October 28, 2017

I am No Victim

My life is all the music lyrics....
I pray with music.
I worship with music.
I meditate with music.
I ponder with music.

So when a friend introduced me to this song I had ALL the feels.  This is MY story.  


I am no victim.
I live with a vision.
He’s not just reviving.
Not simply restoring. 
Greater things have yet to come.
I do not wonder
If His plans for me are good.
If He'll come through like He should.

Cause He is provision.
and enough wisdom 
to usher in my brightest days.
To turn my mourning into praise.
I am defined by all His promises.
Shaped by every word He says.  

I am No Victim

I am NOT a victim.  
Ok.  I will admit that there are moments when I feel sorry for myself.  When life becomes overwhelming and I cry out to God, "I didn't CHOOSE this! I don't WANT to do this alone!"  

That when He gently reminds me in His compassion and gentleness, "My dear, you were never meant to do this alone."  


He is so good to me in those moments of doubt.  In those moments of fear and insecurity.  He makes His presence known.  In subtle ways.  In grand and glorious ways. 
But He always makes Himself known in ALL of my moments...simply to remind me....He is sovereign.  He is ONLY good. 

There are things only known in Heaven that I may never understand.  But can I trust that His plans for me are good?  That He WILL turn my mourning into dancing?  

Will I measure His goodness by my circumstances?  Or by His promises?




Recently I had come to the end of a really really hard day.  I sat in the floor of the shower, feeling the hot water wash over me and in my utter exhaustion I whispered, "God I don't WANT to do hard anymore.  Haven't I endured enough?
It was a silly question....and I wanted to withdraw my words as quickly and honestly as I spoke them.  "In this world....you will have tribulation....but take HEART....I have overcome the world."  

Life is messy.  Life is hard.  Life is unfair.  But if I get lost in the questions, the whys and what-ifs then I miss it. 
His promise to me.
That He has become victorious over this for me.
He is redeeming.
He is restoring.
He is making things new again.
But not JUST restoring.
Not JUST healing.
Not JUST coming into my darkest moments and bringing me a kind of comfort that only He can bring.
But His promise is that GREATER things are still to come.
There's still more. 
His story doesn't end with ashes and brokenness. 
You were created with a purpose.  For such a time as this.
And if He is going to finish what He started then your healing...your rescue is ONLY THE BEGINNING.

He is so kind and intentional and He's always gently leading us FORWARD to those greater things.  Towards Kingdom things.
The temporary grief of this moment doesn't even COMPARE with what's to come. 

No----we are not victims. 
We live with HOPE.
He is our Hope.
He is our Peace.
And there is always a future for those who trust in Him even in our darkest hours.  

October 14, 2017

I Will Restore Her Ruins

I will raise up and restore her ruins. Isaiah 44:26
This morning I was reading from Isaiah and stopped here.
I will raise up and restore her ruins.
Her places of brokenness and seasons of grief.  Her seasons of loss and tears.  Her dreams of tomorrows shattered into pieces leaving her with a future of unknowns.  
     As I read that verse over and over again I remember like it was yesterday the moment my world as I knew it crumbled and I looked at the faces of my children, offering them consolation that could only come from God's Word, and thought to myself, "What NOW? What are we going to do?"

And there it was, in black and white, on the pages in my lap.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.  Isaiah 43:2



.....I was in over my head.
Feeling as though the grief would consume me, while my mind was lost in a sea of questions, doubts and fears.  
I am the Lord, the One who makes rivers in the wastelands.
I am doing a new thing -can you not see it? Isaiah 43:19

My tomorrows, full of doubts, fears and uncertainties, are NOW.  Today, THIS moment....I look around and see it.  The rivers in the wasteland.  

Sitting there, reading through Isaiah, I became so overwhelmed with gratitude.  That where there was death, what I thought would once consume me....became a tomorrow full of promise and blessings.  Favor and SUCH mercy.

I carried those thoughts with me in my heart throughout the day, feeling this quiet gratitude for NOW.  Gratitude for what was, and gratitude for what is NOW.
Nothing is as I thought it would be.....but at the core of all that is, is SO MUCH GRACE.
Driving down the road, making small talk with my oldest, our conversation turned to memories of daddy.
After talking for a while he said, "Mom....we are so blessed."
He seemed surprised....that this life that we are living could only be a miracle.  A testimony that God will heal broken places, and do impossible miracles. 
And there it was again....
I will raise up and restore her ruins.

The promise that even in the midst of your darkest places, there is this HOPE.  This promise....and that He will do something new.

