Monday, October 31, 2011

The Fellowship

God has blessed my family with a lot of good fellowship. Yesterday I went to the coffee shop to meet a friend and it was a great surprise to see two other friends there too! It was like frosting on the cake, and God reminded me of His love when I was able to sit down with them for a couple of minutes and have fellowship with them. My time with friends in fellowship is always good, and then my time with family in fellowship is very sweet. It is a joyful blessing.
Yesterday we went to church and the worship was powerful. There were a couple moments that I was moved to tears because of the intensity of God's Spirit upon the room and His people.  I was experiencing God's fellowship right there in the church and it was humbling and beautiful.  The message was filled with truth and an intensity that I have not heard from the pulpit ever before and I was excited to see what God is doing and where He is moving.  Fellowship in His community, with His people.
This morning  I woke with an uneasiness in my belly. It's Halloween. I don't like Halloween, it does not represent fellowship with Jesus. It's all about darkness and evil, and it doesn't have good memories for me.  I've never been excited about Halloween. But, Jesus, is the Victor, still. He is victorious over Halloween. And, so am I , because He lives IN me, and He has given me authority.
So, I read 1 John 2 this morning and it's not surprising that one of the verses pointed out this: "Your fellowship with God enables you to gain victory over the Evil One."
Yes! The more fellowship I have with my God, the more I will know truth, and the more victory I will have over the daily battles with the evil one!  I think this is true with His Body as well, the more fellowship I have with His Body, close intimate, REAL, fellowship the more victory I will have over the evil one!
We are having friends come to our house tonight for Halloween. We are making caramel apples, and we are going to have fun. Good friends, because God has called us into fellowship and love. And, because I am choosing to rebuild days from bad to good. And, because, We are victorious Saints called to march forward in the battle with our armor on!
So, Jesus, You have given me fellowship in many forms, and called me into fellowship. Blessed be your name! Say That Again, Jesus, Let the Saints have fellowship with the Father and with each other and they will be victorious!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Rebuilt Day

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of when my friend and I had a breech in relationship. It was a very difficult time for both of us, and it was the launch of an extremely rough journey for both of us, a long year. The ripple effects of our breech was far reaching, and it is still touching my life today, and hers, and the lives of others.  God works in incredible and amazing ways.
A year ago, shortly after our situation, it was hard for me to see very far into the future. All I could do was just cry out to God to fix it! I just wanted Him to make the pain go away. It felt like everything had really gotten out of control and I just wanted to run. If I had known then how bad it would really get, I probably would have run! But, God gave my husband and me endurance and kept telling us to hang in there and to persevere, which we did. God was faithful, as He always is. We journeyed with Him, and it was difficult, painful, tearful, questionable, but the growth was incredible.
So, now, a year later, life is much different. My friend and I have reconciled, thanks to God's amazing grace. He works miracles. We spent the day together yesterday doing fun things and having good conversation. We enjoyed each other, we prayed together, we rebuilt the day. We had a manicure and a pedicure. We ate dinner, and went shopping. It will be a very nice memory in my memory bank.
Now, a year later, we are in a different church. I have been speaking. We have a Ministry house for women. God has expanded our territory greatly, just as He promised.  He is good. Now, a year later, my faith in Him is greater, my love for Him is stronger, my vision for community has more passion, my drive for relationship and reconciliation has no end, my love for family cannot be put into words, my desire for sharing His Kingdom is compelled by my love for the heart of Jesus and His healing power.
I have witnessed first hand not only what He can do in my life, but what He can do in a friendship that has been very broken and very challenged. To me, this is amazing.
So, Jesus, I have watched you rebuild walls, rebuild emotions, rebuild lives, rebuild relationships, rebuild hearts. You are the builder, the cornerstone, the Master planner. I am the one that simply surrenders it all to you so you can do your thing, and you do it well.
Say that again, Jesus, You are the builder in my life! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Guarantee

The new wall for our mud room is up and today my husband and I picked out a new door.  I like the door, it lets a lot of people into the house. It is welcoming. It's nice to see that there is hope for something that was so ruined. And, it feels good to me to see that the mud room will go on, it is being rebuilt.
I visited with a friend today, we haven't been able to get together in a long time. But, the friendship between us is strong and true and when we come together we are able to just pick up right where we left off.  It is safe and good, and I always feel good when I am with her. She's a comfort to my heart.  She's my welcoming friend.
Early this morning as I was praying,  I was led to Hebrew 6.  I like the end where it says "We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up His permanent post as high priest for us in the order of Melchizedek."
When my life was in complete ruins, like my mud room wall, I certainly had to run for my very life to Jesus and grab on! And, on the days when my life is feeling good and normal, I still have to run for my life to him and grab on to his promises, believing him and holding onto to that lifeline for my very breath, knowing that with each day he will rebuild and renew me with his truth.
As I do this, I am welcomed into his presence, just like I am with my dear friends. I am safe, comforted, and loved. He knows me like no other, I do not have to pretend with him.
I'm approaching the year anniversary of when a friend and I had a breech in relationship, it's tomorrow. As I look back on this past year, I marvel, really on all that God has brought me through. It has been a rough year! I have grabbed on to his promises, for sure. He has blessed me with with hope, and he has been an unbreakable lifeline! There have been times that I have wanted to give up, the battle that came from that breech has been huge, but the growth has been even larger! God has shown himself very faithful through it all, and he has reconciled  me and my friend. But, it has not come easy. He has taught me to depend on him and trust him more, and for that I will praise his name.
So, what is the guarantee? It is Jesus. When life is ruined, he will rebuild. When we need a friend, he will provide. When we need his promises, his lifeline, something to grab onto, he will be there, when we think it's all falling apart in relationship, he can reconcile. He is the guarantee.
Jesus, Say That Again, you are my guarantee!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Leak

