April 29, 2014

Not Every Hero Wears a Cape

If we approach motherhood with a *sense of entitlement*.....
(after all--- WE'RE doing EVERYone a favor by doing what CAN be one of the most disregarded, thankless and unglamorous jobs) 

......We may be waiting around for a badge or an award that may or may never be presented to us. How quickly we fall from HERO.....to MARTYR

Our job is intentional. Purposeful. We answer to the Father for this responsibility we've been given. Thanks or no thanks. Praise or no Praise. We wear the shoes with Divine RESPONSIBILITY and PURPOSE. TRUE GREATNESS? Doesn't come with a parade. Though who wouldn't love a good party and parade in their honor?!?!? :) 

Jesus' found GREATNESS through SERVANTHOOD. He gave up His throne and found His GREATEST significance lay in His sacrifice. His humility. Through NO pride. No ceremony. NO accolades. He humbled Himself to the point of death.
We die to our flesh every day. No. Not in a "I-feel-a-little-piece-of-me-dies-every-day-these-kids-are-so-draining" kind of death. Being a parent is a JOY. An honor. A privilege. We lay down our own desires. Our dreams. Our passions. Our needs......for the sake of something GREATER. The little one(s) God has given us. To raise them as young men and women who FEAR God and love and serve man. To do that....we DO have to give our LIVES...our entire BEINGS to it. Not as a martyr.
Taking the attitude of servant....in humility.....giving up our RIGHTS and ENTITLEMENTS. Instead of a nuisance, a thorn in our flesh, a JOB, (which robs them of their own SIGNIFICANCE as human beings!)

our children become WELCOMED members of our family in all of their IMPERFECTIONS and NOISE and MESS just as God Himself welcomed YOU....with all of YOUR imperfections and mess. They will find home as their safe haven. A place of GRACE and PURPOSE and SIGNIFICANCE.

 Not every Hero wears a cape. (but if you want to break out your Wonderwoman costume every now and then---that might make things rather interesting :))

April 24, 2014

The Prodigal's First Mistake

The prodigal son.  I always thought of him as impulsive.  Greedy and foolish.  Prodigal defined is reckless and wastefully extravagant.  
I don't believe the boy was always so foolish.
BEFORE the son ever approached his father for his part of the inheritance there was an underlying HEART ISSUE that is never really mentioned but we can safely assume.

Neither the runaway nor his brother were lacking in any way.  In fact when big brother throws his temper tantrum after the rugrat comes homes dad says, (with PATIENCE I'm SURE)  "You are always with me and all I have is YOURS."  
EVERYTHING they ever needed was handed to them on a silver platter. 
So if they lacked for NOTHING then what on EARTH was the boy THINKING?  To walk away from all of that?  ALL of those things were rightfully HIS!  But rather than WAIT for the FULLNESS of it to come to pass.  He grabbed it all prematurely and ran with it.  
"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8 
Jonah said it. The prodigal son lived it. 

For WHAT?  Chasing something NEW.  
Here is where the boy's underlying heart issue is revealed.  He'd become discontent.  Restless.  Bored.  Disatisfied.  And UNGRATEFUL..  
But rather than recognize the seeds of discontentment and get his heart right ----  it slowly began to blind him to reality and deceive him into thinking there was -------- MORE to be HAD. 
and he had to have it NOW.  
Lack of gratitude was the breeding ground for discontentment.
Discontentment was the breeding ground for restlessness.  
Restlessness led to impulsiveness.
Impulsiveness led to GREED.  
and greed led to irrational thinking ----and he squandered it all before he could take stock of what he had. 

There was more to be had yes!  
But he wasn't MEANT to have it NOW....and it began to lead him down a path he never thought it would take him.  
He never imagined he'd be making his home with the pigs..... 

Before you squander what's rightfully yours in the first place----take a look at your heart. If you've become discontent, disatisfied and ungrateful be very careful.  A discontent heart can become the breeding ground for pride, greed and foolish irrational thinking----taking you away from every blessing you HAVE been given to chase something that will never satisfy but leave you empty handed.  
They key to contentment:  PERSPECTIVE & GRATITUDE 
A GRATEFUL heart rests SATISFIED and CONTENT with this life you've been given.  No matter what you find in your hands....KNOWING that every GOOD thing you've been given is from the Father's hands. 
And EVERYthing He has is ALREADY yours.........
and what's MORE?  The BEST is yet to COME!  

