Learning to THINK

When i THINK of God’s amazing history in my life, i cry at His faithfulness. Steady, amazing, last second, wows. My heart feels courage and hope and expectation, eager for His next care for us.

But, the last two days, i have struggled to THINK. The days have been too full, moments with Jesus in the car, in meetings, in schooling, in exhaustion. My body has felt paralyzed in my weakness. i’m weak, so unbelievably weak. i can’t do this life.

How does God choose our callings? Mine doesn’t make sense to me. But, yet He has chosen me, placed specific, unexplainable challenges on my life and it’s something i have to do. It’s hard to explain.

i’m inept, but equipped by Him. i’m shy, but bold through Him. i’m fearful, but faith filled in Him. Nothing about it makes sense to me.

My inadequacies glare at me, but He beckons me forward. THINK about Him, not me. THINK on His plan, not mine. THINK of His provisions, not my control.

When i THINK i feel free. But when i let my flesh freak out, i shake, turn red and my body is tense all over. When people interact with me in my crazy, some may notice, others may think i am just tired, others may be oblivious to my madness. In the confusion, my mind is a million miles away thinking through the “what-ifs,” analyzing solutions, fearing the unknown. It’s ridiculous and i am captive, trapped and worthless for His glory.

People keep coming towards me. The relationships don’t stop.  People need. People talk. People touch. i find myself in sensory overload. If only i was invisible.

But i’m not.

My flesh wants to run, to hide under a blanket, to hibernate. i get tired of my phone, emails, noise. My whiny attitude says, “why me?”

The Spirit whispers to me, “why not you?”

Remember to THINK about what’s true. THINK of what is honorable. THINK justice. THINK on purity. THINK love. THINK on commendable things. THINK on excellence. THINK on what’s praise worthy.

What makes me praise Jesus? That’s where my thoughts should be. What’s praise worthy is where beauty lives. What’s worthy of praise ushers me into joy and peace and hope.

What’s true today?

i am loved by God.

i have value. He wants me!

my family is awesome.

plenty of people love me.

we have shelter, clothing, food.

my tennis shoes are even cute.

What’s honorable?

Jesus is steady, never leaving or forsaking me. He covers me in His truth.

The Bible is true.

my kids are honest, growing in integrity.

Just?

i really struggle with this one! life doesn’t feel just. One of my close friends lost her father and her father-in-law on the same weekend. Another one of my friends fights cancer.  Others fight to survive in poverty. Another is heartbroken and fragile. Another lonely and isolated. We need work, others need healing. Life doesn’t feel fair. Life isn’t fair.

BUT GOD. He is just. He’s more than just. i should be destined for hell, but Jesus died for me and He is my Savior and Lord. i am destined for heaven. He’s impartial. He loves us past our junk, past our failures, our inadequacies, our inconsistencies.

BUT GOD. He gives us entirely, exactly, precisely, just what we need. Always. This week we were using napkins for toilet paper and then we found two more packs of toilet paper in the bathroom cabinet. This week we had a half of cup of sugar left and He gave us a four pound bag. We ran out of milk and He provided not one, but two gallons. My son needed pants and He provided three pair.

BUT GOD. He does what is right, always. He is impartial and non-discriminatory. He sent His son for the rich, the poor, the nice, the mean, the gentle, the abrasive, the quiet, the chatterbox, the fat, the skinny. He loves each of us and He created all of us. He is more than fair even when our circumstances don’t feel fair.

What’s pure today?

Jesus is so perfect, with no ulterior motives.

my husband protects our union.

my little girl fights for the purity of her mind.

What about love?

Jesus’ perfect love drives out fear.

Jesus’ love is forever, never ending, faithful.

my friend sits quietly and listens.

my friends stop by to check on me.

more than anything, my friends pray for me.

love is laying down our lives for our friends as Jesus laid down His life for us.

Commendable?

