June 29, 2014

Running To Freedom

My daughter saw a police officer as we were out running errands.  He was in the same store, in the same line as we were, doing the same business....and yet she was cowered behind me as if he was the antithesis of SAFE and COMFORTING.  
She pulled me down to whisper into my ear.....
                                    "Ummm...mom?  Polices kinda scare me."  
I said, "Why?  Did you do something WRONG?"  

I got to thinking about my initial response to her. Her response to seeing him. Hiding behind ME because I suppose she thought I would be the one to throw him down if he comes after her.

My response was meant to make her giggle but those words only give her an ill-informed perception of police officers. If she DID in fact do something wrong then she was justified in hiding from him because THEN, well, THEN you would understand the kind of FEAR a man with such a position could invoke. Then you would have to deal with the consequences of what you had done. And EVERYone knows, they're WATCHING....waiting.......to CATCH you in ONE.WRONG.MOVE. so they can swoop in and TEACH you a lesson.
I know that feeling.  
Driving down the highway, seeing the police officer on the side of the road, and for a moment?
My heart stops.

I check my speed.
Look around to be sure everything is as it SHOULD be.  
Did I do something WRONG?????

There is something about an officer that evokes a special kind of fear, true.
They represent AUTHORITY.  

but more often than not the popular opinion of all that embodies an officer does NOT include:
protection.  safety.  and RESCUE. 

I remember Abigail, a couple of years ago, lost a library book.  She was FRANTIC.  scrambling to find that book.  I told her to stop crying so she could be a little more focused in her search. she cried out, "If I can't find it I'm gonna go to JAIL!"  I giggled to myself and waited till AFTER she found the book (with good and justifiable reason) to tell her that the punishment for losing a book is 10cents a day *NOT* jail time.  

Telling your children "If you're bad.  You're gonna go to jail." only teaches them to hide from mistakes and run from authority who in fact is there for protection.  safety.  security.  rescue.
What *LOVING* parent doesn't discipline their child when they've been disobedient.

*NO* discipline seems pleasant at the time.  It IS painful.  But later on produces a HARVEST of *PEACE* and *RIGHTEOUSNESS* to those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:11)

I heard a police officer say once, "we want your children to run TO us when they need help or are in danger, not to run FROM us."  

HOW often do we run from GOD when we have found ourselves in a mess?
In a mess we've made with our own hands.  
We fear the consequences.  We somehow think He was watching...waiting to CATCH YOU IN ONE WRONG MOVE and then SLAM down the gavel in favor AGAINST us.
Oh, friends, we've got it all wrong.
Running FROM Him will always lead us to a dead end.
There we will not find the answers or HOPE we are looking for.
Running will ALWAYS keep us in a prison of denial. 
........ a CONSTANT struggle trying to stay one step ahead of the walls caving in on us.

If only we could SEE it.
He's WAITING! Not to execute judgment.  He who is without SIN has every moral authoritative RIGHT to do so.  But the ONLY one who has both the authority to condemn you and the mercy to pardon you chooses mercy.......and is WAITING for you to COME to Him.  Not run FROM Him.  

He is our DEFENDER.  Our RESCUER. Our DELIVERER.  Our SECURE place. The ONE who will make all things RIGHT when we've done it all wrong!!!!

There is NO place we can run where He does not pursue us. 
 He wants to bring us to a place of ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE AND TOTAL TRUST.

To trust Him with the consequences of our actions. 
Trust Him to fix the mess we've made and redeem it somehow. 
Trust Him to love us regardless of the mistakes we've made. 
Trust Him that asking for HELP is far better than trying to go it on our own. 
TRUST Him that He has our best interest at heart and that perhaps He knows things that we don't know after all

..... and when we've learned the art of FULL surrender we will find nothing but blessings and PEACE wait for us.  

June 28, 2014

Places of PROMISE

*40* years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.
Their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet blister.
after 40 years.
............In the WILDERNESS.