April 21, 2014

Lessons from My Garden

Lessons from my garden.
I planted some candytuft this morning.
As I was digging out the plants that just couldn't survive the winter I found the root of a weed that I would cut down year after year.

Only it was much bigger. Stubborn. Strong. Harder to get rid of.

It's been covered with mulch and blanketed with black ground cover.
The problem is.
I never dug it out from the root.
I don't even KNOW where the root is anymore.
It has SNAKED its way through the bed of my flo
wer garden. 
........And I couldn't help but think of the things in my life that DON'T BELONG but over time had TAKEN OVER. 
We can cover it up. Bury it. Pretend it's not there. 
But if not dealt with at the root. If not DESTROYED ---- it will take over without our ever realizing what's taking place beneath the surface.

Everything LOOKS beautiful.
But a little at a time.....LIFE is choked out by the weeds we never really dealt with.

Christ promised us LIFE abundantly. But get rid of the weeds. They don't belong. If we're going to live that abundant life the WAY He meant for us to live it then the weeds have to go. Whether it's sin. unforgiveness. bitterness. anger. resentment.
You can bury it and pretend it's not there but over time it will ROB you of the ability to THRIVE and FLOURISH.

On the surface everything might come out looking like ROSES. But I PROMISE over time ---- your roses can't survive sharing the same ground with weeds that don't belong.

Deal with it at the root before it steals the LIFE right out from under you

April 17, 2014

Forgetting What's Behind and Reaching Forward

Why look for the living among the dead? 
He is not here. 
He is risen!

You want to hear something amazing?
The Lord spoke those words to me 3 days before my husband passed away.
About leaving what's dead behind.
We were meant to live an abundant life. 
To wallow in the graveyard of yesterday's mistakes and disappointments is to reject the gift of grace and the NEW things God is doing TODAY. 
Then the morning after he went home I saw a vision of Mary with the resurrected Jesus.
I heard those words again. As if He were in that very room with me "Why look for what's LIVING among those things already behind you."
I know that the Lord was trying to teach me something very important. If we are not careful... we will spend all of our time living in regret. Mistakes. Disappointment. grief.
It will paralyze you.
Keep you from moving forward.
But if we will embrace what God is doing today. The gifts of today. Then we can live in the abundance of the life he is provided for us.

Such PROMISE awaits those who can understand what the Apostle Paul meant when he said "forgetting what is behind I reach forward."
Don't spend your life living in the graveyard of yesterday. Leave what's dead and gone behind. He says "behold I am doing a new thing!" 

So forgetting what is behind... We press on.

The Gratitude of GREAT Grace

The pharisee was confused by the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. 
He didn't understand.
What's MORE?He was offended.
He was entitled.
What he brought to the table was a spotless record. A list of righteous deeds and his impressive wealth of knowledge. 
What she had to bring to the table?
Her mess.

Jesus love and forgiveness SO overwhelmed her that she was moved by gratitude. Gratitude was not a word sufficient enough to describe her emotions. She experienced the unconditional love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of a Man who was without sin and who had every moral authoritative right to hold all of her sins against her.

Pride blinds us to compassion and understanding. 
But even more blinds us to our own need of a Savior.

Both the Pharisee and the woman must kneel at Mercy's feet....but the difference between the two? The woman with all humility and nothing left to lose....nothing to impress him with ....nothing to offer but her sin and tears of gratitude is the one who understood the INCREDIBLE gift of mercy and her need of saving grace.

The Journey Doesn't Always Make Sense

The journey to all that God has promised us is often marked with rest stops and detours we may not understand. There was a much more direct route to the Promise Land for the Israelites. But God knew that route was marked with terrifying war and things the Israelites couldn't handle. He knew if they went that way they would pack their bags and go back to Egypt.
Exodus 13:17 says even though God knew there was a more direct route if they had to get there by way of the war breaking out in the land of the Philistines they would tuck tail and run.
Going backwards is not an option.