Jesus is commendable. He is worth of all my affections, shout outs, rejoicing, worship, accolades, reflections, story telling, and admiration. My Jesus is creditable. He does what He says He will do. He is faithful.

my kids did their school work with excellence and without grumbling and complaining.

my co-worker planned ahead and a volunteer day went smoothly.

What’s excellence?

Jesus is superior, perfect, outstanding, worthy, good. He is everything and more.

Worthy of praise?

my Father. my King. my Protector. my Deliverer. my Strong Tower. my Friend. my Hope. my Comforter. my Provider. my Listener. my Encourager. my Steady Faithful. my Joy. All my praise to JESUS.

Anything we have, anything we accomplish, anything we live for, anything we adore, anything that is good, is from JESUS.

If we would be intentional to THINK, we wouldn’t get lost in our freak outs, our despair, the what-if’s, our fears, our anxiety. To THINK is to be at peace.

THINKing sets us free as we focus our thoughts and affections back to what matters… Truth, Honor, Justice, Purity, Love, Commendation, Excellence and Praise.

Come along with me. Practice THINKing and the God of peace will be with us.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:8-9

 

Nothing Less

Edward Mote wrote a hymn in 1834 on the gracious experience of being Abba’s child. The song was written based on the wise and foolish builders, one who built on sand and the other that built on a rock.

Known as a hymn of grace, the song lyrics for The Solid Rock are:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When I was a little girl, all I wanted was time with my daddy. But my daddy worked a lot, working to provide for our family. He left early and came home late. We usually ate dinner around 9pm and attended church on Sundays.

Before bed, my earthly daddy often gave me the sweetest gift. He would come read a Bible story to me and “say prayers.” For those ten minutes he was mine, all mine.

And for those long minutes, he taught me the only thing that matters.

Jesus loves ME. Jesus loves the world. Jesus died for  ME. Jesus died for everybody. And if we surrender our lives to Jesus, we have everything.

Everything that matters. Everything that can’t be bought.

Jesus as Savior. Jesus as Lord.

My favorite Bible story that I always asked him to read was the one about the foolish builder and the wise builder. One builder built on the sand and the other built on the rock. When the storms came, the house built on the rock did not fall.

When the storms came, the rain came. The winds blew. The rock did not budge.

The security of the rock.

Jesus.

The one who hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice are like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

We had this little kid story book of that parable and every night that’s the story I wanted to read, again. The story was memorized. If he tried to skip a page I would let him know the what for. When we drove down the road, I would recite that story to him.

My childhood were years of meditating on that story, the only one I memorized word for word.

At night I would dream of that storm coming and watch the house on the sand collapse while the one on the rock remained firm and strong. Through the day I would think of this story, determined to be a wise builder and anticipating my daddy reading that book to me, one more time.

Now, years later, God reminds me of my affection for the parable Jesus taught us of the two builders.

2014 has been a hard year for me. Too much to explain in a paragraph. Painful. So many nightmares. Too many what ifs. A pile of calamities. And yet, it’s been so good, in a hurt so good kind of way.

So many days, I’ve been delighted to wake up. Not to face another day, but to end a night of fitful sleep.

And the strange good is, too many mornings to count, I’ve woken with the following sentences as my first thought.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

The first stanza of a song penned in 1834 is my first thought so many mornings.

Seriously.

God has used a man named Edward Mote to deeply impact me with something he wrote in the 1800’s. The man is dead and the words God gave him have helped me get out of bed too many mornings to count. The words he wrote have been the life preserver my Father uses to say, “good morning, you can do this day, I have rescued you and I will rescue you.”

The words have been prayer utterances to my God. It’s a prayer I must pray. A prayer of hope and a declaration of truth. A reminder and a war cry.

It has never been the entire song, just that one stanza, over and over.

Until tonight, God never showed me how this song connects to my favorite Bible story. I didn’t remember the name of the song. I didn’t remember the rest of the words.

