February 26, 2015

Rising from the Ashes

There came a time when I had to *DECIDE* that it was TIME TO GET UP OUT OF THE ASHES.  I don't know what those ashes are for you.  What circumstances you have found yourself in.  But the key to moving forward is no longer thinking of yourself as a victim but laying hold of ALL of those things which Christ has already obtained FOR YOU!  
Eventually the ashes are a comfortable place.

The guilt.
The grief.
The pain.
The loneliness.
Somehow it all becomes COMFORTABLE.  SAFE.  
But if we're going to reach "FORWARD" it DOES require effort.  It requires us getting UP.  Looking FORWARD and stepping in that direction.  
He paid such a high price so that you could exchange your despair for praise.  An opportunity to leave the grief behind you and step forward into all of the things He planned for you LONG AGO.  
But you have to decide that wearing MOURNING CLOTHES IS NOT AN OPTION FOR YOU.  It is not a look fitting for a daughter of the KING.  You have to decide to get UP and stop sitting among the ashes.  The key to moving with God....FORGETTING and REACHING.
This one thing I do.  Forgetting what is behind me and reaching forward that I might lay hold of that which Christ has already obtained FOR ME.  Phil. 3:13
It was a devastating blow but it was not the end of ME.  
I still had a HOPE and a FUTURE laid up for ME.
and if I was to embrace it it was going to require my leaving something else behind.......

2 Corinthians 4: 8-10 We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do: we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken.

Jesus CAME to heal the brokenhearted. To give strength to the weary. To give us a GARMENT of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
Don't carry the burdens of yesterday into tomorrow.
It hasn't been the end of you. God has promises stored up for YOU. A HOPE and a FUTURE. He's got something in MIND for YOU.....We are not innocent bystanders and victims of circumstance watching life happen to us .... we belong to the MOST HIGH GOD. And HE...IS... is Sovereign. He is and always has been bringing all things together for His glory and for your good! He will not quit working on your behalf or lift his hand until he is finished and has accomplished all that he has set forth to accomplish in your life! 

So *GET UP!* and expect greater things. He's doing a NEW thing and what's behind you is done and over. His mercies are new EVERY morning. 
He makes *ALL* things NEW.
This is the beauty of God's grace. Even the messes we create with our own HANDS....He can turn those ashes into something beautiful. It's an *Amazing GRACE.*

Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]!  Isaiah 60:1

February 21, 2015

Embracing Your Destiny {For Such a Time as This}

I've wasted a LOT of time and energy pursuing *worthless idols* and clinging to those things which didn't belong to me in the first place.  
You know them well......those things which we chase after to satisfy this craving deep within our soul but leave us empty still.  A restless and anxious FUTILE pursuit of things that will NEVER satisfy that place in us.  

We have bought into the lie if we think we NEED that person.
NEED the applause of men.
The NEED to be beautiful.
The NEED to be noticed.

The NEED for friendship.
Those addictions we have embraced. 

Those things which appeal to the flesh.  Jealousy.  Unforgiveness.  Pride.  Lust.  Materialism.  Anger.
We think we NEED those things and some of those things aren't necessarily BAD in and of themselves.

It is our NEED for them and the hold they have over us which has made them destructive. 
....or like EVE....driven with a deep-seeded need to ----- TASTE THAT APPLE.  
Could there BE something else more satisfying those things which I've already been FREELY given by my creator?  

We make light of it.  We joke.  We call some by name, "retail therapy". in hopes to mask the reality of it all.  Let's just call it what it is ----an attempt to soothe over something we really don't want to deal with.....or using any other means to solve a need within ourselves other than the One who created us to begin with.  

I never realized how much time I spent---how much time I WASTED--- looking for a sense of security outside of myself.
In people.  In things.  

That moment my world was upended and those things which I clung to were wrenched from my tightly clenched fists (with little say from me, I might add).....when all that was left was ME standing with MY GOD.....THAT was when I saw it.
I had been clinging to the WRONG THINGS.
That seemed foreign to me---because since I was a young girl I'd known the Lord and had an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Oh, I kicked and screamed.

I cried out at the unfairness of it all.
I FELT the emptiness.   I'd been stripped of everything I thought knew.....everything I held on to.....and was forced to confront everything I believed.  
But was I now, in this moment, going to believe it?  Or run from it----looking for something NEW.  Something OLD.  Everything BUT what I KNEW I needed.

I had spend so many years finding my sense of security in what was comfortable and calling it HOME.  Had I ever really found my home in HIM?
So that when all that was left standing was me and my GOD.....would it SHAKE me?  Or could I remain---UNMOVED.  ROOTED.  GROUNDED.  ESTABLISHED.  

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that is theirs.
I've thought of that verse often.....as I've had to let GO of one thing after another.
What am I clinging to?
What am I refusing to let go of?

What I didn't realize was----I have to let go of ONE thing in order to embrace another.........
And in my wreckless pursuit of things to satisfy those empty places I let go of GRACE.
I let go of the ONLY One I can REALLY count on and those things which He laid up for me long ago. 