God has a plan. And He knows our hearts. He sees things we cannot. And knows thing we do not know. His plan is flawless and filled with PURPOSE. 


go forward with God.
Even when you don't understand.
He knows how to get you to where you need to be.

April 15, 2014

The Company you Keep

The company you keep will be either a positive influence or a negative one persuading you to pursue the things of God or walk away from them.
It's hard to understand why the Israelites FINALLY having the SWEET taste of freedom......would DARE to complain.
The hardships of wilderness living and one roadblock....(albeit a *seemingly * insurmountable roadblock) and they are ready to pack it up and go back to the familiar pain and suffering and strongholds and bondages of Egypt.
In Numbers 11 the people begin to complain and only 4 verses later the (others that were with them) suddenly began to miss the "COMFORTS"? of Egypt. No longer was it a place of slavery, oppression and bondage. (Don't forget.....the Egyptians wore them down SPIRIT SOUL AND BODY with their brutal forced labor) but after hearing and entertaining the complaints and whining of the other Israelites they were ready to pack it up, give it up.....and head back.
My friend.....

There is nothing GOOD for you in Egypt.
But when we begin to entertain and even engage in negative conversation. Associate with those who have little faith. We begin to think like them. Believe like them. And perhaps even be PERSUADED to go in a direction we were never meant to go.
Oh the influence of community.
Choose your friends wisely. Surround yourselves with those who speak the Truth. Those with Great Faith. Those who PASSIONATELY PURSUE the things of God EVEN WHEN LIFE GETS TOUGH. because when you begin flagging in the faith .... you will find strength in numbers and be led into Truth instead of being deceived. Negativity has no place in your life. Keep pursuing the things of God...it's in the hard places you will find your faith is forged in the fire and one day instead of doing the easy thing and heading back to Egypt you'll find yourself standing in the middle of EVERYTHING God promised you!!!!

April 12, 2014

He is the Alpha and Omega and every moment in Between

So often I look at what is going on around me in THIS MOMENT HERE and I am so consumed with the moment that I forget God is ALWAYS UP TO SOMETHING.  
He is a CREATIVE God.  You only have to look at the PERFECTION in creation, in the UNIVERSE, to see HOW SOVEREIGN He is in His methods and process.  
Every single MOMENT of Creation He stepped back and admired His work and said, "Now THAT'S good."  
But imagine if you were present during those moments NOT knowing what was coming next.  Not understanding His reasoning and logic to all that He was doing.
There wouldn't be much sense to it.....UNLESS you knew what was coming next.

God could CALL His work a GOOD work because He knew how it would all unfold.  He knew it would come together in PERFECT fashion according to His GRAND DESIGN.  He knew what was coming NEXT.

You may look at this moment ---- HERE ---- and think it just doesn't make sense.  There is NOTHING Good you can see in the present.
But God----is a CREATIVE God and He is creating something INCREDIBLE with your life.  He is doing things IN you and THROUGH you.....
And it is all part of His GRAND DESIGN unfolding one step at a time.
THAT is why He can look at the work He is doing in YOU and CALL it GOOD.
Because He knows what's coming next.
He sees things you cannot see and knows things you do not know.
And He says, "Now THAT'S Good."  
He is the ALPHA and OMEGA.
And all the moments in between.
In the details.
And He will have the last word.
It's ALL Good.  And the Work of His hands are PERFECT.  TRUST in His creative DESIGN.  It may not make sense today.....but He's got it ALL worked out for YOUR GOOD and His GLORY!