Agape Celebration, our ministry house has a leak.  Several years ago, this house was our home, and my father in-law built a mud room off our side door. It has been a great place to put the boots, coats, and just stuff. Especially in the winter when the kids come in from the wet and the cold they need a place to put their wet boots and the snow suits, the mud room is perfect. Well, the perfect mud room has developed a leak over the years, and it seems that every year my husband either calls someone in to try to fix it or he attempts to fix it himself. But, this leak has been very persistent, and it continues to come back, drip, drip, drip. 
Finally, a few days ago, we called a friend. Realizing that the leak was probably more serious than we dare to speak, we asked him to take a look, so he did. And, it's true, it's pretty serious. It's like stage 4 cancer.
Drip, drip, drip!
Let me just say this, the mud room no longer exist, right at this moment. It was a surprise to our friend that the wall was actually standing, it was so rotten inside! Drip, drip, drip! He had to tear the entire wall down, even the door is bad. Everything had to go. He has started all over, rebuilt from the bottom up. Drip, drip, drip. 
It needs to be renewed, and restored. It was badly damaged. Drip, drip drip.
Thanks to Jesus for binding up my wounds! Thanks for rescuing me, for tearing down my walls of isolation, deceit, depression, illness, and despair. Thanks for covering me in His blood, for His redemption, His love. Thank you Jesus for fixing the leaks at the cross, for bringing me through the drips. All the drips. 
Jesus, Say that Again, You know every drip in my life, and You will bring me through every one of them!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Dependent

The more I travel through life and the more I get to know Jesus, it is so evident to me that I must be as a child. Like my two young children are with my husband and me, always looking to us for answers, depending on us for their needs, trusting us to provide for them and meet their needs.  As I watch our son and daughter I marvel at the level of trust they have in us. They don't question whether or not I will feed them, clothe them, pick them up from school, love them, protect them, defend them, be there for them. They just know that I will be there, because I am. Jesus tells me to have the trust of a child, faith. Do I feel like that about Jesus?
As I have developed a relationship with Him, this has been my heart. This morning, I read John 5, and in there was this statement "the Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing" and it struck me how when Jesus was walking on this earth he too had to practice the faith of a child in his Father.  Further down in the chapter it explains this: "the same way the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out."
I was once dead, and He chose to give me life! I was once independent, and now because I am dependent on Him I have life IN Him. It is glorious. Sometimes, my faith wavers, and I slip back into that independent stage, but because He keeps me and loves me He brings me back to His throne. I am not condemned, I am not an outsider, but am, indeed IN His heart to stay.
Jesus, I am your dependent forever, complete in you. I choose to remember this today.  I am IN your heart and you are IN my heart. Say That Again, Jesus, I am Your dependent, forever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Anxiety

This is a beautiful time of year, but there is also something about it that creates an anxiety in me.  With each year; I have noticed it getting a little more intense, consequently, it is harder for me to enjoy the beauty of Fall.  I start to notice the anxiety creep in around September, and it stays until about December, October being the worst of it. I've made connections like Halloween not being my favorite holiday, and also not particularly fond of connecting this time of year with church functions. Isn't it fascinating how the brain, my brain, can store so much information, yet I am not totally sure what all that information is?
It only makes sense that God would lead me to Psalms 139 this morning, the search me verse popped right out: " Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way". Psalms 139: 23,24
I know that He can search my heart and bring to my mind the root of my anxious thoughts. He can show me what it is that hurts me, and lead me on a path of recovery and health. I know this, because He has done it over and over again. I am a living testament to God's healing power and miracles. It's just a matter of His timing and His will for me.
So, Jesus, I surrender these anxious thoughts to You.  I surrender this time of year to You. And, I trust You will lead me in the everlasting way. Say That Again, Jesus, You will lead me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Opposition

My weekend was a restful, yet a fitful weekend. I spent a lot of time praying and wrestling with God. I spent a lot of time sleeping and even crying, releasing pent up energy. God continued to whisper to me that the more I speak truth the more I will feel the opposition, but I must march forward IN Him. It is His power that will keep me moving, and there will be times that I will feel like I am in the valley. But, hearts will still be touched, lives will still be changed, sinners will become saints.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, He reminded me today that I have to be strong in the Lord's mighty power, and keep His armor on. This is the only way I will be able to take a stand against the devil's schemes.  This struggle is not against flesh and blood, it is against rulers, and authorities, powers of this dark  world and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. So, I must always have armor. I must pray on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests, and I must always be alert and be praying for all the saints.
Jesus, You have kept me and carried me through. You have been there to speak truth through me and to touch others in incredible healing ways. I am simply your vessel, and I surrender my all to you to be used by You. Take me Jesus and further your Kingdom by using me.
Say That all Again, dear Jesus, put on your armor, child. Pray all the time. March forward as a saint, covered in my blood!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Counsel

