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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Taker and The Receiver

We had a close call today. My girls have been sick with a bad cold and my hubby thought the best cure for that was to take them fishing with him to test out one of his new motors.  He asked the girls to stand in the yard and wait for him to back the van out so he could attach the boat. As he backed out, he happen to notice my 5 year old angels' blonde head bobbing in the rear view mirror and hit the brakes just in time. Apparently, she was being chased by a bumble bee and decided the only way to escape was heading straight for the driveway.

When they walked in, they all stared at me quietly while I finished up their PB&J's. I could sense something was wrong and asked. Everyone was quiet, especially Daddy and then everyone started speaking at once. It took me a minute and then my tears came. Then my baby's tears came. She realized what had happened and couldn't quit crying. I told her over and over again how glad I was that she was safe and how God had plans for her. Tears fell down her beautifully soft and pink chubby cheeks as she said she thought I would be so mad at her. I explained that my tears were not of anger, they were actually happy tears that she was in my arms safe. I told her over and over again how much I loved her and how much He loved her.

I visited a friends church today, far from home. On that ride I was praying in the Spirit and the Lord spoke to me and said basically that Satan is a taker, but he cannot take anything from God's children that God has given you: not money, not time, not a house, not a husband, not a car, not a child, not a life. (However, you can choose to give them up). When you belong to the Lord, your life is not taken (even by God), you are received by the Father at His appointed time.

 We will never see His big picture until we get to heaven (maybe) and I certainly have questions about why my friends have lost ones so dear to their hearts and mine. I just know that since the bible is true, He concerns Himself with the very number of the hairs on our heads (Mth 10:30, Luke 12:7), and His thoughts for us outnumber the grains of sand (Ps. 139:17-18), and all of our days are written in His book before one of them comes to be (Ps. 139:16) and nothing can separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39), then I have no choice but to believe He is who He says He is. That He loves me no matter what happens and this earth is not my home.

I need to refocus, again. This earth is NOT my home. I really sweat the small stuff, sometimes to the point of sin. Fear, worry, regret, discontentment, anxiety, they all get the best of me sometimes. Can my Father really forgive me again for the same sin this 50th time of doing it? Will He really come behind me and put His strong arms under mine and lift me to a standing position...one...more...time? Yes. Grace. Undeserved. Out of debt. Paid in full. Zero balance. White. Clean. Me. How? Jesus. Blood. His blood never runs dry (1 John 1:7).

I sit here with wet eyelashes so thankful for the little blonde ladybug on the bottom bunk, snoozing without a care in the world and I wonder...will she be able to understand just how much God loves her~so she can truly enjoy her life before she's 37? I hope so and I believe it's His will that I show her how.

Teach me, Father. I'm so hungry to know. Thank you for another opportunity.  Words cannot express how very grateful I am to You.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Swirled Thoughts and a Pure Heart

Thursday night, our Sunday School teacher who we've been filling in for -who is also one of our good friends- was in a terrible wreck. He stopped at a red light and was rear-ended with such force that his truck was shoved 100 yards down the road until it was stopped by a pole. The other drivers' car was stuck up under his truck. The truck bed was mangled and bent toward the sky. He had to be cut out with the Jaws of Life and then Bay flighted to a hospital in Tampa. Miraculously, the only injuries he sustained was a pretty bad concussion and a tiny 1/2 inch cut on his right wrist.

Friends that came to the hospital that night said that his conversation kept looping with the same 5 questions, over and over and over again. From what I understand, with any type of severe head trauma, this looping with short term memory loss is a common part of the healing process. Not only are thoughts swirled around, but the filter sometimes disappears from the mouth, too. Amazingly, some of his statements were,"Is everybody OK?, Did I hurt anybody? Who was in the car with me? I am not a drinker. Would you pray with me?" (or something to that effect). Our teacher had no filter! He only spoke what was in his heart, his spirit.

Jesus says in Luke 6:45, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."

I would hope something like what he said would come out of my unfiltered mouth if I got a good conk on the head, but it probably wouldn't. I know what I've said sometimes when I've accidentally hit my head on the kitchen cabinet door, and it ain't purdy. Little reminders of my imperfections also remind me that it's not only MY job to clean my heart and keep it clean. It's God's job through the power of the Holy Spirit to convict me to repent and turn from my sin, IF I'm willing to listen.  Sometimes (not all the time) in the midst of a sticky situation, I will ask God to search my heart and reveal my motives so I can truly deal with the problem (usually me!) so he can show me how to walk out the solution without my selfishness in the way. This is hard to do and I'm still learning! It's also hard to walk it out once he's shown you your heart and you actually have to deal with it! But it can be done. It has to be done. In order to have a relationship with him at all, I have to humble myself before him, open my hands to receive his forgiveness and walk in the power of his grace, trusting that through him he will help me make things right again. I ask, he leads, I obey.