Those things have the potential to DESTROY my destiny.  To destroy ME.

They ultimately distract me from what it is I'm SUPPOSED to be doing.  What I'm CALLED to do.

I've learned that those things which I do hold on to....don't belong to ME......so I hold them loosely.  While others I have NO RIGHT to be clinging to at ALL.  If I am holding on to any one of those things in search for something significant ..... I've missed out on a greater purpose.  A greater worth.  A greater calling.
I've spent too much energy and too much time on distractions and empty pursuits and have missed the bigger picture.  I have realized through the years that those things matter very little in light of WHY I AM HERE ON THIS EARTH ---- FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS.

We need to make a decision DAILY to refuse to be moved by---to refuse to take notice of----to refuse to embrace those things which seduce our attention away from what it is we are truly here for.
Whatever it is you are called to do in THIS MOMENT----you are set apart for SUCH A TIME AS THIS.  He has set you on a COURSE especially tailored for YOU.  If we aren't careful there are things which would entice us along the way that will move us away from what it is we are here for.
To lose out on such an opportunity to BE WHAT IT IS WE WERE CALLED TO DO LONG AGO.
Whatever it is you're called to do.  Whether you're a mother, a daughter, a friend, a business woman......there are things He has for you to do.  And it is up to you to refuse to be distracted by the things of this world.  You have to ACTIVELY participate in that Divine Destiny if you're ever going to see the things He purposed for you come to pass.  A deliberate decision every day to stay on course and take each opportunity as it comes with responsibility and all sobriety.  It's not the time to shrink back, or foolishly waste away our days on meaningless pursuits.  

EMBRACE your God-given destiny for such a time as this and dare to be One set apart for Kingdom Purposes.  

It would be a sad thing to come to the end of your life only to find you'd spent it on meaningless pursuits {worse yet been destroyed by them} having missed out on an opportunity to be a part of His Grand PLAN.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

February 13, 2015

Waiting WITH God

Peace comes when we realize that we're waiting WITH God.....not *FOR* Him. 

(let THAT one sink in ;)) 
So many of us anxiously wait, tapping our foot, Wondering why God isn't acting. Why He seems to be silent. We entertain questions that sow seeds of doubt in our spirit. What we forget is that God IS moving, rearranging, waiting with PURPOSE---ON purpose. 
And then.....that one glorious moment......in the *FULLNESS OF TIME*.......after all of the things that NEED to take place have taken place.....He brings it all to completion. 

Oh, He could speak a word and cause it to BE.......but that's not how He works. 

Even Jesus His son *WAITED*.......waited to come to earth as a babe....and waited 33 years before He could announce, "IT IS FINISHED,"
The greatest miracle of all time, a work that took thousands of years in the making..........

What we often fail to recognize is that GOD IS *LONGING* too.
He is longing to be gracious to you.  
HE TOO is WAITING....Isaiah 30:18

Waiting *WITH* God.
In absolute TRUST.
His ways are beyond ours. His thoughts grander than ours.
We could not possibly fashion things in such a DIVINE and perfect way.
Why? Because He sees things we can't see. He knows things we may never know.
Just relax. smile emoticon He's got plans.
BIG ONES. It will be worth the wait. He's true to His word 100% of the time.

February 10, 2015

The Great Unknown

"This is the LONELIEST place I've ever been." 
......that is what I was FEELING anyway as I spoke those words to my pastor's wife.  
Her reply was quick and certain ...... "It's not loneliness you're feeling.  It's TRANSITION."
......call it what you WANT.  I don't LIKE it.
I'm not comfortable here.  I can't find my footing in ANYthing secure.  I'd felt that all of those things which I'd found comfort in were ripped out of my hands.  I wanted something ELSE to cling to. Something safe.  Something familiar. 
It was as if I looked around me and all I could see was a sea of open water.  

YEARS ago...........years before my entire world was turned upside down........she could see this coming. (my pastor's wife) Isn't that so like our Heavenly Father though?  To prepare us for things to come.  She looked at me and said (paraphrased of course----filtered through much time, circumstance and introspection), "I see you playing on the beach, in the sand. Satisfied. Content.  And the Lord, who was out in the waters began calling you to Him.  As you got up to step toward Him you found yourself looking for rocks to stand on.  Something secure to put your feet on.  But He stepped back further into the waters.....calling you."  

See where this is headed?
I do too.  And I don't know if I like it.  

"Before long there was nothing left to stand on and it was just you and Him."

She went on to talk about the storm stirring all around me and yet I still found my footing secure.....I don't remember her mentioning anything about dying or the waves overtaking me. There was no panic mentioned.  NOR did she mention the circumstances which would take me to that place.
Just that the Lord was calling the shots and I was gonna trust Him and follow His lead.
At the time I had NO idea where life was about to take me.  I had NO idea how this would play out.  But true as every word she's ever spoken to me in the last 16 years.......it WOULD COME TO PASS.

 (a note on the side here-----how THANKFUL I am for those who have been place in leadership over me.  People who have spoken words of LIFE over.  People who have held on to me and have been the voice of GOD to me.....where would I BE without them?)  