All of this .... pieces of EVIDENCE that God was SUSTAINING them.
EVIDENCE of God's provision.
EVIDENCE of His favor. His protection.
EVIDENCE of His direction. Cloud by day. Fire by Night.
They may have found themselves in the wilderness.....but SEEING GOD AT WORK even before they arrived would have brought a GRATITUDE and JOY in the JOURNEY that their narrow minded, short sighted, selfish, I-want-it-*NOW* mentality couldn't comprehend.
He was THERE.
Pay attention to the EVIDENCE.
Every step you take to get to your Promised Land is a place of Promise.....
Keep that in mind & you won't miss a THING he has stored up for YOU.

June 18, 2014

Makers of Peace

As much as it DEPENDS ON YOU.....be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18

.....as *IF* it depends on YOU.  

Because sometimes?  It DOES.  
I say it to my children often: SOMEone has to be the one who makes peace.  
SOMEone has to step it up.
SOMEone has to do the hard thing.
and SOMEtimes?  Being the one who has to eat your words when you'd rather spew them is a VERY hard thing.
Being a peacemaker requires forgiveness.  

Forgiveness *ALWAYS* comes with a price.  It requires sacrifice. 
Too often we're guilty of *CHEAP* grace.
Giving when it's EASY. 
But when the offense is great and the hurt is deep?  We want justice.
We demand restitution.
We hold forgiveness hostage until our demands are met.

Any time we choose to forgive it comes at a cost.  And we must be willing to pay it.

It costs us our right to be angry.
Our right to hold a grudge.

Our right to see justice done on our behalf. 
Our right to an apology.  
Our right to have the last word. 

How HARD that is!
So DO the hard thing!

Forgiveness means...not needing an explanation.  An apology.  It means letting go of expectations, resentment, bitterness, ill feelings and all offenses with no promise of it every being made right.  Forgiveness means understanding and GRACE in the face of what might be your deepest hurt.  Forgiveness doesn't require your feeling or emotions to agree.  
It requires OBEDIENCE.

Makers of PEACE carry the banner of humility and forgiveness.  
And wherever they go...peace follows.  

Saying {YES} to this Moment

Wander lust.
1000 places to see before you die.
100 things to do before it's too late.
Any moment but here.
Any place but this one.
Climbing mountains. Taking in beauty that just can't be found here.
Dreaming of a life different from the one we've been given.

As if life is a hand of cards we are dealt that we can choose to play or fold.
The push for tomorrow ... or our clenching of both fists tightly to the gifts of yesterday.....and missing out on today.
Because this?

{This} is not what I want.

Have I somehow with those words of fairytale dreams

.........pushed away the hand of God?

I admit I have a {list}.
Waiting. Hoping.
For those take - my - breath - away moments of finally being able to cross it off my list. 
*BUT*...........I. Am. Here.
Those words echo in my mind.
Am I really?
Am I fully here? Not just to breathe the air around me as a spectator in the stands watching a show of which I am not a part....
But am I present?
Fully embracing THIS life. THIS day. THIS moment here.
We cope by dreaming and hoping.  A hope for escape.
We put FAITH in a promise of tomorrow hoping the best is in front of us.
..........But doesn't goodness and mercy *FOLLOW* me?
                         ALL. THE. DAYS. of my life?
In ALL of my days.
In the mess.
In the struggles.
In the sinfulness of my humanity.
Goodness isn't an elusive dream just up ahead that I am relentlessly pursuing.

Goodness is HERE.
Peace is HERE.
It follows me. Wave after wave of GRACE and GOODNESS.
These moments need God-perspective.
If only we could see God Himself in this moment here....it would take our breath away.
God is good.
And every moment God IS.........is GOOD.

Am I willing to be HERE???
To appreciate what's behind me, yes.
To anticipate the GOOD ahead of me.
But to fully embrace this moment no matter what the moment holds?
If I am willing .... I will see woven through these present moments gifts of grace. Gifts of Goodness. and evidence of a sovereign God who's intentions for me are ALWAYS good In EVERY moment. 