Here’s the refrain:

“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”

The song was inspired by “my” parable. It’s “my” song. It goes with “my” story.

Edward Mote. Didn’t even know his name until today and God’s still using his work to encourage me. God’s using a man I can’t meet, a dead man, that wrote a song hundreds of years ago. His legacy has outlived him. His dependency on Christ has left us wanting the “nothing else” but Jesus Christ. He is so hidden in Christ that it’s God’s story that’s the focus, not his. It’s not about Mote, it’s about the Jesus that seeped out of him.

People don’t remember Mote, they remember the Jesus in his words.

My curiosity found me reading about Mote. What was he like? He was raised by parents who ran a pub in London. He worked as a cabinet maker for many years. At age 55 he became a pastor and pastored for 26 years. Research shows a simple  man’s life and God chose him to write one of the first hymns that would impact generations.

The only stanza that runs through my mind is the one describing a clear picture of complete dependency on Christ.

Jesus wakes me from miserable nights for another tutorial of 30+ years of trusting in Jesus.  He stands me up. He’s my solid rock.

The rains come. The winds come. The storms come. Adversity is non-discriminatory. Everyone experiences gray days.

I learned when I was a little girl, build your house on Jesus and it won’t fall. The hardest winds and the heaviest rains have no power over the Rock.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

Psalm 62:5-8

The Message Bible
God, the one and only – I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life. My help and glory are in God So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.

New International Version
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. “Selah”

We must love more

We must love more.

Please Lord, teach us the most excellent way.

Love never fails.

One day recently I dropped my daughter off to a party. I haven’t felt such shame and judgment in quite awhile. My heart vacillated from defending myself, to a great desire to burst into tears, to run away quickly. The later I chose.

My daughter has this gracious politeness about her that I wish I possessed. No comment seems to disrupt her. She responds in grace.

At the door, she stepped aside to let another child ring the bell. She offered her greetings and remained quiet.

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” – 1 Corinthians 10:24

As we entered she was greeted with the “we missed you at church this morning” comment and she responded with a gentle, “thank you.” She felt no need to explain her absence and felt confident in the grace our Father has over her. She knew the time with visiting family was permissible. I just stood there and quickly walked in behind her.

Note to self: don’t ever ever ever tell someone you missed them at church ever again. Tell them you miss them.

The girls have done so great on memorizing their Bible verses so that’s why they are receiving this party.

The host looked down at my daughter and asked, “have you seen the new verses we will be learning? They are much harder and are from the church Bible reading plan IF your family is doing the Bible reading plan.” As she looked at me, I tried to smile.

My girl answered, “we can learn them and smiled with authenticity.”
I awkwardly mumbled something about “anything is possible.”

Note to self: never question what another family is doing at their home for their family reading and worship.

At that moment, the legalism of my childhood overtook me like a huge wave. She can’t know, checklists are dangerous for me. We are seeking to operate from grace not rules. The minute we start checking boxes something inside me shuts down.

The battle of perfection is too strong. Aren’t I good enough?? Isn’t my child good enough?? Oh man, this is gross. We are never good enough. Doesn’t Jesus cover us? Does He condemn me if I didn’t teach my kids a scripture today?

My heart feels stomped on. It hurts to the deepest core of who I am. Teach my daughter the love of Jesus. Teach her she will never add up, but she doesn’t have to. Teach her that Jesus came because we are weak and He is strong. Teach her that knowing Christ is so much sweeter than knowing His word. His Word is the good news that ushers us with delight to Himself.

Note to self: Knowledge does not rescue us. Jesus is our Rescuer. He pulls us from the pit and gives us a firm place to stand. The Savior, Redeemer and Lord of our life is Jesus.

We aren’t condemned. We are free. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. My God sent Jesus and Jesus covered all my blunders and inadequacy and deficiency. He says, “come to me, I give rest.” Our laboring and toiling don’t define us or justify us. We are wrapped in Grace because the lover of our soul is Jesus.