It is good to be home. I've had a rushed week, a whirlwind week. a good week. I've had a week that has been much anticipated, full of God's Spirit, full of His promise, full of energy, full of love from friends and family. My trip home, was fueled with the last bit of energy that I had, and I felt very tired, it was so good to get home.  I found that I prayed a lot on the way home, clinging to God for strength and reassurance that I was truly doing the very thing He wants me to do. Clinging to His promises for my life. The enemy was throwing arrows from every direction right at me, and I didn't have the energy to dodge them.
Today, I simply want to lay in bed, the enemy has tried his attacks from all angles once again, and I have continued to pray. But, God in His mercy sent a friend to call me early this morning with some wise counsel. She reminded me of Elijah on the Mountain and how the power of God enlivened him, but then shortly after he too was in the valley. He was ready to die! He had to run away.
I asked God to lead me in His Word to the verses He wanted me to read today and He led me to Psalm 32 , and of course the verse that stood out the most to me was verse 8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
He has given me this calling, He is instructing me, teaching me the way I need to go.  He is my daily counsel, and His eye is upon me.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are going to be times that I will feel discouraged, tired, and simply weary. There are times that I want to sit down in my puddle of tears and eat the entire bucket of ice cream. There are times that I want to quit, it feels like too much work, but then I hear His voice and I know that He will carry me and this is not about me and what I want, it is all for Him.
I thank Him for sending family support. I thank Him for friends that call to remind me and to counsel me wisely. I thank Him for loving , for never leaving me or forsaking me, for keeping His eye on me.
Say That Again, Jesus, You have your eye on me!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Anticipation

Last night I spoke at a Candle light Vigil. I've been talking about for days now. Even my dog knows all about it. I wore my girlfriends black suit and purple camisole. Another girlfriends necklace, bracelett, and earrings. The only thing I owned was my shoes, and they rocked!
This is the first talk I've done totally without notes, completely depending on God and His Spirit for His guidance and direction. I've done a lot of praying, it was a huge step of faith for me.
As I sat waiting for my turn to go up there, praying, the anticipation grew. I didn't want anyone to be disappointed. I didn't want to be disappointed! I wanted to be able to truly rest in Jesus, and yet speak powerfully. What would happen?
I cannot say that I am eloquent in any way. I speak as a beginner...but this I know God's power of truth, grace, and mercy was deep within me and only grew as I spoke last night. I felt Him, and I saw Him touch lives as I looked out at the congregation. This is what He promised me, and this is what He did!
I am tired today, but it is a good tired. I am eager to see what He is going to do next. There is a battle going on in our world, if I do not wear my armor I will be casualty. It is not a game, it's the battle for souls.
Jesus, I am here, in anticipation for YOU. I know I will speak again, because you will send me to awaken souls for you.
Say That Again Jesus, there is a great anticipation amongst your people, you are calling me, calling all of us to awaken the empty souls.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Strength

Today is the day, and as I prayed this morning God was first to remind me as He prodded me to go to Psalms 62 right away. It starts out by reminding me that God, and God alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my stronghold and I will not easily be shaken.
The entire chapter reminds me that He is my hope, my refuge,and it is Him that all my trust must must be in. He is my safe-harbor.
So, here I am today, taking another step of faith, knowing that my God is going to speak truth through me, because He said He would. This is about God reaching the heart of women, through me, His vessel. I am ready.
Say That Again Jesus, you are my strength.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Wrong Bag

My flight to Portland this morning was uneventful. As I drove to the airport this morning I spent my time talking to God. I did try to focus on praises to Him, but I found myself coming back to reminding Him that I am feeling fearful. I don't know exactly what I'm afraid of, I just know that deep inside my belly I have the jitters. I am taking this big step and I feel like I'm all by myself, even though I have suppotive people around me, and a great big God, it's just me going to Michigan. God already knows all this, I guess this is why He keeps telling me that He will never leave me or forsake me. He reminds me that I am not alone!
So, we landed and I got off the plane, and absent mindedly grabbed my suitcase. I walked into the double doors that entered the corridor. I was in the crowd of people, and I moved to the side to take a look at the monitors for my next flight to Minniapolis. As I was staring up at the monitors a young man came up to me and asked me if that was actually my bag! I looked at it and thought, "it looks like my bag" but then I realized it was missing the little blue flower peace name tag that a friend gave. "whoops" I said "I'm so sorry, I took the wrong bag!"
He was more than relieved to find his bag, but then of course, I didn't have mine! I went back to the counter to tell of my woes and the ticket agent made a couple phone calls. She discovered that my bag had been transported to baggage claim. So, I headed that direction. When I arrived at baggage claim there was just one lonely red bag, and it was not mine. I asked around, but no one seemed to know about my bag. Finally a gentleman came strolling from across the room and to me, he looked guilty. I asked him if he knew about my flower peace bag, and he did. He had put it in the far corner. So, the lost bag was found, much to my relief. I made my way back through security, found my gate, and once again asked God to calm me.
Jesus led me to psalms 15 this morning and the phrase that really stood out was "speak truth from your heart" ah, from my heart, Jesus I will speak the truth about who you are and who I am. You are perfect, I am not. You are God, I am not. You can meet my needs, I cannot.
I will make mistakes, choose the wrong bag, but if I keep my focus on you, I will find my way.
Say That Again Jesus, you are the way!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Reminder