Praying with Limited Reason

So often we pray and believe for something but without thinking even in our request we put God in a box....ASSUMING (innocently) that He's going to do it a certain way and with certain means and by a certain method. 
We prayed and prayed for Justin to find a job. (he was unemployed for 3 years) ASSUMING that because *GOD PROMISED* that He would meet our needs then it would stand to "reason" (with my EARTHLY reason) that God would answer this prayer of ours and come through for us. Little did I realize there was PURPOSE in Justin being home. He spent 3 years with his children....making memories. Because we did not know (in our limited understanding) that he was soon to go Home.
He only promised He would meet our needs.
He never promised me HOW.
I've done it time and time again.
Assuming God will meet a need a CERTAIN way. We don't mean to do it.
It's just the way our mind works. We are naturally steered in that direction. Because we need a reason. We try to come up with a plan. We think we understand God and how He's thinking. But we often times are no where NEAR to understanding His thought process.
Believe for the things in black in white.
If He said it....you can stake a claim in it.
But leave the process and the methods and the means up to Him.
He knows more than you do. He sees what you cannot. and He can be trusted to do what's best for YOU.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration.
9 “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Where Do I Fit in This World?

Have you ever asked the question, "where do I fit in this world?"
I have.

More so in the last year than I ever have.
What is this supposed to look like now that my husband is gone?
Where do I belong?
What am I supposed to be doing?
I will admit I have really struggled with that question.
But one thing... one critical thing... I had overlooked. 

Maybe where I belong is right 
where I am. 

Doing what I am doing. 
Maybe things are supposed to look like they do in this moment here. 

I doubt Esther ever imagined the things that God had in store for her to do. I'm sure she never saw herself standing before a king having to make such a bold request. 

Maybe our purpose lies in our ordinary day to day responsibilities... Not ever fully knowing or understanding Gods purposes and plans that are unfolding as we are faithful in the little things.  Faithful with NOW. We have lofty thoughts and ideas about how we think God should use us. But we forget that in the ordinary everyday life we have great purpose. Great meaning. 

Sometimes our greatest callings are right under our noses. Kissing boo boos. Doing laundry. Cleaning house. Sitting down with our children and teaching them the Word of God. Sharing the gospel with those people that God places in our path. Doing what we do every day. Being faithful with the things we have been given.

 And one day... we will look behind us and see that God had us right where he wanted us. One day we may find ourselves standing before kings. But the will of God is unfolded one day at a time one step at a time. 

You were born for such a time as THIS moment. 
Leave tomorrow in God's hands and be faithful with TODAY.

Keep in Step with Jesus not your Neighbor

No sooner did Jesus finish confronting Peter with those 3 words, "Do you love me." that Peter began to feel that pressure we ALL feel from time to time----to COMPARE our callings, our walk, our struggles, our personalities, gifts and talents, our weaknesses....with those around us. 
Jesus said to PETER...."follow me"
Peter looks over his shoulder at John (you know...the ONE whom Jesus LOVED :)) and said, "Well what about HIM Lord?!?!
Jesus was quick to rebuke when he said, "What's that to you?----as for YOU....follow me."
We are SO easily distracted by the temptation to COMPARE. We derive a sense of SECURITY from SAMENESS. Whether it's in our callings, strengths, weaknesses, or in our sin. We look to those around us and make judgment calls to either excuse what we are doing looking to someone who's doing it worse, or to elevate ourselves pointing out others weaknesses, or to put ourselves in positions we were never MEANT to be in because we envy the callings on someone else's life.
Jesus has us where He wants us.
Walking with Him, in obedience is where we are supposed to be.
It is not for us to keep in step with our neighbor...we are to keep in step with Jesus.
Jesus was speaking to PETER.
Jesus told PETER to follow him.
Peter would have done well to just keep his eyes on Jesus.
There were things for Peter to do that no one else was called to do...and he would do them in a way that only PETER could do them.
And for YOU too.....
there are things for YOU to do.
And there is nobody else that is called to run your race, the way you are to run it....
You cannot run anyone else's race.
He is asking things of YOU---regardless of what everyone around is doing.
He is speaking to YOU.
To compare yourself to others is to ROB your life and those around you of the things GOD wants to do THROUGH YOU. And He has a reason for asking those things of YOU. He has purpose for the things He's calling you to do and the WAY He's asking you to do it. If you are It's for your GOOD to keep your eyes on your own course and let God take you where He wants to take you.