Gratitude for this moment.
Maybe THAT is fully living.
Being FULLY here. Fully alive in the abundant life we've been given HERE. Embracing the gifts we HAVE been given. Finding the beauty HERE.

Learning the {secret} to living in EVERY situation.  {CONTENTMENT} Philippians 4:11-13

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

June 17, 2014

Mother Goose and being a mama

You don't have to remind Mother Goose to protect what's hers.
She does it naturally.
She guards them with a watchful eye, and does as much as she can to protect them from harm.  It's what she does.  For as long as those babies need her....she's on duty.

I wanted to check out. 
I didn't WANT to be a mama. 
I was tired. 
Emotionally. Mentally. Physically.
I denied myself the satisfaction of a meltdown. And realized I can't afford to clock out.
If God called me to this then He certainly doesn't expect me to do it in my own strength.
                I never wanted to do this alone. 
                  This isn't what I signed up for.

And as I breathe those words I am refusing the Grace of God. Denying His sovereignty. And seeing this moment here as nothing more than a hand I've been dealt and I'm stuck with the cards. Play em or fold em.

I envy Mother Goose.
she can be a mama without the emotional rollercosters. Her worries are minimal compared to what it is to raise 4 children in today's world.  

This is when I am desperate for God-perspective. To see things from His vantage point. From the One who is bringing it all to one glorious moment when He perfects ALL that concerns me.
Four of those concerns....are my children.

There is no sphere of influence MORE significant than the one within your own walls with your own people.

*I* am these childrens' mama.
God has entrusted them to ME. There is a very real 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. And stay on the clock.
if God called you to such a great thing.....will He not give you the Grace to be your kids' mama? 

Your kids don't need a SuperMom.  They need a mom who depends on a SUPER God.

What you accomplish for God beyond your home 
pales in comparison to what you accomplish 
with God in your home." - Ken Blount

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.......

Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God 
may not be something you DO
 but someone you RAISE. Andy Stanley

June 16, 2014

Splinters and Getting rid of those things that Don't Belong

My daughter got a very deep and impossible splinter over the weekend.
We couldn't do anything about it. As much as I tried....I couldn't get to it. She begged me to leave it in there. (trying to convince me it would heal on its own.)
Before long---I'm sure you guessed it---it was swollen, red, and hurt to stand on. Since it was Sunday there was nothing I could really do for her other than treat the symptoms. We soaked her foot in a baking soda paste, Ibuprofen....whatever I could think of that would reduce inflammation and try to coax the foreign object out of her foot. It didn't belong there. Her body was fighting against it. But the longer we left it there----the more miserable she was.

Today we finally made the trip to the Dr. I was hesitant. Did we REALLY need a Dr? Would it have come out on its own? Would it have healed itself? The Dr. confirmed that it was infected and whatEVER it was in her foot...it needed to come out. we were going to wait it out and give her antibiotics. As she started the clean the wound she started to cut away the part of the skin that had started to form a scab and as she pulled it away a half-inch piece of wood came out of her foot.
I don't need to tell you.....she's feeling MUCH better tonight  and I feel relieved.
But I got to thinking.....
about the things we harbor in our hearts that just DON'T belong.
Unconfessed sin.

If we are children of the day (2 Corinthians 6:14) and keep those things hidden and refuse to deal with them we will only be MISERABLE until we're wiling to do what we need to do to be RID of those things that just don't belong.

That just might require being vulnerable enough to admit it's there and being willing to ask for help. It all HAS to go. We can't cover it up and HOPE those things heal over. Unless it goes? We will never be truly free.......
(of course---I had to flip it all into a life lesson.  the SPLINTER?!?!!? it had to GO...I couldn't listen to her complain any more!!!!! ;))

My Unbelief and RECKLESS disregard for the CHARACTER of God

Our unbelief is nothing more than our refusal to TRUST in Gd's absolute SOVEREIGNTY.  
We REACT and RESPOND to circumstances impulsively.  Led by emotion and influenced by those around us and don't realize that ultimately?  

