much greater than merely the comfort of a good life. Maybe the reason I cant finish my books is because there is no ending. How do you write a story about eternity?  A long time ago I gave God the pen to my life and I said, "Write! Write me a story so fantastic it will change the world." Who am I to argue with an author who is perfect in all of His ways, who sees the plot unfolding and the resolution to my conflict far clearer than I ever could. He has not created a character in this whole universe that he can not reach. We think we want an easy happy ending but if it isn't earned through overcoming some great obstacle somehow it just seems a little fake and a little less appreciated. We need to trust that God knows how it ends. And He is a good Author.

He writes light out of darkness, from  the very beginning he said, "Let there be Light!!!" Its time to take the pen away from the enemy of darkness and let God create light out of our darkest trials. Many
nightmares have made it hard to want to dream again. The world has become polluted with a shadow of helplessness. But all shadows are dispelled when the purest of light shines. God made us the light of the world. Through the power of His one and only Son, we shine. All darkness was made subject to the power of light from the very beginning and when Jesus walked on earth, He transferred  the right of that light through the sacrifice of His life. But what we do with our light is everything!

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

We cannot expel darkness if we never venture into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Remember we will fear no evil for God leads us through. One light in the dark is seen but how much more hopeful when we bring our light together with one purpose. When we shine together the shadows have no where to hide. Let us not waste the night for we are brightest when it is bleakest. Let us not waste all the strength that we have gained by fighting in the stormy water. God has brought us to shore but we are strong enough to go back in for others. Our story is being written and if we do not allow the conflict to shape us we cannot become the hero He is creating us to be. God wrote me into existence, to be a hero. When conflict arises I will not cower in fear but shout Hallelujah for I know I got the role in His master plan. And through my suffering thousands will know my name but Millions more will know His; the Author and Perfecter of our Faith.

For those still on the shore wondering if its worth it to risk it all on Jesus, to those who are afraid that any more conflict might not shape them but destroy them. Remember that Faith is all about uncertainty but we have hope and trust in a God who always comes through bigger and bigger every time we place our faith in Him. And remember this when being tormented by the lies of the enemy: The Devil only knows what has been written. He knows our past but he does not get the privilege of knowing our future. Our future is yet unwritten. We don't always get to choose the trails we go through but we do get to choose who we go through it with. We are not alone. He walked through darkness; through the Valley of the Shadow, and still chooses to come back and walk it again and again with us so that His light can illuminate the path before us. Will we embark on a journey to do the same for others? That is the story that is still unwritten.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Monsters Inside and Outside of Me


 
The Monsters Inside and Outside of Me

 

Sometimes late at night I find myself scanning through channels on the Television looking for a something interesting to occupy my down time. If it is really late at night the selection dwindles to infomercials, crime dramas, (not so) reality TV, and the miscellaneous show that I would categorize as “informational TV you never knew you didn’t need to know until you knew it”. One such show is called the “Monsters Inside of Me”. This show is about people who contracted various parasites or viruses that take over, and the story behind it. It’s very disturbing to ponder all of the many things that can take hold of a person when they are least suspecting it. Usually it’s the symptoms that spiral so out of control that they are forced to face the parasitic demons.  It’s a struggle I can’t relate to in the physical but know all too well in a mental, emotional and spiritual way.

Recently I found myself at the very end of myself in a struggle I have faced for almost two decades. I struggle with food. Like so many other struggles that people face it has a power and a hold over thoughts, actions, and emotions for me. But what do you do with an addiction that is revolved around something that you cannot just abandon. The body needs food to function, so in order to conquer its hold you are forced to face it every day no matter how hard the struggle is. I would describe the struggle as having two extremes. The one extreme being over eating, emotional eating, and eating things that are unhealthy to eat. The other extreme is the denial of those habits that lead right into the opposite end of an equally unhealthy lifestyle of starvation, anorexia, self-punishment, bulimia, extreme dieting and or exercise. The struggle is real to find balance when any attempt at such balance just finds you on one side or the other of this toxic battle.

I have had times in my life where I have seen temporary relief, or freedom from the struggle by the grace of God but somehow I just kept finding myself facing the struggle again and again. I wanted to get free but so much shame and a mentality that I should be stronger kept me from asking for the freedom I needed. And finally it came, the moment of revelation that would bring the power of God into my life. It wasn’t lightning or thunder, rather it was that gentle way that God has with us that turns an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. I wasn’t consciously aware of my request for freedom but had just found myself opening my heart up to God. He came in, and in doing that His light shed right into that area of struggle.

