February 23, 2014

Light dispels the DARKNESS

Life can feel pretty dark at times. And despite how many people surround you.....you feel alone. But look at this verse:) Psalm 139:11 - "I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night - but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.". There is no place so dark that the light of hope cannot reach it. Even in the darkest places.....you will find Him there. There is no place you can run that you will not find Him there too. You may have crawled into that dark place on your own. A choice you made may have driven you to that place. Someone else may have put you in that place. Whatever the reason you find yourself in a dark place......He is there too. And if *HE* is there.....so is HOPE. If HE is there.....so is GRACE. If HE is there......so is PEACE. It doesn't MATTER how dark it is. A light shining in the darkness *CHASES AWAY* the darkness. And the darkness cannot hide the Light..... And as long as there is LIGHT....there is HOPE.

February 18, 2014

He can be TRUSTED

There are just some messes that seem too big for Grace. Some heartache that you just can't find the faith to believe for. By our own hand we've made a mess of things and now are afraid to show God our hand. Afraid of what He might think.
I know I've been there.   I didn't know how God could possibly fix this for me. 
And one day.......for ME?  It all came down to ONE question,

I heard Him say to me....."Do you TRUST me?" 

I know He can be trusted.  All that Jesus endured....for ME?  He was saying to ME, "I can be trusted."  He was saying that to YOU. 
I have learned that  the ONLY way He can redeem your mess is to lay it *ALL* on the table. Whatever is in your hand.  No matter how GREAT the grief, how big the mess,.....
If there is no fear in love...and His love is a perfect love.....then wouldn't it stand to reason that He would NEVER turn away an honest and contrite heart????                                                  He can handle it.
He bore GREATER things.  For YOU. 
Give your  mess to Him.  He is waiting for you.  Not to embarrass you, call you out or point a finger.  He left that to the Pharisees but in your defense silenced EVERY accuser and said, "Then neither do I condemn you." 
His work is RESTORATION and REDEMPTION......and there's only HOPE and GOOD things for those who are willing to lay it all on the table and TRUST Him.
Trust Him with your mess. 

It's an AMAZING Grace.

February 16, 2014

Lighten up and live FREE

It is absolutely EXHAUSTING to live a life burdened by unforgiveness, bitterness, unconfessed sin, jealousy and competition, fear and depression.
If His yoke is *easy* and His burden is LIGHT....then wouldn't it stand to reason that if we would only *CHOOSE* to live in the freedom that's already been GIVEN to us ----- to live in forgiveness, grace and mercy, absolute transparency and honesty, confidence and contentment, PEACE and FAITH....that we would find it exhilarating and LIBERATING to let GO of those things that weigh us down???? Freedom feels GOOD. He whom the Son sets FREE is free indeed! Don't be enslaved by chains you've already been made FREE from! Choose FREEDOM. Lighten UP! and live FREE! The rest is just EXHAUSTING......and will DRAIN the *LIFE* right out of you.

February 13, 2014

It's Hard to Grow with Everyone Watching.....

It's hard to grow when everybody's watching........
And in it is those seasons when you need more than ever for someone to come alongside you, be God's voice to you, cheer you on from the stands or get on the track and tell you to keep running.
I'm grateful for the people God has sent me along the way on MY race who have defined friendship for me. Who have been God's voice to me. Who have loved me in spite of me. Even in my growing seasons. I've seen the face of God and heard His voice not just in the dark and in the quiet on my own but through those God has given me to do life with. And it was wisdom to listen..........
We're not meant to do this alone. We were meant to live life together and run this race together. Be grateful for and nurture those relationships and friendships, those people God placed in your life. Be careful not to take for granted those that He speaks through to YOU personally.
God places people in your life for every season for your GOOD that will be an authority and a voice to you when you need to hear the Wisdom and Truth that comes from God's Word. There will be times when it's hard for you to discern the voice of Truth on your own and you will NEED those people of authority and leadership in your life. It will be wisdom for you to listen. One day when you're in the dark and can't seem to find Him....you will HEAR a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way....walk in it.' Isaiah 30:21 I am grateful for my pastors and the people God has placed in my life to keep my feet steady and speak Truth to me. I not only respect them as men and women of integrity and character, and as friends, but for the position they hold. For the part they play in MY life. It is wisdom to place yourself under Godly authority. And allow God to speak through those around me. Wouldn't want to do life on my own.......