My little girl whispered to me, “I feel guilty that I’m here at this party decorating cookies. I memorized that scripture for the party and I should want that scripture more than this party. I don’t even remember it very well.”

Hush baby, let’s speak about it in the car. You decorate that cookie. It’s going to be ok.

“Mama, can I take a cookie home for my brother?” Yes dear.

Oh Jesus, I see you in her. Maybe she didn’t learn the scripture purely, but she’s foregoing her second cookie to bless her brother. That’s Jesus in her and I thank you.

Note to self: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

As we drove away, we talked about the motive of her heart for memorizing that scripture. She was told they wouldn’t receive the party if everyone didn’t memorize the scripture. She said she did it for the party not for Jesus. Her heart was sad.

We talked about how our Father delights when we hide His word in our hearts because He is teaching us and taking us to secret places with Him. He’s refining us and purifying us.

How are we delighting our Father when we memorize His word for earthly rewards?

We discussed that there is nothing inherently wrong to being challenged to memorize the scripture. And, if the whole group loses the party if one doesn’t comply, it’s the right thing to love her friends by memorizing that scripture. Also, her teacher is assigning the task to her and she needs to comply out of respect for her elder.

But, let’s be honest to God about the motives of our heart. Let’s admit I memorized Your word for a party, for friends, or for my teacher. Then we can ask Him to change us, the deep inner secret place of us, where we have a desire to memorize His Word for Him.

She said, “I circle verses that speak to be in my Bible. Maybe I could learn those for Jesus.”

Good idea. Let’s do life for Jesus.

What do I do for an earthly reward? What do I do to please my friends or my boss?

Teach us Father to live, breath and exist for Jesus.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

To the Doubters

What’s wrong with me? Why would I be such a doubting Thomas when I have this pile of rocks of His faithfulness? So often I wonder, is this the week the miracles run out. But they never do because His nature is faithfulness and He always is!

Sometimes it’s the last second and I’m wondering how will it be possible. What will He do this time? I like the days when I’m excited, waiting with expectant hope. But, most days I feel shame for the “oh my gosh, time is almost out freak out I’m having inside” while I try to look calm, cool and collected on the outside. If people only knew, I am seconds away from losing it, almost daily.

This week our water bill and power bill were due and God provided through my kids. Humbling, embarrassing, awkward? Maybe that’s how it’s “suppose” to feel. But no, it was actually normal, our family normal. They knew their hands held the funds our family needed to cover that expense at that moment. Their grandparents blessed them and they blessed our family. (Though they seriously wanted to vote to not pay the water bill. They thought it might be nice to not take a shower for awhile.)

These kids don’t mind giving up their money to help the family. They joked, some people teach spend some, save some, share some. Around here, we learn survival. And they laughed because nothing matters to them but relationships. I think they even said that. They don’t care about stuff, at all. I find that miraculous. They trust God will provide them what they need and they are good with His plan, whatever that plan may be.

Do our kids think we are poor?
No, of course not.

They know we are rich, God rich. We always have everything we need, right at the moment we need it. Most days, we have more than we need, way more.

From a vocabulary writing assignment, one of them wrote,

One day an immense light spoke to me and said, “don’t be afraid God sent me!! Duplicate and disperse, tell about God Almighty with all your heart.” Then I understood that being rich was unavailing, and having God is rich. So I left that clamorous place to tell about God and it was indispensable!!!

Reading that paragraph overwhelmed me and brought me back to the reason for our existence.

We can give constantly from whatever is given to us. We have access to God Almighty. We have the very best to give.

We are learning to live with open hands. Nothing is ours. Actually, nothing is yours either. Every good gift has come from our Father. Everything.

Isn’t that amazing to think about and celebrate. We don’t possess anything, everything is entrusted to us by God. My little brother use to come in my room and pick up my favorite stuff and say, “this isn’t yours, it’s God’s.” Oh course it was meant to taunt me when we were young, but it’s true. He was right.