It's a RECKLESS DISREGARD for the CHARACTER of God.......

If God is WHO He said He is, and MEANS what He says.....then our response to TRUST Him regardless is our willingness to put the outcome in the hands of the One who sees things we cannot see.  
The One who can look up ahead and know what needs to be done in order to get us to where we need to be.  Who can take into account the intent of our hearts....the things unseen AND seen and be able to manufacture all of the details in a way that we in our limited understanding could NEVER do with such perfection. 
It all comes down to ONE QUESTION.  
Do you TRUST Him?  
God told Moses to SPEAK to the rock---and the ENTIRE community of Israelites would have water enough to sustain them.  
Instead of TRUSTING Good that He had a REASON for wanting him to do it THAT way...in ONE impulsive moment he struck the rock and with that ONE act of rebellion he had to surrender his ticket into the Promised land.
It wasn't about the rock.
It was about Moses' intentions.  
It was that Moses being led by emotions was showing a RECKLESS DISREGARD for the CHARACTER OF GOD.God is SOVEREIGN. 
Don't dismiss the promptings of the Holy Spirit or the word of God as just a "good idea".
It's not an option. 

When God speaks a thing to you its with GOOD REASON. it's for a purpose.
He knows where YOUR choice and "better ideas" will lead you and what they will cost you.
He knows things you don't know.
He sees things you can't see and has only GOOD intentions for you. 
.....and you would do well to take Him at His word.

Refuse to be persuaded by opinions, people, and circumstances.  Just TRUST and OBEY and watch God work on your behalf.  

June 12, 2014

When you Think Deliverance will NEVER come.....

Sometimes disappointments come in waves.
Just as you catch your breath......
                                                  another one takes you under.  

It's exhausting believing for something and thinking you're on the edge of a breakthrough only to find yourself in the middle of a setback.  

I've been there.
I quoted every scripture I could find to stand on.
BELIEVING for a season of rest.
Believing for God to throw open the windows of Heaven, reach down, pick me up and PLANT me in the middle of everything I was believing for.  When I found myself knocked off my feet I would pick myself back up again and KEEP fighting, feeling like I had nothing left to GIVE.  

Wondering WHEN.

I exhausted myself with this moment here forgetting that one step ahead of me....
                                                ALWAYS. ONE. STEP. AHEAD.

Deliverance was *ALWAYS* his plan.

I'm sure the Israelites questioned everything they believed about God when *FINALLY* they were free from Egypt only to find themselves in the wilderness.
What's MORE?
The Egyptians were once again a threat to their freedom.

Freedom feels good.

WE know.....God was up to something.  But only because we read the story.

Can we not just *TRUST* that He's up ahead......He's got something in mind........and He knows how to get us to where HE knows we need to be?
Can we not just *TRUST* His sovereignty and that even IN THE WILDERNESS...on our way to everything we've been promised.....He will sustain us.  Not for a single moment will He abandon the work of His hands.  That He will ALWAYS complete what He started.

There comes a day of reckoning.
When deliverance is a reality.
It was *ALWAYS* a reality.

And Moses faced the Egyptians and said......“Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 

                                                 Wait for it.
                                   Miracles have a way of riding in to save the day.
                              It was his plan all along and He won't abandon the work of His
                            hands.  He will perfect ALL that concerns YOU.  