Psalm 51:10 Amp.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me."

Once again, Father, I ask that you search my heart and show me if there is anything there that would keep me from you.

If you have prayed this prayer with me in sincerity, chances are, the Lord revealed, rather quickly, something that was hindering your walk with him. This is your cue!

I'm happy to say that our buddy will make a full recovery and has drawn our friends at church closer than ever before as a family. Did I mention that he is the coach of the high school baseball team? He took his entire team with him on a missions trip last summer to the Dominican Republic. His ENTIRE team got saved on that trip along with many others! He is one of God's lights shining in the darkness of forbidden territory.

One of my girls said, "Wow! God must have something really special for him to do now, like be a pastor of a church or something!"
My hubby replied,"Or...be a baseball coach." :0)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Honor Takes the Form of Disobedience

We do chore packs at my house. It's a little plastic name tag holder that each girl wears with pictures of themselves doing each of their individual chores. As a chore is completed, the picture goes to the back of the pack.

My eldest was dillydallying one morning when she got a reminder from me to begin her chore pack. I got a "yes ma'am" followed by a happy skip out of the room. A couple minutes later, she reappeared with a huge smile and a nice tall glass of cold water to offer me. "Here ya go, Mommy! I wanted to honor you!" Pleased as punch with herself. Wow! That was really thoughtful of a 6 year old. How nice, you might say. Honor equals value. She knows I drink a lot of water and was showing me how much she valued me by bringing me a glass of water, unrequested.

Instead of feeling honored, I actually felt well... dishonored and disobeyed. I had simply asked for obedience. If she had done her chores first, then brought a glass of water, I would have been truly honored. I also could have expressed the joy that comes into my heart when I'm completely obeyed and then honored with a sacrifice on top of it. Now that would have been really wonderful! True honor to a fulfilled parents' heart after complete obedience.

 How many times have I gotten it backward with God? How does he feel when I begin to obey but choose to put if off to do a 'task' or 'work' of legitimate honor for him instead?

I Samuel 15 tells about King Saul. He was told to by God through Samuel to annihilate the Amalekites as punishment for what they did to the Isrealites when they waylaid them as they were coming up from Egypt. He was told not to leave one person alive and kill all the cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. Saul came really close to completely obeying, however, he spared the Amalekites king, Agag, and the best of the sheep and cattle-everything that was good-in his eyes- he spared. God tells Samuel he is NOT happy with Saul and when Saul returns Samuel has some words with him. Saul explains to Samuel that he DID obey God and even brought back the best to sacrifice to him on the alter at Gilgal. Listen to Samuel's reply in I Sam 15:22,

 “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
   as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
   and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
   and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
   he has rejected you as king.”

Works are wonderful if they come out of an obedient heart, not instead of an obedient heart.

Oh Lord! Help me to hear you today so I can obey! Give me the grace to see it to completion. I know you bless your children when we obey. How I long to be blessed by you and not by my own works. Fulfillment by my own hand is brief, but fullness in you lasts a lifetime. I feel my heart swell in my chest as I know you are doing a new work in my life. Thank you, Father, for loving me enough to change me. My day is yours...may my obedience honor you.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peace or Panic?

My hubby was supposed to teach Sunday school today. Well, he got stuck in Birmingham, so guess who got to do it? Yours truly! Which is so funny because I just found out about it last night! I love to teach. I really enjoy watching faces when they realize some truth about God that he has used me to bring. It may have been something that they really knew all along or heard time and time again, but at that moment it changes their life. Wow. What an honor to be a part of that! I usually have more time to prepare though. About 9pm I knew I needed to call my sweet friend to pray with me. She did and in that time of sharing with me she said that this would be not only an opportunity to share a piece of what God was doing in me through my morphing revelation of grace, but an opportunity for him to SHOW me his grace.  Well, I knew in my spirit that something was going to happen and I was going to have to depend on him to get me through the morning. We were both right!

I sat at the table in my kitchen trying to get my thoughts together and reading more and more words out of the bible and more and more words out of books and they started getting all jumbled up and I was chasing rabbits for about 2 hours. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said basically, "Go to bed, I'll tell you in the morning." The amazing thing was that I was OK with that! What is this strange peace? Where is my normal anxiety over "performance"? I've never gone to bed before a teaching and not finished the session, I would stay up until 5am if necessary, just so I could make things right! But see, today wasn't about me. It was all about HIM and what HE wanted to say through me, a willing vessel. So I did the most crazy thing I could possibly do at that moment....I went to bed and totally relaxed! Just after I closed my eyes and took a couple of really deep breaths- BAM! My 3 bullet points complete with scripture verses and stories! It was morning all right, 2AM to be exact! It took all of 20 minutes to write out and jump back into bed. God is giving me the grace to obey him. Ahhh! Trust. Back to basics.