I felt the need to remind God that He has promised to give me the words to speak on Thursday evening when I am standing in my friends black suit in front of a lot of women in Michigan.  I also reminded Him that He said he would bless me with the power of his Spirit and that others would be blessed with his truth. I passionately reminded him that we are running out of time and I have not practiced anything or made notes, or given it too much thought. I'm still thinking about my clothes!   Anyway, after reminding him about all his promises to me of my upcoming event, he took it upon himself to lead me to Hebrew 4.
Hebrews 4 begins by telling me to rest in him, and by doing that I will be pulled towards God's goal for me. Wow! God's goal for me. If I am able to rest in him, he will bring me to his goal for me.  When I receive his promises for me with faith, I will be able to experience a state of rest, and then achieve his goal!
Further down, my favorite part says this: "God means what he says. What he says goes . His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeons scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense,  laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it--no matter what."
He has promised me, and today he reassured me yet again. He is asking me to have faith and to rest in him. Sometimes I am finding it a little unnerving, but for the most part, it's okay. He has always pulled through for me, always. He is God, I am not. He is unconditional all the time, I am not, I know I can count on Him and Him alone. This is why I praise Him.  He is God, He is good, and He has promised.
Say that Again, Jesus, I'm stepping towards you today in the faith that you have given me. I'm reaching out to you, and I love you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Bone

My dog has a big bone she carries around with her everywhere, and she loves to chew on it, sometimes.  This bone has been with us forever, it seems. The bone ends up in strange places, like my bed, ick.  And, I often step on it in the night, ouch. Right now, it lays on the floor, beside our bed. The bone is a favorite of all the dogs that enter our house, and on Sunday evenings when our son and daughter come over we have four dogs here. The bone is then on the couch, in the family room, dining room, the chairs, wherever the last dog chewing it left it. 
Occasionally, they fight over the bone. Now and then, one of the dogs get a bright idea and hide the bone. On some days, my dog just carries the bone in her mouth all day, seeing no need to share it, only letting it down to eat and drink. It is her bone, after all.
I've considered throwing the bone away a few times, but there still seems to be several chews left on it. So, as obnoxious as it is, I'll let it stay. And, will say to my dog when I step on her bone in the night "I have a bone to pick with you!"
What am I carrying around in my life that might be old, and ready to be thrown out? What have I chewed on a few times and now it's time to spit it out? Or what do I have that I could share rather than keep to myself? Like the old bone stuff can get icky, and I need to evaluate and give it to God.
Say That Again God, take my life, bones and all, renew me, restore me, redeem me today!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Ups and Downs

I was out the door early this morning to meet with a friend for breakfast.  We had some catching up to do, and it was nice to see her again. Our conversation gave me the ups and downs, and I left feeling up and down.  It's been a day like that for me, the roller coaster day, up, then down.
In some of our conversation, I noticed that it was good and comfortable and I felt up. Other times, I was feeling uneasy, not understood,  and it was the down time.  It's one of those days, I guess.
After leaving breakfast, I began to think about our time together and pray, giving it over to Jesus and confessing some of the feelings that were popping up for me.  It was time to share with Him the stuff that was resurfacing and time to ask Him to take it quick, I don't need or want it. It was time for me to ask Him to lift me up.
I went to get my daughter so I could take her to her soccer game, and while we were at the game my three adult sons dropped by. Same up and down feelings popped in again. Weird. My adult sons, they are all grown up, men now, so tall, so big, still my children! When I look at them the up feelings soar with pride and love for each one of them, I adore them. I enjoy them. I admire them. The down feelings come from somewhere deep inside my soul, and I can't even reach it. I want to protect them. I want to tell them to be careful, to guard their wives, to watch out! I want to help them in some elusive way that isn't even possible to do, and so I feel this down feeling, because I know I just have to watch them. I must surrender them to God, they are His and His alone, and this is my step of faith.
I came home after the soccer game and spent a little time talking to God about all of this. I tried on my purple blouse and black jacket with the jewelry my friend gave me. I continued to feel up, and then down. My husband came home and I told him everything, more than once.  He didn't comment as much as I thought he should, so I felt down again. Back to God!
This evening, we are meeting our sons, and daughters for dinner. We are celebrating the birthday of our one daughter in law that is not in relationship with us. She is invited to come be with us, and we are hoping she will come. Once again, God is in charge and He knows what is best. My heart is for family.
Jesus, Say That Again, in my ups and my downs, You are here. You see my steps of faith, you see my sons, my friends. my cries for help, and you are reaching down to me and keeping me.  Say That Again, Jesus, I am listening to you today!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Jewelry

I've been so busy thinking about the black suit and purple top that it only occurred to me this morning that I really needed to consider jewelry. What a about a necklace or earrings?  I use to have a necklace with kind of a purple hue to it that might look pretty, but I gave it away. I spent some time going through my necklaces this morning and decided there was nothing there that would look good with a black suit and a purple blouse. My jewelry is suited for peace t-shirts and jeans, or tye dye skirts and cowboy boots. Hmm, this is another interesting dilemma.  I then turned to the earrings and I was faced with the very same problem. It was only confirmed that I am, without a doubt a hippie with bling.
So, I scanned through my jewelry friends and asked for a loan of purple elegance. She was right on it and we are meeting up tomorrow.  Once again, I feel blessed, and fortunate to have friends come to my rescue. It looks like I am set for MI, and God did it all through my friends.  The talking part He is asking me to wait on Him, He is going to do that Himself.
When I arrived home this afternoon I was so tired I fell asleep. All this black suit, jewelry, MI stuff has worn me out. I didn't know that fashion could be so exhausting!
Resting in His Spirit is the only way to go, being powered by Him and compelled by the living God is my driving force.  I am understanding the value and the need for His passion behind all that I do, and all that I am, all the time. Because without Him, life is pointless, right down to black suits and jewelry.
Jesus, Say That Again, keep me compelled, passionate, and moved only by YOU.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Friends Closet