April 10, 2014

You were made for the SKIES

Last week we visited the birds at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
One particular creature captured my attention and I haven't been able to forget him.
The Bald Eagle. So majestic. You don't realized how gorgeous and magnificent they are until you are face to face with one.
To be able to soar on mountain tops the way they do with that impressive wing span.
This eagle was perched on a limb, in a manufactured environment made to LOOK like his natural habitat. No net. No cage.
The sky above him an invitation to do what he was born to do. 
I couldn't take my eyes off of him.  As I stood there in amazement at this majestic creature I watch him raise his wings as if he was about to take off.  He stretch his neck and raised his wings a little higher and instead of flying --- HOPPED to another part of his tree.  
"HOW FRUSTRATING" I thought.  To KNOW what you were born to do.
To know your abilities.  To know what it feels like to SOAR and feel the wind under your wings.  The whole world beneath you. No cage holding you captive.  You can look up and see where you belong.
But you're broken and unable to fly.  

I don't know his story.  Whether his wings were broken and was forever bound to a life of captivity or that they clipped his wings because he was too unhealthy to survive in the wild......
But my heart hurt.  
Because I know the feeling.
To KNOW you were BORN for "this".  To KNOW what it feels like to SOAR and to know what it feels like to be broken.  
To know the freedom of flying and the frustration of knowing you were made for MORE .... but injured and too weak to fly you just couldn't get off the ground.  

Then there are those who CAN fly.  
Who have been given all the resources they need but don't even realize there is no net.  There's nothing holding you down.  But for whatever reason.....they're too comfortable in this manufactured environment too intimidated by the open skies. It's too risky. The imminent danger that are out there.  It's EASIER to stay captive.  It's become HOME.  So rather than embrace what they were made to do....and experience the FREEDOM that's available they'd rather just stay PUT.  It's made to look appealing.  This manufactured environment was made to LOOK like home.  But it's not your home.  You were made for MORE.
Regardless of the REASON.....
You were made to SOAR.
You were made for more than THIS.
You were born with DESTINY.  PURPOSE.
God had so much more in store for us than so many of us embrace or even comprehend!
If you're grounded because you've been injured....then wait on the Lord.
Isaiah 40 :30-31
He gives strength to the weary

and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.
It's why Jesus came.  To bring LIFE to the devastated place.
To resurrect what's dead.
To HEAL the broken places.  Jesus CAME to *SET YOU FREE*
And He paid an expensive and extravagant price for your freedom.
"God has sent me on a mission.
I have some great news for you.
God has sent me to restore and release something.
.......................And that something is YOU. :)
I am here to give you back your heart and set you free.
I am furious at the Enemy who did this to you and I will fight against him.
Let me comfort you............
For, dear one, I will bestow beauty upon you where you have only known devastation.
Joy, in the places of your deep sorrow.
And I will robe your heart in thankful praise. :)
In exchange for your resignation and despair." Isaiah 61

Look UP :)  
The sky above is your invitation to do what you were BORN to do.  SOAR.  
You were made for SO much more!  

April 8, 2014

For the Sake of our Children

"I am a mess. I am a wrecking ball."--it's a new song by Building 429 "Press On"
My children missed the whole message of the song because they couldn't get past those 2 words without being reminded of Miley Cyrus. 
We had a conversation about how clever the devil is. To deflect our attention away from a GOOD message towards something he's tainted, adulterated, and ruined. Before you think I'm being extreme or overreacting....it's not all fun and games. It's not innocent propaganda. THESE are my children!!! and there is a battle for their souls. Our children are being bombarded on EVERY side. And if we're not "on alert" and *PAYING ATTENTION*! and addressing those things with the TRUTH of God's word then the one who is working over time to steal, kill and destroy will invade our homes one compromised conviction at a time before we don't know what hit us. For your kids' sake---draw lines in the CONCRETE and refuse to deviate from those convictions. No. You cannot always protect your children and their fragile hearts from the things of the world. But you CAN trust that the foundation you are laying provides for them the wisdom to know how to RESPOND. and PRAY. Pray fervently for them that God protects them from those things that would damage the seeds you are planting every day. He DOES and He will.......