So I shared my heart with my son because I too wanted him to see it.  
That only God could breathe something new into the ruins we find ourselves in.  That when we find ourselves in over our heads...He promises it won't consume us.  To cling to him with every bit of strength we have left and know that the same Grace that took us through yesterday is still with us in this moment and will carry us through into our tomorrows.  And that those tomorrows are full of hope and promise.  

As we were talking I remembered our pastor praying over my husband not too long before he passed away.  He looked at my husband and said, "The Lord wants you to know that He WILL fulfill His promises to you and your family.  When those around you look at you they will marvel at the GOOD things He has done."

God was making a promise to him that day......that everything was going to be okay.  He WOULD NOT abandon the works of His hands.  He WOULD FULFILL HIS PROMISES TO US and our family would be a testimony to the Goodness of God.  

I looked over at my son and he was crying.
He could see it too.  The rivers in the wasteland.  The Lord making a way in the desert.  Provision, favor and blessings.  Beauty where there was once devastation.  Joy in the places of deep deep sorrow.  Clothing our hearts in thankful praise in exchange for resignation and despair.  Isaiah 61

Turning our mourning into dancing.  Beauty from ashes.
It's who He is, my friends.
What the enemy meant for my undoing, God brought restoration, and did a new thing.  
And here we are today....a living, breathing testimony to the goodness of God.
That He is Healer, He is Provider, He is Restorer, He is comforter, He is our Peace.
In our yesterdays, in our todays and in all of our tomorrows.
HOPE for a future full of GOOD things.  



When the Lord restored us, we were like those who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of Joy.  It was said among the nations, "the Lord has done great things for them!"
The Lord HAS done great things for us and we are filled with joy.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy Psalm 126





October 3, 2017

Enlarged in the Waiting

All you see now is NOT all there is.
What was once summer and alive and blooming is now falling from the trees, dying, and decaying.  The dreams of summer are beginning to go dormant.
But all you see NOW is not all there is though this moment is necessary.
This transition.  A silence.  A season of what was once alive to be buried beneath the cold and quiet snow. 
There are seasons.
But we begin to lose hope when our seasons last longer than we thought they should.
Or when it doesn't LOOK like we thought it should look like.
We grasp for signs of life.  Signs of what COULD be.
But what if we could just BE in this moment here?

Once upon a time when I was in the middle of a significant transition a stranger said to me, "Don't resent the process".
Process means PROGRESS.
I had been stuck in this moment, thinking this uncomfortable place was a permanent place of residence for me.  This restlessness I was feeling was never going to end.
But it was a process.
In the process he was preparing.
He was making ME.
There were things He was fashioning within me that prepared me for the things that were ahead.  He was preparing the place I would come to.  Rearranging the circumstances in perfect order for when the time came to move into the next season.
It didn't LOOK like spring.  What it looked like was the death of dreams.  I was grieving what was.  I was fearful of all that was ahead.   I didn't feel the warmth of summer.  It was quiet.  Lonely and cold.
But in the transition He had a plan.
He ALWAYS had a plan.

My friends.....He ALWAYS has a plan.
Can you trust Him in the process?
Can you hold on to Him KNOWING there's SO.MUCH.MORE to come?  That what you see now.....is not all there is.
And we are enlarged in the waiting.
Hope is increased.
Faith swells within us as we wait.  We rest in that hope.  We TRUST in that hope.  Knowing there is a new day dawning.  Spring always comes.  But this moment here is NECESSARY.  We can kick and scream and fight it or we can embrace it knowing there is purpose even HERE. 

And there is goodness here.  Because HE is here.  It doesn't look like what you thought it would but there are other things happening.  Those things which you cannot see, happening beneath the surface.  And those things which you can see. 

He can be trusted. 
He is good.  He is KIND.  And every thing is does comes from the kindness and goodness of our loving Father.  He can only BE good.  In all of our seasons.  No matter what things look like. 

August 11, 2017

The Morning Shines Brighter

Have you ever noticed how BRIGHT the sunshine is after the blackest night?  How welcome the blue skies are after the rain?  Everything feels new and instead of rehearsed and unthinking every breath is taken in so intentionally.  It's that calm after the storm.  The rainbow that paints the sky as the sun emerges after the rain.  
Joy comes in the morning.
We praise the day when the sun shines again.
We long for it.
We count the days.....waiting.

Can we find anything beautiful in the waiting?  Can we find redemption in the night?  Can we sing through crushed spirit and grief so heavy it steals our breath?  