God has blessed me with friends that own black suits, who knew? I certainly didn't! Two friends have offered up their black suits, and I have humbly accepted to try them on. Yesterday was my first fitting, and much to my surprise, it was not too bad at all! Two jackets, two pairs of pants, and a skirt. I narrowed my options down quickly to one jacket, and one skirt.  Now, when my other girl friend shows me her options, the decision will be final and off to MI I will go with a black suit, oh, and a purple top.
This brings me to the chapter God led me to this morning and how He has reminded me how blessed I am to have dear friends---again.
In Colossians 1 the chapter talks about having a steady faith in Christ. It reminds me to have a continuous love for others in my life, to have purpose and to have hope. It talks about the beauty of God strength in my life and the joy that brings.
Just that portion reminded me of my friends and the suit sharing. My friends love me and I love them. They saw my need and they are reaching out to me. Not only that, but my friends are supporting my gift and my calling in life, they are coming along side me and lifting me up. They are giving me hope. They are being Christ reflectors to me, sharing strength, His strength, passing on joy.
This is what I want to do for others when they have a gift to share. God calls all of us to share our gifts, and as a friend I want to come along side my friends and support them, love them, uplift them in their gifts. This is my prayer to God today.
Jesus, Say That Again to me today, show me how to support others in their gifts as my friends have supported me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Naughty Little Dog

We have two dogs. The stinky good dog, and the naughty little dog. The stinky good dog is my dog, she is big and she goes with me everywhere, at least when its cool enough outside that she can tolerate riding in the car. The naughty little dog, stays home, because he gets car sick. When he goes in the car he throws up. And, if he doesn't throw up, he poops all over our stuff. If we our lucky enough that he doesn't do either of those gross things, he then runs away as soon as we open the door. He won't come back when we call him, not even for a treat, he doesn't care if we leave him, nothing works. He is a naughty little dog.
He has lived in our home for over 13 years, so he has been part of our family for a long time. He has always been a naughty little dog. He likes to poop on the carpet. He thinks he should pee on the kids backpacks. He believes my pillow is just for him. He thinks he needs to walk within one inch of my feet at all times, consequently he gets kicked every day of his life. He doesn't seem to mind. After all, he is a naughty little dog. He won't finish his breakfast, ever, and begs ever evening for more food, always getting it. He bites children at random moments and gets away with it, I don't know how or why. His teeth are falling out. He got in a big fight with the German Shepherd down the street and ended up with a big hole in his back. It took weeks to heal and hundreds of dollars to fix. He still thinks he won that fight! He licks the blankets obsessionally, until I can't stand it anymore and tell him to stop. Then he licks our big stinky dog.
I do love him, and we keep him because our son loves him so very much, but I really don't like him that much because he really is a naughty little dog all the time and he has been from the moment we got him. That's a long time to live with a naughty little dog.
A couple weeks ago he jumped on our bed, lifted his leg, and peed on my husbands leg. See? I told you, he is a naughty little dog! This is what he does, and he does things like this to the very people that feed him and take care of him! He has absolutely no remorse at all, none.
I guess the point of my story is this. He knows he is safe and secure. He lives with us and he feels safe with us. He is just being a dog. He does what he does, and what he does is naughty. We have loved him anyway, he goes on his merry way.
I am loved by Jesus, safe and secure. Sometimes I do what I should not do, but still he loves me. My salvation is secure with Him, He has me captured in his hands forever.  Say That Again, Jesus, You have me safe and secure, captured in your hands forever. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Suit

My assigned wardrobe for my Michigan trip is a black suit with a purple blouse. When I received this email, it sent my head in a bit of a tailspin. I've never worn or shopped for a black suit before, and I even questioned what it might "look" like. Is a black suit a skirt, or pants? Can it be a dress with a jacket? Oh, but then I'm forgetting the purple blouse. Hmm, what if I wear a black dress with a purple jacket?  And, what does a suit jacket look like? I've never actually paid any attention to suit jackets for women. I wear jean jackets, and sweaters, and sweats.  I have a purple sweat jacket, will that work?
I sent out a text to some friends. One of them was on her way to town and was of no help at all. Another thought a sweater would work instead of a jacket. Another said she would look in her own closet and solve my problems when she got home. Another said "why do you have to wear that?"
I sent a text to my husband, and he told me to have fun shopping, which I found surprising since we have no money.  I decided I should at least go to the mall and see what's out there. Do the stores even have black suits? I'm not a big shopper, so I wouldn't know.
My dog and I loaded ourselves up in the car and drove the 5 miles to the mall.  I noticed right away that there was a big sale and I like that. I was distracted with the boots and the shoes and spent some time wandering around checking out the different styles of high and low boots they have this season. I decided that I should have new black boots for this suit that I'm suppose to wear.  So, I spent a long time looking at black boots.
Finally, I wandered over to the pants and discovered that there are actually a lot of black dress pants, but it seemed to me they were old lady pants and I was hesitant to try them on. And, incredibly enough, they had black jackets too!  I did wander around for a long time, and discovered that when I purchase a black suit my life will still go on. It won't be that bad, and I probably won't look like an old lady! hehe!!
Jesus, help me remember that however I am dressed I am clothed in You.  Say That Again, Jesus, You clothe me in your robes of righteousness and garments of salvation. Thank you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Boxing Ring