I was sitting on my couch reading a book about prayer when all of a sudden my spirit agreed with God that I needed more of Him. In that moment I saw a picture in my mind of something that can only be described as outrageously disturbing.  I saw two demons. Two female twins. One was disgustingly obese, hungry, prideful, arrogant, and demanded her own way. The other was skinny beyond any help, her skin pressed against her bones so tightly she looked like a corpse, she was weak, frail and hated herself. She was shame, self-punishment and loathing. The very next thing I noticed was that they were playing a game. The game was like a puppet show of sorts and I was the toy. I was the object of their game as they vied for control over my thoughts, emotions and actions. For long periods of time the gluttonous prideful demon would be winning and then I the toy would rebel and cry out that I couldn’t bare the self-hatred that those games led to, so unknowingly I would hand myself off to the self-punishing demon for a round of extreme dieting and self-criticism, that would only lead to disappointment and shame.

 

The game went on and on, and the two demons grew stronger with each round. It was as though they feasted on the torment being inflicted upon me. Eating my very flesh with every failed attempt to get free. One of the things that alarmed me as I watched the two was how even though I had never seen their faces before, somehow I knew them all too familiarly. It was as if they were family, part of my history, the dreaded inappropriate relative that you don’t particularly like but what can you do?  That became my very next question. What can I do? I had been believing a lie for so long that I was a failure and that my struggle was stronger and bigger than me. My identity was so wrapped up in this fa├žade they had created for me. I didn’t want to play the game anymore and after twenty years of playing it they had more than outstayed any welcome that I may have at one time offered to them.

We carry our struggles as though they are a part of us. Until they had faces I had no idea that I could be rid of them, until they had faces I had no way of knowing that I could turn them away. But it wasn’t so much the fact that my struggle no longer was faceless as the truth that we can only look into the face of one thing at a time. If I am constantly looking to them or at them as part of me, I won’t be able to also look into the face of Christ who gives me strength, I will forever be divided. The bible says we cannot serve two masters. Often we don’t understand why we are so doubleminded and weak in our walk with God. Often it is because we are slave to our struggles. Christ came to set the captives free. He came to bring abundant life. Our struggles have faces, those things that captivate our thoughts and get in the way of freedom no longer hold the power to bind us. But unless we stand in agreement with God over our freedom and let Him fill us with new life, they will stay like squatters in an abandoned building.

Colossians3:1-2,5

Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

… So put to death the sinful, earthly things living within you.

 

Your struggles have a face and they don’t belong in the place of honor, and because of Christ we can put them to death.

That show about the parasites, so very much disgusted me. It was the terrifying idea that a monster could be living inside of me. Even the thought of it being near me, just waiting to make me the new home where they would feast upon my flesh. But isn’t that the very thing that happens inside of us as we battle against our unseen enemy. We try to treat the symptoms of a monster with no face. We grow weary and tired of the battle and start to believe that we are crazy, that we are weak, that we are completely helpless to the invaders. There are many spiritual parasites that go undetected in our lives. Many that fly below the radar of detection. To name a few that I have found: Pride, Selfishness, Fear, Addiction, Jealously, Comparison, Shame, Bitterness, Gossip, Slander, Depression,…and the list goes on.

So what do we do about these invaders? We ask the Great Physician to identify them, to remove them, and then we get some seriously good Antibiotics in our system. We reject the lies and get the truth inside of us not only to fill the space that is left bare but also as a preventative measure against future attacks. We strengthen our spiritual immune system by getting spiritual health inside of us.

Is it time to go to the doctor? Is it time to see what unwanted monsters are lurking inside of us? In the physical when we find out that we have been infected we don’t blame the host that infected us, nor do we blame the parasites, they aren’t worth our time once we realize we have the cure. We merely focus in on the one who can set us free and follow his directions to get healthy. So when dealing with your spiritual parasites do not dwell on the disease, the pain, or the past but set your sights on higher things.

Colossians3:1-2

Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

 

 

Lord, we ask for your revelation every day to reveal the parasites at large within our hearts. We do not merely seek you, the great physician for a consultation but we come to you for deliverance. The parasites no longer will be allowed to feast because we will no longer be the host. Lord I pray for your direction and guidance as we get the good spiritual antibiotics into our system. Help us to pursue the fruit of the Spirit which is loaded with antibodies that we need to fight! We love you so much Lord and recognize that you are a good and loving God who longs for us to be free. Amen   

Friday, January 22, 2016

Listen Up


Listen Up

 

I found myself in tears as I drove away from the Dollar Store. Not because of sadness or regret but because of pure and unmistakable gratitude. This season of live has been one of growth mostly because it has been my hearts’ desire to be in a state of passionate pursuit of God’s heart for this world. I want to love deeper than I ever have; to take the road of trusting Him and never look back.