These are those moments when I find the most beauty.  When the beauty that I DO find is such a miracle.  Such a saving grace.  When my song, be but a whispered prayer, is the sweetest.  Raw.  Unfiltered.  Pure emotion.  Crying out to God.  
And HE'S there.
These are the moments I find Him the CLOSEST.  When His presence is MOST evidence.
Not for ONE moment does He ever forsake us, or abandon us to grieve on our own.  No.  That would surely crush us.

He is NEARER.

He reaches through that black night and is all that we need in that moment.
That's the miracle.
When we don't know what to do.  When we don't have the words to say.  When we can't even catch our next breath.  He is what we need.


Joy comes in the morning.....but this too is where I have found joy.
Joy comes in my mourning.
In my sadness.

In my doubt.
In my sorrow and grief.
In my fears and weakness.
There is joy.  There is hope.
There is a PROMISE that morning will come yes.  But until it does, He sits and waits with us. Wiping our tears. Preserving us.  Sustaining us.  In the MOST unexpected place.  That's my miracle and my joy.  HE is my JOY.

July 23, 2017

He is Present at Midnight

     I remember the moment as if it were yesterday.  
......That moment when I found out my husband wasn't ever coming home.  The moment my life was forever changed.  I remember the feelings so vividly that I can almost reach out and touch them.  
I remember the deep grief I felt and I can still hear my loud cries ringing in my ears.  I can still feel the stomach ache I felt in the pit of my stomach when the reality swept over me like a wave tossing a ship out in the sea....."what am I going to do?"  

"I. Am. A. Widow."
These are kind of things you read in books.  The stories you see in movies.  The stories you hear on the news.  But this wasn't supposed to happen to me.  This wasn't supposed to touch MY life.  


As if I were exempt from life's heartache.  As if I got to opt-out of unexpected tragedy and grief and doing the hard things.  No.  I was now among them.

The night crept so quickly on us and the events of that evening were a blur.  I put my children to bed and opened my Bible.  I read Psalm 71 through whispered prayer.  I read over the tear-stained pages for what felt like hours.... "do not abandon me when my strength is failing.  God you have taught me from my youth.  Even still I declare Your wondrous works and miracles.  Even when I am old and gray....do not abandon me until I declare Your mighty strength to this generation. 

You will restore me to life again.  You will bring me up from depths of the earth."  

His Words were all I could speak that night.
HIS WORDS.  His Words that brought me life in the midst of death.  His Words that spoke HOPE to me when I was stripped of all that I knew.  His Words that spoke a FUTURE to me when the future that I thought I knew was no longer an option.  HIS WORDS SPOKE PEACE.  
   


I laid down sometime in the dark hours of the morning but sleep eluded me.  Throughout the night a friend sent scripture after scripture.  She stayed awake with me....texting me.....HIS WORDS. 

Then I saw Him. At the foot of my bed.  I knew it was Him.....a vision of Him....a dream, maybe, but it was MY REALITY.  He was there.  He whispered so lovingly and so assuringly....."Why are you looking for the living among the dead.  He is not here."

No.

He is not here.
He will never be here again.


But I didn't argue.
Jesus' words brought peace in the midst of my blackest night.  

He. Is. Not. Here.
He is HOME.  
I had visions of my husband in Heaven, worshipping.  
Worshipping was one of the things he most loved to do.  My tumultuous heart was suddenly brought to rest.  
In spite of my world spinning around me, the chaos of the moment, there was this stillness.  This peace.  This comfort.  This PRESENCE........a presence that never left my side.  He was so present and His presence was SO evident.  
Weeping with me, nudging me to keep moving, holding me when I just needed to be held.

  "This is what it means to be held when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive.  This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was that when everything fell we'd be held"-Natalie Grant
  
My husband played that song often.....and to this day I know it was for ME.  To remember those words in this moment and know that I would be HELD when my world crumbled around me.  That were would be something to stand on when the earth fell beneath my feet.  I would be held.  

I have never been more sure of the Sovereignty of God than I was in that moment.  (and even still) because when the darkness seemed as if it were going to swallow me whole, it was when I saw Him shine the brightest.  When the noise was deafening....the noise of  all of the questions....the fears.....the doubt.....HIS voice was louder.  His arms were stronger.  
This is what I learned that night.....
He is PRESENT at midnight.
He is in the MIDST of your storm.  
There is no night so dark that you can't find Him there.  
He was already there, waiting to be what I needed Him to be for me there.  