Nothing is mine. It’s God’s.

What does this mean for me and how does it impact how I live and how I trust?

Tonight a friend needs help fetching a car he bought. My husband will help him, though it will cost time and fuel. We trust God will provide so we share.

Will work come this week? We are praying and trusting God’s promise that He is a God who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. We are waiting and we are hoping.

We put scripture all around our house and we hold tight to the Jesus in it. The Word is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword.

A friend’s marriage is fragile and it’s awkward, but we love and pursue. We fight for what looks dried up and lifeless because we believe God breathes life into what is dead. He is Rebuilder and Restorer.

A faith ride means so much more than our baby steps. Faith is being ok to admit our weakness and the “what’s wrong with me” moments and keep following Christ anyway, even when we doubt and fear.

Faith living is like a constant trust fall game where you keep falling backwards and trusting Someone will be there to catch you.

And having a deep knowing that the Someone is Jesus.

“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15:15

My weakness shows off His power

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

It’s been awhile. I’ve been in a funk, bad. Really, I’ve just wanted to hide under a blanket and escape, but I’ve had to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life never stops, you know. It keeps going and going and we have to keep going and going too. Work is still there. Laundry is still there. Kids are still there. The husband is still there. Friends keep texting, calling and emailing. Still gotta eat. My energy, strength, whatever you want to call it, has been LONG gone. God has been carrying me. Moment to moment carrying me. He has been my Strong Tower, my Deliverer, my Protector, my Comforter, my Provider, my Friend. If something crazy could happen, it has. The tears are usually right there, ready to fall, but holding back. Stuff has to get done. Life doesn’t stop until there isn’t a breath left. Until the end, the purpose is sure. Don’t give up. Don’t stop running. Don’t quit. So, somehow God stands me up and gives me a firm place to stand. He reminds me, this is a new day. I’ve got mercies for you, new ones. Watch for them. The trouble is coming, but I told you it would. Be at peace, I am going to fight for you again today. All you have to do is stand.

When your grandmother dies … I am giving you an opportunity to share about ME. So do it. When the doctor thinks you may have cancer … I am giving you a gift to trust me more. My peace is beyond understanding. When a car gets totaled … I’m saying, “I got this! Watch.” When the moth bugs won’t get out of your pantry … don’t lose it, it’s temporary. When the credit card company shuts down your card … don’t panic. I will make a way. When you have one day left before the mortgage payment needs to be mailed … I will provide. When people hate you and say no telling what against you … I am your comfort. Remember I made this world. I hold all the power. When your kid has lice again … Thank Me. I will make it count for good. When your kitchen sink is leaking … improvise and catch it with a container. We will figure it out. When your kids can’t get sexual images out of their heads … Purity is worth the fight. I am teaching them to depend on Me and learn from me how to take their thoughts captive. When people misunderstand what you say … worry doesn’t become you. Wait and I will bring truth into the Light. Be like Jesus, keep your mouth shut. When your friends take their kids places and you can’t afford it … wait, I am going to surprise you. Don’t be jealous and selfish. When I tell you to sell your house … list it and let Me handle the results. When you get overwhelmed with a case of peaches … share with your friends. You’ve been wanting something to give, so here it is. Don’t miss it. When you have to speak at an event … study, learn. I will equip you. When someone comes into your place cursing you … listen a lot, be slow to speak and slow to become angry. There is always more to the story. When your website is hacked … laugh, the enemy wants a piece of you, but I always win. When your friend is fighting for their marriage … believe Me for the impossible and get in the trenches with them. Don’t run from messy. The trials keep coming, but God is greater still. He’s up to stuff we can’t see.

We have a choice, trust Him or don’t. Look for the miracles or miss them. Be thankful for everything or whine about circumstances. My survival has been Jesus. A faith in Him that shows I am shaky and fragile. Sometimes so little it doesn’t seem to exist, but it is still there, as tiny as a mustard seed. My weakness shows off His power.