June 11, 2014

Embracing Change and Seeing GOODNESS

This family has seen aLOT of change. Drastic changes. Some?....very hard.
I am learning to bend.
I am learning to respond to it all with grace.
I'm learning to hold on to the things of the world loosely and hold onto God with everything I am.
I have learned the key to moving with God is to "reach forward." And to answer the question over and over again...."Do I TRUST Him with [this]---next thing?"
The answer is "yes". Without hesitation.
How could I not?
He's proven himself over and over again to me and mine.
When we learned our school was closing its doors my heart broke.
Not only was it more change but they were family.
When GOD DOES A THING..............
when GOD does a thing --- a thorough work He does.
He's into every detail. Every step is marked with favor. Grace. Evidence that God orders my way.
I admit I panicked at first.
Where will they go? What will I do?
I knew I couldn't move forward until I heard from God.
But I heard nothing. 
So I waited.
when God spoke? The windows of heaven flew open and divine favor has followed every step.
It fell together in a way that I couldn't have manufactured or made happen on my own.
Only God.
He's not forsaken me for ONE moment.
raising these kids of mine, making such big decisions......such an incredible responsibility. 

Just as I want to collapse and cry out, "I never wanted to do this alone!!!!" I hear Him whisper...... "I never meant for you to do this alone."

I'm so excited for change.
What's ahead.
Because when GOD DOES A THING......it's *ALL* good.
Because in the end we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

June 7, 2014

God's presence in the Darkness

I have never been more SURE of the presence and SOVEREIGNTY of God in my life than I have been in this last year. 
So present in EVERY detail. 
Even in my husband's passing. 
He was hedging me in with his hands. Directing me not just in the moment but taking into account what was up ahead. 
The day he died I was driving home from work-alone.

I was GOING to go straight home.
But I didn't.
The police were at my house and my neighbor couldn't get in touch with me so she found a way to contact my in laws. If she had---I'd have arrived at my home to face the police----ALONE. Something no widow should ever have to experience alone; hearing the news that your husband wasn't coming home.
Hedging me in.
That was just the beginning of the evidence.
That even in THIS....such GRIEF and unexpected tragedy....I would see the EVIDENCE of God. GIFTS of His presence in my life in the midst of such darkness.
One more step.
He intervenes every step of the way.
In ways I don't understand. In ways I can't see. But when I look behind me I understand.
WHY. and HOW.
and in those moments I do NOT understand....I TRUST.
Because I have seen evidence of His sovereignty at work in my life.
I have seen His hand on ME. on my children's lives.
He knows things you don't know.
He sees things you cannot see.
And He's got you hedged in. Protected. You are covered. Even when you cannot understand.....He's up to SOMEthing. TRUST that He's got you and will take you where HE knows you need to be.

I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going. Psalm 139

June 4, 2014

Just. Breathe. Disconnecting to connect.

It's easy for me to think that the only connection I have for intelligent conversation, social interaction and "intimate" friendships is on the other side of this screen.

 .....and it is FAR to easy to neglect the world around me....

Which is RICH and full to spilling over with opportunities.
God - inspired moments that scarcely capture my attention at times because I haven't looked up to see them. 

With all the technology at our fingertips ....and thumbs;)....we have Facebook, Twitter, emails, texting, Pinterest, instagram, chatrooms keeping us all "connected". I for one am grateful for all the ways we now have to communicate/ share and stay in touch. Unfortunately, It's almost become a necessary convenience. But with as much "connectivity" that we have to take advantage of.....we've never been more *DIS*connected.....more divided.....more distant and alienated from one another than we are now. We now have even more platforms with which to stand on, voice opinions and speak our minds. We throw a few idle words to voice concern and half hearted comments to make a contribution to the sense of "community". The gift of friendship is taken for granted. Relationships, fellowship and community is underrecognized and under appreciated. Let's be careful to not substitute real relationship for virtual ones.Virtual communities have replaced our tangible ones.  And we forget to take the time to nurture and cultivate the relationships with those around us.

To be absolutely transparent---I'll admit.  Sometimes virtual reality has been an escape for me.  From reality.  To be a part of something ELSE. When all around me seems to much to bear.  When I feel overwhelmed.  When I don't like what is presented to me in the moment.  I connect to a world outside of my own.  An *INVISIBLE* reality when there's something so incredibly precious sitting at my feet.
Other times I have found a somewhat *shallow* and meaningless significance from my connection with virtual reality and forget that my significance lies in being WHO I am and DOING what God's placed in front of me to do.  He's presented me with SO many opportunities to build His Kingdom *HERE* in this MOMENT.  To be FULLY present and EMBRACE this moment is a GIFT I am wise to take advantage of.  