I went into the boxing ring at our house party with my daughter in-law.  She knocked me against the side a couple of times and I felt my neck go of alignment. She was better in the boxing ring than me, for sure. I will say, it was a lot of fun, and well worth getting hit. My two children had a good time boxing me as well, and found it the perfect opportunity to beat up mom! I knew going in that I would come out in worse shape. My back and neck just can't handle that kind of stuff anymore, and I was very sore all weekend. I went to the chiropractor this afternoon and he asked me what I had  been doing. When I said I had been boxing my daughter in law in the boxing ring he couldn't stop laughing! He said that as long as I was having a good time it was worth the horrible shape I had put my body in!
Do I say that about the new self versus the old self?  God has given me a new self, He has made me a saint. I am free of sin, free to live like Him.  But, every now and then the old life, old self taunts me, creeps in, and I get in the boxing ring. I get knocked around, knocked out, and I come out sore. Possibly it was fun while I was in there, but, ouch, it hurts when I finally realize that I'm trapped in the ring and I need to get out! I need help, I need someone to get me back in alignment.
Jesus, Say that Again, keep me out of the boxing ring, keep me in alignment with you. In Your steps. Freedom with You, Jesus.

The Faith

I'm working at being relaxed. Is that possible? In ten days I speak in MI, and God has pointedly said to me that He will speak through me, I don't need to make my own agenda. I don't need to write something up, or practice in front of the mirror, or my friends. I need to trust Him and rest in His words. So far, so good, but I still find myself pondering the what if's....What if I get to Michigan and I stand up in front of all those lovely ladies and my mind is blank? What if my words are muddled? What if I have no clue what to say? What if I start out great and end poorly? What if, what if, what if? It could be bad. I could be embarrassed. It could be the end of something that hasn't really even started. Oh dear, Bethany of little faith!
I depend on others for talking anyway. I can be merrily talking away, and suddenly my words have escaped me. But, lucky for me, there's usually a friend nearby that knows me well enough that can rescue me with a great word that works perfectly for my sentence, so she can insert the word where needed, and conversation can continue along in a happy fashion. But, if I'm standing in front of 100 or so women giving a talk and I'm at a loss for words, I don't see that happening. And, my friends won't be traveling with me to rescue me from my  dilemma, so it is a faith growing moment for sure!
To distract myself from this issue I have been thinking about what I should wear to this faith growing event. This is Michigan, after all, so it seems obvious to me that boots are a necessity. That is about as far as I have made it in the area of wardrobe. Boots with a dress? Or with jeans? Or dress pants? What does a child of God who is speaking in Michigan wear? I don't know. I dress like a hippie, but I have a feeling that I should take off the tye dye skirt for this event and wear something a little different. Any ideas?
Okay, enough for the frivolous. This morning Jesus kept bringing Hebrews 8 to my mind. As I was reading it, I realized that He was saying to me that just as His covenant is in my heart, so is His testimony.  He will be my God, and we will be His people. He has forgiven us, and He remembers our sins no more!  His Spirit is deeply rooted within me, He has promised that to me, and with that promise, He will speak through me words of hope, love, courage, boldness, and truth.  And, the people will know Him!
Jesus, Say That Again, because I need to keep hearing you say it. My faith needs to continue to grow, as You grow in me. You have captured me IN your Hands, and I am Free In You. Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The House Party

After a week of rain, we had sun yesterday, God sent it so He could have His party at our ministry house downtown. It was a lot of fun.  Many children with their parents came. We had a lot of friends come to help and to support us too. It was an answer to pray  and a blessing in our lives.
For me, it was another confirmation that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. And,  again, more confirmation that God does exactly what He says He is going to do. He planned this House Party far more than I did. I had been feeling unorganized and uncertain the week before about the party. I didn't have any idea how many would show up, so I prayed and God said there would be 50-60, sure enough, we had about 60 people show up! When I was shopping for hot dogs and all the stuff we needed I just kept praying because I really had no clue what I was doing. I grabbed one big package of hot dogs and then had the thought later that I should get another.  That would make 80 hot dogs and I actually had a conversation with God about purchasing so many hot dogs! We served every one of them!
For me,  my steps towards God sometimes seem shakey, but as I look back I am always so thrilled and amazed at how He is working in my life and the lives of others. LOOK, at what He is doing! I mean, He is planning parties in the community, He is thinking about hot dogs, and decorations. He takes the time to send people to barbecues and make connections.  It was fun, and my faith increased because of it.
He provided others to help me which was a huge thing for me too, because I really needed help. This also increased my faith, and He provided money. So, The House Party was the surrendered party, and it was good. Now, God and I are talking about what's next. He is working, moving, breathing, and living in that little ministry house, and I am pleased that He has asked me to be a part of it.
Say That Again, Jesus, You came eating and drinking, and so the party is on!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Storehouse