He reminds me, “you can be sure of what you hope for and certain of what you can’t see.” Be broken, mustard seed faith is enough. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” – Luke 17:5-6

We know what we do…

Father forgive us, we know what we do. We are aware of our sins, but we dismiss them. They seem minor, these sins of self indulgence, complacency, excess, idol worship, selfishness and busyness.

Isn’t it good that we love our children and want the best for them? We think about them when we get up and when we go to sleep. We work extra to pay for their fun activities. The world teaches us they will not be well rounded and will lack social skills and exercise if we don’t let them play the sports or join the clubs. Our families run from activity to activity even when we try to only do one activity per child.

We can’t remember the last time our family sat around the table and shared the days highs and the days lows. We work late because there is never enough time. One night of the week is ladies night out and another night is the men’s accountability group. We need time to get away from the demands of life.

Churches still offer Wednesday night activities. We try to take our kids when we can, if they do not have practices or games that conflict the time. We can sign up for a class to attend, but we don’t because we are tired. Also, we get frustrated because half the class never has time to prepare their lesson and comes unprepared. Often we are in that unprepared portion.

The weekends come and it’s been a long week, we are all exhausted and we want to do something fun. So, we travel, follow sporting teams, go to the movies and indulge in our favorite comfort foods. Sometimes we sleep through church. We are too exhausted. We’ve gotten up early and stayed up late every day. Our bodies can’t go on anymore. Jesus understands.

Rest has become a foreign concept. Silence becomes an enemy. We don’t know what to do with still. Often when we slow down, we fall asleep. We miss reading, our time with Jesus is sporadic, we hardly hear His voice.

We say we need a small group, a Sunday school, a Bible study. Maybe somehow a group of Christians will help us stick to Jesus. We join, but our attendance is mediocre. When we come, we get fat on what others have learned, but have little to contribute because of our inconsistent times with Jesus. We learn intellectually the life we can live, but our lives don’t operate from that power as we have no time to implement the truths of God’s Word. We make no time.

We find ourselves running errands, absorbed in details, distracted with social media, watching television, distracted by work, eating junk food, and forgetting what’s important. When we stop for a few minutes, we have an aching heart as we wonder if we are wasting our lives.

A family member gets sick, our business struggles, our best friend’s marriage self-implodes and for days, weeks or even months, we wake up and we want more. We see what really matters. We quit caring if the bathroom is clean, if we miss a day at the gym, if the kids get dirty. Our attentions are no longer absorbed in the kind of car we drive or the decorations we’ve been obsessing over for our living room. We quit feeling guilty when we slow down and we long to sit quietly with Jesus.

All we need is Jesus. When our worlds turn upside down, perspectives change.  We want Jesus to comfort us. We want our family and friends to come running. We want the whole world to stop their chaos and love us. We want a meal schedule and our names on the prayer list.  We want truth. We want worship. We remember the value of relationships, our personal friendships with Jesus and our need for authenticity with others.

Sometimes friends don’t come running. Their schedules are full. They don’t have time to come pray or two hours to listen. They show up for small group, but they have no substance to give because they haven’t heard from Jesus in weeks or months. So, they sit silently or give their earthly wisdom that nobody needs.

Only in the crisis, do we see the mess we’ve become. We wonder how many friends we have ignored or hurt. We remember the times we told someone to pray and didn’t. We wonder now if that’s what is happening to us. We recall the times we told people to come to dinner sometime and we never followed through. What if they needed that dinner? We think about the hours we talked about how busy we were and how tired we were and we wonder when we should have been quiet and really listened. When have we asked someone how they were and really wanted to know?

Yet, when our worlds settle and the calm comes, we forget and return to the hamster wheel, to the pursuit of stuff, to chosen chaos. We forget the God we love in the midst of good things, the very things He gave us.