February 11, 2014

Tackling a Tangled Mess

The last few days we've been cleanin' ..... more of a PURGING. DEEP KINDA cleanin'. Took the van to the car wash. Was nearly GIDDY to see the suds wash away the filth. It felt GOOD to see it SHINE The refrigerator was next. I was apprehensive about what I'd find there. Tempted to get a tetanus shot before I tackled the shelves and threw out any food that might have been past it's time. I was pleasantly surprised to find a dessert I'd forgotten about And once again.....I sighed with pleasure The fridge was CLEAN. And it felt GOOD.......
But we too have also been cleaning HOUSE. Like......really cleaning HOUSE. Sitting down as a family and talking about areas we may have allowed filth to accumulate. Things we've overlooked. Things we've allowed over time that once were off-limits. Convictions we stood firm on that maybe we began to become lazy about. (we----meaning ME----as their MOM. Since I am the one responsible to teach them the WORD and hold FAST to their convictions and STAND on the Truth. No matter how "trivial" the matter as the world may see it.)
And me personally......my OWN heart.
Apprehensive at all I might find there......
But refusing to go another day without addressing any of it.
Purging things that didn't belong there.
Sin, unforgiveness, bitterness, apathy.
Praying for the Lord to restore my heart to the place when it was all so NEW.
To shine a light on anything I might have missed. To not leave any stone unturned. Anything left unaddressed. It is a *DAILY* process......but if left unaddressed.....becomes such a GREAT matter that takes quite some time to sort through it all. Almost seems overwhelming. How GREAT a tangled mess it all is. How intimidating it looks to even BEGIN to tackle it.
But to stand back and say, "Look at her SHINE."
Now THAT'S a good feeling....and worth the pain and grief of having to clean it all out. There's no greater feeling than knowing I am standing before my Father.....with NOTHING to hide. Willing to show Him the mess....no matter how tangled it is......and surrender it to Him.
His GRACE will cover it all. And He can redeem any mess. Restore it all until what's reflected is HIM I pray that all that I am ----- looks less and less like ME and more and more like HIM. That HIS likeness is what you see when you look at ME.

February 9, 2014

Your Best Face Forward

Those notorious Pharisees.  The great pretenders.  MASTERS of disguise. Hiding behind their pretentious masks.  The only face anyone ever saw----their best face forward. 

The very IMAGE .... of ..... PERFECTION.

Unwilling to expose all that lie underneath the masks.  Unwilling to be vulnerable.  Transparent.  Unwilling to admit that they found this image of law-keeping perfection IMPOSSIBLE to maintain.  Never would they humble themselves or stoop so low to admit their flaws. (they didn't HAVE any!) That they were FRAGILE.  HUMAN. At times INCAPABLE.  In need of GRACE.  And NEVER would you find them at the feet of JESUS in search of ANSWERS.  They didn't HAVE questions without answers.  And if they did? ... the words would never cross their tight lips. 

Standing tall.  Poised.  Stoic.  Careful not to let them see that inside?  They were just as broken and in need of Grace as the rest.  Could they even SEE through their OWN masks? Did they even know their own need for a SAVIOR? 

I noticed recently (even for myself and what has brought me comfort, hope, and peace in the last 9 months) that Psalms is one of the most quoted books of the Bible. Maybe it's because it's that raw HONEST vulnerability that David had that we find we can relate to. AND appreciate. That transparency.....
In his grief. In his sin. In his remorse and regret. In his fear. In his rejoicing. In his gratitude. In his strengths AND in his weakness. 

There was no part of his heart that he withheld from God.

 Perhaps if we took that same approach before the One who already KNOWS.  He already SEES.  He's not wanting to call us out to SHAME us.  To humiliate us.  To make us feel weak and intimidated.  He's waiting for US to surrender those things to Him so He can perfect them.  