It was an ordinary event that God used to touch hearts and remind us again that He is everywhere, watching over and waiting for us to learn the art of listening. I had to go to the dollar store to get some supplies for my son’s science project; an ordinary task. It was busy and only one checker was checking people out. My flesh was aware of the inconvenience of the line and I thought to myself that they really needed to do a better job of paying attention to customer demands. I was able to drown out my selfish complaints as I remembered that I had asked God (that very same week) to help me not focus or feel inconvenienced but to instead show patience and love more and more. So instead I offered my spot in line to a couple that approached the line at the same time. There was a man behind them and I all of a sudden became very uncomfortable and seeing how I had no idea why I was uncomfortable I imagined all the bad reasons for this feeling.   

Then in a moment of complete surprise I felt the Holy Spirit whisper deep inside that I was to buy this man’s items for him. It wasn’t more than ten dollars’ worth but I was so uncomfortable with the public embarrassment of the gesture that I tried to explain to God why it was a bad idea. But the nudge only became more undeniable and I had to act.

Now let me just explain that although I am eloquent and put together on paper and even in the small controlled environments of friends and family I can appear very intelligent, witty or even wise at times, I am a complete and total idiot in public around strangers. I have no social skills when it comes to these things and I always try to make the awkwardness go away by being ever so much more awkward. For example: A week ago I was obeying the Holy Spirits prompt to buy a snack at the store for a homeless person outside and when I gave it to her I said, “I sure hope it is warm out today.” First of all it was 2pm and had been warm all day, so it made no sense whatsoever, but also it had no context in the situation. I just felt dumb! I am the most awkward person when I am outside of what I know.

The Holy Spirit gives me what I call the precursor pit in the stomach, the pit of regret I will feel the rest of the day if I don’t act upon what I know is right just to save face. So as the young man checking my items finished and gave the total, I said, “I would also like to buy this man’s stuff too.” The young man checking out the items was really excited about it and said, “that is so cool!” The man behind me said, “Really, are you serious?” In my awkwardness I said, “yes you have been so patient, you let me go first in line and I just really want to bless you.” He got very serious and then said, “I just lost my job.” I said, “well I hope this helps you to have a better day.” He said yes, absolutely, I will pay it forward.” I replied “I just want you to take it in and to have hope. I know God wants to bless you with it.” He then introduced himself and told me he couldn’t wait to tell his wife. I told him I would pray for a new job for him and asked what he did. The conversation was getting less awkward by the moment and the checker was just so excited to be watching it all happen.

I realized as I left to go to my car that God had just showed up at the Dollar Store to love that man. A few things stood out to me in that moment to be more than coincidence; One was that the line was almost ten people long and no other checker came to help, so all those people in line witnessed what was going on. The checker was floored by the act and heard me say multiple times that God wanted to do this. And then of course the thing that ultimately brought me to tears is that God would share with me His heart for this man who really needed a helping hand. I love how God partners with us and allows us in on his plans. I am so honored to be his hands and feet and to be a recipient in such a clear way of His answer to my request that I would love more like Him. The whole thing was such confirmation that God loves making ordinary days something quite extraordinary. When I think of how I almost lost the opportunity to bring a little bit of Heaven to earth just because I was uncomfortable it makes me so grateful that God is challenging me to a new level of trust, Faith and Obedience in Him.

This story isn’t a brag moment on my part because Heaven knows I have missed opportunities to love before. Nor is it a message meant to bring shame that we ought to be doing more. This story is merely a reminder of how much God expectantly waits for us to Listen Up. Literally “Up”. Our ears should be tuned directly into the voice of God. And in those moment when the Holy Spirit speaks we are to act as though nothing else in the whole world matters but responding to whatever is being spoken.

From my experience I can honestly say that He speaks only one language, and that language is love!  And although the world may not understand it or it may seem foreign and strange, we are to change the culture of our world to the culture of heaven, where the words and actions are formed out of love. I think that is why I feel so awkward in these situations, because if I am in Christ, I am a foreigner of this world’s culture. And although it would be more comfortable to pretend that I blend, It would never feel right inside of my soul.

Lord I ask that you give us ears to hear the love language that you are speaking over us and over all of your creation. Help us to love deeper, and be free in who we are in you and so aware of your presence that we are never afraid to bring heaven to earth. I love you so much Lord, help me to love what you love, to see what you see, and to always walk by faith not by might. Thank you Lord for letting us be a part of what you are doing. Amen  
 
 
"Again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”"
Hebrews 4:7 ESV