Should we be praying for our worlds to stay upside down?  Is the upside down really the calm?

The other day I was reading Amos 6. It sounds eerily familiar. Scary similar. Forgetting the world around me, I stretch myself out on couches, eat the best and sing idle songs that I don’t mean. My heart fails to be grieved for the ruin around me as I drink wine and sit at ease in my feelings of security. My life goes on oblivious of the world around me. My pride and my selfishness are strongholds. The fruit of my righteousness are nothing. I am a wasteland operating from my own strength. Woe is me. Woe are my people. Forgive us.

We know what we do.

How far, how wide, how high and how deep is His love?

The complexity and creativity of Christ compels us by His love. We cannot grasp how far and wide and high and deep is the love our Father has lavished upon us that we could be called children of God.

The goodness of the Lord is so strong and never ending that we can never tell of ALL His mighty deeds. The author of Psalm 71, who we suspect is David, shares with us…

“My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” – Psalm 71:15-18

As we progress in these blog posts, the goal is to remind the reader of the greatness of God, His relentless pursuit of us and His never ending faithfulness. Taste and see that the Lord is so good.

The miracles of God’s provision cover us like a warm blanket reminding us that we are safe and secure under His covering, blessing and plan for our lives. Though the “safe and secure” may not be what we imagine, His ways are higher than ours and for that we can always trust Him.

He constantly reminds me of His mercy over our lives.

A few days ago I realized that we were 37 cents short in our bank account and I started to pray that somehow He would keep us and care for this situation. I felt impressed to check our bank account and discovered a sweet surprise. Someone had deposited $500 into our account. Who? I don’t know. But, I know it was given through the gracious hand of my Father and I praise Him.

Next, I realized some bills that were due for the place where I serve and we were short $1200 with only one day to go before they were due.

But God.

Don’t you love the phrase… but God.

He allowed several customers to pay at just the right time and we were covered. Covered by His grace for another day.

It doesn’t stop. Our friends all over the world have been praying with us that God would send work and He has heard our cries. Over and over, He continues to care for us and provide the sustenance needed for another day.

Today we have enough. We need collections tomorrow but it is not tomorrow yet. We need not worry or fear. He knows our every need before we even ask. He cares for us.

In the eyes of the world, we must be fools, but God has called us out to trust Him. He wants the glory for Himself and He surely gets it when we must live desperate for Him and His power. We are weak and broken people, BUT GOD.

Our Heavenly Father is so amazing we cannot even share all His mighty deeds. Why He would choose a bunch of nobodies to make His name great doesn’t make much sense, but somehow in His great power He makes it work. From worldly wisdom, He chose the wrong people, the unlikely people, the inadequate people. But, He has called us to be hidden missionaries, to stoop low, to lead as servants.

He has called us, beckoned us, to be hidden in Christ so that we no longer live, but He lives in us. We sound like radicals, but this is the man we love. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we can live for Him.

And when His affections become our affections, we finally start to understand that His plan for our lives is a million times better than our plans. He has this unbelievable adventure awaiting us if we will follow Him.

Jesus isn’t some Santa to give us all that we want. He is our Lord and Savior who will give us what we need.

What if He doesn’t come through, what if.

What if we lived believing He is our only plan. No contingency plans. No bail out options. What if we really believe He will provide for us?!!

Jesus has more for us than we can fathom. Our choice is to take His hand, walk with Him and tell Him, “I trust You to lead me and I trust You so much that I will follow you”

Glow, twinkle, illuminate, shine!

Do I really have to write a letter to my alma mater? Do I have to be THAT person?  Ugh, I am going to pray about this one some more.

The other night was heartbreaking as I watched a special entertainment program with a few friends.

Some of the shows were good, clean and done with excellence. Appreciation is extended to those who gave their best and kept it wholesome.

But, in a few of the shows, I could feel the absence of God and the presence of evil.

No one wants to hear about the spiritual realm when speaking of entertainment.