The REAL Jesus can only help the REAL you.
You are doing yourself a favor when you take the mask off. He knows what's behind it anyway.

AUTHENTICITY. That's where we grow. In the MESSY soil of our imperfections. Our flaws. The frailty of HUMAN NATURE. It's REAL.

If we only ever showed Him our BEST face forward but unwilling to surrender the bruised, calloused, broken pieces of us then He could never REDEEM, HEAL and RESTORE those things in US that we are INCAPABLE of fixing on our own.

Somewhere we've come to believe the lie that the smallest mistake or flaw RENDERS US USELESS to the kingdom of God and those around us.

The BIBLE is FULL of stories of men and women who were just that.....IMPERFECT. Those were the people Jesus reached out to. Those were the people He singled out. Where KINDNESS met imperfection. Where GRACE collides with HUMANITY. And in that same story we see MIRACLES, REDEMPTION and RESTORATION take place that otherwise couldn't happen unless they first were honest with GOD and with each other.
When we are transparent before God and allow Him to see us in all of our vulnerability it is only THEN He has something to work with. 

You can take the masks off.  He's not fooled by them anyway.
The HEART of David was beautiful....and it's what God is after. An HONEST heart.

I have learned.........

This refining.  Perfecting.  Being made more and more like HIM?  It hurts......

It hurts because it requires CHANGE. 
It requires you to say those words, "I was WRONG."  "I need HELP."  It requires vulnerability and a willingness to SUBMIT to whatEVER the LORD is doing no matter what the cost. 

He's sovereign.....and He's always up to SOMEthing. 

To *EVERY*thing there is a SEASON and a PURPOSE for it.  Ecclesiastes 3

Whatever the season may be----in it there is PURPOSE

A time to die.  A time to laugh.  A time to grow.  A time for planting and a time for harvesting.  A time to be silent.  A time to raise the roof and PRAISE.  A time to grieve.  A time to mourn.  A time to repent.  A time to LIVE.  A time for discipline and correction. 

On the flip side of all of it all?  -------
                                                    You'll find *CHANGE*.  
It's inevitable.  Your environment is changed.  The people around you are changed.  And YOU.....are changed.  If we are submitted to the will and purposes of GOD?  We will be made more like Him through every season of change.  He is always perfecting.  Sustaining us.  Refining us.  Bringing us into GREAT things. 

PERSPECTIVE is a *GIFT* ..... for when we see things through HIS eyes we can be GRATEFUL for the process.  Yes......I said *GRATEFUL*. 
Even in your darkest moments.
If He has your best interest and His *NAME'S* sake on the line......don't you think His purposes are going to be for YOUR good and HIS glory? 

I have *learned*--------
through the testing of my faith.  Through the moments that I THOUGHT were unfair and unjust.  Through the grief.  Through the moments of DOUBT.  Through the betrayals.  Through the LOSS.  Through the sorrow and the grief.  Through the process of confronting my own sin and the grief that comes from DYING to self.  Through the JOYS.  The moments of rest and PEACE.  Through turbulent, unsure WATERS. Through times of NEED.  Through those times when my faith was GREAT and those moments when I was trembling like a little girl.  Through times of GROWTH and times of EMPTINESSThrough my darkest moments......
I have *LEARNED* to be content.  Satisfied.  At rest.  At peace.  Philippians 4:11

Because.....I am submitted to the will of GOD.  And I *KNOW* that He will protect, perfect and sustain me through even my GREATEST challenges and trials.  Being content doesn't come naturally. 
We kick.  We scream.  We wail and cry.  We fight against CHANGE and HEARTACHE and wish for peace for every moment.  But if we are submitted to the purposes of our Heavenly Father who LOVES us relentlessly.....we can see it.  With EVERY new season.  Every new challenge.  A PURPOSE.  And we can LEARN to be GRATEFUL.  CONTENT.  At rest.  And know on the flip side........we will be changed.  If GOD is doing it?  It's GOT to be GOOD!  He works it ALL out to our GOOD and His GLORY!  And if it makes me look MORE like HIM and less like ME?  I'm *ALL* in! 

Change?  ...................  bring it ON.