NOW----standing here----- I am reminded of the words of a song so familiar some of you reading this have already thought of them yourself.......

"You call me out upon the waters.  The great unknown where FEET MAY FAIL."  

No thanks God.
You're.....calling ME.....just a little girl.....out into waters so deep I can't stand, where there is NOTHING FAMILIAR, and there's a very good chance I will sink beneath waves so great they are SURE to overtake me.  No.  THANK.  YOU.  

But that is EXACTLY where He has taken me.
The GREAT unknown.  ALONE.  Just Him and ME.  

Here is where we often lose perspective.
The waves.  The storm.  The deep waters.  The unknown.  Unforeseen circumstances that take us to places we never imagined we would end up.
Where all we have left is our FAITH.  We think about the things that brought us there.....consumed with the what ifs, whys and doubt.

Am I willing to go where He is taking me? 

I can see how it is........
Transition by definition is a PASSAGE, a PROCESS, a period of TIME, a season of transformation......transition is not a final resting place....

To refuse to surrender will keep me from what's on the other side.
A caterpillar transitions into a butterfly through a period of isolation and solitude. But during that process so much transpires.  So many details.  So much change.  
but wait for it...........soon a creature more beautiful than what had been before will emerge....taken to places it could never go before.

If we could just understand.....God's ways are so much higher than ours.  What we see as an inconvenience or an injustice....God is already taking that and somehow ----He makes it GOOD.  It is in these places that our faith is forged.  It is these places which shape us and draw us away with Him.  These places where all we HAVE is Him.  If we're trying to hold on to the familiar and the comfortable then we will never experience the EXTRAORDINARY depths of His GRACE and what it is He is wanting to bring us to.  It all comes down to one question:  "DO YOU TRUST HIM?"  

Transition is necessary. 
Change is necessary.
It's a rite of passage------
You can't transition into something new if you're not willing to endure change.  Instead of embracing all the familiar around you----embrace the FATHER.  He's taking you into things He's already figured out.  He knows how to get you there.  

If you're willing ----- you'll find the GREAT UNKNOWN is a pretty incredible place to be. 

February 7, 2015

Being an ORDINARY mom in an EXTRAORDINARY world

The chaos of this moment. This exhaustion. This tireless schedule and the endless demands of motherhood. The spilled milk. The tantrums. The homework. The diapers. The tears. (theirs AND yours :)) Trying to stay on top of discipline in the middle of a teachable moment when you would rather collapse into bed and shut it all away. Knees deep in laundry with a sink full of dirty dishes.  It seems a dirty, exhausting, thankless job at times.  

That's when I'm tempted to reach for something SEEMINGLY more significant.  Something GRAND.  Reaching for applause.  Reaching for something to satisfy my desire to be heard.  To be seen.  

But buried under all of the chaos and demands.....I forget that 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 my 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 my GREATEST contribution to the Kingdom of God ....because in making a HOME I am making world changers.

In my effort to chase after the SEEMINGLY more significant, the more notable things......I have neglected those things which are right in front of me.  The MOST significant things.  The more NEEDFUL thing is in the ORDINARY THINGS THAT I AM CALLED TO DAY AFTER DAY.  It is in my faithfulness to those things that the Lord shows up in the midst of it all and does EXTRAORDINARY things....and brings a heavenly PURPOSE and DIVINE destiny to what might be the most ordinary of days.

Just an encouraging word for you mamas ......even in this moment we are planting seeds --- and though they may be small and invisible when life is screaming a LOT louder and painting a bigger picture -- those seeds (planted early on) reap a harvest of righteousness one day as they become the men and women of God they were created to BE.
This moment is temporal. 
But what God is doing in YOU and in your little ones is an eternal thing. He is perfecting and shaping. Burning off the dross that you all might come forth as pure GOLD TOGETHER.
We are growing together.
and even in THIS moment is the DIVINE. 

                                   For Heaven is shaping us, our children   
                                 and our home to be an image of HIS glory. 

Don't think you can see His glory in the mess?
Look closer and don't take it lightly. Sometimes we need to focus more clearly on those things which we cannot readily see and appreciate the work God is doing while we are doing OURS.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],
18 Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.

And moms?
Before you think you're "JUST A MOM."  
Somewhere ....buried under all the titles you have accumulated..... "mom", "wife", "friend"......is something that defines you even more than the positions you hold. Underneath it all....is your identity. Your gifts, passions, talents, personality and purpose. It was all woven into your DNA before you were born.  

Before you were a mom, a sister, a wife...... you belonged to God.
  When you stand before Him one day....it won't be as a mom or a wife. It will be YOU. As He created you. The way He made you. Just as you are. Sometimes buried under life we forget who we are, who we belong to and what we are made of. If we can keep sight of that?
 Then who we ARE will overflow into all the God given roles we have here on earth and we will do them in a way that only we can!

Let us not neglect those things which are right in front of us in pursuit of other things.  It's a HIGH CALLING....these children we've been gifted with.  There IS no higher calling than the one we've been given in THIS MOMENT HERE.