Here's the kicker...This morning as I was typing out my points and inserting the verses via Bible Gateway, the power went out! It was 8:30am! I wasn't dressed! I had to leave at 8:45! Yikes! Peace or Panic? I laughed out loud-VERY FUNNY GOD! I chose peace. I chose to have grace for myself. I've never chosen grace for myself before! This is how GOD SEES ME!! He is giving me HIS eyes for myself! (Didn't I just ask him for this like....yesterday??!) I knew that even if I never printed out any of it to take with me, that he was in charge. If it's meant to be, it's really NOT all up to me! I just need to obey. Things ran like clockwork all the way to church. Singing and chatting with my girls. It was one of the loveliest church rides we've had in their short lives. He was with me.

The lesson went so well. The Holy Spirit spoke through me the entire time, not just in flashes or spurts. I believe that his point was made. I know that communicating is a gift God has given me, so when fear sets in I usually go into default mode and tough it out through my own merit. Today was different. Today was...dare I say.....easy? "For my yoke is easy and my burden is lite"-Matthew 11:30. The burdens I place on myself are dreadfully heavy and cumbersome. If I don't balance them just right, I'm off the road and in the mud, quick! My expectations for myself far outweigh his. I believe it was Beth Moore who said something to the effect of, "I'm my own worst enemy. Who needs the devil?".

I know everyday won't be like today. I'm just thinking I may have a few more of them than before. Tomorrow would be a nice start.

"You will keep in perfect peace those who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!" Isaiah 26:3

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Why From Chase to Grace?

Welcome to my first EVER blog post! I really didn't want to write a blog at all for personal reasons but I just couldn't shake the urge to do so, so here we are.

 I'm a Christian and God speaks to me in many different ways, but he spoke to me through my husband the other night and it was pivitol. I was crying (again) about homeschooling my eldest and how much I didn't enjoy it and what I needed to do differently and what she needed to do differently and waaaahhh waaaaahhh waaaaahhh for the 100th time. Well, I think my hubby has had enough of all this. He said over the past almost 11 years of being married, he doesn't remember me ever being consistantly happy or content. There have been pockets of happiness, even joy, but not consistantly. He said that I was always looking at the next thing, being discontent with what I had in the present. Ouch and yuck.

 A light bulb went off in my brain and I thought about all the things I had thrown myself into over the past years, never seeming to master them...always trying to do better, trying to be "perfect" in my own personal modifications and always ending up being disappointed. Chasing but never catching and embracing this longing in my heart for more. Here's a list: Best Daughter, Best Sister, Best Daughter in Law, Best Wife, Best Mom, Best House Keeper, Best Homeschooling Mom, Best Workout Girl, Best "FUN" Mom, Best Cake Decorator, Best Menu Planner, Best_____, you fill in the blank, I've been there. Not competing with other women, I've really never been that way, but ALWAYS competing with myself, to improve. Here's a prison I can't get out of on my own! Can you relate? Never enjoying what I have, recognizing it, for sure! Thankful for it, absolutely! But CONSTANTLY trying to TWEAK it. 

I just realized that no one else is tweaking me! Not my hubby, not my children, not even God. Yes, he wants to expand my knowledge and wisdom about him and through him to make the bond between us stronger. But I realized this constant urge to improve myself doesn't come from him. He DOES love me for me. The Creator of the Universe loves me just as I am, if this is good enough for Him, it should be good enough for me. This is very hard for me wrap my brain around, but I'm willing to try.

I would love for you to come with me on this quest of truly living in his grace and not chasing a contentment never found in things of this world. I don't want to be lost in exertion anymore. I want to quit chasing something that is unattainable and see myself through the sacrifice of Jesus blood. You see, there is no more. There is nothing else for me. Jesus did do it all on the cross. Hence my new favorite verse, "Only live up to what we have already attained." Phillipians 3:16.

 As I type there are tears in my eyes because I know there is more. Not "my" more, but HIS more for me, right here, where I am. Not over there just over the horizon, but here in my messy house with my squishy self. You see, He IS here and He IS all I need. I've asked that he let me see others through his eyes, the way he sees them and boy did that change my life! Now, I'm finally learning to ask him to let me see ME through his eyes. I think I'm on to something here.