This is my story.....this is MY God.
In my distress [when I seemed surrounded] I called upon the Lord
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry for help came before Him, into His very ears. 
He made MY darkness His hiding place. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  My God turns my darkness into light.
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.  He trains my hands for battle. Your right hand sustains me.  Psalm 18



June 26, 2017

Navigating through your Seasons with Grace

"How you end a season is what ushers you into the next."-Daniel Bashta
I don't know how you entered this season. Or what kind of season you had before this. 
I have had seasons of transition, seasons of change.  New places, new people, new home, new friends, new city.
Seasons of grief and heartache. Having to face the hard things. That moment when "till death do us part" became a reality after only 15 years.  Our last year was our BEST year.  A season of blessings and provision, favor and miracles....became a season of grieving.  Having to raise our 4 children without their dad. There have been seasons of growth and learning. Some of those seasons were hard, dark and lonely.  But it was in those moments I have learned so much about the character of God.  I have learned more about His word and His promises in these times than any other.  I have learned so much about myself and have experienced the most growth when seasons were the hardest.
I have had seasons of tears, seasons of healing, seasons of brokenness, and seasons of celebration and joy.  
 What you do during the season you find yourself in, your response, your perspective, will determine how you end it...and how you end it will determine how you enter the next one.
Seasons are temporary. Transition and change is inevitable.  
I do know this.....God is at work in every single one.
Winter is dark and cold and every fruit and flower bearing plant lies dormant. Life ceases for a moment. But underneath the ground a seed is breathing and maturing....growing beneath the surface....waiting for spring to usher in new life.  
The activity of Heaven is constant and His Truth is an anchor through every one.


But we come to resent the process. Longing to find a short cut. Wanting to forgo this leg of the journey. It's uncomfortable and HARD. Sometimes painful and exhausting. Grief. Transition. Unforeseen circumstances.....everyday LIFE. We try to navigate around what we are supposed to journey THROUGH. When life gets uncomfortable the last thing we want to do is endure. We become restless and agitated and long to be ANYwhere but HERE. 

You may not necessarily appreciate it now but what God is doing today is preparation for tomorrow. 

He's always one step ahead of you. 
It's in those moments we have to remind ourselves.....
God is at work.
Preparing. Reshaping. Undoing things that needed to be undone.
Confirming things that needed to be confirmed. Sharpening our focus and shaping our vision. Fueling our faith and passion. There is work to be done {HERE}.

and THIS.....this, my friend, is our resolve through EVERY season.
.....but *NONE* of these things MOVE me.....that I may finish my course with JOY. Acts 20:24
Be DETERMINED. Be PERSUADED. Be IMMOVABLE. Be DILIGENT. Be CONFIDENT. Refuse to BUDGE from your CONVICTIONS. Hold FAST to the WORD of God. RESOLVE to STAND on His Promises......and you will finish STRONG.

April 22, 2017

David's Last Words

THESE......are David's *LAST* words. (2 Samuel 23) you know.....the David who messed up ROYALLY?
The David who slept with another man's wife and then purposefully had him stand in the FRONT line of battle so he'd be killed?
THIS man....
His last words were not ones of regret.
His last words were . TESTIFYING to the SAVING GRACE of God
THESE are the last words of the man *exalted by the Most High God. *ANOINTED by the God of Jacob. The SWEET Psalmist.
THE GOD WHO SET THINGS RIGHT FOR DAVID.
David says, "Is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant? Ordered in ALL things....ARRANGED and SECURED in every part? Will *HE NOT BRING TO FRUITION MY SALVATION, caused me to prosper and GRANT ME MY EVERY DESIRE?

THIS David.
His last words were ones of REDEMPTION. and RESTORATION.
His identity did not lie in the mistakes he made but rather in WHO God set him apart to be. WHAT God set him apart to DO.

It doesn't matter what lies behind you.
It doesn't matter the mess you find yourself in now.

What matters is how you FINISH.
What matters is what God DOES from HERE.

He is the Alpha and Omega.
The beginning and the end.
That means that wherever He found you..... whatever the mess He found you in .....He has no intention of leaving you there!
Only God can take what was meant to destroy you and make you an overcomer that you could even rise from the ashes and lay hold of all that Christ has already laid hold of for you.
There is a joy set before you and you're not meant to stay in the ashes. His story for you does not end here.
He is the God of all that is behind you... And the God of all that is ahead of you. He is the Great I AM! The God of right here and right now. He is the God of the hope and the future planned for you long ago!
Wherever you are today... This is not the end of your story.
Finish with Him and your end will be greater than your beginning! And *YOUR* last words will be words of HOPE, RESTORATION and REDEMPTION!!!!!