I hesitate to unplug because I might be missing something if I disconnect.
But the HARSH and painful reality is this --- I AM --- . I am missing out on all that is in this present moment *HERE*.  

So instead I choose to opt out of an *engaging* conversation online about how to be a better mommy, or what the latest and greatest is on Pinterest, or to hear the most recent NEWS to have a conversation WITH my children.  

To learn more about them. To have more occasion to speak into their lives. To get on their level and play WITH them.  
To be FULLY present and give them my *UNDIVIDED* attention.  
I have chosen the more needful thing.
and I haven't missed a THING.  

So I look up and see the girl......beaming with JOY with a handful of happy daisies.  "Mommy!! I picked these for YOU."

(I should have been picking them WITH her......)

I put down my phone and we figure out how to make a crown of daisies.  

She's smiling and I love how she appreciates the simple joy of finding a wild patch of daisies and being able to offer them as a gift.

Life is full of moments. Brilliant & Colorful.
If we're not careful we will MISS them.
           Just. Breathe.
I am reminded to just enjoy each moment.
Because each moment is fleeting. Gone with every breath I take.

June 3, 2014

To the one who is just....tired.

To the one who is just TIRED.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it." Matthew 11:28-30
How did He do it?
Rest in the chaos.
Peace in the storm.
Not bound by fear.
Not moved by opposition. 
Focused. Determined. Unmoved by popular opinion. Not threatened by competition. Secure. Confident.
He knew Who He was, where He came from and where He was headed. 
He extended Grace to the most undeserving.
He walked in Peace.  He didn't compare. Compete. Judge. He didn't walk in unforgiveness.
He refused to play games with the devil. He *simply* responded with the Word.
"Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
Oh to live simply.
Live light.
Every day disrupted by distractions.
....interrupted by unforseen circumstances.
Bombarded by opinions. 
The pressure to conform.  
Living with the weight of sin and unforgiveness. 
The weight of mistakes and the realization that I just can't measure up.  
To who? To what?
What am I comparing myself to? What the latest article says about how I should manage my home? How Mary JANE down the street can juggle soccer practice, ballet, orchestra,  church events, getting her weekly manicure, all the while keeping her home organized and clean without breaking a sweat?
We look to the ones around us to either excuse or justify our own lives.  Who's holding those scales?
Life is messy.
Life can be loud.
I have forgotten that His Grace has made me free from all that should weigh me down. I've become bitter. Exhausted. Juggling too many things trying to keep one step ahead for fear that I will drop a ball and watch every thing crash around me.
....If only I could learn to let go.
Learn to lean on Him and be honest.  With Jesus and with myself.
I'm not superwoman.
My kids don't need a supermom. They need a mom who depends on a SUPER God.
It is in these moments.
When I'm tired and stretched to my limits that I need to let go of those burdens I was never meant to bear.

Learn from Jesus.
Learn His way.
You'll find no chaos there.
Peace has a name. The name is Jesus.

June 1, 2014

Being a homemaker and making a HOME

Being a HOMEmaker isn't just cleaning, doing laundry, wiping spills, fixing broken things, washing dishes, putting band-aids on boo-boos, driving back and forth to soccer practice, helping with homework, mediating arguments and wiping dirty faces. 
It's making a HOME for your family. 
Creating an environment that will CULTIVATE young women and men of FAITH. Fostering an atmosphere of LOVE and FORGIVENESS, GRACE and COMPASSION. 
Making HOME a place of PEACE. A shelter and a safe haven from the world to STRENGTHEN them to go INTO the world and CHANGE it. 
Being a homemaker is your GREATEST contribution to the Kingdom of God ....because in making a HOME you're making world changers.