I looked up the word Storehouse in the dictionary, 1. a building in which things are stored. 2. any repository or source of abundant supplies, as of facts or knowledge.
In Malachi 3:10 God tells us to bring our tithe into the storehouse, and He will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there won't be enough room for it! That's a lot of blessing, and I like that.
God is asking me to give to the storehouse. Find a place that serves Him with a passion and a mission and give my money to them. Support them in their mission for ministry to further the Kingdom and unite the Body of Jesus Christ. That is the building of Jesus Christ, they are storing up treasure for Him and they are a source of knowledge and supply what is needed to know Jesus. Does it have to be a church? In my opinion, no. It can be, but it doesn't have to be.
I have been set free IN Christ, I am free to give to Jesus and He will bless me. There are storehouses everywhere, and He wants to bless those storehouses. He wants to use me to further His Kingdom by sharing and giving not only by giving money, but by giving time and talent in my community.
Say That Again, Jesus, You are in the storehouses, in the community, and I want to contribute.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Forgiven

In my time with God this morning He led me to Psalms 32, and the first verse says this: "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!" It got to me because God keeps bringing that up this week, not just through me, but through others that are being challenged with this. As I have met with other women and heard their struggles this week it has often come down to this core issue: "am I really forgiven, am I really redeemed and covered? Do I really have the gift of His Spirit, and eternal life? Who am I anyway?"
As I watch my children, especially my daughter, she struggles with this question. Who am I? She's adopted and so that is going to present some extra challenges in her life. She doesn't look like us, she comes from a different culture, she has identity questions. She, already at the young age of six is asking about her homeland of China and her birth mother. She is curious about where she started and how she came to us. We have tried to focus on her identity IN Christ, because we know that is her true identity and the only real answer to her questions.
I grew up with the same questions and always longed to know who I was, never knowing the answers. The core issue for me was not realizing that God had me covered, He had forgiven me and redeemed me. I was searching for something I already had, looking for something I already was, I just couldn't believe Him. It was too good to be true.
The gift of being God's child, His friend, His Saint, His forgiven, His eternal, complete companion, The salt of the earth, pure in His sight, the apple of His eye, etc....It's a lot to take in for someone like me! But, it is truth and I will choose to believe my Jesus. For He is my Salvation and He has saved me from the pit of hell, and I am His.
Say that Again, Jesus, You are my Savior and your gifts are irrevocable today and forever. Who am I? I am YOURS, forgiven and loved!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Cross Country Race

I drove my two kids to the fairgrounds yesterday to meet with all the school districts to compete in the cross country race. It was a mad house. My kids were pumped with excitement, they have been training for this race for a few weeks now and they were ready. They had their shirts, their shorts, the right shoes, and they were turned on!
The kids raced by age, so the kindergarten kids went first, then our daughter being in first grade was up next. All the first grade kids lined up at the starting line, in the mud, and waited for the bang of the gun to go off. As I looked around the stadium at all the parents it was amusing to see the different expressions on their faces. Some parents were excited, others concerned, some were anxious and worried. Some parents were having difficulty letting their first grader be on the start line all alone and wanted to down there huddled over them to protect them and keep them safe. Other parents, me included, were rejoicing over the fact that my first grader was down there and not hanging off my skirt strings!
The gun went off and they went. My daughter was right in the middle of them all, and I was cheering her on. I wasn't at my cheering best, because I had a headache, but I did try.
Third graders went, then my son was up next. He was equally as excited as our daughter. He was the first one in line. He stands taller than his classmates so he is easy to spot, and this is a good year for him, so it's exciting for us to watch how happy he is. He was hi-fiveing the coach, and dancing on the field and I was praising Jesus for giving him such joy and freedom!
When the gun went off, so did he. He kept a good pace all the way around the field and by the time we made it to the finish line to pick him up, he was there!
Pictures were snapped, hugs were given, congrats were spoken. It was a good race.
I thought of the race spoken of in the Bible "This is the only race worth running. I've run hard right to the finish, believed all the way." 2 Timothy 4:7
This race, the one I'm in with Jesus, it's the only one worth running. Living life with Him and with His people right to the finish. If I get off the track and go some other way, then it's not worth my time or energy anymore. This is the race I believe in, the race of eternal life with Him. He has given me His gift, and I'm going to take it, and live it. It is good.
Say that Again, Jesus, Your race is the only one worth racing, right to the finish line!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mess

I cleaned our bathroom the other day and I almost took a picture of it because I thought it might be nice to have some proof. I knew it wouldn't last that long, at least the counter part on my side of the bathroom wouldn't stay clear very long. I was right, it's not that tidy anymore, I have stuff I all over the place today. I was going to clear it off again this morning, but the time sorta got away from me before I had the chance to clean it up, so it's messy. My husband's side is still pretty good, I haven't worked my way over there--yet!
I had all these high hopes and good intentions that with my kids in school I would clean my house. Every day I would do at least one great chore. Every day, I think that I will start that good intention, tomorrow. I want to start with my dresser. It's kinda got the pile problem again. I've piled gifts on it for some friends, and I haven't finished taping up their packages and mailed them yet. I've also piled papers, treasures, this, that, and the other thing on my dresser. Last nights cup is there too, and a wine glass.
There's also the issue of the spare room. We haven't decided what to do with it. Sometimes we call it the office, sometimes we call it the play room. Sometimes it's just Brady's room. The closet is full of my daughters clothes, because has so many clothes, all hand me downs. I think we should just call it the room, it doesn't have a purpose at all right now. It could, it should, but going in it almost makes us sad, so we stay away. It's just the room that needs suggestions, needs cheering, needs help.
It is true that there is a mess somewhere in my house all the time. It is not a perfect place. I don't want it to be. I like messy better. It's okay with me.
Just like me, I'm not perfect. I get messy inside sometimes, my relationships get messy. I have to take inventory of the places that need cleaning and I need to let Jesus do some work. There's a lot of rooms, and it's a lot of work. It takes time and it takes effort. Sometimes, I only have good intentions and put things off until tomorrow, when that happens, it just gets worse, messier and messier. Things start to build up until I can't even see the root of the problem anymore. I get sad, and I need help!
I am so glad that in Jesus there is no condemnation! In Jesus He has taken care of everything. He has rescued me at the cross and saved me. In Jesus, I am Kept and complete. Jesus, my friend, Say That Again, In You I am kept, complete and saved.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Freedom