A God of MORE than ENOUGH

On paper it doesn't make sense!!!!!!!!!
Raising (and FEEDING ;)) 4 children --- 3 of whom are RAPIDLY growing boys who 
BURN calories sitting STILL. and we have not missed a single bill. (other than careless oversight :p)
I look at my measly 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
My jar of oil. My oil that is JUST ENOUGH.
.......and every day He proves Himself over and over again in the provision. I look back over the last year --- and I am in AWE.
How HE CARES for His children.
Makes sure our needs are met.
I look at not just my children. (if they were all I had----I would be RICH and my life would be full.) but also at our home. The blessings we DO have. Not only have we been able to pay the bills, and put food on the table (enough to feed growing young men) but MORE than enough. 

If you need $5 and you have a nickle to spare....then you, my friend are BLESSED with abundance. 
And what's MORE??!?!?!?!?!? Because God is an over the top kind of God.....He's given me ABUNDANCE to bless others. EVERY SINGLE TIME He's spoken to me to give to another person He's not only REPLENISHED the jar of oil (which in my limited flesh and what I can see is JUST ENOUGH) He gave it back with BONUS. Spilling over. Not just financially but
...........with EVERY blessing from His storehouse of GOODNESS.

I am blessed. I am RICH. My life is FULL. My children are well cared for. Peace reigns in our home and we are covered.by our Heavenly Father. KNOWING He's watching over us, I know I have to be anxious for NOTHING. Because tomorrow...when I pour oil from that jar.....there will be enough for me and mine and some left over to give. 
Because that's just how He rolls.
That's MY God 
Do you KNOW Him????!!!!!!!

April 7, 2014

A Consistent Testimony for our Children

"Children's children are a crown to the aged...and parents are the pride of their children." Proverbs 17:6
We look for our children to make us proud. We watch their achievements and accomplishments. We find pride in their gifts and talents. We find no greater JOY than to know they are walking in TRUTH.

 But our children TOO will find either a sense of PRIDE or shame in us as parents.

They see the integrity of who we ARE when no one else is around. The consistency of our testimony. Whether or not our FAITH lines up with our actions and words in EVERY situation. Live a life consistent with your testimony in FRONT of you children. Give THEM something to proud of. That's worth far MORE than any award!!!!

Seeing the GOODNESS of the LORD *HERE*

Psalm 27:13-14 What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.

Wait for it:)....miracles have a way of riding in to save the day.

There are times in life when if it weren't for HOPE our spirits would be crushed under the weight of circumstances. War-worn and tattered you are weary from fighting.  Spending your energy just hanging on.  You may be surrounded on every side but will never find yourself crushed; you may feel at a loss and unable to find an answer. But you'll never be driven to despair. You may feel pursued but never will you be deserted to stand alone! You may be struck down to the ground, but you will never be struck out and destroyed!!!!!!! (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) You may feel pressed in on every side as if the next wave is the one that's gonna take you under! But..this is the promise you have in HIM...it. will. not. ever. consume. you.  But what's even BETTER? We can be CONFIDENT that we WILL see the GOODNESS of the LORD......here.  

Surrender the LAST stronghold. It's YOUR move.

You've given Him everything else except that ONE thing. Until you let it go you will never discover the freedom that comes from surrender. He wants empty hands and a surrendered heart. Whatever it is that you're holding on to.....let it go and live free.

We ask God to destroy strongholds and set us free when we are the ones left holding the flag.
It's YOUR move.
Until we surrender that last stronghold we will never be truly free. Only you know what that is. It's a question of Lordship. Either He's Lord of all of it or not Lord over any of it. Abraham was asked to pack it up and leave it all and he didn't hesitate. He knew God. He trusted Him. But what about Isaac? Could He trust Him even in this? How many of us would at the last minute snatch him up off the table and change our minds. And how many of us miss out on that greater thing God has for us when we refuse to surrender whatever it is that He's asking of us. Maybe its a dream or desire. Maybe its sin or unforgiveness. Whatever it is... you will never find the freedom you are looking for until you are willing to let go. Let HIM be Lord over that too. You can trust Him. He will exchange your surrendered heart for something far greater than what it is you've not been able to let go of......and with it peace and freedom that only comes from surrender.