Justifications can come easily. It’s just a show. It could be way worse. It is an art form, an expression, a technical masterpiece.

Zombies, provocative dancing, darkness, no representation of Christ is what my eyes saw. In no way can I make that ok in my heart.

The darkness is real. Our sin is obvious. Evil lurks.

But the dark can not win.

Light penetrates darkness. Jesus came and He is the Light of the world. Though darkness is real and disturbing, darkness can never overcome the light.

Light dominates.

Even if it is only a flicker, the twinkle overtakes the darkness.

Jesus, the light of the world, he changes everything.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

When Jesus overtakes us… our hearts… the darkness in us loses it’s power. The power of Jesus overtakes us through the Holy Spirit.

Then we shine, we become a city on a hill, a Christ letter, a light in a dark place.

Nothing can stop light. It spreads.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus is the light of the world and when He lives in us, we are the light of the world too.

Glow, twinkle, illuminate, shine.

Independent Thinker

Apparently my test results define me as an Independent Thinker on ipersonic.com. As I read the results I was surprised at how well four questions could make an assessment on who I am.

My independent thinking skills can get me in trouble. In the midst of starting this blog, I failed to mention this endeavor to my husband. As I was reading the results of the “Independent Thinker” he interrupted me to ask, “when are you going to tell me about this blog you are writing?”

Oh no, I hurt the man I love. I HATE when that happens. I can hardly bare it to hurt the people I love, to hurt the people who love me.

All I could do was say I am sorry.

It isn’t that I didn’t want to tell him. I want to tell him everything, but life has been crazy. We’ve been up late or up early. Work has been demanding and stressful. I am watching him work with all he’s got to provide for our family. He’s determined and faithful. He will never quit. No matter how hard it gets, he will keep pressing to follow Jesus. That’s the leader of our family.

And I want to submit to that, to honor him, to bless him and to encourage him.

But I fail. Over and over I fail. Failing is the worst.

Please forgive me. Please.

The world is ok again because there is grace. He forgave me.

Jesus forgives me too.

Every day I fall more in love with grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. It keeps coming. It never stops.

We don’t deserve this grace.

But God sent His Son Jesus and it changed everything.

Jesus changed my husband.

Jesus changed me.

Jesus can change you.

Today I experienced double the grace. Grace from Jesus and grace again through Jesus seeping out of my husband.

Know anyone who needs some grace?

“For from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” – John 1:16

Skipping Breakfast

Yesterday I was scurrying in the kitchen preparing to go to work. Usually breakfast doesn’t make the cut, but this morning I was pouring a bowl of cereal and heating coffee in the microwave.

That’s when our nine year old girl came up to me and whispered, “mama, I have to tell you something.”

Ok, what’s up?

“Mama, last night when we were watching that sermon I felt like God told me to fast today to pray for all the kids in Africa that won’t be able to eat today.”

If God is telling you to do that, you need to obey Him.

“Ok mama, I am not eating today.”

My scurry paused and I stared at her. She was resolved to be obedient, eager to count the cost, heart broken for kids across the world.

She’s nine. Is this really happening?

She called me at lunch and said, “mama I am weak.”

Eat something.

“But, mama. Remember I told you, God told me to fast today.”

Heart sink. I forgot.

Oh baby, I forgot. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Please.

“Mama, will you pray for me?”

Yes, oh yes.

The God of the universe is in pursuit of my little girl and she’s hearing what He is saying to her. And she’s obeying what He says.

And when she’s weak, she knows her source of strength is Christ so she wants to go straight there.

Later I got home and we were sitting on the porch watching the snow fall all wrapped up in a big blanket together.

“Mama, I don’t ever want to walk away from Jesus. I hope I never make the choice to follow the world.”

Yes sweetie, I hope not either. Can you pray that God would provide what we need.

“He will provide what we need. He always does.  And if He doesn’t, He will have a good reason.”