I watched someone gain new freedom today, and it was amazing. I heard them tell their story, and it was incredible. They were vulnerable, honest, open, and totally surrendered before God. I felt moved and full of compassion towards her, and I was so excited to see all that God was doing.
The story I heard stirred up my own emotions, and reminded me of my own story. It reminded me of my own journey and the path I have traveled. It reminded me of how wonderful it is to have Jesus, how totally great it feels to have Him break the chains of bondage and set me free!
I'm still telling my story, there are still pieces of it that I am remembering and still telling. Every time I remember something, I want to tell it, and when I do, I feel a new freedom. It's my story that I want to surrender to God. It's the story that He has brought me through, and redeemed me into a life with Him. Now, I am free, sitting in His light, with Him in the heavenlies. He has chosen me, picked me up out of the pit and called me His Saint. Glory, to God in the highest!
Does this make anyone else want to dance with joy? Does anyone else feel like clapping? Are you smiling? This is cool stuff, this is Victory!
So, even with the hard stuff, and we all know I've talked about the hard stuff, there is freedom. And, I don't want to forget that. When I am challenged with all the questions, when I wonder about the pain, the trials, the memories, the relationships, I want to also remember the irrevocable gift of His freedom to me. It is good and it is mine! And, I will dance with Him because of it.
Say That Again, Jesus, you are truth, and the truth has set me free!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Kingdom

We went to church today and it got me thinking about leadership again and God's Kingdom. I've been thinking about Hebrew 13:7: "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." NASB. In the Message it reads this way: "Appreciate you pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all."
I like this guideline that scripture has given me, it is telling me to look at my leaders and the way they live. Are they faithful? faithful to each other, to their followers? Are they faithful to God? Are they faithful to their co-workers and in their work? Are they truthful? Do I want to imitate the way they live?
If I am a leader for His Kingdom, I must be faithful in all these ways. Can I live in such a way that I reflect His Kingdom? Can I reflect His Kingdom on earth? Can I live in such a way that others want to imitate me? Can I align my life with His Kingdom so closely that it truthfully reflects His image of grace, mercy and forgiveness?
I think these are really hard things to do, especially when there has been hurt and pain. And, when there is sin. In church today he pointed out the very thing that Jesus has been telling me every morning: "Focus on me, Bethany!" I keep hearing Jesus tell me this and I know it's the only way to get over the hurt and the pain. Every day He says it again, "Focus on me"
I was going over my journal this morning and reading what I hear Him telling me, and sure enough there it was, "focus on me, dear one, I am the solution, I am the way, I will not leave you or forsake you."
Say That Again, Jesus, you are bringing me through a process of learning more about your Kingdom. You are molding me into a women that follows you and reflects you. I confess to You, Jesus, I do not always reflect you as clearly as I desire, please help me!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Foothold

A friend asked me yesterday if I had considered whether or not it was a ploy of the enemy of my soul to defeat me by undermining my ability to trust church leadership? I think this is a great question, and I've been thinking about it and praying about it a lot since she asked me.
What does God expect of me, of all of us, when it comes to trusting church leadership? As I've said, there are not many I trust, I've had a year that has revealed to me that few are trustworthy. But, the ones I do trust, I believe are very godly leaders and they should be in the position they are in. God uses everyone though in some way, to teach, to guide, He turns all things into His purpose. It always looks different from God's point of view, from my point of view, it's limited and I move slower with the ability to trust only a few.
As I've said, the year anniversary is coming up soon. A lot of changes happened. My friend and I experienced a huge blow-up and it impacted not only us but many of the people around us. It was at that point my journey began, where leadership became either my friends or my foe. Some in leadership embraced us, others shunned us.
For some reason I feel anxiety about this anniversary date. Like maybe the sky will fall down again, or we will have a repeat year, or who knows. But, I do know that I have learned that through the trials, ministry is about reaching community, reaching hearts, telling others that they are loved. And, that does not have to be done through a church. It is done through Jesus and His people. I have learned that some days Jesus will ask me to stand alone, again and again and again, because it is only Him that is my strength. I have learned that there is indeed leadership that cannot be trusted, cannot follow through, cannot do as they preach, cannot look deep inside, but Jesus loves them and is using them too. I have learned that my ministry is not mine, it is God's and it will come under attack, often. But, it will also prevail, because it belongs to Him and He prevails. I have learned that God is God and He is King, He is the great I AM, He sees all of this, and He reveals it for a reason. He has brought me through a very revealing year, for a reason, now what do I do with it?
I will not give the enemy a foothold. I will choose to move forward, although I do confess that sometimes I process slowly on some of these issues. But, I will move.
In Romans 8:37 it reads "None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us I'm absolutely convinced nothing-nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable -absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us."
Say That Again, Jesus, nothing will ever get in Your way, NOTHING!