April 4, 2017

He's a GOOD Father

"How can such a GOOD God allow such heartache? So much grief?
"It's not FAIR"

How often I hear these words......
how EASY it would be for ME to ask such questions.  

My children are being raised without their father.  I am doing life without my husband.  

But here's the Truth in this war-torn, heart-broken world.
He IS Good.  He can't be anything BUT Good.  Everything He does.....everything He speaks.....every purpose and intention of His heart is ONLY good.  We were promised that in this world we WILL have heartache.  If you've lived any length of time in this sin ravaged world then you know.....you will hurt.....you will break.....and it will be hard.  

But have we FORGOTTEN??!  The same GOD that was in the MIDST Of the LION'S Den with Daniel is in the midst of your mess here and NOW!

The SAME God that walked THROUGH the fire with Shadrach,Meshach and Abednego is the same God that has never for one moment ABANDONED you to go it alone.  He has never withdrew Himself from your circumstances or your situation.  He is the MIDDLE of it.  

We are NOT exempt from the hard things.  But the God who SUSTAINED Elijah in the middle of a drought by calling the ravens to bring him food is the SAME God who will KEEP you and SUSTAIN you and BRING you *THROUGH*.

And what the enemy meant to use to harm you will become a part of your testimony of a FAITHFUL and GOOD God.  THIS season will either become a memorial of His miracles (because I can assure you...miracles DO await you)  or a memorial of your mess.  


So often we want to go AROUND our circumstances or skip the process altogether.  But we miss the MIRACLES that await us when we see it through to the other side.  We miss the GRACE that's in the middle of it all.  We miss the GLORY that's revealed in us, in our circumstances and the testimonies that become the TROPHIES of His Grace when we refuse to embrace the season that we're in.  

He IS Good.  Everything He does is GOOD.  Sometimes we have to go through the Lion's Den.  Through the fiery furnace.  THROUGH the storm.  Through the drought and famine.  THROUGH the wilderness.  But if we will CHOOSE to see it......
If we CHOOSE to embrace it......
We will see His hand.  
We will Him at work in the midst of it and we can call it GOOD because He is working ALL things together only for GOOD.  





August 24, 2016

Take it BACK!

It would be far easier for me to surrender to defeat.
Surrender to "what is".
To give up hope of anything ever being different than it is in this moment HERE.  
Sometimes breaking {FREE} takes effort.  
Sometimes it's a grit-your-teeth-dig-in-your-heels-bulldog-determination refusing to allow {THIS} to be the finale.  





When the curtains close I want to be dancing.


But there are days when I don't FEEL like dancing.
Days when I don't feel like {JOY}.
Days when I can't even......


     Sometimes those days turn into weeks and weeks turn into seasons.  But if we're not careful those seasons can consume us and rob us of every GOOD thing.  Every joy.  Every blessing.  Because, sweet friend, God. doesn't. change.  

Our circumstances do.
Our EMOTIONS do.  (Heaven help us!)  They attach themselves to whatever the situation at hand calls for.  They're fickle at best never predictable.  
But GOD. NEVER. CHANGES.  He's still just as much committed to you now as He ever was.  His promises and plans for you have never changed.  

     If He hasn't changed then neither has His word for you. The freedom He has for you.  The peace He has for you.  And the JOY He has for you.  
You don't find your freedom by surrendering to your circumstances. You find your freedom in taking back whatever was taken from you.  
Have you lost your joy?!?!? Take it back!
Your peace? It belongs to you! Take it back! 

     For me? Right now? I'm taking back my health. And I'm not going to get it by sitting on my couch nursing my aches and pains. I'm going to get it back by eating right, moving and pushing myself.  Some days may be slow. Some days I may ache.  But I can't stop and won't stop.  I'm not going to get energy by waiting till I feel like it.   I'm going to keep moving, even if there are days it is a SLOW CRAWL......I am going to take. it. back.  

     I know there are seasons for Grace.  Days when you can't even.   Allow yourself that rest but know that THIS IS NOT THE FINALE.  THIS IS NOT THE END.  We are to go from faith to faith not from problem to problem. Your greatest struggles and most difficult circumstances are God's greatest opportunities!  GOD has the final say.  NOT your circumstances, not your sickness, not your grief.  TRUTH has the final say.  Heaven wins.  So  GET UP......dust yourself off and KEEP. MOVING.   One step at a time.  One day at a time.  Take back what belongs to you!